Sunday, September 4, 2022

Ellicott City - Rome - London

September 4, 2022 Peace and Good, I finished my time in Ellicott City. The doctors are concerned about a weakness in my legs, but they do not yet know what is causing it. I did not yet get the results of my last tests. I flew back to Rome. It is still quite warm there. There are tons of tourists. We had a few days of meetings there, and then I flew to London to get ready for a meeting starting tomorrow morning. These past few days I have been attending the definitory meeting with zoom. One of the topics at this definitory was a request for me to resign as Assistant General. All the travel has really worn me out, and now with my leg problems, it makes travel all the more difficult. The definitory accepted the request, so I will leave the job on January 1st. I don't yet know where I will be heading. That is to be worked out over the next couple of months. The weather here in London is typical weather. Overcast, a bit of rain, in the low 70's, but really not all that bad. The friary is near the river (right around where you see the Eye, the big ferris wheel). I love walking along the river. I finished some books: The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad I read this classic many years ago, and I fully enjoyed reading it again. It is about a man who travels to Africa where he will serve as a boat captain. He hears of a mysterious agent upriver who has obtained more ivory than any other agent. He end up finding an almost mythic, almost divine figure who is terribly ill and is dying. Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record and Our Place in Nature by Brian Switek This is a history of some fossil discoveries and their treatment of them by scholars. It especially deals with the evolution of birds, the whale, the horse and humans, using these cases as examples of evolution in a particular line of descent. It is a bit technical, and therefore would not be enjoyable by all readers. Dynasty by Tom Holland This is an excellent treatment of the Caesar family, beginning with Augustus (actually Julius), and ending with Nero. He deals with the emperor, society at that time, the Senate’s role, etc. I would highly recommend Holland’s book given how well told this book is. St. Thomas of Aquinas by Hourly History This is a short account of the life of St. Thomas Aquinas, the great pre-renaissance theologian of the Dominicans. The author is quite respectful, speaking of extraordinary events with a critical yet not cynical approach. This is almost an extended Wikipedia article. The Great Revolutions of Modern History by Lynne Ann Hartnett This is a Teaching Company course of 24 episodes which deal with some of the most important revolutions since the 17th century. Some of them are to be expected (American, French, Russian) while some of them interpret the word revolution in a more expansive manner (Civil Rights, anti-colonialism, the influence of TV). The professor is well prepared, and the lectures are good. I could easily recommend this course. Star Spangle Men: America’s Ten Worst Presidents by Nathan Miller This is a historians account of the careers of whom he considers to be the ten worst presidents. He includes many of those one would expect (Buchanan, Taft, Harrison) but also a few who are a bit of a surprise (Grant, Carter, etc.). He is honest and not polemic in his approach. The book is really rather good and I would recommend it. The Roman Forum by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the Roman Forum which was a mix of a governmental center, religious site and market place. It give the chronology of the various important sites located there. The account is not all that well written and thus not all that informative. Agrippa Hull by Charles River Editors This is a biography of an African American from Massachusetts (Sturbridge) who fought in the American army during the Revolutionary War and who was an esteemed and financially successful member of his community. Antiogonus the One-Eyed by Jeff Champion This is an account of the life and career of one of the Generals of Alexander the Great who became one of the powers that fought for supremacy after the death of their leader. The author, unfortunately, cites a myriad of combatants and battles, making this more of a scientific study than a book which one could read at a leisure pace. The Chernobyl Disaster by Hourly History This is a short account of the Chernobyl disaster, the explosion of a nuclear reactor that released radioactivity into the atmosphere which was carried by prevailing winds to neighboring countries. The author speaks of the clumsy attempts of the dying Soviet government to deal with the crisis and its press coverage. Having read other account, I found this one somewhat superficial, but this series of studies is not intended to be much more than that. The Lady in the Tower: the Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir This is a good account of the fall and death of Ann Boleyn. I thought that this was going to be a historical novel, but it turned out to be a thoughtful true history of what happened. Weir goes through the various theories about who brought her fall about, how likely she was to have been guilty of the thing of which she was accused, the role of King Henry in all of this, etc. The book is very well done. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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