Saturday, September 24, 2022

Montreal - Arroyo Grande, CA

September 24, 2022 Peace and Good, This past week I have been in our novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California, just outside of Pismo Beach (halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco). This is a yearly workshop that I give the novices on the Gospels and the Psalms. Tuesday we also invited the Capuchin novices who live about an hour and a half away for a day on the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel we will be using next year in the liturgy. I always enjoy these types of presentations. I open it up to questions on anything in the Bible or in the Order, and it creates a very good environment for discussion. I often find that the questions asked make me think about my own ideas on a topic. I hope that when I finish up in Rome, I can do more of this. The weather has been beautiful, in the 70's all week long. Even the day of rain we had on Monday was a soft rain that is a real blessing in a part of the country suffering from severe drought. This morning I fly out to Chicago to give another workshop to the postulants. I finished some books: Joan of Arc by Hourly History This is a short, well written biography of St. Joan of Arc. The author treats her visions with respect, neither denying nor confirming them. This is a good book if someone wants an outline of her life and deeds. The Most Notorious Art Thefts of the 20th Century by Charles River Editors This is an overview of some of the more notorious art thefts in this past century. Obviously, the Nazi looting of art all over Europe is high on the list, but it also includes the theft of individual works of art. The general rule of thumb is that it is relatively easy to rob art from museums (due to sometimes poor security due to budgetary constraints) but difficult to sell the works since they are so well known. The Ash Tree by M. R. James This is a novella that deals with the superstition of having an Ash Tree near a building being unlucky. This belief seems to be confirmed in the death of a woman accused of witchcraft, and of two of the owners of the house. The eventual discovery of the true cause of the difficulties only comes at the end. Medieval Science by Jack Sanders This is a quick overview of the state of science during the Middle Ages. It is not all that deep of a treatment, and it gets into a bit of Catholic and Church basing, but there is some good information in the overall perspective. The Battle of New Orleans by Raymond Todd This is an audible book to which I listened which dealt with the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. The author is a bit too obsequious toward Andrew Jackson for his story is really a bit more complicated than he would present it (e.g. occasional violations of the constitution, genocide and racial cleansing of the Native Americans each of the Mississippi, etc.), but overall it is a good book. Rising Sun by John Toland This is a long, very thorough study of the Japanese involvement in the Second World War. Toland is able to tell the story both from an American and a Japanese point of view. He is respectful throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this large (1500 pages) book. Murder, Suicide by Keith Ablow This is a murder mystery novel concerning a genius who was about to have an operation which would cure his epilepsy but leave him without any of his former memories, and the seeming suicide of his lover. There are twists and turns which involve national security issues and corporate greed. Powerful Women Who Ruled the Ancient World by Kara Cooney This is a course from the Great Courses that deals with some of the well known women of ancient times as well as some of the largely unknown women who nevertheless shaped the history of their nations. The presenter is unfortunately so tied to the feminist interpretation that she at times ignores any other reason why events might have happened. It think that this weakens her valid argumentation which is a shame because she has a lot to say. 1491 by Charles Mann This is the story of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus and those who followed him. The author speaks of the various cultures that developed through the New World. He speaks of customs, food, animals associated with these peoples, etc. He draws distinctions based on climate and geographical consideration. The book is well done. Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered by Laura Auricchio This book deals with the life and career of the Marquis de Lafayette. The first part mostly deals with his arrival and military career in America during the Revolutionary War, and especially his relationship with George Washington. The second part deals with his return to France and his role in overthrowing the monarchy and his subsequent persecution (both by radical and by reactionary forces). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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