Thursday, September 14, 2023

Ellicott City, Maryland

September 14, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been at home in Ellicott City these days except for visits to doctors' offices, which is quite a few. I have been using the mornings for writing projects and the afternoons for reading. I have managed to finish 28 articles for two magazines in Padua, Italy and Kenya. The Paduan articles are on the compansions of Jesus, while the Kenyan articles were on the parables of Jesus. I have a CT scan yesterday. They finally discovered why I had a pain in my side. It is a broken rib. I had a small fall a month ago, and I did not realize I had hurt myself like this. Next week I have my bronchoscopy, having a tube put down my throat into my lungs to get a biopsy of the growth they found. I will be asleep, so they can do whatever they want when I am out of it. I have decided to self-quarantine as much as possible, given all the important health appointments I have in these weeks and given the fact that covid is making a bit of a comeback. It is just safer to be careful right now. I finished some reading and listening: European Thought and Culture in the 19th Century by Lloyd Kramer This is a Teaching Company course on the main intellectual movements of the 19th century. It comes across as a post-enlightenment reaction to the main intellectual movements of the previous century. The professors content is well arranged and he is careful to show the links between the various ideas being presented. Henry Knox’s Noble Train by William Hazelgrove At the very beginning of the War for Independence, General Washington sent a book store owner hundreds of miles over winter ravaged land to procure canons from the fort the patriots had taken at Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York State. Knox had no real military training, only what he had read in books in his shop. Yet, he was able to perform a miracle by brining the canons to Boston, an action that forced the British to abandon the city. C.S. Lewis: A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath This is a thoughtful biography of the famous author of so many Christian books of apologia and of the Narnia series. The books speaks of the background and struggles of Lewis, and how he almost backed into the role of Christian apologist by accident. The various persons so important to Lewis, e.g. his brother, Tolkien, etc. are well outlined. The Great Fire of London by Kelly Mass This is a short history of the disaster in 1666 which destroyed most of the city of London, and possibly wiping out the last vestiges of the great plague which had attacked London in the previous year. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed by Mark Muesse This is a teaching company course on comparative religions, especially the lives and teachings of the four men mentioned in the title of the course. I liked the presentation of the similarities of the four figures. I found that the professor sometimes put possibly too positive of a viewpoint on certain elements of the stories of these characters. Furthermore, his presentation of Jesus subtly and at times not so subtly denies his divinity, presenting him as an honored sage. Pierre Currie by Charles River Editors This is a well written short presentation on the husband of Madame Curie. He and she both discovered radium and studied the properties of nuclear radiation. Pierre is presented almost as if he were an absent minded professor, but the story is told with great respect. Marquis de Lafayette by Hourly History This is a short biography of the famous Revolutionary War hero from France who served as a adjutant to George Washington. The book deals with his involvement with both the American and French revolution. Even though it is short, there is quite a bit of material in the presentation. The Cathars by Kelly Mass This is a short history of the reform movement/heresy which began in the Balkans but which grew to fruition in the south of France and neighboring territories. It was dualistic, speaking of two gods, one good and one bad. It rejected the material world. The Church organized a crusade against it which proved to be terribly violent. Vincent van Gogh by Kelly Mass This is a short biography of the famous artists. Because it is so short, it does not really give a great insight into the motivation and the insight of the artist, or into his troubled mind. A Short History of the Vietnam War by DK The DK series of collection of vast treatments on various topics. It is presented almost as it were an album of newspaper and magazine articles on the subject. This particular volume, dealing with the Vietnam War, is well developed and gives insight to what actually happened (in the war, in politics, to the people, to the society, etc.). It is not always a smooth read (between the various sections), but each section by itself is a good read. The Great Penguin Rescue by Dyan deNapoli A ship went down just off the coast of South Africa, and when the fuel bunkers ruptured, oil poured forth into the ocean right around a major breeding grounds of a group of highly endangered penguins. The oil caused the penguins to lose their ability to swim in cold water, and it sickened them when they ingested it while preening their feathers. This is the story of the massive effort to rescue the penguins, cleaning and nourishing them until they could be released into the wild. Four Queens by Nancy Goldstone This is the story of four sisters from southern France who eventually became queens in their own right in various kingdoms during the middle of the 14th century. It deals with a lot of the convoluted politics of the era, involving especially England and France. The book is quite engaging, but one finds that one has to pay close attention due to the numerous names and plots and subplots used in telling the tale. Rizzio by Denise Mina This is a short book which is a dramatic presentation of the murder of Rizzio, the consultant of Queen Mary of Scotland, by a band of nobles and with the contrivance of her own husband. The story is well told, and the characters involved are well outlined. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, September 1, 2023

Ellicott City, MD

September 1, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been in Ellicott City for a bit over a month now. I am feeling much better after having been in the hospital for blood clots on my lungs. It was caused by a Deep Vein Thrombosis which itself, I am sure, was caused by too many flights. I felt it coming on when I was in South Korea on visitation, but I didn't realize what it was. I still have some visits to the doctors in this area. I hope that all of this will be over by the end of the month, but we will have to see. I have been using the morning for various writing and taping projects. I have finished my articles for the Messenger magazine in Padua until March, 2026. I wanted to finish a particular series upon which I was working on the companions of Jesus. Now I have to work a bit for the articles I do for a magazine in Kenya. I have managed to get ahead on my blogs on the daily readings, about a month in advance. The afternoons I am using to read and listen to courses, mostly from the Modern Scholar series. I have finished a number of books: The Graves are Walking by John Kelly This is the story of the potato famine in Ireland during the 19th century. The author speaks of the cause of the famine (both biological and sociological), of the reaction (and often lack thereof) to the suffering of the people by the British overlords, and the mass migration and suffering of those who left Ireland caused by that disaster. The book is well done. It is difficult to come to grips with the magnitude of the disaster, and the often callous response of the British (actually sending grain out of the country while people were starving, as well as expelling people from their fields in the midst of a famine). After Thermopylae by Paul Cartledge The premise of the author is that the battle of Platea (which followed the battles of Thermopylae and the naval battle at Salamis) has largely been forgotten, even though this was the definitive defeat of the Persian invasion in Greece. The problem is that he hardly deals with the battle. He speaks about the oath of Platea, supposedly an oath made to fight well at the battle, but probably a later invention to speak to the needs of a different situation. He speaks of many other things as well, but passes over the actual battle in a cursory manner. I really did not like this book all that much. The Battle of Shiloh by Hourly History This short history of the battle of Shiloh speaks about a battle that Grant and Sherman almost lost, being found unprepared for an attack by southern forces as they moved south after conquering a good part of western Tennessee. Introduction to the Qur’an by Professor Martyn Oliver This is a Great Courses presentation on the central book of Islam, the Qur’an. The professor gives a cursory overview of the history, previous sources, and meaning of this book. Oliver is a bit defensive in his presentation, possibly overemphasizing the idea that the radical Islamic interpretation of the book is not what was intended. Yet, the course offers a number of valuable insights. Joan of Arc by Helen Castor This is a very good biography of this famous French saint. The author speaks of her revelations in a highly respectful manner, never saying that they were definitely supernatural and never disclaiming this proposal. She speaks of the difficulties that Joan overcame in her effort to defend France against her enemies, England and Burgundy. Castor gives a good sense of the culture and history of these times, and also of the eventual overturning of her condemnation by a body of judges who were very nationalistic in their decisions. Horatio Nelson by Kelly Mass This is a short biography of the hero of the navy during the Napoleonic Wars. He was brilliant as a war hero, but less than exemplary in his personal life (having an affair with a married woman, being incredibly self-referential and ambitious). Sam Houston by Charles River Editors This is a short biography of the colorful character and friend of President Jackson who led the fight for independence in Texas and its eventual annexation to the United States. At times he was the president of Texas, its governor, and its senator. He fought the secession of Texas to join the Confederate States during the Civil War (although he himself owned slaves). Italy’s Most Powerful Mafias by Charles River Editors This is a short presentation of the various forms of the Mafia (Cosa Nostra, Ndrageta, etc.). The author speaks of the failure of the central government to deal with the problems which led to the growth of these movements. He even indicts the allies in World War II who used the Mafia to fight the Nazis and Fascists and then allowed the rebirth of the Mafia in Southern Italy (and eventually throughout the world). The History of Wales by History Nerds This is a short presentation of the history of this part of Great Britain from its earliest days until the present. The author gives enough information to have a good sense of the culture and history of Wales, without getting so involved in the presentation that he would lose his readers. Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst I thoroughly enjoy all of Furst’s books. They all deal with European countries in the 1930’s up to 1945. This particular volume speaks of a policeman in Salonika, Greece, just before the invasion of the Nazi’s. The hero is caught up in resistance activities even before the invasion, helping Jews to escape Nazi Germany and helping a British scientist to escape from occupied Paris. Furst has a talent to paint a picture that is totally foreign, yet totally believable. A History of British India by Hayden Bellenoit This is a Great Courses presentation on the history of the British involvement in India. It goes from the days of the first commercial enterprises until the day of Indian and Pakistani independence. It gives a balanced approach to the story. Even in topics such as Gandhi, the professor goes out of his way to be honest to the talents and difficulties of his approach. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this topic. Have a good week. Please continue to keep me in your prayers. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, August 11, 2023

Ellicott City

August 11, 2023 Peace and Good, This has been an interesting week. I had a health problem, blood clots on my lungs, probably brought on by a Deep Vein Thrombosis (whish was there due to my extensive travels in these years). I was in the hospital for five days, and am now in aftercare. The staff of the hospital were great. The friars and some of my friends in the area have been very caring and solicitous. I am at home now, slowly regaining my strength. With my temperament, I always want everything done yesterday, but I have to learn to slow down and rest until the body is ready for activity again. This means that my trip to California that was supposed to happen next week has been postponed. That is no big problem, for the friars at Ellicott City are very welcoming. Once I know a few more things about my health, I can speak with the provincial to try to map out the near future. I finished some books and courses: A Century of Immigration: 1824-1924 by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier This is part of a series on American History which tries to present the story in an interesting manner. This particular volume deals with the arrival of the millions of immigrants from the early 19th century to the early 20th century. It speaks of the countries from which they came, how they slowly entered into American society, the opposition to new immigrants by some people and groups, etc. Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir This is a majestic account of the queens who reigned from the time of the Norman conquest of William the Conqueror till the days of Empress Maude, a period running from 1066 to the middle of the next century. Much of the information is drawn from bequests made to monasteries, etc., but there is also the source of biographies (very biased) of some of the people involved. Weir has done a great job of presenting the various women in a realistic manner. The British Raj by Kelly Mass This is a short account of the start of the British raj, its growth, and its eventual end after World War II. Mass gives quite a bit of attention to the East India Company which was supposedly a trading company, but which slowly conquered most of what became Pakistan and India. Their role was taken over by the British government after a rebellion in the mid 19th century. Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs This is one of the volumes in the Pendergast series who is a remarkable FBI agent who must search for a son who is a mass murderer and a genetic experiment by a band of Nazi’s in Brazil. He did not even know he was the father of this son and his twin brother. The story is not always believable, but always entertaining. Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World by Thomas Cahill This is an overview of the period of the renaissance in Europe. It deals with politics, religion, art, literature, etc. Cahill is a great author. He does have a bit of an anti-institutional attitude toward the Church, but overall gives a balance overview of developments in the early 16th century. The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan by Gregory Feifer This is a great history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its failure. Thee author gives a tremendous amount of information as to the Soviet motives, the Afghan communists’ intentions, and the reaction of the Islamic warriors who fought back. Feifer is able to balance the stories of major historic movements as well as individuals. He gives a good picture of the horror visited upon the Afghan civilians, of the mines purposely planted to kill children, etc. Colonial Horrors ed by Graeme Davis This is a collection of many of the early horror stories of colonial America. Some of them are familiar, others were all but unknown to the modern world. There are stories of ghosts, of possessions by demons, of buried treasure, of normal jealousy, etc. The style of the stories is a bit baroque, but overall they are good. Village of Islands by Jim Shepard This is a novella concerning a group of veterans who were sent to the Florida Keys during the depression. An unexpected hurricane hits the Keys and devastates their camp, killing many of them and many of the local residents. This is also the story of the lack of preparation for this event, even when the managers responsible had received warning of the coming hurricane. The Last Days of Stalin by Joshua Rubenstein This is a presentation of the last days of Stalin, his death, and what happened after his death. Because Stalin was so tyrannical, his successors were hesitant to voice their opinions (which is also true given the intensive competition among the members of the Politburo). The author gives a very good account of the larger movements as well as the personal remembrances of those involved. Livable Cities by Mark Alan Hughes This is one of the shorter Great Courses presentations. It speaks of the benefits of city life, of the possibilities of making the citizens of cities part of the decision-making process, of techniques to make cities more livable, etc. The presenter is quite good, although I wonder how possible some of his suggestions are. Have a good week. Please say a prayer for my health. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Ellicott City, MD

July 27, 2023 Peace and Good, I has been a nice, quite week. I have been getting caught up with articles for the Messenger Magazine in Padua, Italy (done until March of next year) and of the daily reflections. I'm at the point with both of them that I can put them on the side for a few days at least. I took a trip up to Totowa, New Jersey these days to visit my publisher. It was good to get out of the house and travel a bit, even if there was a tremendous amount of trafic and construction everywhere I went. I have finished one set of medical procedures, and next week I have to arrange for another CAT scan that was requested by one of my doctors. Today we have the birthday of one of the friars at the other friary on the property, fr. Hillary. He is 85 years old. fr. Hillary is as excentric as they come, but a fund excentric. He used to have a lot of adult education courses in the parishes in which he served, and people would flock to the courses. I finished some reading and listening: The Agency: A History of the CIA by Hugh Wilford This is a Teaching Company course on the history of the CIA from the days of its founding (and its predecessor agency, the OSS) to the present. It gives an explanation of how an information gathering agency began to interfere in the policies and governments of other countries (and a spate of spying on its own citizens, something strictly against its own rules). The professor gives a good overview without either overly defending or attacking the agency. Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci Two different groups chase after a Ukrainian plutocrat who was a KGB monster, killing thousands and thousands. One of the groups goes after master murderers to kill them for their crimes. The other group is a US government agency concerned that he was selling nuclear fuel to Arab terrorists. They meet and slowly form a united effort. The action is quite good, and the character development is quite good. Cities of Gold by Douglas Preston I usually read the books written by Douglas Preston together with Lincoln Childs. This one was only by Preston and it is quite good. It is the story of his journey with a companion by horse to the sites visited by Coronado when he explored the Southwest looking for the cities of gold. The book is both an adventure story (real and not fictional) and a history lesson of the encounter of the Spanish culture and the Indigenous peoples living there. Unfortunately, it is a tragic story of oppression and misunderstandings. The Culper Ring by Hourly History This is the story of a group of spies that George Washington organized in New York City during the Revolutionary War to inform him of British intentions. They were able to warn him both of a faint that the British were intending and a possible attempt to kidnap and kill him. The Third Chimpanzee: = the Evolution and the Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond Jared Diamond’s books are all filled with an incredible amount of information. The third chimpanzee in the title is the human being. Diamond speaks of the various abilities of humans and where they came from (e.g. sight, speech, cultural characteristics, etc.). He speaks of dangers in the past and those which are in the future (nuclear disaster, environmental degradation). I would highly recommend this book and Diamond’s other volumes. The Golden Age (of the Netherlands) by Kelly Mass This speaks of the period of Dutch history when the Netherlands was experiencing a most favorable trade climate and was extending its influence through a colonial empire. As always, these presentations are the bare bones approach to the topic. Eerdman’s Commentary on the Bible: Baruch, Additions to Daniel, Manasseh, Psalm 151 by John Schmitt, etc. This is an exegesis of the above mentioned books. The approach is highly exegetical, and the overall presentation in a number of the volumes in the set of commentaries is not quite as present. I found the presentation on Baruch the most useful. Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson by David Reynolds This is an extensive presentation on the history and culture of the United States during the age of Jackson and in the years immediately after his presidency. It covers questions of trade, religion, territorial expansion, treatment of the indigenous, etc. The presentation is very well organized, and the volume definitely worth one’s time. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling I had heard that the later volumes in the Harry Potter series were darker, and that is certainly the truth of this last volume of the series. I found the story good. Harry is certainly presented as a Christlike figure in this book, but the story handles well the conflicted emotions of the main characters as they confront an impossible situation. Red October by Douglas Boyd I thought this was going to be the story of a submarine named the Red October, but it turned out to be the story of the first Red October, the communist revolution in Russia. The author does a great job of presenting the main characters in the drama. He covers the main points of what happened. The only shortfall I felt was that the description of the actual revolutionary days is a bit hasty. Have a good Weekend. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, July 17, 2023

Ellicott City, MD

July 17, 2023 Peace and Good, It is so good to put just one city in the title of this blog. I have been in Ellicott City, beginning my time of rest before I begin a new apostolate (I don't know what that will be yet). This past Wednesday I had sinus surgery. They had discovered a total blockage in my right sinus when they were doing CAT scans to see what my neuropathy problem was. I could not address it then because the surgeon wanted me to spend three weeks without any flights, and that was just not possible til recently. The surgery went very well, with nothing more than a sore throat and a headache. The staff, the doctor, etc. were all tremendous. I have an appointment with the doctor this coming Wednesday. I will be here in the Baltimore area until mid-August, and then head out to our novitiate in California. There I will spend a few months, writiing a bit and just taking it easy. There have been so many trips in these years that I just need time to physically recover a bit. Already, I have found that several times a day I say to myself that I should get busy and do something, and then I tell myself that I don't have to do it. That is a good feeling. I finished some reading and listening: Executing the Rosenbergs by Lori Clune This book covers the trial and the execution of the Rosenbergs, the atomic spies executed by the US during the 1950’s. The author especially covers the reaction to the execution in countries throughout the world. She does not try to defend either them or the government, being willing to admit that Julius Rosenberg was a spy (the wife was a bit more ambiguous) and that the government mishandled the whole affair, giving the communists a press victory. The Middle East by Wendy McElroy This is a short presentation of the Middle East, especially in the 20th century. Honestly, it is more of a presentation on the history of Israel and its relations with the surrounding Arab nations. The presentation is good, but it is not what it advertises itself to be. John the Baptist by Raymond Collins This is a learn25 presentation on the person of John the Baptist. The professor gives an exegetical presentation from the writings of the New Testament, mentioning those few other early documents that speak of him (e.g. Josephus). The presentations did not give me a lot of new information, but confirmed what I already knew about the topic. George Patton by Hourly History This is a good, short presentation on the highly controversial World War II general who even the Nazi’s considered to be the best general on the Allies side. The short book presents elements of his genius, but also those elements that proved to be self-destructive. It avoids needless speculation on his death (e.g. conspiratorial theories involving the Soviets, the US government, etc.). Between the Rivers: the History of Ancient Mesopotamia by Alexis Castor This is a 24 lecture presentation on the history of the land that today is called Iraq and Syria. The professor is excellent, and she gave a number of lectures that went beyond dates and names. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, and learned quite a bit from it. Stonewall Jackson by Hourly History This is a very quick presentation on the life and military career of Stonewall Jackson. In such a short book, it is difficult to really know the person, and this is no exception. The book comes across as an outline rather than a story of the person. The Apollo 1 Disaster by Charles River Editors This is a presentation on the disaster that struck the practice launch of Apollo I A fire broke out in the capsule, and in the oxygen rich environment, quickly killed the three astronauts there. Unfortunately, the author of this presentation simply copied document after document concerning the investigations, making the read quite boring. The Apis Bull by Charles River Editors This is one of those short treatments on a specific topic by Charles River Editors. In this case, it is the story of the Apis bull which was considered to be sacred in ancient Egypt. It had to have certain markings on it, and was kept in luxury until its death, after which it was mummified. Even its mother was treated with great respect. At the end of the Hellenistic era, it took on a new identity as the Serapis. The cult went on until the early days of the Christian era. The Genius of Earth Day by Adam Rome This is a short course from the Teaching Company on the first earth day (what led up to it, what happened that day, and the long term consequences). The author is very much a fan of the movement, but he does not go overboard too much in his account. Dante by R.W.B. Lewis This is a very nice biography of Dante. It does not deal only with the Divine Comedy as many books on Dante tend to do. It speaks of his background, his politics, his reason for writing his various works, etc. It is not a very long book, but it is packed with insight. The Sacco Gang by Andrea Camilleri I have read a number of books by Camilleri. He writes about a police investigator who often has to deal with the Mafia in his home of Sicily. This book speaks about a family that fought the Mafia and who were attacked by them and by the authorities who hid the Mafia deeds for pay. They spent many years in prison for crimes that the Mafia actually committed. Lord Haw-haw by Charles River Editors This is a biography of the life and career of an American (British?) man who served as a propaganda dispenser in English during the Second World War. He hated the British aristocrats (possibly because he could not break into their circle) and berated them and the Jews and anyone else who came into his sphere. He was executed for treason at the end of the war. Jefferson Davis by Hourly History This is a short history of the first and only president of the Confederate States. It does not go into very much detail, especially during the Civil War years when it would have been interesting to know what he thought of his military leaders, etc. Nevertheless, it was a nice outline of his life. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Rome - Ellicott City, MD

July 4, 2023 Happy Independence Day, The last couple of weeks in Rome were grueling with two week long meetings, the first a definitory with a meeting of the presidents of the federations throughout the world and the second a meeting with half of the provincials of the world at the half way point in the present six year terms of the Minister General. On the 28th, I flew back to the States through Germany. Fortunately, we were only about 45 minutes late, compared with the incredible delays so many have suffered in these days. I will be at Ellicott City until August 16th, and then fly out to California for some R and R. On the 13th of this month I have a minor operation on my sinuses which I have been putting off due to the travel requirements I had as Assistant General. As of July 1st, I am finished with that responsibility. I don't really know what the long term future holds, but the next months have to be recovering from the wear and tear of 13 years of constant travel. We had the funeral of one of our friars yesterday at Annunciation Parish in Baltimore, fr. Joseph Bayne. He did suddenly of a heart attack. He did great work with runaway young men in Buffalo for years, and recently had been the assistant at our Postulancy program in Chicago. I finshed some reading and listening: European Thought in the 20th Century by Lloyd Kramer This is a teaching company course that speaks about major philosophical movements in Europe during the 20th century, from the isms to the post-modernistic era. The professor does not advocate one position or another. He simply presents the ideas and the major proponents of those ideas. Ben Gurion by Simon Peres This is a biographical account of the first leader of Israel. Ben Gurion is presented with his strengths and his flaws. Those who worked with him often found him to be autocratic, but some of that was needed in the crisis of the early years of Israel’s existence. Peres, who himself became a prime minister, gives an inside view of many of the events that made Israel what it is today. The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss Strauss is one of three authors on Roman history whom I truly enjoy. He gives a tremendous amount of background information without ever becoming pedantic. He paints a picture that explains the what and the why of whatever happened. I could easily recommend this volume. The Mongols by Kelly Mass This is a short history of the Mongols who proved to be such a horror to the nations which they assaulted. They came out of the Mongolian plateau at the end of the 12th century AD, and conquered much of the Muslim world, reaching the doors of Europe before they finally turned back. Unlike many other conquerors, they never really intended to set up and govern an empire as much as put the surrounding states in tribute to them. Christ, the Heart of Creation by Rowan Williams This is one of the most profound books I have ever read. He deals with high metaphysics and very esoteric theories, but he does so in a brilliant manner. This is the first time I truly understand the Hypostatic Union, not as a joining of two separate natures but as the divine subsuming itself in the human (for the divine contains everything that exists). I had to read this very slowly to understand as much as I could, which was probably no more than 1/3, but I would gladly read anything Rowan Williams (the former Archbishop of Canterbury) again. The Joy of Science by Robert Hazen This is a very long (60 lectures), very good overview of the modern conception of the scientific view of the universe. It deals with innumerable topics, from atoms to evolution to the history of science to the most modern conceptions of science. The professor is good and clear in his presentations, even though I had to really think about some of the topics (e.g. quantum physics). A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 US Invasion of Mexico by Amy Greenberg This is a long consideration of the reaction of the people of the States to the initiation and fighting of the Mexican American war. It was clearly a war initiated by the States in order to conquer territory (most of the southwest and California, for Texas had already been annexed). It deals with the main figures involved in the debate, Clay and Polk and a newly elected representative named Abraham Lincoln. The book mentions the fighting, but the real drama is on the home front. Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon Donna Leon is clearly one of my favorite authors. She writes about a police investigator in Venice. Brunetti has a wonderful relationship with his wife who is a college professor in literature. He is not a super sleuth, but rather an honest, insightful investigator. This volume deals with questions about sex tourism and drug manipulation. It also has a good read of the complexities of the Italian bureaucracy. It is, as always, a great read. The Maroons by Charles River Editors This is an account of the communities of run away slaves at the edge of civilization in any country that imported a large number of African slaves. This includes the US (Virginia, Florida, Louisiana), Brazil and Jamaica. At times, the run aways established large communities that were loosely associated with neighboring plantations, etc. Most of these communities were built on land that no one wanted (swamp land, the mountains, etc.). The Russian Civil War by Hourly History This is the account of the warfare between the forces of the white (anti-Bolsheviks) and the reds (Bolsheviks). The whites were aided by outside powers, especially Great Britain, the US, and Japan. The war was incredibly bloody, and also disastrous for the people who needed a dependable source of food, especially after the lack of food during the First World War. Sulla and Gaius Marius by Charles River Editors In the first century B.C., there were two Roman empires who seized power through the use of their legionary armies. Maius was mostly known as a populist. He was a very good general who defeated barbarian invasions in the north. But he despised Sulla, and he killed many of his followers. In revenge, Sulla, one of the upper class, conquered Rome and killed many, many of Marius’ followers (as well as anyone who was rich enough to want dead). He made himself dictator for life, but then resigned not many years after that. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Seoul - Rome

June 20, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome these past couple of weeks, but constantly in meetings. Right now I am taking part of an assembly of half of the major superiors of the Order (the other half met in January). This is taking place at our seminary in EUR, a suburb of Rome. Only a couple of the participants are from the States. The majority of them cam in January. The weather has changed and it is early summer, quite warm. We have had some odd rainy days, odd for this time of year which is usually quite dry. I will be in Rome for a little more than a week, and then back to the States. My first month and a half will be in Ellicott City, Maryland, for some minor medical care. Then off to California where I will help to baby sit our novitiate (for there will be no novice class this coming year). I have finished some reading: The Eighty Years War by Kelly Mass This is a short account of the war of independence that Holland waged against the Spanish Empire which, at that time, was the overlord of the country. It involved religious questions, for the north, which today is Netherlands, is today mostly Calvinist, while the south, which today is Belgium, is mostly Catholic. England got involved now and then, somewhat to protect Protestants, but mostly to annoy Spain. Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny by Michael Broers This is a very long account of the life and career of Napoleon. The author goes into great depth to describe the various political and cultural forces that Napoleon had to deal with. Oddly enough, he ends the book long before the invasion of Russia and the end of Napoleon’s career and life. What he has written about, he has written well. In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire by Adrian Goldsworthy This is an account of some of the most important generals in the history of Rome. The accounts are well done. It is typical of one of Goldsworthy’s books, who is an excellent historian on the topic of Rome. He tells who they were, what they did, and perhaps most importantly, why. Attila the Hun by Kelly Mass This is a short account of the life and activities of the famous Hun who is still considered to be one of the most ferocious barbarian to have invaded Europe. The author gives what details are known about Attila, attempting to show which legends are not reliable. World War I: the Sacrifice of a Generation by History Nerds The history nerds put together accounts that are far reaching. They present more a series of factoids than a well developed narrative. Nevertheless, the presentation is well done and provides ample information. Chekhov: 11 Stories This is a series of stories written by the famous 19th century Russian author. I found the narrative filled with endless dialog (which is more romantic phrases than true dialog). I cannot say that I will be looking for more of Chekhov’s writings. The Birth of the Modern Mind by Alan Charles Kors This is a long great courses series on the birth of the enlightenment and thought in the 18th and 19th centuries. The professor says over and over again that his presentation is not based upon what he himself believes, but rather what the character that he is covering believes. He does a very good job of presenting the various authors and movements, especially in Great Britain and France. Slavery and the Coming of the Civil War: 1831-1861 by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier This is a historic account of slavery in the United States and how it was a cause of the Civil War (no matter what some revisionists would say). The series by the Colliers is written to present history in a manner that it is palatable, without too many dates and names that just confound those interested in the topics covered by these authors. White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky This is a short novel about a man with no true goals and no realistic view of the world who meets a woman whom he thinks he wants as his wife. She, herself, is pining for a lost love who returns. I have been readings some of Chekhov’s stories, and both he and Dostoyevsky present dialogs that are flowery and never end. Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia by Alexander Booley and John Heathershaw This is a presentation of the Central Asian dictators (former Soviet Union republics) that are ruled by dictators who use the international banking system to hide their horrendous rape of their countries. They even use systems like Interpol to arrest their political opponents. One of the confusing elements is that those opponents were themselves often thieves who pillaged the country before they were exiled. The presentation is well done. Ancient Rome: the Rise and the Fall of an Empire by Simon Baker This is a long, very well written history of the Roman Empire. Baker is one of those ancient historians who can tell an involved story without ever making it boring. I would recommend this presentation, which was based on a BBC series, to anyone interested in this topic. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Seoul, Incheon, Gimpo, Yang Suri, Pusan, Ilgwang, Deigon (all in South Korea)

June 3, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been travelling through Korea these days visiting the friars. I have gone from near the border with North Korea to the southern port of Pusan. The Koreans show an incredible hospitality and deference. They have a good spirit, and I am trying to work up a report to help them as they prepare for their provincial chapter in the fall of next year. The weather has been overall good. It is warming up, especially yesterday and today. Korean food is very spicy. I like that, but not everyone would. One group of friars took me out to a buffet restaurant which had Korean, Chinese, Japanese and other types of food. It was one of the best meals that I have ever had. I have one more house to visit on Monday and Tuesday, and then meet with the definitory on Wednesday for my preliminary report. Then on Thursday late at night I head back to Rome. I have finished some reading and listening: The Best and the Worst Presidential Cabinets in U.S. History by Lindsay Chervinsky This is a Great Courses presentation on presidential cabinets throughout the history of our country. She speaks of the cabinet of George Washington (how he invented the system), of Abraham Lincoln (the famous team of rivals) and of other presidents. She presents the best and the worst and even the most corrupt of those who were in the various cabinets. She speaks of presidents who used the expertise of their cabinets, and those who all but ignored their advice. Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson This is a very entertaining book about the tools that one would find in a kitchen throughout the centuries. It gives accounts of the birth of various tools such as the fork, knife, spoon, pots and pans, etc. It is obvious that the author is a good cook who truly enjoys her hobby. The Dutch Empire by Kelly Mass This is an account of the conquests of the Dutch people in the New World and Africa. It deals with their successes, and then the reasons why they lost most of their conquests rather early (with the exception of Indonesia which was not lost until after World War II). Even though the Dutch are often considered to be a kind and generous people, that was not really true of their treatment of the people in their colonies. The Iranian Revolution by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the fall of the Shah of Iran. It deals with his relationship with the Western powers, especially the US, and his attempt to “modernize” his country. This ran head long into the religious beliefs of his Shiite Muslim country. Even though the presentation is not long, it gives a good amount of information. Eerdman’s Commentary on the Bible: First and Second Maccabees by James Dunn and John Rogerson This is an exegesis of the two books of Maccabees. They are found in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, but not the Jewish and Protestant Bibles since they were written in Greek (and the Jews and Protestants only accept those OT books written in Hebrew or Aramaic). The book is very technical. For someone like me (a Bible student), this is good. But it is not the type of book that someone who is someone interested in the topic would enjoy. Moscow 1941 by Rodric Braithwaite This is the story of the invasion of the Nazi forces in the summer of 1941, and their advance to the gates of Moscow. It deals with the strategy of both parties. The author is brutally honest on the murderous regimes of both Hitler and Stalin. He proposes that this battle, the first where the Nazi’s suffered a severe setback, was actually the turning point of the war. The death of Hitler’s War Machine by Samuel Mitcham This is an overview of the last year of World War II on the European front. It gives good treatment to the war in the East and the West, a little bit less so with the war in Italy. Occasionally he falls into citation of regiment numbers at length, but that is not the normal patters. The Spy with no Name by Jeff Maysh This is a short book about a Czech secret agent in London who presented himself as a long lost Danish child who had been put up for adoption after World War II. The book is good and it gives insight to the world of spycraft. Mark Twain by Hourly History This is one of those short biographies about Twain. I have to admit that it was full enough that I learned things about him that I had never heard before. It presented some of his tortured personality, especially in his family relations and toward the end of his life. The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright This is a very, very good book which gives an overview of the career of Osama bin Laden and his movement. It speaks of the successes and failures of the government’s attempt to track and intercept terrorism. Maybe of the failures were due to the fact that various investigative bodies refused to share critical information with each other. The author tries to give a full picture of the personalities and rationale of the parties involved. The End of Tsarist Russia by Dominic Lieven This was a very thorough overview of Russian and European politics just before World War I which led to the overthrow of the Tsarist regime. He describes the near paralysis of the Russian government due to the weakness of the monarch and the varied talent of his various ministers. Interestingly, most of the book is spent on the period before the Russian Revolution and not during and after it. The Princes in the Tower by Charles River Editors This is the story of the disappearance of the sons of Edward IV from the Tower of London (most certainly murdered, most probably by their uncle Richard III). The new king Richard had thrown their paternity into doubt and took the throne himself. He was eventually defeated by Henry VII, who used his treatment of his nephews as one of his justifications. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, May 22, 2023

Rome - Seoul, South Korea

May 23, 2023 Peace and Good, We had our General Definitory this past week. As usual, we discussed situations from all over the world. I really believe that I should get frequent flyer miles for each of our meetings. On Saturday night I flew here to Korea. I will be here for three weeks doing the Canonical Visitation. I have already done this a few times in Korea, so I know the situation fairly well. The weather here is warm and a bit overcast. Our main provincial house is right near the river and very close to downtown. The Church here is an international parish, Masses in Korean, English, Spanish, Italian and German. After this, I will be flying back to Rome for two weeks of meetings, and then back to the States for good. I finished some reading and listening: The French and Indian War by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier This is a relatively short explanation of what led up to the French and Indian War (the settlements of the colonial powers and their competition). It also gives a quick outline of the major events and the outcome of the war. The Middle East in the 20th Century by Eamonn Gearon This is a very good overview of the events and politics of the Middle East in the 20th century, from the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire to the present time after the Arab Spring and the war on terrorism. The professor quite fair in his presentation and informative. War and Decision by Douglas Feith This is the story of the decision to invade Iraq and its consequences from the viewpoint of one of the advisors to President Bush. He especially tries to prove many of the myths created by the press to have been false from the start. I don’t know if I agree with all of his explanations, but it was good to hear them. Chichen Itza by Charles River Editors This is the history of one of the greatest Mayan city which grew when other cities in its region faded in importance, and which eventually failed itself. The book speaks of the various features of its architecture. The Batavian Republic by Kelly Mass This is a short history of the Batavian Republic (Netherlands and Belgium) during the Napoleonic era. It deals with some of the tensions among the various parties involved. Hero of the Empire by Candace Millard This is the story of how Winston Churchill travelled to South Africa to be a war correspondent during the Boer war. He was captured, and he eventually escaped from imprisonment, providing the British with a hero in a war in which they were not doing all that well. The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson This is a beautiful short presentation (more of an essay than a book) recommending to those who raise children to introduce them to the wonders of nature. Carson does not recommend teaching the children the names of things as much as letting them experience them face to face. Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare A counselor in Australia has a patient who might be harassing her family and even setting fires first in her home, and then at her business. Se must figure out who it might be and why he is doing this before it endangers her family. There are a number of surprises in the course of the story, and some twists and turns that could easily be called disturbing. Cardinal Wolsey by Mandell Creighton This is a biography of Cardinal Wolsey who worked for King Henry VIII and was eventually treated very poorly by him when he was not able to acquire a divorce for him so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. The author is fair in his presentation, showing his flaws but also speaking of his great talents. The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean by Raoul McLaughlin This is a fascinating presentation (with a lot of detail) of the commerce that the Romans engaged in during the early centuries A.D. It turns out that this commerce produced a major percentage of tax income for the empire, but it also produced a huge drain on silver and gold, so much so that the currency had to be adulterated. For anyone interested in this period, this is a very informative book. Ancient Greece 101 by Christopher Bellitto This is an overview of the history, culture, and politics of the Greek city states (especially Athens and Sparta). It deals with philosophy and mythology. Bellitto is very entertaining in his presentation. This was a course produced by Learn25. I could easily recommend it to those interested in the era. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, May 8, 2023

Chicago - Rome - London - Rome

May 8, 2023 Peace and Good, I got back to Rome where the weather has now changed. It feels like the beginning of summer. There are still a lot of tourists in town, and this is really the best of times (along with October) to visit the city. I flew to London for two things this past week. I had a meeting with a couple of bishops in Cambridge (which is only about an hour train ride outside of London), and I was there for the opening of an exhibition at the National Gallery on St. Francis. The curators did a tremendous job of putting together the materials. I was very impressed. It is free, and is open through July. This week I am Rome catching up on my daily reflections and my reports to the definitory and my Messenger articles. Next week we have our definitory, and at the end of it I fly out to Korea to do a visitation. I finished some reading and listening: The War of the Roses by History Nerds This is a quick overview of the events that led up to the War of the Roses, the events during the war, and the aftermath to it which influenced English history for a long time (especially during the Tudor era). Lincoln’s Spies by Douglas Waller This is an informative presentation on how spy craft was used by the Union army during the Civil War. It gives a full portrait of the mistakes made by some of the participants (such as Pinkerton who worked as the spy for General McClellan) and the successes in providing information before some of the major battles. One of my favorite stories was that of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Richmond socialite, who helped escaped Union soldiers and then established a spy network that was invaluable to the Union side. Alan Turing: Unlocking the Enigma by David Boyle Alan Turing was one of the experts who helped the British decode the messages produced by the enigma machine. He was sadly troubled by the government for his sexuality (he was gay and that was illegal in Great Britain at that time). Crimes of the Century: A Selective History of Infamy by Richard Spence This is a teaching company course which outlines a number of horrible crimes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. They include many which are well known, such as the Zodiac and Manson Family killings, as well as accounts that were totally new to me (e.g. the murder of a family in Weimar Germany, the murder of a woman and her daughter in early 20th century France). John Wilkes Booth by Hourly History This is a short biography of the assassin of President Lincoln. An actor from a family of actors, John Wilkes Booth built up a reputation as an adequate actor, but also as a rabid supporter of the south and slavery. His disappointment at the losses suffered by the South led him and a small band of co-conspirators to plot first to kidnap, and eventually to kill Lincoln as well as a number of other key figures in the Northern government. The Persian Corridor in World War II by Charles River Editors This is a short account of the project to ship military goods to the Soviet Union during World War II through Iran. Transportations hubs had to be established from scratch. Factories had to be built to assemble vehicles and tanks and planes. Railroads had to be built and manned to bring materials from the Persian Gulf to the borders of the Soviet Union. The rise of Modern Japan by Mark Ravina This is a Teaching Company course on Japan from the time of the Meiji Restoration, and especially the end of World War II, up to the present time. There were some details in the account about which I had never heard. It is well presented, using the literature and movies of the time to demonstrate changes in mentality and social expectations throughout the period. The Afrikaans by Nick Pirog This is a suspense novel about a group of terrorists who seize a cruise boat in the Indian Ocean and threaten to kill everyone on board if the US doesn’t send massive aid to fight the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. There are twists and turns throughout the book. The action scenes are OK, but not exactly of the same quality as those of an Alan Furst or John le Carre. The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III by Michael Jones and Philippa Langley This is the story of the search for the grave of King Richard III. He was the king who probably killed his nephews in the Tower of London, and he seized the crown from his deceased brother. He was overthrown in battle by King Henry VII and his body was buried in the Church of the Greyfriars. That church was subsequently destroyed. The author of the book speaks of her search and discovery of the tomb. The style of the book is not all that good, more of a supermarket tabloid style than anything else. Ravenna by Judith Herrin This is a sweeping history of the city on the Adriatic which was so important for the Byzantine governance of their territories in Italy and also for the incredible legacy of mosaic art in its basilicas. It was the most important city on that sea before Venice, and in fact faded from its previous importance around the time of the rise of Venice and of the Empire of Charlemagne (who looted much artwork from it for his new capital in Aachen. The book gives a tremendous amount of information in a very pleasant narrative style. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Monday, April 24, 2023

Torrance, Ca - Chicago

April 24, 2023 Peace and Good, I finished my visitation of the friars in Torrance, CA, and flew to Chicago. This past week we have had a meeting of the CFF. This is the English speaking federation for the friars, and all the provincials, custodes and delegates gather twice a year to establish a plan for the friars over the next several months (and to tell the truth, te next several years). The meeting went very, very well. I always like visiting Chicago. Our friary is on the north side of the city, two blocks from the Lake and three from Loyola University. The weather has been strange, but I got my walks in no matter what. Today I fly back to Rome where I will be until Sunday when I fly to London. I have a direct flight on American, so I do not have to change in London this time. The clock is slowly clicking down til I finish my assignment in Rome - 65 days to go. I am looking forward to see how this next stage of my life plays itself out. I finished some reading: Generals and Geniuses: A History of the Manhattan Project by Edward Lengel This is a course from the Teaching Company on the scientists and military men who organized the Manhattan Project which produced the first atom bomb. The presentation is well done, and it gives a good insight both into the difficulties that had to be overcome in this project and the personalities of those involved. It also gives insight into the continuing fear that Germany or Japan were working to produce their own nuclear weapons. Night Soldiers by Alan Furst Furst is one of my favorite authors. He write about espionage during the 30’s and 40’s, especially dealing with the Nazis but also with the NKVD of the Soviet Union. In this book, the hero is born in Bulgaria, trained to be a spy in the Soviet Union, ends up serving in Spain, France and Prague, and finally, after stopping in Romania, ends up on the docks of New York City. Although all of this sounds absurd, Furst makes it work. He has a way of enticing one into a hidden world. I recommend this book. Firestarter by Stephen King This is a tale of paranormal abilities which are exhibited in a young girl whose parents were part of a secret governmental drug trial. She is able to set fires, and a secret governmental agency wants to find her, control her, and if necessary destroy her. She and her father flee as long as they can from the agents seeking them, and then they have to use their powers to defeat the evil plans of that agency. Island on Fire by Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe This is the story of the explosion of a volcano on Iceland in 1783 named Loki. It had disastrous consequences on the people living near the volcano, but also on people all around the world because of the environmental consequences of the release of ash and sulfuric fumes which travelled around the world. This probably is what led to a famine in France which led to the French Revolution. The authors are able to draw together events such as this, but also to ask what would happen today if a similar event were to occur. The Solar Revolution by Steve McKevitt and Tony Ryan The authors of this short work speak of the energy crises the world is now facing, and proposes various possible solutions (and the problems inherent in those solutions) to the problem. This includes a discussion of solar energy, geothermic energy, hydropower, wind power, nuclear energy, etc. The study is short but well done and compelling. Odds On by Michael Crichton This is the story of a set of thieves who plan to rob a Spanish casino and its customers. The name comes from the fact that the founder of the gang has based his plan upon a computer program to measure probabilities. The book is OK, but not great. The Debriefing by Jeffery Deaver This is a very good story about two DEA agents who are injured during a capture of some drug runners. The title deals with the debriefing that they undergo by the police after they are taken to a hospital. There are a number of twists and turns in the story that make it compelling. Lithium by Walter Brown This is the history of the use of Lithium to treat people who suffer from Manic-Depressive (Bipolar) Disorder. The use of lithium was almost an accident, and to this day no one really knows why it works to treat and even prevent depressive episodes. The use of the drug was only gradual due to the danger of overdose with the use of Lithium. Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs by Barbara Mertz This is an overview of Egyptian archaeology and the history of Egypt from its earliest days to the days of the Hellenist Ptolemy regime. The author has a very entertaining, irreverent style that makes a book that would possibly be incredibly boring into a pleasant treat. I would recommend this particular book, not so much for the knowledge gained as for the joy of reading the book itself. Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon One of my favorite artists is Caravaggio. I love going to the Church of St. Louis the King in Rome where two beautiful paintings (including the calling of St. Matthew) are found. He is the master of the shadow and light technique that would be used by such talented later artists such as Rembrandt. Yet, his life is so sad, so filled with self-destructive violence. He so loved to empress the humanity and humility of discipleship, and yet he so profaned his own humanity through drunkenness, debauchery, and violence. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Rome - Torrance, CA

April 13, 2023 Peace and Good, I was in Rome until Tuesday of Easter week. The weather has been OK, cool and cloudy most days. The city was packed with tones of tourists and pilgrims. This past week gave me time to get well ahead with my daily reflections, which is a good feeling since I will be travelling quite a bit in these days. I am in Torrance, near Los Angeles, to visit a community of Korean friars who run a Korean Catholic Center (basically a parish). They are wonderfully hospitable. Their English is spotty, from quite good to none at all. This is part of a visitation of their province to get ready for their provincial chapter. I will be going to Korea at mid-May. Tomorrow I fly out to Chicago for a meeting with the CFF federation. fr. Michael Heine, who was elected president of the federation, will run the meeting. fr. Joseph Wood, who is taking my place as Assistant General as of July 1, will also be present. I finished some reading: Measuring the World by Daniel Kelhmann This novel is a somewhat strange story of the travels and careers of the two Humboldt brothers, one who travels to South America and one who stays in Germany where he becomes involved in mathematics. Both are obsessed with what they are doing, all but closing out the world around them (which interesting enough is exactly what they are studying). The Dark Wind by Tony Hillerman Hillerman has written a series of novels about Chee, a Navaho detective on the reservation. In this volume, Chee has to investigate a series of unconnected crimes. Someone is damaging a mechanical water well on territory that is passing from Navaho control to Hopi control. A plane crashes on the reservation that seems to have held a fortune in drugs. A body was found that might have been killed by a tribal witch. The books by Hillerman are well, well written and always a joy to read. Mozart by Kelly Mass This is a short biography of the famous musician Mozart. It deals with what we actually know about him, and not so much the fables that have arisen over the years about him. The story is well told. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth This is an excellent account of an attempted assassination of Charles de Galle after he, as president of France, had agreed to grant Algeria its independence. The Jackal is a British assassin hired by rebellious ex-military forces. The account handles both his movements and the counter-movements of those who have been assigned the task of finding and eliminating him. Erwin Rommel by Hourly History This is a short biography on Rommel, the famous desert fox. At one point in the Second World War, he was even characterized as a worthy opponent by Winston Churchill. When the Nazis arrived in Germany, he did not oppose them. He was more worried about a Soviet takeover, and he appreciated how the Nazis ramped up spending for the army. It was only at the end of his career and life that he recognized how truly evil and demented the Nazi movement was. Islam 101 by Akbar Ahmed This is an introductory course on Islam. I feel with all that is going on in the world today, I should know more about the topic. The professor is a bit defensive at times, blaming the problems of Islam on the Western world, but most of the presentation is balanced and insightful. Scorpion by Mark Dawson This is a novella that deals with a former Soviet agent who has become an assassin for hire. He is engaged by the Russian mafia to kill an Arabian businessman, a journalist and a mysterious third figure. An agent of British security tries to protect the journalist and to eliminate Scorpion. Before the Frost by Henning Mankell This is a novel that takes place in Sweden, involving a grouchy police investigator and his daughter who is about to enter the force. There are a series of unexplained murders (and/or suicides). There is a background story of a religious fanatic and his movement which are planning an apocalyptic event to foster in the new era of religious conformity (to his own twisted views). Marie Antionette by Captivating History I have listened to a rather extensive biography of Marie Antionette this past year, so this short history was more a refresher course for me than anything else. History’s Greatest Military Blunders and the Lessons they Teach by Prof. Gregory Aldrete This is a teaching company course on the topic of battles that were disasters for one side of the battle, either because of poor leadership, or surprise techniques being used, or outmoded thinking concerning armaments, etc. Aldrete is a good lecturer, engaging without being exaggerated in his approach. The course is 24 lectures, each of which is about a half an hour. Early Dutch History by Kelly Mass This is an overview of the history of the people of the Netherlands in their earliest days. The book deals with the pre-Roman period, the Roman period and what followed in the midst of the retreat of the Romans from that area of the world. It deals with the question of who the Dutch actually are (in terms of which tribes came to permanently settle in what would become the Netherlands and Belgium). The book concludes with the late Middle Ages. Shalom fr. Jude

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Rome - Piglio - Rome

April 4, 2023 Peace and Good, After we finished our definitory meeting, the members of the definitory travelled to a town about one hour outside of Rome for our annual retreat. The friary is a large shrine on top of a hill in a very rural part of the country (mostly dedicated to growing grapes for wine). The friars were exceedingly hospitable. The presenter, fr. Felice Autieri, originally from Naples but now living and teaching in Assisi, was tremendous. He presented some figures and events from the start of the Franciscan movement. His portrayal of important figures was fair and well studies (not a one dimensional presentation that one sometimes hears when professors want to show that they are unique and know more than everyone else). We have returned to Rome for Holy Week. I will be here in Rome until Easter Tuesday when I travel to Los Angeles to make a visitation with some of our Korean friars who have a friary there and serve the local Korean immigrant community. Then, that Friday I head to Chicago for our semi-annual meeting of the CFF, the last one I will be attending. Then back to Rome. The weather here in Rome is quite nice, in the 60's. There are many, many tourist here for Holy Week. They are very relieved that the Holy Father was not in the hospital longer, for they truely want to see him and participate in the Vatican liturgies. I finished some reading: The Occupation and Liberation of France during World War II by Charles River Editors This is a short overview of the blitzkrieg that caused the fall of France, and then of the liberation of France, emphasizing in particular the liberation of Paris (mostly by its own inhabitants. Golda Meir by Charles River Editors This is a well written presentation on the life and career of Golda Meir, the first female prime minister of Israel. The history is very well outlined, and this short book also presents a good view of the politics of Israel from the time of its independence until the Yom Kippur War (shortly after which Golda Meir resigned as prime minister). Inuit Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a short and interesting overview of the mythology of the Inuit people. So much of it revolves upon the water and the creatures found in it and upon which the Inuit depend. Being a very short presentation, the overview is cursory, but it presents enough knowledge to get a sense of things. Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas This is the account of seven remarkable men who changed the history of the world and who were guided by their faith in what they did. They include George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II and Charles Colson. The author is evangelical, and the account is heavily influenced by that background, but the stories are also uplifting. Central America by Joseph Stromberg This is a relatively short history of the central American republics, their cooperation, their antagonism, and their difficulties. The author cannot go into depth on any particular topic, but there is enough information to get a sense of what one is dealing with when one speaks about a particular central American republic. The Election of 1860: A Nation Divides on the Eve of War by Jessica Genderson This is a short account of the country at the time of the Civil War, of the election of 1860, the effects of the victory Lincoln won first of all to become the Republican Party nominee, and then to become the president of the nation. It speaks about the breakaway of the Confederate States, and the lack of action by President Buchanan and the fruitless efforts of Lincoln to avoid the conflict. The Acropolis of Athens by Charles River Editors This is a good account of the significance of the Acropolis in Athens. It is the home to religious and civic monuments that shaped the way that the Athenians thought about themselves. It was destroyed by the Persians during their great invasion, but rebuilt to even greater status afterward. It suffered the destruction of the ages until it is now only a hulk of what it once was, but even in ruins it inspires poets and scholars and everyday people. Roman Gaul by Charles River Editors This is the history of Gaul before the Roman invasion, during the invasion by Julius Caesar, and then afterward until it was conquered by the barbarians and became the focal point for the new nation of France. The author spends quite a bit of time on the conquest of Caesar, possibly because so much material is available from Caesar’s own account. Witchcraft in the Western Tradition by Jennifer McNabb This is a Teaching Company course on the idea of witches throughout the ages. A considerable amount of time deals with the persecution of witches, especially in the early modern era. The professor tries to draw out why this particular phenomenon occurred at that time (agricultural difficulties due to a minor ice age, religious difficulties due to the Protestant Reformation, etc.). The professor is not a sensationalist, but rather tries to apply a logical approach to the study. The Fall of Rome by Adrian Goldsworthy This is a magisterial study of the fall of the Roman Empire (or as some would say, the evolution of the empire into something else). Goldsworthy is a tremendous scholar of ancient times, and this book is no exception. It is quite long, but never boring. Each topic is treated with care and precision. I could easily recommend this book to anyone. Ernest Hemmingway by Hourly History This is a short biography of the famous 20th century author. Often married, excessively macho, married to a sparce style, he wrote of war and violence (e.g. in the cull ring) and other topics that he though showed his male nature. I have never really liked either his writing style nor his pathetic posturing. May the rest of Holy Week be a good, spiritual time for you and Happy Easter Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, March 24, 2023

Silver Spring, MD - Rome

March 24, 2023 Peace and Good, I have returned to Rome for a month or so. This week we have had our General Definitory. Inlike last month's meeting, this one has relatively little material to cover. We are still talking about the four corners of the earth, but we did most of the heavy lifting in our last meeting. The weather here is Rome has turned very nice. It is in the high 60's most days. Spring has arrived. We finish our meeting today. Then on Monday we will head off on retreat for several days. Our retreat is being led by a historian who will speak to us about the Rule of St. Francis (the instructions given to the friars when he founded the Order). I will be here in Rome until the Tuesday after Easter when I will head back to the States. I ask you to keep in your prayers a number of my friends who are going through a difficult time right now. I finished some reading: Lithobolia by Richard Chamberlayne This is the story of a haunting of a property by a demon summoned by a neighbor who was angry over a division of property. That neighbor stated that the new owner might take possession of that property, but he would never enjoy it. The title refers to the thrower of stones, and that is how the demon manifested itself over a few months. The Ottoman Empire by Kelly Mass This is a short account of the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire. Different from the Arabs, but nevertheless Muslim, the Ottomans rose in the Middle Ages as a migrant nomadic people who settled in Turkey and eventually became its masters. The 15th and 16th centuries marked its nadir, but it sank into discrepancy by the late 19th and early 20th century, disappearing totally after World War I. The British Colonization of New Zealand by Charles River Editors This is just a short history of New Zealand from its European discovery until the present. The book points out the differences between it and Australia and why they were never united into one nation. It deals with how the Maori were treated differently than the Aborigine. It speaks of the coming to age of the Dominion on the battle fields of World War I. No Man’s Land by John Toland This is a very thorough account of the last year of World War I. It begins with a desperate offensive by the Germans before the US forces could be well trained and enter the battle fully. The offensive was blunted by the extreme sacrifice of French and British forces, and the entrance of some of the first American soldiers to arrive in France. By the fall, it was obvious that Germany had lost, but the General Staff and the Kaiser had to be convinced of this by painful defeats. Impact by Douglas Preston Douglas Preston is one of my favorite authors, especially in his collaboration with Lincoln Child. This book, written only by Preston, is good and presents two very unlikely heroes who literally save the earth. There is only one section in it that I actually found offensive – the treatment of an Indian (Kashmir) professor who is betraying the US to foster the scientific excellence of Pakistan – I found the scene racist and poorly written. Otherwise, the book is quite good. The 4 Great Prayers: the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be by Nicholas Ayo This is a very, very good presentation on these most central prayers in our faith. Fr. Ayo is down to earth, and yet shows a profound understanding of the implications of the various petitions and statements made in these prayers. This is part of the Learn25 series, and I could highly recommend it. Reimagining Boundaries: Jewish and Christian Identity in Late Antiquity by Juan Bargos Bejarano Gutierrez This book is intended to be a short study on the flexibility of definitions concerning Jewish and Christian in the early centuries A.D. The only problem is that the author is very short on details. He uses the Clementine Dialogs to prove his point with very occasional references to sayings in the writings of the Fathers of the Churches. The book doesn’t exactly prove its case, but it does raise some interesting questions of how separate Jews were from Christians and whether there were those who tried to find middle ground between the two faiths. Kashmir: History of its Causes and Consequences by Kelly Mass This short book gives a historic overview of this very troubled part of India/Pakistan. Although the majority of its inhabitants are Muslin, its shah decided to go with India at the partition of India and Pakistan. Furthermore, the Chinese fought a war in the north to take certain critical passes through the Himalaya Mountain. The Mongolian Empire by Kelly Mass This is a short account of the rise and the eventual dissolution of the Mongolian Empire into its constitutive parts. In such a short book, there are a jumble of names and historic events and it can be difficult to keep them in track. Overall, I have not been thrilled with this series by Kelly Mass. It covers an incredible width of topics, but none in depth. Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovich Aaronovich is one of my favorite authors. This is the second in his series of books about Peter Grant, a mixed race Londoner who is recruited into a department which investigates the misuse of magic. The whole department is made up of him and his mentor. This volume involves music vampires (people who draw magical energy from music but slowly kill the musicians), a woman whose private parts are a set of teeth (with the obvious painful results), and a faceless master magician. The whole series is great, and this one was very, very good. Have a good week. You are in my prayers as we approach Holy Week. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Silver Spring, Md - Priestfield, WV - Silver Spring, MD

March 12, 2023 Peace and Good, I gave a retreat to our post-novitiate students this past week in Priestfield, WV. This is a beautiful retreat house not too far from Harper's Ferry. The topic of the retreat was the Prophets and Lent. This was the first time I presented this particular topic, and I enjoyed preparing and presenting it. The weather was cool but sunny most of the week, and the grounds are beautiful. We came back on Friday and I will be flying back to Rome tomorrow night. Next Monday we being our definitory meeting. It will go for a week, and then we have a week of retreat in a friary not too far from Rome. The week after that is Holy Week, and then Easter Week I will be back in the States. I finished some books: Catholic and Protestant Reformation: the Key to Understanding the Reformation Movement by Fr. Henry Wanbrough This is a series of lectures from the Learning Company which deals with various attempts at reform among Protestants and Catholics in the centuries since the Protestant Reformation. Although each lecture was very good, I found the whole series to be a bit disjointed. It dealt much, much more with the Catholic attempt at renewal than the Protestant one. Louisa May Alcott by Hourly History This is a part of a series on American authors. The author goes into depth on the influences of Alcott’s family members on her writing, especially a father who favored her sister, often scolded her, and could never earn a living. Alcott was forced to earn a living for the family through her writing. The book speaks of her time serving as a nurse during the Civil War (a short time) and how it affected her health for the rest of her life. American Civil War by Hourly History This is a very quick overview of the history of the American Civil War. It is the first of a series of short books on the war, the rest of which are about individual topics and not as generic as this book. Spies of the Congo by Susan Williams This is the story of the American effort to control the exportation of uranium from a mine in what was then Belgian Congo during World War II. It was an abundant supply of very high-grade ore, so everyone wanted access to it. Belgium was conquered by the Nazis, so they made efforts to obtain the ore, but the United States set up an organization which fostered exportation to the States and hindered its exportation to Germany. How the Medici Shaped the Renaissance by William Landon This is a history of the Medici family and its influence upon the cultural awakening called the Renaissance in Florence, Italy. They gained power as a banking family, but eventually their influence was through political connections (both with the Vatican, which was governed by two Popes from this family, and foreign powers such as France and the Holy Roman Empire). The author presenting this account is honest in his appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the various members of the family who gained ascendency in Florence over the centuries. The Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II by Charles River Editors This is the story of the internment of most of the Japanese population of the West Coast during the Second World War. This was done to prevent collaboration with the Japanese empire, but even when it was being carried out, there were serious critics to a policy which was clearly racist (and based upon information that some in the army had fabricated). The Romanovs by Virginia Cowles This is a nicely written account of the 300 years of Romanov rule in Russia. This is an enormous sweep of time, so the account is not as detailed as would be one by Massie or another author of the period, but it gives both the basic story and quite a bit of background information. Vlad the Impaler by Kelly Mass This is a short account of Vlad who was the figure used to form the fictional character Dracula. He was a prince in southern Romania and he played his forces between the Turkish army and the army of the Hungarian Empire. His title is due to his immense cruelty in impaling his enemy, including women and children. Scipio Africanus: Greater than Napoleon by B.H. Liddell Hart This is the biography and history of the great Roman general Scipio Africanus, the general who defeated the Carthaginian forces in Spain before continuing to North Africa where he defeated the forces of Hannibal. The author is a famous military historian from Great Britain. He unfortunately oversells his case a bit, portraying Scipio as the greatest general who ever lives (and therefore having to denigrate the accomplishments of other general such as Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Caesar. The Mauryan Empire by Kelly Mass This is an Indian empire that preceded the conquests of Alexander the Great. Not a lot is known about this particular civilization, but recent archaeologists are discovering more detail to add to the picture of this local culture (Indian and not Hellenized). Genghis Khan by Kelly Mass This short book was contained in a series which presented a series of mass murderers. The account gives a good biography of Genghis Khan, a history of his conquests, and a bit of information on what happened to his empire after his death. Have a good St. Patrick's Day. Shalom fr. Jude

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Rome - Chicago - Silver Spring

March 5, 2023 Peace and Good, I flew to Chicago last Sunday and spent the week with the friar who will succeed me in my job as Assistant General, fr. Joseph Wood. He is currently the Novice Director, and he will finish that responsibility on July 15th when he will travel to Rome to take over. We spent a number of hours going through the day to day living in Rome as well as the situations he will confront in our Federation and around the world. Yesterday I flew to Baltimore. Tomorrow I will begin preaching a retreat to the post-Novitiate student friars living in Silver Spring. It will be upon the prophets in light of Lent. I am looking forward to this week. I will fly back to Rome a week from tomorrow. In Chicago, we got some cold weather but we missed out on the predicted snow. I got to visit my favorite Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. We will be conducting the retreat in Priestfield, West Virginia (not too far from Harper's Ferry, Maryland. I have given a number of retreats there over the years, and I am looking forward to being back there. I finished some reading: The Byzantine Empire by Kelly Mass This is a short history of the Byzantine Empire arranged by century. The author gives the basic information with a little bit of background, but not all that much. World War II: Impossible Choices and Deeds that Changed History by Michael Bess This is a course for Learn 25 concerning the morality of various choices made by both sides in the Second World War. Bess is tremendous for he is able to see both sides of the story. Unlike many authors of these matters, he does not slip into easy answers, but is brutally honest concerning the difficulties of making a decision when every choice seemed to be evil. The Fall of Rome: Lead Poisoning and Other Myths by Ingrid de Haas This book is a refutation of a number of theories that caused the decline of the Roman Empire. While the authors theories are credible, they miss an entire aspect of the question. Maybe there is not just one reason why the empire fell – maybe it was a combination of a number of reasons that are already mentioned in de Hass’ book. The Battle of Bunker Hill by Hourly History This short book is part of a short series on the Revolutionary War. The author speaks of what preceded the battle, of the battle itself, and the consequences of the battle. The author holds that this was the ultimate event that actually caused the war, and furthermore the event which taught the British that they could not easily defeat the colonials. The Legend of Sleepy Hallow by Washington Irving This is the story of the headless horseman who seems to have captured and/or killed a school teacher in a Dutch town during the colonial era. I had not heard it for many years, and it was a joy to listen to it again. Lexington and Concord by Hourly History This is the story contained in a book on the Revolutionary War concerning the battle that arose when the British marched into a Massachusetts town in order to confiscate weapons that they thought were stockpiled there (but they had been hidden elsewhere before the British arrived). The battle was not intended, but it showed the British that the colonials were ready to fight, and in fact, fight in a way that the British did not fully know how to counteract. Krakatoa by Simon Winchester Winchester writes books about tremendous natural phenomena, such as the explosion of the volcano Krakatoa in Indonesia and the San Francisco earthquake. Winchester is a very good author, and this book covers a remarkable width of study, from plate tectonics, colonial politics, Islamic revival, climate changes, etc. I could well recommend this book. Short Stories by C.S. Lewis This is a collection of unpublished (and mostly unfinished) stories written by C.S. Lewis. I have to admit that it was probably best that they were not published, for I did not find them all that good nor even all that meaningful. Quarrel with the King by Adam Nicolson This is the story of the Pembroke family from the days of Queen Elizabeth to that of the Stuart dynasty. They represent the landed aristocracy that was at odds with the centralizing power of the British government. They believed that they could live in a type of rural utopia, which was far from that considering how their underlings suffered under them. Assassinations that changed the World by Nigel Cawthorne This is an odd collection of the stories of assassinations throughout the ages from ancient times to the most recent times. The stories are actually well written, and they offer a series of lessons on the consequences of these murders. Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovich Aaronovich is one of my favorite authors. This book is early in the series about Michael Brown, a policeman in London who belongs to a unit that investigates offenses to the law that were performed by magic. In this book, an American student is found murdered by a sherd from an ancient pot. Brown must deal with a series of adventures to discover who the murderer is (and save a group of people who live underground, under London). Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Friday, February 24, 2023


February 24, 2023 Peace and Good, I have been in Rome for the past ten days or so. Last week we had a long definitory which was a bit more taxing than most of them. This week I have spent time doing daily reflections (I have finished up to Holy Thursday) and today and tomorrow I intend to do some writing for the Messenger Magazine. Sunday I take off for Chicago to meet with the friar who will be my successor in this work, fr. Joseph Wood. He will take over at the beginning of July. The weather is Roman winter weather. The temperature gets into the low 60's most days, but there are a lot of clouds (but not a lot of rain). The other day I had lunch with one of our friars from the Penitenzeria. These are the confessors at the Vatican. We visited the Church of St. Louis the King. In one of the side chapel there are some Carravaggio paintings. He is such an incredible artist, an expert with the use of light and shadows. It is a shame that he was such a wretch of a person. Each day as I move around my room, I decide what I want to keep and ship back to the States and what I would like either to give away or throw away. This has been a very good exercise to teach me detachment. My folks moved three times in their last years, and each time they moved they got rid of 2/3's of what they had. I have finished some reading: Planet Simpson by Chris Turner This is the history of the Simpson show, especially in its golden era. Turner also deals at length with the sociological importance of the show’s observations. Some of the findings are hilarious, and they are always insightful. Devil of Black Creek by Victor Methos This is a novella about two sisters and the boyfriend of one of them who go into the countryside with the home of discovering a savage hominid who has been murdering settlers and visitors to a certain area of the country. Even when they find it and one of them is killed, they cannot prove its existence to others. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore This is the story of the women who were hired to paint radium dials on watches before and after the First World War. At the beginning, little was known of the effects of radium poisoning. Even when the dangerous effects of this poison were discovered, the companies which hired the women fought to keep the information quiet and fought against any type of monetary settlement to aid the stricken women. The book is well done. Ireland in the 1990’s: the Path to Peace by Ed Lengel This is a history of the troubles in Ireland from the time of the First World War til the eventual peace agreements which have largely quieted down the terrible sectarian fighting between Catholics and Protestants. The professor is not afraid to lay blame where it lies. He especially deals with the negotiations which led to a relatively peaceful period. Attila the Hun by Kelly Mass There is relatively short presentation of the life and deeds of this terrible person (at least from the point of view of those who suffered due to his invasions). There is relatively little information known about him, and most of that information was collected by his enemies. Akkadian Empire by Kelly Mass This is a short presentation of the Akkadian civilization in Mesopotamia in the early days of settlement there. It is the first of a few books on ancient empires written by Kelly Mass. She produces a short but quite sparce presentation. The Real Sherlock by Lucinda Hawksley This is a short study of Arthur Conan Doyle. It draws information from a number of sources from the family of Doyle. This is a very good first presentation of the life and writings of the author who produced the Sherlock Holmes books and stories as well as a number of other books as well. Medical Mysteries across History: Part II by Roy Benaroch I have listened to a number of courses by Benaroch from the Great Courses. This is really not one of his best presentations. It is an attempt to diagnose historic figures from the information provided by various sources. 2,000 Years of Papal History by John O’Malley This is a Learning25 course dealing with the history of the papacy over its 2,000 years. The professor presenting the material emphasizes that it is not the history of the Church, but rather an overview of some of the popes, their lives, and their accomplishments. O’Malley is a good presenter, and he is not afraid to be honest in his evaluations. I would highly recommend this presentation and others by this professor (I have already read his history of the Council of Trent). Syria and the Assad Family by Charles River Editors This is the story of the rise of the Syrian state after World War II and of the rise of the Assad family. They belong to a minority group (not Sunni) called the Alawites. That has given them a loyal power base which has controlled both the government and the army for many years (even now after the incredibly disastrous Syrian civil war). The Final Days of Jesus by Shimon Gibson This is a book written by an archaeologist concerning the last days of Jesus in Jerusalem. The author is way too self-referential, showing how his discoveries changed the way people thought about this or that. Nevertheless, the book does contain some interesting details. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Baltimore - Rome

February 15, 2023 Peace and Good, I flew back to Rome this past Saturday evening. The flight was supposed to be on Friday evening, but at the last minute it was cancelled. I think they cancelled it because there were not enought people, because the next evening the flight was only about 40% full. Yet, I do not understand how they get away with this without being fined by the government. Rome is cool but the weather is quite nice. You can already see plants growing in the fields and the birds are getting ready to build their nests. We started our definitory yesterday (Monday) afternoon, and it will continue until Saturday evening. February is always a touch meeting because we have to deal with finances for the Order but also for the friaries in Rome that are under our authority. This will be the meeting that we vote upon my successor as Assistant General. Then, at the end of the month, I will meet with him to spend a few days sharing information with him. I have finished some reading: The Boston Tea Party by Hourly History This is part of series of books on the American Revolution. This volume deals with the Boston Tea Party (its origin, what happened, and the long-term consequences of this action). One of the most interesting things I discovered is that many of the richer American were very embarrassed by the destruction of private property, and they tended to downplay this particular action. Origins of the Universe by Jack Arnold This is a short account of the history of astrophysics and the various theories of how the universe began. This is part of a series of short scientific books and it is well prepared and presented. The Tet Offensive by Charles River Editors This is a short but thorough account of the 1968 offensive organized by the Vietcong, but especially the North Vietnamese forces. The goal of the offensive was to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. The communists did not achieve their objectives, but they did win in the long run for they so discouraged the American public and government that they no longer had the will to continue the fight. The Wars of Scottish Independence by Hourly History This short book gives information about the various wars between Scottish and English forces in the late Middle Ages. It especially deals with the Scottish heroes Robert the Bruce and William Wallace, as well as Edward I. Stalin by Ronald Grigor Suny This is a long and detailed book about Stalin from his birth til the time when the Communists seized control of the government in Russia and Stalin grasped power from the hands of his movement. While the book gives an incredible amount of information, much of it is in terms of interparty disagreements. It is a good book, but I would only recommend it to someone who wanted to study this topic at length. The Norman Conquest by Marc Morris Marc Morris is a genius of historical works. This one deals with the Norman conquest (before, during and especially after). It is one of his better books. He is honest in his treatment of the characters of the various people involved. He is very careful to evaluate the trustworthiness of the sources (especially when they are clearly from either an Anglo Saxon or Norman point of view). The book is long, but definitely worthshile. Aphrodite by Charles River Editors This is part of a series on important historic figures and events. It is like a very long Wikipedia article. This book presents a good overview of the complicated cult of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and desire (among other things) in the Greek pantheon. It is well done, and presents the best archaeological evidence concerning the myths and devotion to her. Pablo Picasso by Kelly Mass This short book is a part of a series of biographies of major figures by Kelly Mass. The author presents the bare bones of who the figure is and what he/she did, but not much more. It left me wanting to read something substantial about this controversial artist. Tenskwatawa: The Life of the Shawnee Prophet and Tecumseh’s Brother by Charles River Editors This is the story of the brother of Tecumseh who organized a war against American settlers in the Mideast in the late part of the 18th century and the early part of the 19th century. Part of this war was a purification of the lives of the native Americans led by Tenskwatawa, an ecstatic Shawnee prophet. The Bar Kokhba Revolt by Captivating History This is the history of the Jewish rebellion against Roman forces in the early 2nd century A.D., during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. The Jewish people of Palestine were hoping that they could entice the Parthians (Persia) to use this as an opportunity to invade, but it never happened. The new rules against Judaism after the rebellion were draconian, but they only lasted a short while (until the reign of the next emperor, Antoninus Pius). Oscar Wilde by Kelly Mass This is a short biography and overview of this controversial literary figure. He really did not enormous amounts of material, but those things he did write served as a challenge to his society. He died shortly after he was released from prison for homosexual activities. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude