Thursday, January 19, 2023


January 19, 2023 Peace and Good, I am still in Rome. We are reaching the end of two weeks of meetings. The first week was for the new provincials, custodes and secretaries in the Order (sort of a how to course). The second week was a meeting with half of all the provincials and custodes throughout the world. Our terms are six years long, and we are halfway through the current mandate. This meeting was a kind of halfway meeting to take stock of what has been accomplished, and what still needs to be addressed. Both of these meetings are taking place at the Seraphicum, our seminary in the southwestern corner of the city. The friars have been very hospitable. Tomorrow I head home to Santi Apostoli to pack for my next trip. I am heading to Ellicott City to visit some doctors and to have a few weeks of vacation. Winter has finally arrived in Rome. It is cooler with a lot of rain, which is badly needed here in Rome (for there has been a bad drought throughout this past summer). I finished some reading: Persian Fire by Tom Holland Tom Holland has written a series of books on ancient history, and this is one of his best. It is the history of Persia, especially in respect to its wars with the Greek city states. Holland is able to describe the history, culture, religion, military tactics, etc. of the two entities without ever becoming boring. I would highly recommend this particular book. Uprising by Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly This is the story of the Attica prison riot told from the point of view of one of the men who was brought into the prison to serve as a mediator. It also examines the question of the imprisonment of blacks in our society and how that creates a permanent underclass, comparing what is happening to a new form of slavery. I am not sure I buy into his theories on imprisonment, but he certainly gives one something to think about. The Men Who Lost America by Andrew O’Shaughnessy This is an overview of the British king, military leaders and political leaders who led Great Britain before, during and after the American War of Independence. The author does not resort to stereotypic portraits of the characters involved, but rather he goes into depth in his presentation. The end result is a very, very good book in which one feels that one has come to know some of these people much better, and in which one comes to understand why they made the decisions that they made. Human Errors by Nathan Lents This author speaks of the marvel of how the human body works, but he also speaks of the natural flaws in the design of the human body. Why, for example, are we not able to provide certain amino acids on our own, but must ingest them in our diets? Why are there genetic flaws that plague people? Why are our synesis arranged in a way in which they often have infections? The author is never mocking of the miracle that our body is, but he puts it into perspective in terms of its positive and negative dimensions. The Early Cast of Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie This is a collection of Hercule Poirot stories written by Agatha Christie. I have read one or another of the stories over the years, but this anthology gives one a good sense of the personality of the dandy Belgium who is never embarrassed to tell everyone of his genius. The Saratoga Campaign by Charles River Editors This is an overview of one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War. The American forces had been defeated in Philadelphia, and there was every chance that the revolution would fail. By bad planning and jealous failure to support each other, the British were able to turn victory into defeat. The battle was not only great in itself, but it allowed France and eventually Spain to enter into the war on America’s side. Korean Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a short but also confusing account of various Shamanistic and Buddhist legends in Korea. It gives a very short account of these elements, but it is poorly organized, more like a Wikipedia article than a book. Conspirata by Robert Harris Harris is one of my favorite authors. This is the first volume of a three volume set on the life and career of Cicero. It is told by Tiro, Cicero’s faithful secretary (first a slave, then freed by Cicero). The great Roman sage who was not one of the ancestral “best” families, but he was elected as council. He was able to save Rome from a plot to overthrow the government led by Catalina. At the end of this volume, we hear of the low point of his career when he set himself against the triumvirate of Caesar, Cassius and Pompey. The Council of Trent by John O’Malley This is a thoughtful account of the Council of Trent by a professor of Church history at Catholic University. Unlike what one would think, the council was a long term, frequently halted affair. It involved politics of the various countries (France, Germany, etc.) as well as the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, all in the shadow of the Protestant Reformation. The Myths of Nutrition and Fitness by Anthony Goodman This is one of the Great Courses. It is by a nutritionist and expert on the effects of serious exercise. Goodman speaks of the danger of overdoing it (whether nutrition or exercise). He speaks of nutritional mistakes and fad cure-alls. The presentation is quite good. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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