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


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