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


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