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


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