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


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