Thursday, July 27, 2023

Ellicott City, MD

July 27, 2023 Peace and Good, I has been a nice, quite week. I have been getting caught up with articles for the Messenger Magazine in Padua, Italy (done until March of next year) and of the daily reflections. I'm at the point with both of them that I can put them on the side for a few days at least. I took a trip up to Totowa, New Jersey these days to visit my publisher. It was good to get out of the house and travel a bit, even if there was a tremendous amount of trafic and construction everywhere I went. I have finished one set of medical procedures, and next week I have to arrange for another CAT scan that was requested by one of my doctors. Today we have the birthday of one of the friars at the other friary on the property, fr. Hillary. He is 85 years old. fr. Hillary is as excentric as they come, but a fund excentric. He used to have a lot of adult education courses in the parishes in which he served, and people would flock to the courses. I finished some reading and listening: The Agency: A History of the CIA by Hugh Wilford This is a Teaching Company course on the history of the CIA from the days of its founding (and its predecessor agency, the OSS) to the present. It gives an explanation of how an information gathering agency began to interfere in the policies and governments of other countries (and a spate of spying on its own citizens, something strictly against its own rules). The professor gives a good overview without either overly defending or attacking the agency. Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci Two different groups chase after a Ukrainian plutocrat who was a KGB monster, killing thousands and thousands. One of the groups goes after master murderers to kill them for their crimes. The other group is a US government agency concerned that he was selling nuclear fuel to Arab terrorists. They meet and slowly form a united effort. The action is quite good, and the character development is quite good. Cities of Gold by Douglas Preston I usually read the books written by Douglas Preston together with Lincoln Childs. This one was only by Preston and it is quite good. It is the story of his journey with a companion by horse to the sites visited by Coronado when he explored the Southwest looking for the cities of gold. The book is both an adventure story (real and not fictional) and a history lesson of the encounter of the Spanish culture and the Indigenous peoples living there. Unfortunately, it is a tragic story of oppression and misunderstandings. The Culper Ring by Hourly History This is the story of a group of spies that George Washington organized in New York City during the Revolutionary War to inform him of British intentions. They were able to warn him both of a faint that the British were intending and a possible attempt to kidnap and kill him. The Third Chimpanzee: = the Evolution and the Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond Jared Diamond’s books are all filled with an incredible amount of information. The third chimpanzee in the title is the human being. Diamond speaks of the various abilities of humans and where they came from (e.g. sight, speech, cultural characteristics, etc.). He speaks of dangers in the past and those which are in the future (nuclear disaster, environmental degradation). I would highly recommend this book and Diamond’s other volumes. The Golden Age (of the Netherlands) by Kelly Mass This speaks of the period of Dutch history when the Netherlands was experiencing a most favorable trade climate and was extending its influence through a colonial empire. As always, these presentations are the bare bones approach to the topic. Eerdman’s Commentary on the Bible: Baruch, Additions to Daniel, Manasseh, Psalm 151 by John Schmitt, etc. This is an exegesis of the above mentioned books. The approach is highly exegetical, and the overall presentation in a number of the volumes in the set of commentaries is not quite as present. I found the presentation on Baruch the most useful. Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson by David Reynolds This is an extensive presentation on the history and culture of the United States during the age of Jackson and in the years immediately after his presidency. It covers questions of trade, religion, territorial expansion, treatment of the indigenous, etc. The presentation is very well organized, and the volume definitely worth one’s time. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling I had heard that the later volumes in the Harry Potter series were darker, and that is certainly the truth of this last volume of the series. I found the story good. Harry is certainly presented as a Christlike figure in this book, but the story handles well the conflicted emotions of the main characters as they confront an impossible situation. Red October by Douglas Boyd I thought this was going to be the story of a submarine named the Red October, but it turned out to be the story of the first Red October, the communist revolution in Russia. The author does a great job of presenting the main characters in the drama. He covers the main points of what happened. The only shortfall I felt was that the description of the actual revolutionary days is a bit hasty. Have a good Weekend. Shalom fr. Jude


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