Friday, August 11, 2023

Ellicott City

August 11, 2023 Peace and Good, This has been an interesting week. I had a health problem, blood clots on my lungs, probably brought on by a Deep Vein Thrombosis (whish was there due to my extensive travels in these years). I was in the hospital for five days, and am now in aftercare. The staff of the hospital were great. The friars and some of my friends in the area have been very caring and solicitous. I am at home now, slowly regaining my strength. With my temperament, I always want everything done yesterday, but I have to learn to slow down and rest until the body is ready for activity again. This means that my trip to California that was supposed to happen next week has been postponed. That is no big problem, for the friars at Ellicott City are very welcoming. Once I know a few more things about my health, I can speak with the provincial to try to map out the near future. I finished some books and courses: A Century of Immigration: 1824-1924 by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier This is part of a series on American History which tries to present the story in an interesting manner. This particular volume deals with the arrival of the millions of immigrants from the early 19th century to the early 20th century. It speaks of the countries from which they came, how they slowly entered into American society, the opposition to new immigrants by some people and groups, etc. Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir This is a majestic account of the queens who reigned from the time of the Norman conquest of William the Conqueror till the days of Empress Maude, a period running from 1066 to the middle of the next century. Much of the information is drawn from bequests made to monasteries, etc., but there is also the source of biographies (very biased) of some of the people involved. Weir has done a great job of presenting the various women in a realistic manner. The British Raj by Kelly Mass This is a short account of the start of the British raj, its growth, and its eventual end after World War II. Mass gives quite a bit of attention to the East India Company which was supposedly a trading company, but which slowly conquered most of what became Pakistan and India. Their role was taken over by the British government after a rebellion in the mid 19th century. Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs This is one of the volumes in the Pendergast series who is a remarkable FBI agent who must search for a son who is a mass murderer and a genetic experiment by a band of Nazi’s in Brazil. He did not even know he was the father of this son and his twin brother. The story is not always believable, but always entertaining. Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World by Thomas Cahill This is an overview of the period of the renaissance in Europe. It deals with politics, religion, art, literature, etc. Cahill is a great author. He does have a bit of an anti-institutional attitude toward the Church, but overall gives a balance overview of developments in the early 16th century. The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan by Gregory Feifer This is a great history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and its failure. Thee author gives a tremendous amount of information as to the Soviet motives, the Afghan communists’ intentions, and the reaction of the Islamic warriors who fought back. Feifer is able to balance the stories of major historic movements as well as individuals. He gives a good picture of the horror visited upon the Afghan civilians, of the mines purposely planted to kill children, etc. Colonial Horrors ed by Graeme Davis This is a collection of many of the early horror stories of colonial America. Some of them are familiar, others were all but unknown to the modern world. There are stories of ghosts, of possessions by demons, of buried treasure, of normal jealousy, etc. The style of the stories is a bit baroque, but overall they are good. Village of Islands by Jim Shepard This is a novella concerning a group of veterans who were sent to the Florida Keys during the depression. An unexpected hurricane hits the Keys and devastates their camp, killing many of them and many of the local residents. This is also the story of the lack of preparation for this event, even when the managers responsible had received warning of the coming hurricane. The Last Days of Stalin by Joshua Rubenstein This is a presentation of the last days of Stalin, his death, and what happened after his death. Because Stalin was so tyrannical, his successors were hesitant to voice their opinions (which is also true given the intensive competition among the members of the Politburo). The author gives a very good account of the larger movements as well as the personal remembrances of those involved. Livable Cities by Mark Alan Hughes This is one of the shorter Great Courses presentations. It speaks of the benefits of city life, of the possibilities of making the citizens of cities part of the decision-making process, of techniques to make cities more livable, etc. The presenter is quite good, although I wonder how possible some of his suggestions are. Have a good week. Please say a prayer for my health. Shalom fr. Jude


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