Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Ellicott City, MD

September 26, 2023 Peace and Good, I am still stationed at our friary in Ellicott City. This is the provincialate. Every morning I try to work on some project, such as writing or recording daily reflections. I am way ahead on articles for both our magazine in Padua (articles in English) and Kenya. Also, the daily reflections are up to early December. Later this week I hope to begin some research for a book. I had my bronchoscopy last week. I was out for the whole thing, and it went very well. The pulminologist could not have been nicer. The only side effect from the procedure was a light cough and a scratchy throat for that day. By the next day I was back to normal. I am still awaiting the results of the test. They had told me that it would take from five to seven days to find out. We got a bit of the tropical storm here (Ophelia). It was mostly a constant light rain for two days, but it is still cloudy today and still raining off and on. My afternoons are spent on reading and listening to books. I really enjoy this time to study some topics that I have always wanted to research. I finished reading and listening to some books: 55 Mysteries of the Mind by Scientific American This is a series of 55 short articles concerning various topics dealing with the brain. The series is well done, sort of like listening to a series of Wikipedia articles. I can truly say I enjoyed it, and learned something from it. The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman All of Hillerman’s books are worth reading, and this volume was no exception. There is a murder (actually more than one) on the reservation that has ties to a crime network in Los Angeles. Chee, a reservation detective, must investigate the killings, and he must try to protect a young girl who was a witness to some of the events and is therefore in danger. Hillerman has a gift of describing the characters and the background in a very believable way. The Fires of Vesuvius by Mary Beard When I started the book, I thought this would be an account of the famous explosion of the volcano Vesuvius which buried the city of Pompei. Rather, it was a description of life in the city as discovered through a study of the archaeological evidence. Beard is an excellent scholar, and her arguments are quite convincing. Washington’s Farewell by John Avion This is a study on the text and reaction to the farewell address that Washington bequeathed to the nation upon the end of his second term. The author deals at length upon the idea of not getting involved with foreign entanglements, of not exploding the public debt, etc. He is able to show the sources of the address, and how Washington changed what had been proposed by Jay and Hamilton to put his own touch on the topics contained therein. He also shows how the address has been used and abused throughout the ages. The Heron by Don Winslow This is a novella about an accountant who has hidden himself from a crime boss from whom he has robbed a lot of money and with whose wife he had an affair. It is a good story with just enough twists and turns to keep in interesting. The Real History of Secret Societies by Richard Spence This is a teaching company course about various secret societies throughout the ages, dealing with many of the usual topics (the Templars, the Freemasons, the anarchists, etc.) and with groups I had never heard about. Spence gives common characteristics about many of the groups. He makes some questionable conclusions at times, but overall the information is good and the presentation entertaining. Micah (The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary by Stephen Dempster This is a Biblical commentary on the book of the prophet Micah. It is one of the best commentaries I have read in years. It pays a lot of attention to the original setting in which the book was produced, to the linguistic subtleties, and also to the application of the message in the days of Micah and in our own days. I acquired a number of volumes of this commentary series because they were on sale, but I am very glad I found this gem. The Blood of the Lamb by Michael Lister This is one volume of a multi-volume story of a chaplain at a maximum security prison who had been a private investigator. In this volume he must solve the murder of a young girl, the daughter of an evangelist. The story, as always, is much greater than it seems on the surface. The chaplain is a flawed person, with a drinking problem on which he is working. In this volume, he is slowly getting together with his divorced wife. Amphibious Warfare in World War II by Charles River Editors Like all of the Charles River books, this is a short investigation into the topic contained in the title. It deals with amphibious landings in the Pacific, the coast of North Africa, Sicily and the D-Day landing in France. Anne Boleyn by Kelly Mass This is a short overview of the life of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII. It is more of a bullet point presentation than a real biography, but it is long enough to set the scene and tell the story. The Exodus by Michael Guinan This is a Learn25 course on the Book of Exodus. The professor covers the content of the book and its historicity, based on archaeological and other written texts. He deals with the idea of covenant and how the book is not about objective rules, but rather about a life style in which God and neighbor are central. He also speaks about the influence this book and story have had upon society, and especially various social justice movements, over the centuries. Civil War 101 by Peter Carmichael This is a learn25 course on the Civil War. The author is very balanced in his approach to the topic, never lauding the north too much and never buying into the myths that arose after the war concerning the southern cause. He gives a good outline to the action, the politics, and the social condition of those who participated in the war. He tries not to be too objective, in the sense that he quotes from letters and remembrances of those involved in the fighting to try to show the human dimension and costs of the war. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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