Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Ellicott City, MD

October 24, 2023 Peace and Good, These weeks have been quite busy visiting various doctors, etc. I am now under the care of Dr. Meyer, an oncologist from Johns Hopkins. He has advised that I have an operation upon my lungs so that they can know for sure what my problem is. They believe it is a sarcoma, but they are not sure which type. So tomorrow I will have an operation at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. They will take out two of the tumors growing in the lower left portion of my lung which will then be studied so that they can discover how best to treat me. I have started my next project, a book of daily meditations on the books of Proverbs, Qoheleth and Sirach. I have gotten the green light from the publisher, and have done much of the initial work. It is the type of project that I will be able to work upon in small segments, when I feel up to it. I have had a great time writing magazine articles in these weeks (38 of them) and taping and editing daily reflections (over 200). I am way ahead on all of this so I don't have to worry about it for quite a while. I will probably only be in the hospital overnight (although that could easily change). I really don't sleep well in hospitals, so I hope that it really is the one night. I have finished some reading and listening: St. Clare by Sr. Joan Mueller This is a learn25 presentation on the life, spirituality, and writings of Clare of Assisi. The presenter gives a good exegesis of the letters she sent to her follower, Agnes of Prague, explaining the significance of the imagery used and the message between the line. She is seen as a courageous defender of her privilege of poverty, even against the wishes of the Holy See which would have preferred her to found a more conventional form of monastic life. Richard the Lion Hearted by Kelly Mass This is a short presentation of the career of the English king and crusader Richard the Lion Hearted (the later half of the 12th century AD). He was a much better warrior than king, hardly ever living in England during his reign. Like many of his contemporaries, he showed chivalry when he wanted to, but a ferocious cruelty when that suited his purposes. The World’s Greatest Churches by William Cook This is a series of lectures from the Great Courses on magnificent churches throughout the world. Some of them are highly unusual, others simply incredibly beautiful or unique. Professor Cook has done a number of courses for Great Courses, and he is thorough and at times profound. I watched this course on video, and the videography was very good, but the explanation of the churches at times devolved into comments on how beautiful they were over and over again. Introduction to Christian Mysticism by Harvey Egan This is a series of lectures from the Learn25 program dealing with Christian mystics throughout the centuries. Some of these mystics had supernatural gifts and visions, while others like Teilhard de Chardin and Mother Teresa lived normal lives with great intensity. Ultimately, the true definition of mysticism is not based upon paranormal phenomena but rather of seeing the presence of God in a very real and profound manner. Riddle Island by Steve Hamilton This is a short book which tells the story of how a random comment leads to an investigation as to why a group of mobsters would show up at a resort out of season and also the disappearance of the son-in-law of a millionaire who owned a nearby island. The ending is a bit of a surprise, and the story is well written. Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman This book speaks about the environmental crisis in the world today, especially the climate change which seems to be the result of human activity. It goes on at length as to how this situation might be addressed. The book is thoughtful, and it offers practical solutions. One of the most intriguing was the idea of finding an artificial means of producing photosynthesis. Killing the Mob by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard This is the story of crime in the 30’s in the US and also of the birth of the mob in the country. One of the mysteries is why J. Edgar Hoover denied that the mafia even existed and sabotaged efforts to combat it. Robert Kennedy, when he served as attorney general, is praised for his efforts to destroy their power in so many areas of society. The Peloponnesian War by Kenneth Harl This is a series of 24 lectures on the war between Athens and Sparta. The author deals with and challenges the images of those two cities (Athens the birthplace of democracy and Sparta a militaristic/autocratic society). He speaks of the great leaders of those cities. He deals with the origin and tactics of the war. It is very well done. Peace Won by the Saber by History Nerds This is an account of the Crimean War of Russia against the Turkish Empire, France and Great Britain. Supposedly it was about the question of who would be responsible for Christians in the Turkish Empire. It was really about the question of whether Russia would be allowed to conquer more of the Turkish Empire, especially the city of Istanbul. The account also deals with the criminal lack of care for the wounded during the war. Robert the Bruce by History Nerds This is the biography of the great Scottish hero who helped his country win independence from England after the conquests of King Edward I, Edward Longshanks. Is Paris Burning by Dominique Lapierre This is one of the best books I have read in quite some time. It deals with the last days of the Nazi occupation of Paris. The allies did not want to liberate it quickly (for then they would be required to feed a large population and care for their other needs when they wanted to dedicate their resources to the invasion of the rest of France and even Germany). Lapierre throws in a million personal accounts while also dealing with larger issues (such as Hitler’s obsession on destroying the city). The Road Home by Garrison Keillor This is a series of presentations (each about 10 minutes) by Garrison Keillor on life in Minnesota. They are entertaining, at times hooky, but always dealing with everyday topics. Have a good week. Please keep me in your prayers. Shalom fr. Jude


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