Sunday, October 8, 2023

Ellicott City

October 8, 2023 Peace and Good, I am still in Ellicott City, and the way it looks now I will be here for quite some time. I visited the oncologist this week, and he is sending me to a specialist at Johns Hopkins. It is great to be so close to such a great hospital. I have a sarcoma on my lungs, and we will have to see if and how they can treat it. I have been writing or taping every morning, and then reading or listening to courses in the afternoon. After I finished up in Rome, the provincial asked me if I wanted a Sabbatical. It told him I didn't want to attend anything formal because I love teaching but I hate school. I prefer to learn on my own, and I am enjoying the courses that are available (,, the Great Courses, the Modern Scholar, Learn 25., etc.). There is so much out there and many, many of the courses are well worth it. Of course, being cheap, I am always looking for a discount or free material. Fall has arrived in Baltimore. The morning temperature today was in the 50's. Friday one of our friars, Richard Rome, was ordained a deacon. I know him since he entered the Order. I checked with the doctors, and they said that I really did not have to self-isolate, so I was able to attend the ordination. I have finished some reading and listening: The Kingdom of Judah by Charles River Editors This is supposed to be the treatment of the kingdom of Judah from its earliest days up to its fall under Babylon. I found some of its theories a bit strange, positing theories that I believe have relatively little evidence. This is one of the few Charles River books that I can say that I did not really enjoy. Roman Blood by Steven Saylor This is part of the series of a detective in Rome before and during the days of Julius Caesar. The detective is known as Gordianus the Finder. In this volume, he is hired by Cicero to investigate a man accused of being a patricide. This is one of the first of the series. All of the volumes I have read are tremendous. Beethoven’s Shadow by Jonathan Biss This book are the musings of a pianist who is called upon to record all of Beethoven’s symphonies. This was a tremendously long and complicated process. Biss muses on the gifts and shortcomings of some of his mentors. He speaks of the difference between concert performances and recordings. He wonders of the mechanization of musical performances in the recording process which can rob the music of its originality. The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffmann This is an overview of the growing, making and use of coffee throughout the world. Hoffmann speaks of the processes used in its growing and cleaning of the coffee, the various machines used to make it, and its growth in various countries. It becomes a bit tedious as he catalogs the various dimensions of the process. Warriors, Queens and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women Before 1400 by Joyce Salisbury This is a Teaching Company course of 36 lectures on various famous and not so famous women before the date of 1400. Salisbury deals with women from numerous countries. She speaks of queens, philosophers, poets, etc. At times, Salisbury takes a very feminist approach to the stories, but this is understandable when deals with women who came to the fore in a period in which women were rarely esteemed or even noticed. Kennesaw Mountain: Sherman, Johnston and the Atlanta Campaign by Earl Hess This is the story of a major part of the battle for the conquest of the city of Atlanta during the Civil War. Many, many northern soldiers were killed in what amounted to a futile attack, but even though this was a disastrous failure, it led to the abandonment of the fortifications which eventually led to the fall of the city to the union soldiers. Poland by Victoria Varga This is a short history of Poland from the earliest days until the fall of communism under the influence of Pope St. John Paul II. In spite of it being quite brief, it does give some good insights into the successes and failures of the government of the country. Date Night by Jeffery Deaver This is a novella about a mass murderer who calls the night of his murders “date night.” A lawyer who totally opposes the death penalty tries to stop his execution. There is a bit of a surprise ending to the story. Bloody Mary by Kelly Mass This is a short biography of Queen Mary I, the successor of Edward VI and the predecessor of Elizabeth I. In spite of the title, Mary is presented in a fair manner, not demonizing her as many authors tend to do. Young Philby by Robert Littell This is a medium sized book that puts voice to the history of the famous British traitor who spied for the Soviet Union during and after World War II. One meets him, his wife, his Soviet handlers, even Stalin. The book has a surprise “what if” turn that makes it even more interesting. Bernard of Clairvaux by Thomas Merton This is a series of lectures that Merton gave to the novices at his monastery. The sound quality is really not great, and Merton only makes a couple of significant points. I can’t say that I know Bernard of Clairvaux any better after having listened to these tapes. Have a good week. Please keep me in your prayers. Shalom fr. Jude


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