Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Ellicott City, MD

November 15, 2023 Peace and Good, The weather here in Baltimore is beautiful. It has been a wonderful Fall season. I have been waiting for a few weeks for the pathology report on the two masses they took from my lungs. One of them is just junk, but the other is a type of cancer. I have to see the oncologist to see what the next step is to be in treatment. There are still another two masses on the other side of the lungs. I spoke a few words at Mass this morning and my words dealt with gratitude. I have to keep this in mind in these days. I am trying to be grateful for the experience of having to slow down and accept the care of others. I want to be grateful for the wait that I have to go through between my various appointments with doctors and waiting for medical reports. I have always felt that surrender is the goal to which God is calling me, and lately God has been sharing an important lesson in giving up control with me. It is not that I want to be sick. But, I do see that it is where God wants me at this time, so I have to try to embrace it. I have been working on my next book which is a minute meditation book on saying from the books of Proverbs, Sirach and Qoheleth. The book is going very, very well, and I am already over half finished with it. I have finished some books and courses: The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Capon This is a brilliant combination of a cookbook and a treatise on theology. Capon is a very entertaining author. His premise is that God created this world as good, and it is our duty to celebrate it. We are not here simply to survive, but to thrive and rejoice and praise. He feels that one of the most important ways that we can do that is by eating well. In the course of the book, he speaks of cooking implements, ingredients, wine, setting the table, dinner parties, etc. This is the third of his books that I have read, (the others being the Third Peacock and Exit 36) and I have truly enjoyed all three Foreign Agent by Brad Thor This is an action novel about a Russian agent who pretends to be a Muslim terrorist and gets them to attack important American targets so that the US might be provoked to get into a war with Issus. The hero of the story is a Rambo like figure. Brad Thor is not exactly subtle, but as an action/spy novel it is not that bad. By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire by Ian Worthington This is a study of the lives of Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. The authors main emphasis is on the fact that Philip was the one who established the nation and the army that then permitted Alexander to conquer much of the known world. Alexander comes across as driven, even to the point of mistreating his men terribly. The author sees him as a great general, but not necessarily the nicest of human beings. Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing This is a very good novella which speaks of a murder discovered by the dog walker. It looks like the soon to be divorced wife might have done it until she, too, is found dead. There are various suspects, but there is a great surprise that only slowly develops in the course of the action. Jane Austin by Kelly Mass This is a short biography of Jane Austin and her writing. It deals especially with the fact that she had to write to support her family. It outlines her books, speaks of her difficulty in getting them published, and of their incredible success. Sailing from Byzantium: How a Lost Empire Shaped the World by Colin Wells This is a study of the culture and history of the Byzantine empire along with the other countries and cultures that came into contact with it over the centuries from its foundation by the emperor Constantine until its final conquest by the Turks in 1453. The author covers many dimensions of the story, e.g. the palace intrigues, the preservation of Greek culture, its cultural influence on neighboring areas, etc. It is well done and very interesting. Jesus and the Last Supper by Brant Pitre This is a very thorough study of various aspects of the Last Supper. Pitre is a great Bible scholar, very informed about Bible, post-Biblical, Jewish, etc. literature. He is able to present various suggestions and then show how they are either credible or not. I intend to read as many of his books as possible. Cultured: the Epic Story of Cheese by Janet Fletcher This is a Teaching Company short course on the various aspects of the making and selling of cheese. The author described the process, the variations, the varieties of cheese. She speaks of cheeses tied to certain specific areas. She contrasts cow cheese from goat cheese. It was probably more information than I needed to know about the topic, but it was entertaining. Courageous Spies and International Intrigue of World War I by Allison Lassieur This is just a short account of some of the major spies and terrorists of the Frist World War. It deals with Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of Archduke Ferdinand, with Mati Hari, with Edith Cavell, a nurse who saved many allied prisoners, the Dame Blanche, a spy organization in Belgium to get information to the allies of German movements etc. The account is well done and informative. Brothers, rivals, victors by Jonathan Jordan This is the story of the interaction of three of the major generals of World War II: Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley. Patton comes across as seriously unbalanced, needing fame all the time, but nevertheless a brilliant general. Bradley was more boring, but also more balanced and methodical. Eisenhower comes across as not necessarily a great military general, but as a magnificent political general to keep the various elements of the allied alliance in step and at peace. Milwaukee by Charles River Editors This is the history of this mid=western city, from the days when it was a fur trading center, to a farming center, to an industrial center. It speaks of the various nationalities that settled there. It also speaks of its decline and troubles in recent years, especially in racial discord. Rome Enters the Greek East by Arthur Eckstein This book was not quite what I expected. I thought it would speak of the mixture of the culture of the Greek world with that of Rome. Rather, it is a detailed historic study (almost seems as if it started out as a doctoral thesis) of the wars between Greece and Rome which led to the conquest of the Greek cities. The author speaks of how there were three fairly equal powers in that part of the world (Egypt, Macedon, and the Seleucids). When Egypt became weak (an internal rebellion, a child pharaoh), the other two sprang to invade. This is when Rome entered in and at first only forced its way in to balance the three powers again, but eventually took over itself. Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang This is the story of the Soong sisters. There were three of them. One of them married Chaing Kai-shek, one married a very rich man, and one married Sun Yat-sen, and when he died became an important member of the Communist movement. They were from a Christian family, while not all of their actions (e.g. autocracy, blatant bribery, mistreatment of the poor) could be called Christian virtues. The story is well told, showing the good and bad side of each of the sisters. Have a good week and Happy Thanksgiving. Shalom fr. Jude


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