Saturday, February 17, 2024

Ellicott City, MD

February 17, 2024 Peace and Good, As I write this blog, I am looking out at one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. It snowed lightly last night, and tere is a layer of the snow on each branch of every tree. It is already starting to melt, but it was one of those moments that you just can't help but thank the Lord for creation. I have been doing my radiation and chemotherapy at Hopkins. As of yesterday, I am halfway through my present treatment. I have had very few and relatively minor reactions to the treatment, for which I am grateful. Over these weeks, I have been told that people are praying for me from all over the world. I have been reflecting on how this difficulty has created a community of prayer that stretches all over. I had a good zoom meeting with my publisher to outline the next project. It is to edit an older book on St. Anthony of Padua (life and devotions). I like these type of projects because I can work on it when I have the energy. One of the effects of the radiation has been a certain fatigue. I have been staying at home most of the time due to the danger of infection, etc. The chemotherapist, though, told me that the blood tests are very positive and I have not suffered from any crash of the immune system. I finished reading and listening to some works: Kennedy and Roosevelt by Michael Beschloss Beschloss is a brilliant author of presidential stories. This book contrasts a consummate politician who seeks greatness for his nation (Roosevelt) and a very talented businessman whose primary goal is the furtherance of his family. Roosevelt is presented as cany and not always honest, while Kennedy is seen as someone who would sell out his values for a promotion in Roosevelt’s government. Famous Greeks by Rufus Fears This Teaching Company course is a take off on the stories of Famous Greek (and Romans) by Plutarch. Fears presents good information, but his presentation is a bit overly-dramatic with sound effects and verbal reactions that a bit foolish. Witness X by Mark Dawson This is a short story about a British secret service operative who must investigate and avenge an acid attack upon his former lover by a North Korean spy. The Brit is not presented as a Sean Connery as much as an individualist who is simple in his approach to life and his occupation. The Secret Life of Groceries by Benjamin Lorr This is the story of the origin and success of various grocery stores and products (as well as some of the difficulties caused by an industrial production of certain foods, such as shrimp). The author especially tells the story of Trader Joes. There are some interesting points, but the books seems to be various ideas stapled together. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga This is a very odd but quite entertaining book. It is about a poor young man from rural India who makes a fortune (not quite legally). He is writing a short biography and sending it to a Chinese official who is visiting India. The author emphasizes the gap between the poor and the rich, the dirty politics, the bribery needed to succeed. This is one of those books that gives one an interesting insight into another world (even if many of the facts are strongly exaggerated). Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon This is a volume in a series of novels by the Spanish author Leon who writes about a police commissary in Venice. In this book, he deals with the murder of an elderly, very difficult woman. As an aside, he deals with questions about foreigners within Italy, about gays and attitudes toward them, about the bureaucracy, etc. I always enjoy Leon’s book enormously. Desert War by Stephen Sears This is an American Heritage book, which means that it is of medium length and gives an overall picture of the topic of the book. This one is well done, with a good number of quotes from participants in the events and a fair evaluation of the various characters involved in the action. Finn McCool: Irish Heroes by History Nerds This is a relatively short account of one of the ancestral heroes of the Irish people (and other Celts as well). It tells of his supposed background, recounts a couple of the legends, and speaks of his heritage in the folk culture of the Irish. Archaeology and the Iliad: the Modern Scholar by Eric Cline This is a fine Modern Scholars course on Troy and the question of whether the Trojan War is historic. The professor is an archaeologist, and he gives insights both from the various people who have worked at the site in the past, and from his own observations. He is clear in what his own opinion is without being pushy. What most impressed me is his willingness to admit that what we think about things now might very well change as more excavations are made and evaluated. Thomas Aquinas by Ferdinand Jives This is only a short presentation on the life and works of the famous theologian Thomas Aquinas. It gives a rough background without getting into too many details. There is a chapter of famous and usable quotes from Aquinas’ writings. Gnosticism by Charles River Editors I found this short account of Gnosticism one of the better things that I have read on the topic. Often the author will try to serve as an apologist for the Gnostic movement. The author of this study admits that there are many Gnostic beliefs that cannot be called Christian, but yet studies what they did believe and presents that information in a fair, balanced manner. The Lost Warriors of God: the True History of the Knights Templar by Thomas Madden This Modern Scholars course gives an account of the origin of the Knights Templar (in the context of the crusades), of their development and changing character, and of their sudden and tragic destruction. The professor is balances and speaks of both their strengths and weaknesses. He also speaks of much of the mythology about the Knights Templar that has been passed down through the ages. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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