Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Ellicott City

February 7, 2024 Peace and Good, Today I finish the second week of radiation. The side effects from the radiation and chemo have been very light. Thank God! I finished the editing for the book I wrote over these months. It is a minute meditation book on the Wisdom books of the Old Testament. It must now be approved by the Church censors and then it will be published in a couple of months. I also finished a series of short meditations for the Scripture readings in September for one of our magazines in Assisi, Italy. It is good to have some projects like this which can be done when I have the energy, and then put aside when I don't. I will have a zoom meeting with my publisher in a few days to talk about the next project. The weather here in Baltimore has been great these days. I finished viewing a couple of courses from the Great Courses series. One was on the Vietnam War and the other on the Spanish Civil War. Both were very, very good. The professors in each gave a very balanced, very nuanced outlook on those events. I can't believe that Lent is just one week away. I have decided that I should not do any fasting this Lent. I will just offer up all the other stuff that I am experiencing. Besides, the doctors want me to eat as much as I can so that I don't lose too much weight. I find it an irony that I have been trying to lose some weight for years now, and the doctors are telling me to do the opposite. I finished some reading and listening: Wars that made the western world: the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian War by Timothy Shutt This is a short course by the Modern Scholar on the Persian Wars against Greece (mostly Athens and Sparta) and then the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. He gives a good account, but the material is too expansive to be able to describe it well in such a short course. Nevertheless, it is worth a listen. Adolf Hitler by Hourly History This is a short story outlining the life and career of Hitler. It is comparable to an extended Wikipedia article, so it gives a good outline but not really an in depth presentation. The Company of Strangers by Robert Wilson Wilson is an author similar to John le Carre. This books covers a period from World War II in Portugal, to the Brezhnev period in East Germany, to the post-Soviet era in England. It follows the life and career of one woman and her acquaintances. There are double crosses and triple crosses. The author works a bit too much to make a complicated plot, but it is very interesting. Dark Star Express by Paul Theroux This is a travel story of a trip from Cairo to South Africa. Most of the voyage was made by bus or train. Theroux had previously served as a teacher in Malawi, so he was able to compare what he had experienced in his early days with the present situation of these countries. I found him incredibly judgmental of most missionaries and workers of social assistance projects. The book was good, but very long. Great Masters: Beethoven, his Life and Music by Robert Greenberg This is a Great Courses presentation on the life and music of Beethoven. Greenberg is a good critic and a humorous presenter. Beethoven comes across as a misanthropic genius who often had his most productive periods during times of crisis. Europe’s Dark Journey: Hitler and Nazi Germany by Beth Griech-Polelle This is a Modern Scholar course on Germany in the years leading up to the Third Reich. It emphasizes much more the years before Hitler’s reign than that reign itself. It begin the story with the unification of the empire under Bismarck, then the effects of World War I, then the chaotic years of the Weimar Republic and its failure. The course does not offer all that much new information, but it is a good overview of what led to the rise of Hitler. Liars and Thieves by Stephen Coonts This is an action story about a thief who works for the CIA and accidentally comes across a plot to kill a KGB defector who has brought an enormous store of information with himself (some of which might endanger someone important in the government). The hero has to twin up with a retired admiral to come to the core of the plot. Teachings of the Buddha by Jack Kornfield This is a series of Buddhist sayings which present a philosophy of seeking peace by surrendering all one’s worries and concerns and even the control of one’s thoughts. Pax Romana by Adrian Goldsworthy Goldsworthy is an expert on Roman history, and this is an overview of the “Roman Peace” which Rome brought to the world. It deals with what that really meant. There were rebellions, wars of capture, etc., but Rome also was able to wipe on the continuous wars between minor states. Goldsworthy is clear that this peace was a side effect of the Roman conquest and not the intention of the Romans themselves. Their only concern was their welfare (safety and profit). This is a very good book which I highly recommend. Reliquary by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston These two authors are among my favorites. This is a follow up story in which a plant which transforms people to evil creatures is let loose in New York. The heroes must find out what is going on with people (especially people living in the underground tunnels around New York) begin to disappear, and their bodies are at times found decapitated. There is plenty of action. The authors’ works are always just this side of science fiction, but they provide a great thriller. Herodotus: the Father of History by Elizabeth Vandiver Herodotus is known as the father of history. Vandiver speaks of his writings, the factors that influenced what he wrote, and how his writings influenced others. She is quite fair to him, not accusing him of being the father of lies as some others do, but recognizing that since he was the first to write a real history, then some of the criteria we would apply to other writers were not followed. The course from the Great Courses is very well done. Kiev, 1941: Hitler’s Battle for Supremacy in the East by David Stahel This is the story of Hitler’s greatest victory during the Second World War when hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops were killed and captured. The author has written this book to make a point, that even if the Soviets lost, the Nazis did not really win (for they expended so much material an men that they could never win the war. Unfortunately, most of the book is expended on Stahel’s pet theory. You're all in my prayers, especially as we enter Lent. Shalom fr. Jude PS Given that my ministry is somewhat limited in these days, if you have any prayer intentions for which you would like me to pray, just send them to


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