Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Ellicott City, MD

March 12, 2024 Peace and Good, Well, I survived. Last Tuesday I had my last chemo treatment, and yesterday I had my last radiation treatment. I have really come through all of this rather well. There have been some minor reactions to the treatments, but the major one is the feeling of being totally wiped out. Yesterday they gave me a treatment of one liter of fluid to re-hydrate me, and that has helped quite a bit. I still have a year of immunotherapy beginning in a couple of weeks. That involves one IV treatment a month. I also have to wait about three months for a CT scan that will tell me how these therapies have worked. I have to wait that long because the radiation I have received continues to work on the body for about that long after the treatments have ended. The doctors told me I should begin to slowly feel normal after a couple of weeks, but that it will be a slow process. I have been very pleased with the chemotherapist and radiation doctor at Hopkins. They have always been available and encouraging all throughout this time. In the next few days I hope to begin taping daily reflections again. I have them all set til the beginning of May (because I wanted to get way ahead lest I not have the energy in these times to do them). I am awaiting the censor's approval of the meditation book that I did on the Wisdom books of the Old Testament. I have also done some editing of another book on St. Anthony for my publisher. I am also way ahead on articles for the magazines for which I write in Padua, Italy and Kenya. Spring is here in Baltimore. One of the friars in the past planted bunches of daffodils at the edge of the forest in back of our house, and they are all blooming. It is a very welcome sight. I finished some reading and listening: Writing the Bible: Origins of the Old Testament by Martien Halvorson-Taylor This is a Great Courses presentation in 10 lectures. The professor presents the process by which most of the Old Testament was written (and translated). She gives well thought out reasoning and presents a totally believable picture of how the scribes and prophets and sages of the Old Testament produced their works. The Life and Legacy of Muhammad by Maria Dakake This is an account both of the life and teachings of Muhammad but also of the early years and controversies of his movement, especially after he died. The presentation is respectful and clear. The professor tries to separate fact from legend, never afraid to deal with some controversial issues. This is a good introductory course on the topic. Indians, Cowboys and Farmers: 1865-1910 by Christopher and James Lincoln Collier This is one of the series of books that the Colliers have produced on American history. Their goal is to tell the story without overloading the presentation with facts and dates that would only distract one from the greater picture. They succeed in doing this in their story of the years between the Civil War and the First World War. They deal with Native Americans, Cowboys and settlers, farmers vs. city people, financial concerns of the farmers, etc. Hollywood’s most influential directors: Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick by Charles River Editors This is a well-done presentation of three of the most famous movie directors of the 20th century. The authors present the story of their lives and their careers. The presentation is both artistic and insightful, especially into the question of why certain of their works were only highly appreciated in later years (and not when they were first issued). The Giants of Russian Literature by Liza Knapp This is a presentation of the Modern Scholar series. It is a study of four of the major authors of Russia in the 19th century: Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov. The author presents the outlines of the major works, but then dives into an interpretation of their message and their symbolism. Seeing the four authors together helps one see their influences and their differences. As with most modern scholar presentations, this work is well worth considering. Mystics, Muslims, and Thomas Merton by Sidney Griffith This is the story of the fascination of Thomas Merton with Islam, and especially with the teachings of its Sufi mystics. Like his outreach to Buddhist sages in his later years, Merton also corresponded with a number of Muslim scholars. He considered himself to be a type of Sufi, for he found that the more one delved into the mysticism of other faiths, the more one recognized the common elements of that which one found when goes beyond that which can be found. Oddkins: A Fable for all Ages by Dean Koontz This is a fable of magical toys that have been created by a toymaker to help troubled children find joy. The toymaker passes away, and the toys must find another toymaker that will continue his project. Their quest is threatened by the toys created by an evil toymaker who wants to bring sadness and confusion to those same children. Cities of the Ancient World by Steven Tuck This is a Great Courses presentation on some of the cities of the ancient world, from the origin of cities in a Catalhoyuk in modern day Turkey up to the cities of the Greek world. The professor speaks of their organization, their societies, their religious world, their origin (and at times their decline). There is an incredible amount of information provided in a very pleasant manner. English History made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable by Lacey Baldwin Smith This is a very good short presentation of the history of Great Britain. The irreverent part of the title is especially found at the end of the book when the author outlines the history of the various monarchs of England. In spite of the fact that the presentation is not very long, it gives a very good outline of the material covered. Russia and the Soviet Union by Ralph Raico This is a short history of the Russian Empire and of the subsequent Soviet Union. These presentations are part of a series of the history of nations and areas of the world. They are not deep, but they do provide good introductory material. Meister Eckhart’s Book of Secrets by Mark Burrows and Jon Sweeney This is a compilation of the sayings of the great Medieval mystic Meister Eckhart. They are very short passages, but very meaningful. Most of all they speak about how we seek God by not seeking Him, but by recognizing God all around us and letting God communicate Himself to us. The Divine Milieu: Teilhard de Chardin by Kathleen Deignan This is a short retreat (six sessions of twenty-five minutes each) on the book of Teilhard: The Divine Milieu. I found the work quite superficial. A lot of time is spent on how Teilhard was not understood by his Jesuit religious order and by the Church. The most valuable part is how she speaks of the need to be active in building the fulfillment of what God intends with creation, but also in being passive in accepting God’s will. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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