Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Ellicott City, MD

March 19, 2024 The Solemnity of St. Joseph Peace and Good, I have now finished my chemo and radiation, and am waiting until next week to begin the next form of therapy: immunotherapy. That involves one IV a month for the next year. Because radiation takes some time to work, I will not know the success of what I have now finished until I have a CT scan on June 10. I suffered very few of the symptoms that one might expect with these therapies. The one thing that I am working on is extreme fatigue and weakness. The doctors said that the worst of that is within 10 days of finishing radiation, and I am only a week in on that. Spring officially arrives today, but you can see it everywhere around where I am living. The deer are in the back yard, the flowering trees are in bloom, the birds have become very noisy, etc. It is really beautiful. I have not had the energy in these days to work on anything, but hopefully by the end of the week I can begin taping and editing my podcasts for the daily reflections. I have them done until the beginning of May, so there is really no rush. I finished reading and listening to some books: Famous Romans by Rufus Fears This is a Great Courses presentation that is based on the writings of Polybius’ Parallel Lives. Earlier I finished the lectures on 12 Famous Greeks. Now this is the Roman version. The historian is good, but a little overly dramatic in his presentation. Blitzkrieg: The Invasion of Poland to the Fall of France by Stephen and Russell Hart This book covers the lead up to World War II and the rearmament of Germany, then the invasion of Poland. Finally, it deals extensively with the invasion of France and how the Nazi forces were successful beyond their expectations (but also how certain decisions made by Hitler and others prevented them from gaining an even greater success – e.g. not stopping the Dunkirk evacuation). Life in a Medieval City by Frances and Joseph Gies This is a very pleasant account of the various social structures of medieval cities (government, religion, law, commerce, etc.) of a medieval city in France: Troyes around the year 1250. The authors give a very account of what life would have been like for the inhabitants of that city. I would recommend it as a realistic introduction to life in the Middle Ages. The Book of Job by Prof Kathleen O’Connor This is a presentation of the Learn25 courses. The presenter gives a very good account of the action in the book of Job and the background that led to certain images and propositions. She does not do a very good job of going beyond the text (although she does that here and there). I am still looking for a much more in depth cultural background book to the Book of Job. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen This is a meditation on the painting by Rembrandt of the welcoming back of the Prodigal Son. Nouwen, a famous spiritual director, speaks of Rembrandt and the painting itself, and then he delves into the various roles presented in the picture: that of the returning son, that of his older, angry brother, and that of the incredibly compassionate father. He speaks of how he has often played out the role of one of the brothers, but that he is ultimately called to play the role of the father. Enter the Cloud of Unknowing by Kathleen Deignan This is a presentation on the Medieval mystical book which speaks of entering in intimate union with the unknown and unknowable God. Unfortunately, the presentation lacks a lot of serious content. The presenter takes one idea or another and says it many different ways, but never goes into great depth (or when she does, it sounds more like new age theory than mystical enlightenment). The High Middle Ages by Philip Daileader This is a Great Courses presentation of various topics about history, government, culture, and religion from the high middle ages. The presenter is very good, and the topics are enlightening. The Navaho by Charles River Editors This is a short presentation of the Navaho people: where they came from, their history, their culture, and their modern situation and problems. Like all of the Charles River book, it is rather short (most of them are around 50 pages) but it gives a tremendous amount of information in a short time. The War of the Roses by Dan Jones This is a very good outline of what led up to the War of the Roses during the late Middle Ages in England and how the war was fought. The author manages to go into great detail without being boring. This book has convinced me that I would like to read more of Dan Jones’ presentations. Death by Disputation by Anna Castle This is a novel that takes place in Oxford during the Elizabethan era. One of the students is actually a spy for the government which is trying to keep track on a Puritan movement that plans some form of rebellion. The book is entertaining, although I found that toward the end the author threw in a couple of extra twists and turns that did not quite fit into the presentation. Horus by Charles River Editors This is a short and confusing portrait of the Egyptian god Horus. It is confusing not because the author is not good, but the topic itself is very confusing (e.g. there is more than one Horus in the legends and myths, there are multiple treatments of both of the Horuses, etc. Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar This is a very good book written by a cardiologist on the heart. It includes many personal remembrances from the stories of the doctor’s patients and even from his own family. This keeps the account from being over-technical or clinical. It does, however, give much information on the science of the heart and modern attempts to aid those suffering from the various forms of heart disease. This is a book I can highly recommend. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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