Thursday, April 25, 2024

Ellicott City, MD

April 25, 2024 The Feast of St. Mark Peace and Good, I had my second immunotherapy this week. The effects are not as serious as the chemotherapy and radiation, but there are still some side effects (e.g. a bad cough). All things considered, not bad at all. I was able to celebrate Mass at the Shrine this past Sunday. I really enjoyed it. Fr. Jacob concelebrated with me, and I was glad of it, for by Communion time I began to feel wiped out. I just needed to sit for a few minutes while he and the others distributed communion. I wrote a short guide to our chapel at the Shrine. There are many interesting elements to the chapel, and they provide a great catechesis on the saints and our devotion to them. Next week, on May 1, I will be going to Chicago to give a series of conferences on the writings of St. Paul to the postulants. I do this every year, as well as giving an annual workshop at the Novitiate on the psalms and the Gomspels. I finished some reading and listening: Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis C.S. Lewis is not an exegete, but this short reflections speaks of some major dimensions of the psalms. He deals with questions such as violence and revenge, praise, gratitude, etc. It is worth reading if only to force one to rethink certain elements of the Jewish faith and how they fit in with the Christian message. TV’s New Golden Age by Eric Williams This is a Great Courses overview of an important change in TV during the period right before the rise of cable TV and its many, many new offerings. It deals with the techniques used to produce thoughtful and entertaining programs, both as episodes that had continuity and those which had episodes that stood alone. The Song of Songs 101: Understanding the Bible’s Most Unusual Book by Nicholas Ayo This is a learn25 course on the Song of Songs. I have listened to another course offered by Nicholas Ayo, and he is quite good. The treatment is not in depth, but it does give a good overview of the topics. What I especially appreciated is that most of the book is written from the point of the woman in the relationship. Ayo also speaks of the literal meaning and then of its spiritual reinterpretation. Mexico by Joseph Stomberg This is a part of a series of books which describe the characteristics and history of various countries throughout the world. The books are nowhere near an exhaustive approach, but they do provide a good overview and some good information. Modern Scholar: The Grandeur that was Rome by Jennifer Tobin This is a short history of Rome along with a study of its most important architectural remains. The professor does a good job of her overview. Such an extensive topic could never be covered in detail by a relatively short course, but Tobin manages to give enough information and insight to make the listen worthwhile. Is ESP Real? By Robert L. Kuhn This is part of a series of courses produced by Robert Kuhn which involve interviewing experts on a topic (pro and con) and evaluating their opinions about a topic, in this case ESP. There are no conclusive answers, but there are many good questions and insights. I have been very, very impressed with how much valuable information that Kuhn can include in his rather short presentations. Once a Spy by Keith Thomson This is a novel about a spy who knows critical secrets but who is suffering from dementia. He and his son (a good for nothing horse gambler) must escape the CIA forces that want to liquidate him to silence him lest he unknowingly reveal those secrets. The book is filled with action and adventure. The Modern Scholar: the Biology of Birds by John Kricher This course offers insights to various dimensions of the life and activities of birds including their diets, their territoriality, their breeding, their songs, etc. It speaks about the dangers birds face, and how they can be protected by conservationists. The professor clearly loves birds, and he shares his sense of childlike wonder with his listeners. The Siege of Masada by Charles River Editors Unlike Charles River’s other volumes, this book is told as a first hand account of a woman who lived in Masada with her family and who escaped the consequences of the mass suicide of the defenders when it was clear that they could not defeat the Romans who were besieging the fortress. It is good and informative, in an entertaining sort of way. Braddock’s Defeat by David Preston In the French and Indian War, General Braddock, a British commander, brought a British and colonial army to Pittsburg to attack the French fort there. He allowed his forces to be attacked and devastated by the French, and especially their Indian allies. George Washington, an aide to Braddock, is seen as playing a heroic role in saving many of the survivors to the original attack. The author of this book especially tries to defend Braddock, blaming the disaster on a series of coincidences for which he bore little blame. The defense is laid on a bit thick at times. The Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles River Editors This short volume tells the true story of the mutiny against Captain Bligh as he brought his ship to Tahiti to take on a cargo of plants (especially breadfruit) to bring them to the British Caribbean islands. It does not denigrate Captain Bligh nor his lieutenant Fletcher Christian. Call for the Dead by John le Carre This is a tremendous volume, the introduction of Smiley, a type of anti-hero, who is seen in many of John le Carre’s books. Smiley is a plump, short workaholic who is a genius at his work in the counter-espionage department of British secret services. In this volume he tracks down a group of east-German spies operating in London not to long after the war. Pierre-August Renoir by Charles River Editors This is a short biography into one of the most significant impressionist artists in France at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. We see Renoir as a journeyman who produced more and more artwork for sale, and who somewhat betrayed some of his earlier principals in his later days of work. The History of France under German Occupation During World War II by Charles River Editors This is a short account of Vichy France and the French Resistance, especially under Charles de Galle from the conquest of France to its liberation. I especially appreciated some of the viewpoints of the various factions fighting the Nazi’s, and also the insight into why some French felt that being obedient to the Vichy authorities was so important. Great Teachers of the Axial Age by Matthew Dillon The axial age is around 400 B.C., and around this time great scholars arose in China, India, Persia, Greece and Israel. It is remarkable what a flowering of intellectual and spiritual insight arose at almost the same time in these widely disparate cultures. The presenter gives a good representation of various beliefs and how some of these might have influenced other cultures as well. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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