Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Ellicott City

April 3, 2024 Peace and Good, I am writing this as I watch the rain come down outside my window. This is part of the series of storms that has been hitting the country over the past week. I am beginning to feel better. Each day I feel a bit more strength come back, and also a bit more mental acuity. For the past coupld of weeks, I did not have the desire to do anything that required figuring things out. Suddenly yesterday morning, something snapped (for the better) and I was able to do a few projects which I had been putting off. If all goes well, I will begin helping out at the shrine next week. Last week I was feeling so poorly that I had to sit for most of the Mass. Yesterday I began to stand for the standing parts of the Mass. I had a good meeting with the doctor's assistant this past Monday, and she feels that I am on track with my various symptoms, etc. I have to admit that I have gotten through this all thus far very lightly. I know people who have had much more severe symptoms. I am truly grateful. I have to believe that all the people praying for me had a part of all of this. Thank you all who prayed for me during this time. I finished some reading and listening: Japanese Mythology by Bernard Hayes This is a short account of the very complicated system of gods worshipped in Japan. It is an interesting presentation, but if I really wanted to understand it all (and the consequences of much of its symbolism), I would have to study this all in much greater depth. 3,000 Years of Judaism in 20 Days by Howard Lupovitch This is a series of lectures on the origins, history, customs, etc. of Judaism. The author covers the entire period from the time of Abraham to the present day. The lectures are well prepared and in no way polemic. I enjoyed listening to them and learned a lot. 62 Answers to Common Questions on the Mind by Scientific American This is a series of Scientific American articles on the functioning of the human mind. It deals with all sorts of phenomena such as dreaming and illusions of the mind, etc. Each of the articles presents the results of valid experiments. The authors show a humility in their approach, freely admitting that which they know and don’t know, and even that which we might never know. Gangsters and Organized Crime in Buffalo by Michael Rizzo Since I was born in Buffalo, this book interested me. It deals with crime in the 20th century, and especially in the Mafia in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The book does not come across as an easy read, being more a compilation of one story after another with little to hold them together. Andrew Jackson’s America: 1824-1850 by Christopher and James Lincoln Collier This is one of a series of short books that deal with the history of the US. This one deals with the rise and the long-term effect of the rise of Andrew Jackson. He defined the presidency for a long time, strengthening the executive branch. Some of what he did was brilliant, some tragic (e.g. the expulsion of Native Americans from the East known as the Trail of Tears). How the Crusades Changed History by Philip Daileader This is a Great Courses presentation on the development, the history, and the aftermath of the numerous crusades (most in the Holy Land, but some fought in southern France, Spain, Germany and Lithuania). It speaks of personalities and their impact on what happened. It speaks of how, although the crusaders in the first crusade conquered the Holy Land, they never had enough European settlers to hold on to it, especially when the Muslims got past their internal battles. The Gentle Ax by Roger Morris This is a book that presents itself as if it were a detective novel written toward the end of the 19th century in Czarist Russia. One hears of the customs of the day, of a host of interesting figures, and of some brutal murders that the lead detective must solve. The Bookseller of Florence by Ross King Ross King is an author of art and history. I have read a number of his books, and they are always a joy. This one speaks of the Renaissance in Florence as well as the shift from hand copied manuscripts to printed books. One gets a sense of the excitement of discovering ancient texts, as well as the joy of handling a beautiful manuscript. Claude Monet by Charles River Editors This French impressionistic artist was part of a movement to depict one’s impression of a scene at a particular moment. He repeatedly painted the same subject over and over again, only distinguishing each portrait by the sunlight the object received at a particular time of the day. He is known as a difficult man, being friends only with his fellow artist Renoir. He was also a very successful businessman, receiving the very best prices for his many works. Justinian the Great by Charles River Editors This is an emperor of the Byzantine Empire. His goal was to reconquer what had originally been the Roman Empire. He met with success in the West, reconquering North Africa and for a time Italy, but he was less successful in the east where the Persians made inroads into Byzantine territory. He is also famous for his codification of Roman law which is still the basis of many European legal systems today. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre by Charles River Editors This is a short account of one of the military monastic orders that was founded around the time of the Crusades to protect the sites of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Once the Holy Land was conquered by the Turks, the order changed its purpose, eventually becoming an organization to raise funds for the preservation of the holy sites in Israel. The Kingdom of Shadows by Alan Furst This book is set in Paris right before World War II. The hero is a Hungarian who.besides earing a living, also performs some undercover actions for his uncle. They are working against Nazi Germany and the influence of the Fascists on the Hungarian government. Furst has an uncanny ability to portray this dangerous era and to develop characters that are believable and yet mysterious. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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