Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ellicott City

April 13, 2024 Peace and Good, Things continue to get a bit better each day with my health. I feel a bit stronger (although not yet back to normal) and I am more able to think clearly. I was suffering from a bit of chemo brain, a fuzziness in thought. This week I was able to tape and edit three weeks of daily reflections, which is a good sign. Furthermore, I am beginning to fill in a bit at the Shrine up the hill. I listened to confessions for an hour this past week, and it was great. After so many months being all but quaranteened, it was great to be with people again, especially in a pastoral manner. I have begun work on a short spiritual guide to our chapel in the shrine. There are so many beautiful things there, and I would like to share some ideas with the visiters coming to the Shrine. One of our old guides said of St. Francis Basilica in Assisi that even if they arrive as tourists, they should leave as pilgrims. That is the goal of what I am working on. I have my second dose of immunotherapy in about 10 days. There have not been too many side effects. I have a cough (not bad), but I don't know if it is from the treatment or hay fever (I think probably the latter). I finished some reading and listening: Orthodox Christian Spirituality: Glimpse of the Unknown by Stefanos Alexopoulos This course confirms something that has been in the back of my mind for a long time: that the Orthodox faith is especially centered upon and nourished by the liturgy. The presenter ties so many of the dimensions of everyday life and spirituality to this one font of grace and God-life. What I especially appreciated in this book is that it comes from a person deeply imbued with the spiritual life of our sister Church (and not from an outside expert). Thomas Merton: A spiritual guide for the 21st century by Anthony Ciorra This is a retreat from the Learn25 programs. The presenter gives a good account of various aspects of Merton’s spirituality which can be used in our life. This includes his commitment to social justice (with what Ciorra describes as a gentle anger), his ecumenism, his need for contemplation, his view that all people are children of God (discovered when he was on the corner of Fourth and Walnut in Louisville one day), etc. The material is well presented and significant. Independence by John Ferling This is an account of how the founding fathers arrived at the decision to declare independence from Great Britain. While the account deals quickly with the French and Indian War and the period of time between that event and the Boston Tea Party, it deals in detail with the time between the Tea Party and the vote to declare independence. It presents the personalities of the various founding fathers, the missteps of the British leaders (king and parliamentary leaders), the political and literary events that led up to the fateful decision, etc. Ferling is an expert on this period of our history, and this work is one of his masterpieces. The Holy or the Broken by Alan Light This is the history of a song, Hallelujah written by Leonard Cohen. When it first came out, it was all but unknown, but it slowly built up fame and meaning for so many people. It is not a religious song as such (even though there are some Biblical allusions), but rather a song about the pain and elation that one feels when one is in love. I have often listened to Bon Jovi’s version of it on YouTube when I need a lift. The song reminds me of the cost and reward of giving oneself totally. The Savage Day by Jack Higgins This is the story of a British agent who is trying to recover a shipment of stolen gold that was going to be used to buy arms to continue the war between the IRA and the British troops in Northern Ireland. It is willed with action and twists and turns which keep the plot rolling along. Marcus Agrippa by Lindsay Powell Agrippa was a close friend (and toward the end of his life, the son in law) of Augustus Caesar. He performed all of his responsibilities well, but never called attention to himself. He was the most trusted general of Caesar’s troops, a civil engineer who improved life in Rome, a diplomat, etc. His name famously is inscribed on the Pantheon in Rome (although it was later totally rebuilt by the Emperor Hadrian). A New History of the American South by Edward Ayers This is a teaching company course on the US south from the time of colonial settlement to the present. The professor obviously loves the south, but he is not blind to its difficulties. He deals well with slavery, the Civil War, the myth of the south (told after the war), civil rights, the plight of the poor (white and black) farmers, etc. The course is well organized and the professor is well spoken. The Mercy Brown Incident by Charles River Editors Theoretically this is the story of Mercy Brown, who died of tuberculosis, and whose family members soon suffered from the same disease. They thought she was causing it from the grave, as a type of vampire. The author uses her story as a pretext to speak about all forms of vampirism throughout the world and how people responded to it. The Balkans: A Short History by Mark Mazower This books speaks about the history and cultures of the Balkans, especially their linguistic and religious cultures. The book started slowly, but by the end I was glad that I had read it. It deals with questions about the ferocity of the inhabitants (are they more so than other peoples?), about their tendency to be fervent believers even when they know relatively little about their own faith, about the tendency to take bits and pieces from other faiths and made them their own. The section dealing with the fight for independence and World War I, and the after Communist era are very well done. The Book of Genesis by Gary Rendsburg This is a brilliant study of the first book of the Bible by a Jewish professor. He speaks of the 3 (or 4) part theory of the book’s production, and he proposes that this theory is overdone and that the book was actually a literary unity. He draws from his extensive knowledge of ancient Middle Eastern cultures and texts as well as rabbinic productions to show why a text means one thing or another. While I did not necessarily agree with everything he said, it all made me think it over (which for me means that it was a great presentation). The Spanish American War by Charles River Editors This was a war fought initially as a way to liberate the Cubans from their Spanish colonial overlords. The author speaks of the politics involved, of how newspaper owners all but invented the war to increase their readership, and how the war caused a debate on how much the US should be involved in creating a colonial empire (e.g. Puerto Rico, Philippines, Guam). The Judaisms of Jesus’ Followers by Juan Marcos Bejarano Gutierrez This is a study of the ties between the early Christians and the Jewish faith, and how various groups who considered themselves to be Jewish nevertheless also identified themselves as being followers of Christ. Some of the insights are great, but others are based on an approach to texts in which the author goes from “it might mean” to “it does mean” to “therefore this proves”. The book is probably worth reading, but it is also spotty. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


Post a Comment