Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Ellicott City

June 12, 2024 Peace and Good, I have some very good news. I had my CT scan this past Monday, and the doctors who examined the results said that I am in remission with my lung cancer. They cannot be sure that everything is complete, so I will continue immunotherapy for the next nine month, with CT scans every three months to see how things are going. But this was a very positive development. I also had a bit of a setback when I developed vertigo last Friday. I was taken to the hospital. This is the first time that I have suffered from it, so it was very confusing and, given my history of cancer, frightening. It turns out that it does not seem to be related to the cancer. It is strange, but I feel that it has given me one more thing by which I can emphatize with people who are suffering from this ailment. I finished my translation of the Italian Children's New Testament stories. I am now working on a presentation for Saturday on prayer in the life of St. Anthony (whose feast is tomorrow). His feastday is tomorrow, but we have a day of recollection on Saturday when more people are free in St. Anthony's honor. This is the year of prayer in preparation for the Holy Year in 2025. I have finished some reading and listening: Thebes: the Forgotten City of Ancient Greece by Paul Cartledge Paul Cartledge is a tremendous author on ancient topics. This book which speaks of Thebes is a good example of his work. Not as famous as Athens or Sparta, Thebes nevertheless played an important role in the history of ancient Greece. It was the legendary birth place of Oedipus. It was destroyed by Alexander the Great for rebellion and to serve as an object lesson to other cities that might consider opposing him. It was considered to be a city that did not play the proper role during the invasion of the Persians. Shadows in the Jungle by Larry Alexander This is an account of the Alamo Scouts during World War II. They were specially trained forces who infiltrated behind enemy lines to spy on them, occasionally to attack certain installations, and even to liberate prisoners of war. They served in the islands of the South Pacific including Philippines. The story of these scouts is well told and inspiring. Empire of Mud: the Secret History of Washington, DC by J.D. Dickey This is a history of the origin of the city of Washington D.C. from its origin to the beginning of the 20th century. The author deals with practical questions (buildings, sewage, paving of roads, hygiene) and with political questions (how the city lost most of its local autonomy in the aftermath of a series of scandals, and also as a way to crush the influence of the African American population of the city). The account is very informative. The Fall of Europe by Fred Majdalany This is basically a history of World War II, but from a European point of view, and from a mostly western point of view (the Soviets are only rarely mentioned). Oddly, the account takes into considerable consideration the period before the war, but then concludes the account with the period around the time of the attempted assassination of Hitler in the Valkyrie affair. Smoke Signal by Marie Benedict This is a novella about Bletchley Park (the secret site in World War II where the enigma code of the Germans was broken). Agatha Christie makes one of the characters a man with the last name of Bletchley. The crew at the Park try to discover whether the name was chosen by accident or purposely chosen. It turns out that Agatha has discovered a band of Soviet spies by accident and is trying to get the attention of the Secret Services to investigate them. Alexander the Great by Kelly Mass This is part of the very short biographies of great figures throughout history. This edition gives good information in a presentation that doesn’t last much more than an hour. The Real History of Witches and Witch Hunts by Thomas Fudge This is a Learn25 course that deals with the phenomenon of people being accused of being witches and put to death. He carefully documents the various trials and tendencies, including such things as torture to force a confession, evidence given by young children, fantastic stories that seem to have been invented to stop the torture, etc. The research is well done. The professor shows how this was both a Catholic and Protestant phenomenon, and he correlates the periods of the worse persecution to other outside factors (religious warfare, famine, etc.) which probably influence the search for a scapegoat. The American Revolution by DK DK is a series of books that are extensive explorations of a topic with a hundred or so somewhat independent essays (but all with the same texture and format). This volume on the American Revolution gives ample information on the causes, conduct and consequences of that war. It is a must read (or listen) for those interested in the topic. The Fever of 1721 by Stephen Cross This is the story of an epidemic of smallpox in Boston in 1721, along with the controversy about the new experiments in inoculation (not yet with cowpox but with a hopefully limited amount of material taken from smallpox pustules). One of the men involved in this was Cotton Mather, the famous Congregationalist preacher who helped in the convictions of the Salem Witch trials. Another was a young Benjamin Franklin who worked in his brother’s press shop. The Cambodian Campaign during the Vietnam War by Charles River Editors This short book speaks about the invasion of Cambodia (and Laos) during the Vietnam War. The author feels that the military has been judged harshly by the press (which by this point of the war were hostile to the governments of the US and Vietnam and the military). The author points out that most of the supplies and reinforcements for the Vietcong were being transported along the Ho Chi Ming trail or were being shipped into the port of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, and that the invasion cut off supplies of arms and food for many months. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Charles River Editors Eleanor is one of those historic figures who seems too sensational to be true. She was married to two kings: that of France and of England. She went on the crusades with her French husband, possibly committing incest with her uncle on the way. She ruled over a large territory in southern France. She rebelled against her husband (Henry) along with two of her sons. She was held under house arrest in a castle for much of the latter part of her life, eventually being freed when her son Richard the Lion hearted took the throne. The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman Tuchman is a great historical author. This book speaks of a number of episodes in history in which the people engaging in a warlike policy should have known better, but they blinded themselves to some obvious truths because of pride or arrogance or illusion. She speaks of the war with Troy, the wars fought be the Medieval Papacy, the American Revolutionary War and the Vietnam War. In each case, she shows how those involved did have options which they chose to ignore. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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