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Father Claude

As I was saying.....

I embrace the world from my backyard at the University of Portland, January 1, 2018. I again invite you to "clod-hop" with me on my journeys to Latin America via this blog. More...

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Dave Burrell and I invited the lay volunteers who work in Jinja to join us at Lake Saaka for Thanksgiving. One of the Kroc peace interns 9from Notre Dame) also joined us. We drove to Fort Portal on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (where the Rwenzori Mountains begin -- aka The Mountains of the Moon) as well as the Riff Valley. We then retreated to Lake Saaka and the Holy Cross Novitiate. The Novitiate staff and novices planned a luxurious feast to celebrate Thanksgiving in East Africa: Turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, yams, veggies, rich deserts, cakes, pancakes, maple syrup (yup, from Vermont!) and rich wines and assorted drinks. Isaiah would have envied us.

On Sunday, we went to Kyarusozi Parish Community for Mass. Although Mass is usually celebrated in the local language, Dave Burrell celebrated in English, and a dynamic translator helped with the homily. After Mass, we went to visit the spectacular building project of Brother Bernard Kim CSC. Bro. Bernie is one of those dynamic and creative builders that one reads about in 17th century Mexico or 19th century Chile. He is training local builders in all the arts necessary for building a large boarding-school complex in one of the most rural (no electricity) and beautiful spots in the foothills of the mountains. Bro Bernie is a mystic, a sufi, a Zen master and master builder, who loves to teach all his skills to the able young workers of the region. He has already built other residences (such as Bishop McCauley House in Kampala) and the large Church and surrounding gardens and gazebos at Kyarusozi. Eat your heart out, Hanging Gardens of Babylon!

I have done much reading during the past weeks, but I must share two of the best books with you, dear readers of blogs. The first is Paul Collier's THE BOTTOM BILLION (Whey the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can be Done About It). This is a superb book recommended to me by Bill Dailey. Friends don't allow friends to drive without first readings such useful books. If you read only one thing about the challenges facing East-West-South and North Africa, this is the book.

The other book is A.J. Dionne's SOULD OUT, sent to me by another mystic (everyone should have such a mystic in his or her life!) Bob Antonelli. If you have read some of Dionne's columns in the Washington Post, you know that he is a wonderful writer and serious interpreter of the role of religion (especially Catholicism) in the U.S. If you have limited time, I especially recommend the last chapter, in which he summarizes his approach to understanding the role of liberalism and Catholicism in understanding the future of American politics, and the strength and meaning of those communities in the U.S. To quote Herschel (as Dionne frequently does)"God is either of no importance, or of supreme importance...God is the meaning beyond mystery". Dionne shows why he thinks this belief has usually lifted the best of religious communities beyond ideologies of left and right, conservative and liberal. A good read.

I will spend Christmas vacation and New Year in Portland, Burlington (VT), and Washington, DC. See you in Uganda, next year. Happy Advent!
Permalink | Friday, December 5, 2008