I am learning to relax. It's hard in a busy life in a busy world. It takes purposeful adjustments-evolving on purpose. It helps that spring finally decided to make it's appearance and being outside is more enjoyable. I can head down to the river for a walk and sit on a swing with a book and waste some time. It's not really wasting time though. The squirrels are vastly entertaining. Although they don't have seemed to have acquired the knack of relaxation either! Busy little souls.
At the top of the list is "Roman Society" by Henry Boren. The last of the texts for my Roman Republic class. Even as a text it was fun for me to read. It's full of interesting tidbits along the way. My favorite emperors are (in order) Constantine, Augustus and Hadrian. Christianity evolves and grows as the Roman Empire (particularly the West) diminishes. The dark ages people call it although it never seemed so to me. After the fall of the Roman Empire (late 4th century) up until 14th century is the time I love the most. (Here comes the nod to all things English) England, more specifically York, benefited directly from Constantius and Constantine keeping rule there. Hadrian built a wall in Northern England-lands of my ancestors. However it is the rise of Monasticism in Northern England, Ireland, Scotland that draws me. Rome is just a little prelude to the good stuff.
With the next book I am still in Rome. "Holy Father" by Greg Tobin is about the development of the Papacy and the current Papa Benedict XVI. He gives you all the important and relevant details without overloading the reader. There is such a vast amount of history in the development of the Catholic Church. You got it all in the history. You got the villains, heroes, saints, art, architecture. The list of characters is very much like that of secular rulers. That's one of the endearing things for me. That the leaders of the Catholic Church are very much human and struggling like the rest of us. I learned from this book that has been only one English Pope. He was Pope #167, who officially was Hadrian (Adrian) IV and otherwise was known as Nicholas Breakspear. I love that name-Breakspear. This modern Papa I find to be delightful. Intellectual, shy and above all full of faith and hope. This world needs more men like that.
The last book is still in the world of Monasticism. It's yet another Merton read. "The Asian journal of Thomas Merton" by um...Thomas Merton. Based on the last journal he had traveling in Asia right before his death. I must confess this book was hard for me because I haven't the slightest interest in Eastern thought, practices. There were the usual amazing insights Merton always seems to zing a reader with, but for the most part I found the comparisons and discussions of Hinduism and Buddhism with Christianity beyond my interests. I understand the similarities of the conditions necessary for monks are universal-tranquility and meditation being among them. It is relevant for attaining greater understanding and respect for people that worship in differing ways. Inter-denominational acceptance as a prerequisite for worldwide peace as much as for personal spiritual evolution. He talks about this. Still this is the least of my favorite Merton reads. I know there are many for whom this book would be completely otherwise but.....this is my blog... so I get to be less than objective. Anyway, anyone who knows me knows I am a Merton fan in general. Not much in the way of a nod to Merry old England in this book. Until next time....