July 25th, 2007

Benedict XVI wind

Theological Notebook/Random: A Chinese Invite to the Pope in the works? WWI Vintage Cognac Found

Here's an interesting follow-up story to the overture made by Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics in his recent letter to them. This isn't an official invitation from Beijing, but it certainly has some meaning in that it was allowed to be published by an official of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. The feelers are definitely out.

I also include an odd, sad and funny little story about WWI having unusual payoffs for locals in Macedona.

Chinese Catholics Ask Pope to Visit
Jul 24, 10:45 AM (ET)

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A senior official in China's state-sanctioned Catholic Church said in comments published Tuesday that he would like Pope Benedict XVI to visit China.

Benedict did not dismiss the possibility but said the issue was "complicated."

Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, made the comments in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica in which he praised Benedict's recent letter to China's Catholics as "positive."

"I strongly hope to be able to see the pope one day here in Beijing to celebrate Mass for us Chinese," Liu was quoted as saying.

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WWI Spirits Live on in Macedonia
Jul 23, 8:36 PM (ET)

By KONSTANTIN TESTORIDES

GRADESNICA, Macedonia (AP) - French adjutant-chief Eugene Rouges died with several of his men here when a German artillery shell exploded in their trench on Nov. 16, 1916.

But their spirits live on in Gradesnica.

More than 90 years later, visitors are still drawn to this former World War I battlefield, a remote mountain village in southern Macedonia, where the lure is more than military history: A liquid fortune in vintage cognac and wine lies buried in the old trenches.

Stefan Kovacevski, 64, is among residents who tasted the French army rations that have matured into an exquisite elixir.

"At first we were afraid to taste the dark, thick liquid," he said. "But ... this must be what people mean by the nectar of the gods."

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Geneva Evening

Personal: Remembering Geneva and the Nicods

As I was walking from one room to another in my too-hot apartment on this otherwise perfect July evening in Milwaukee, I happened to once again recall my journey of a year ago. Then I realized that one year ago tonight I was enjoying a perfect Geneva evening, not unlike the perfect Milwaukee evening I just walked home from the library through. But in Geneva, I had been sitting by Lake Geneva and then ended up in the heart of the city, having an hours-long, great conversation with the magnificent Nicod sisters, Isabel and Cristina. (I'm an historian: I tend to think of such things in terms of "a year ago," "five years ago, "ten years ago." Sue me.)

I had gotten a brief email from Crisi a few months ago, and though we really haven't kept in touch (which is certainly understandable), I did take tonight's occasion to drop the two of them a small update. I'm going to see Erik in a few weeks, so maybe I can get an update out of them to surprise him with some details.

I am rather fond of this travelogue, after all that we squeezed into the journey, and the effort I put into writing it up. I tried the other night to make a "tidier" version of my trip journal, since Live Journal puts the most recent entries at the top and therefore all my entries go in backwards chapters, as it were. I thought it would be good to have a one-entry version that could be read from top to bottom (or printed out that way for my computer-phobic Dad, which I've been meaning to do), but it turns out that that was too large an entry, which I should have remembered.

So the best I can do for something like that is to just print a "table of contents" set of links, I figure:
EDIT:And I finally really finished all these entries by finally substituting the non-functional movie links from my Photo Gallery (never could make that work) and putting in YouTube versions. So now the whole thing is really there....

Europe Trip 2006: Checking in from Newark; First Afternoon in Geneva
Europe Trip 2006: Geneva to Venice
Europe Trip 2006: Venice Part Two
Europe Trip 2006: Florence, Day One, Part One
Europe Trip 2006: Florence, Day One, Part Two
Europe Trip 2006: Florence, Day Two, Part One
Europe Trip 2006: Florence Day Two, Part Two
Europe Trip 2006: Return to Geneva
Europe Trip 2006: Geneva to Milwaukee: Part One: Walking Geneva
Europe Trip 2006: Geneva to Milwaukee: Part Two: The Nicod Sisters
Europe Trip 2006: The Return