Closing Guantanamo in 2017

posted by Mike on January 11th, 2017

As on many past January 11ths, I’m here in Washington, D.C. fasting and working with Witness Against Torture to end torture and indefinite detention, and to close the prison at Guantanamo.

The connotation of “Close Guantanamo” has changed in recent years. Time was, most of the men detained there were innocent or irrelevant. Now, only 55 detainees remain: 19 approved for release, 3 convicted by military commission, 7 on trial before military commissions, and 26 considered too dangerous to release but can’t be put on trial (because the evidence against them wouldn’t be admissible).

So you might have different motivations to Close Guantanamo in 2017 vs. 2007.

In some ways this is the least important time to be worrying about Gitmo, a little prison with 55 inmates in a world full of so many bigger things to worry about. My own worry is that this will turn out to be the most important time to worry, as Donald Trump will soon become president after a campaign in which he enthusiastically embraced the expansion of Gitmo and torture.

Will my worries turn out to be premature and misplaced? I hope so.

posted by Mike in Shut Down Guantanamo | on January 11th, 2017 | Permanent link | No Comments »

First Sunday of Advent, 2016

posted by Mike on November 27th, 2016

For it is God who has made my heart faint, the Almighty who has terrified me. --Job 23:16

Most years I’m eager to plan for Advent or Lent, to bring my own creative energy to these ancient traditions.

This year, though, that doesn’t feel quite right. It seems a better course of action would be to talking these things through with a spiritual director instead of my usual planning by brainstorming in casual conversation or on social media, with a bit of prayer.

If you shared this insight with me I’d wonder if you were depressed or perhaps unusually busy, but for me, this year, I think this instinct comes from my religious practice being in an unusually good place, and wanting my seasonal devotions to have an integrity and depth that’s going to require a wisdom and perspective other than my own.

So this Advent, I’ll be preparing for Christmas by lighting candles and saying seasonal prayers, while keeping my eyes open for the right spiritual director, who’s sure to turn up sooner than I expect. That’s how these things tend to work out.

Ona Kiser:

I had a humorous conversation on this topic with a friend the other day, regarding giving up things for Lent or Advent. If we choose what to give up, that’s not a bad thing, but there is nearly always vanity in it. Maybe we choose something heroic, so that we feel good about how tough we are. Maybe we choose something too easy, because we don’t want to feel like a failure. Either way we are protecting our pride. On the other hand, if one asks ones confessor or director what to give up, one is assigned something that may or may not be pleasing. One may think it too hard, or too easy. Being given easy tasks or renunciations is very difficult for me, for instance, because I like people to think I’m tough and capable and good at things. I want the hard task to show off how I can do it.

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posted by Mike in Advent | on November 27th, 2016 | Permanent link | No Comments »

Worcester Civil Disobedience Against Dakota Access Pipeline; 2 Arrested

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2016

As part of a nationwide effort opposing construction of the fracked-oil Dakota Access Pipeline, two Worcester residents (Jen Burt and Kyle Schulz) this morning locked themselves to the front door of the downtown Worcester branch of TD Bank, a sister company of TD Securities, one of the financial institutions financing the pipeline. Once their locks had been cut, they were arrested.

Update: They have been charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. A December court date has been set.

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I think this is the first civil disobedience in the city since the January 2015 Black Lives Matter protest in Kelley Square. That protest involved four protesters being charged (two months after the five-minute protest) with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. After a brief trial, three of them were “adjudicated responsible” and fined $100 each, and the fourth found “not responsible.”

(I should note that anti-fracking and indigenous rights not causes I’ve been involved with or know much about, but you won’t be surprised I’m generally sympathetic to them, and moreover these two are my friends and I wish them the best of luck.)

posted by Mike in Worcester | on November 14th, 2016 | Permanent link | Comments Off on Worcester Civil Disobedience Against Dakota Access Pipeline; 2 Arrested

Worcester Catholic Worker community celebrates 30 years on Mason Street

posted by Mike on August 13th, 2016

Today we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Saints Francis and Thérèse Catholic Worker community.

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Folks from far and wide packed the backyard at 52 Mason Street tonight for a mass marking the 30th anniversary of the Saints Francis and Thérèse Catholic Worker community. Mass was celebrated by Father Madden from St. John’s.

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It was fantastic to see so many Central Massachusetts lay Catholic communities represented, as well as so many people from other communities of faith and action.

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508 #275: Technocopia, part 2

posted by Mike on July 29th, 2016

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we tour Technocopia’s new downtown space with Nick Bold, Joe Forjette, and Adam Zelny.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on July 29th, 2016 | Permanent link | No Comments »

508 #274: Ionic Ave Creative Hub

posted by Mike on July 14th, 2016

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, Laura Marotta takes us on a tour of the old Boys & Girls Club and explains the plan to turn it into Creative Hub Worcester.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on July 14th, 2016 | Permanent link | No Comments »

508 #273: Urban Redevelopment

posted by Mike on May 19th, 2016

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about the Worcester Redevelopment Authority’s latest Urban Redevelopment Plan with urban planner Paul Dell’Aquila.

[PDF of the plan.]

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on May 19th, 2016 | Permanent link | No Comments »

508 #272: Mercy Matters

posted by Mike on May 5th, 2016

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk to Mat Schmalz about his new book Mercy Matters.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Podcasts, Worcester | on May 5th, 2016 | Permanent link | No Comments »

508 #271: Sneaker Nerds

posted by Mike on April 28th, 2016

508 is a show about Worcester. This week we talk to Dee Wells of Obsessive Sneaker Disorder about being a sneakerhead and that New York Times Magazine article on Worcester.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on April 28th, 2016 | Permanent link | No Comments »

A Day of Dorothy Day, March 15, 2016

posted by Mike on March 14th, 2016

There will be a day-long conference on Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement this week at Holy Cross College, in Worcester, Mass.

At 4:30pm at the Rehm Library is a public presentation by Robert Ellsberg and George Horton.

Mr. Ellsberg was managing editor of the Catholic Worker newspaper during the last years of Dorothy Day’s life. As editor-in-chief and publisher at Orbis Books, he’s written extensively about her, and edited books of her diaries and letters.

Mr. Horton is a Holy Cross alum who serves as Catholic Charities New York Director of the Department of Social and Community Development. He is working on Dorothy Day’s sainthood cause on behalf of the New York Archdiocese.

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posted by Mike in Catholic Worker movement, Worcester | on March 14th, 2016 | Permanent link | No Comments »