Advent lawn display 1

posted by Mike on November 26th, 2012


Santa Claus preceded by two angelic heralds, one muted, the other blinded.

Getting a jump on the season in West Virginia.

posted by Mike in Advent | on November 26th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “Advent lawn display 1” | No Comments »

Free Advent kit offer

posted by Mike on November 21st, 2012

Each year for the past few years, we’ve assembled an Advent wreath from scratch, scrounging candles from drawers and the supermarket, attaching them to a dinner plate with hot wax, and covering the rest of the plate with branches from the nearest evergreen.


This year I’ve bought a bunch of candles and plasticine so I can make a better wreath. In fact, I’ve bought more than enough, so if you’d like to make your own wreath, I’ll mail you enough candles and plasticine to do it. Send your address to with the subject line “Advent.” I’d really like to get these in the mail by November 27, so please let me know ASAP.

Other items:

  • This month the US Catholic bishops endorsed the Vatican making Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, a saint. Dorothy is one of my greatest heroes, a woman who gave her life to serving the poor and speaking out for justice and mercy. She’s also a controversial candidate for sainthood, not only because she was a pacifist and anarchist, but because she famously said: “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Here’s a good article on that with thoughts from Fr. James Martin and from Robert Ellsberg, who worked with Dorothy near the end of her life and edited her published letters and journals.
  • Every year I encourage my Christian friends to take a mild step to “put the Christ back in Christmas” by not shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Julia Smucker makes a similar argument, with a big helping of theology.
  • Can’t believe I forgot to mention: The best Wal-Mart/Black Friday project yet, Mark Dixon’s My 49 Hours at Wal-Mart.
posted by Mike in Advent, Items | on November 21st, 2012 | Permanent Link to “Free Advent kit offer” | No Comments »

Resurrecting Jesus

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on November 16th, 2012

As people were leaving Mass one Sunday, a man pointed to a copy of our newsletter and asked me, “Where do you get all that peace crap?”

“From Jesus,” I replied timidly.

“Jesus?” he scoffed, “He died a long time ago.”

South Park’s Jesus
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posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy in Religion | on November 16th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “Resurrecting Jesus” | No Comments »

508 #207: 508H2O

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s panel is Brendan Melican and Jen Burt.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Twitter | Facebook

Subscribe with iTunes

Contact info.

You can watch 508 Fridays at 7pm on WCCA TV13.

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Worcester’s third anti-panhandling plan: to committee

posted by Mike on November 14th, 2012

Last night, the Worcester City Council considered a third anti-panhandling plan. The first plan, from April 2005, had lots of ideas, but the only one that was implemented was a publicity campaign against giving to people on the street. After a year of complaints from civic activists and religious leaders, and a year of anti-panhandling signs being vandalized, the City stopped this campaign. As the City Manager recently wrote, “Engagement is a substantially better investment as it proves to be more successful than public education through expensive billboards which often have the appearance of targeting and marginalizing the poor and vulnerable.”

In July of 2012, the City took another shot at discouraging panhandlers by hiring a social worker to talk with them. This seems to have helped a couple of people, but the City Council doesn’t think it’s solved the panhandling problem, so plan #3 was proposed at last night’s Council meeting (after several weeks of delay).

Plan #3 attempts to ban “aggressive panhandling,” which it defines as not only begging in a rude or hostile way but asking for help in most any place where people might be walking, including near bus stops and any “place of public assembly.” In a letter to the Council, the City’s lawyer notes that kids asking motorists for money for little league or a school trip would have to be included in the ban along with everyone else. Many of the aspects of “aggressive panhandling” would seem to be covered by existing laws, and City Councilor O’Brien asked the City to determine whether much of this ordinance was just re-banning a bunch of stuff.

I had high hopes for Plan #2, the social worker—I can’t see how Plan #3 would be anything other than political theater, pretending that panhandling is a serious problem and then pretending that the City Council is taking it seriously. Either the ban is going to get the City sued on First Amendment grounds, or else things will play out like they did in Springfield, after an aggressive panhandling ban there, with a rash of arrests but no decline in the number of people begging on corners.

The Telegram’s headline from last night’s City Council meeting was “Council balks on panhandling ban.” A number of Council-watchers, including at least one former Councilor, predicted in the days leading up to the meeting that the Council would vote in favor of Plan #3, no problem. Instead, the Council voted to send it to committee, for further discussion and public input. Anybody who called a City Councilor or shared your distaste for this plan in a public forum, you probably muted their enthusiasm for the ban as-written. The next step: convince the Council that this ban is not an appropriate response to the problem and that a third failure is going to make Worcester look that much worse.

508 #206: Election Day 2012

posted by Mike on November 8th, 2012

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we geek out on the details of Worcester Election Day 2012 with Chris Robarge of the Voter Protection Network, poll warden Colin Novick, and Democratic poll observer Brendan Melican.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Twitter | Facebook

Subscribe with iTunes

Contact info.

You can watch 508 Fridays at 7pm on WCCA TV13.