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.


posted by Mike in Advent | on November 27th, 2016 | Permanent Link to “First Sunday of Advent, 2016” | 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.


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 to “Worcester Civil Disobedience Against Dakota Access Pipeline; 2 Arrested” | Comments Off on Worcester Civil Disobedience Against Dakota Access Pipeline; 2 Arrested