Worcesterites “marry” corporations at City Hall

posted by Mike on November 10th, 2011

On this rainy day outside Worcester’s City Hall, Occupy Worcester organized a series of satirical marriage ceremonies between local residents and corporations, to protest corporate personhood.

Here, Sarah stands with her groom, the Corrections Corporation of America.

Update: Because of the rain, these events were in/under the City Hall entryway. OW folks tell me the following. OW had an actual permit for the event. Police came and moved them to the Franklin St side. Some OW folks went to the City Manager’s office to ask why, when they had a permit, they were made to move. They were met inside by police, threatened with a trespassing charge, and told not to return. OW folks are meeting with the City Solicitor and perhaps the Mayor right now. A press release is forthcoming. From Facebook: “Occupy Worcester members illegally and forcefully evicted from City Hall during business hours! We could use some bodies at City Hall now.”

Congressman McGovern’s office is not far from City Hall, so some OW folks went to talk with him about this. Congressman McGovern is no stranger to civil disobedience himself.

Second Update: Here’s a post with the blow-by-blow. The upshot is that the permit was for “the Franklin St side of City Hall,” which the organizers and the police interpreted differently. Also potentially the permit was invalid because the organizers didn’t hire police officers to watch over the protest. The main ridiculous thing here is that people were threatened with arrest when they asked to talk to a city staffer about making an appointment with the City Manager. This post is quite funny and enthusiastic:

So we go to see our congressional representative, who keeps an office next to the world’s shadiest mini-mall.

While explaining ourselves to the secretary, who should walk by but none other than Congressman Jim McGovern! We talk about what happened, and the whole time he’s nodding sagely like some kind of Jedi master, like he’s peered into his crystal ball and foreseen the encroaching forces of Bullshit Repression and Jerkwad Authoritarians, and that now is the time to put counter-measures into place.

Right off the bat he blows our minds by revealing that he has been arrested 3 times for protesting the massacre in Darfur outside of embassies, which is the most badass place you can get arrested for protesting, second only to volcanos. He confirms that heinous bullshit had indeed transpired, and put a call in to the city manager while we were talking.

As we were shooting the breeze with an honest-to-God-Congressman like it was no big deal, I get a call from one of the other Occupiers who was there that night, saying that the Mayor has been informed, is pissed, and wants to meet with us and the city solicitor so as to sort out hand grenades from horseshoes when it comes to things like free speech and police nonsense.

So yeah, your average light conversation, you know?

Metal Mass

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 14th, 2010

Metal Mass, Temppeliaukio Church, 2010-10-14 I went to Metal Mass (Metallimessu) in my church this evening.

It was a plug for the upcoming church elections to encourage youth to participate. It attracted about 200 people – about half of which were younger than I. The hymns were straight out of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church’s hymnbook (Virsikirja): 205, 125, 77, 15, 226 (12th-century Latin hymn Jesu dulcis memoria, a monster of 16-stanzas: imagine it in metal! sadly only the first 8 were performed), 332b (here is a sample of this hymn in metal), 160, 517; and the reading from the week’s entry in the Church’s lectionary. Hymns at Metal Mass, Temppeliaukio Church, 2010-10-14 But the heavy-metal style of music gave the appropriate sense of urgency to (for example) ”Jumalan Karitsa” (“Agnus Dei”) and the readings (Abram and the stars from Genesis 12; Mark’s account in chapter 2 of healing the paralyzed down the roof) were also poignant about God being our only hope when all else is lost. Overall a moving and striking experience.

I am looking forward to the next time Metal Mass will be in Stadi: the 5th anniversary service will be on 30 June 2010.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Finland, Itinerant Communicant | on October 14th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Metal Mass” | Comments Off on Metal Mass

Prayers of concern for new government

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 9th, 2010

We prayed this prayer at a joint communion service, marking the beginning of Christian Aid Week, of the four Oxford city-centre ‘Faith in Action’ churches: New Road Baptist Church, Wesley Memorial Church, Saint Columba’s Church, and Saint Michael-at-the-Northgate. My friend Dr Martin Hodson preached.


Will you join me in the prayers of concern. Let us pray.

God the Creator, we adore you for creating the universe, full of potential to unfold; for creating our world, teeming with life and the possibility to develop.

God the Christ, we marvel that you have come among us; that we can find you in the least of these, the most unassuming of our neighbours.

God the Holy Spirit, we ask you to fill us with your power, now comforting, now challenging, as you invite us to participate in the continuing creation, transformation, and renewal of our cosmos. Read the rest of this entry »

Gulf of Mexico: postcard to Bobby Jindal

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 2nd, 2010

Gulf of Mexico display at the Audubon Aquarium of Americas: sponsored by the oil companies In December 2002, before we knew about hurricane Katrina, I visited New Orleans for a last piece of Americana before moving to Europe. I saw the Gulf of Mexico display at the Audubon Aquarium of Americas, and was struck uncomfortable that it was sponsored by the oil companies. Now we know how these do not sit well together, thanks to the reminder that was the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. So this afternoon we wrote a postcard to Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana (PO Box 94004, Baton Rouge, LA 70804):

Dear Governor,

We here in England note with concern the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Along with hurricane Katrina, it should serve as another reminder of the devastating consequences of our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels. The animals grieve with humanity the destruction of the ecosystem. We hope you will reorientate your leadership of the great State of Louisiana, so it soon becomes a pioneer in zero-carbon economic models, in partnership with the federal government. We look forward to your response.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Environment, Green Party | on May 2nd, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Gulf of Mexico: postcard to Bobby Jindal” | Comments Off on Gulf of Mexico: postcard to Bobby Jindal

Thinking a few steps ahead

posted by Kaihsu Tai on April 27th, 2010

(To appear in Issue 2 of the Oxford Left Review.)

‘One of the most encouraging developments in the emergent intellectual space […] has been a new willingness to advocate the Necessary rather than the merely Practical.’ – Mike Davis, Who will build the ark? New Left Review 61 (January/February 2010)

Political events since mid-2009, especially the parliamentary expenses scandal, accentuated long-standing symptoms in the British body politic, eliciting predictions of doom (in the form of further voter disengagement, among others) and calls for reform. Among these, many an opinion poll suggested the possibility of a hung Parliament, and many a campaign group called for a referendum on reforming the electoral system of first-past-the-post (FPTP). Peter Tatchell outlined the case for electoral reform in the inaugural issue of this Review. Beyond this, the wide Left ought also to think a few more steps ahead. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflection on the Accra Confession

posted by Kaihsu Tai on April 25th, 2010

For a service at Saint Columba’s Church, 2010-04-25.

Cross at NatWest, Easter

Last time I spoke from this lectern, I started by talking about a bank branch a few metres down High Street. I am going to talk about banks again. A nationalized bank at that. Seventy percent of the Royal Bank of Scotland is owned by Her Majesty’s Treasury … well, the better name is the taxpayers’ Treasury, our Treasury. In turn, RBS owns the NatWest bank in England; we have a branch down the road. Before I get too much into the banks, let me take a detour, and talk about oil. I promise to come back to banks … ’cause that seems to be where the action’s at, these days.

Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Creative Resistance, Easter, Environment, Oxford, Pentecost | on April 25th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Reflection on the Accra Confession” | Comments Off on Reflection on the Accra Confession

Catholic Worker Tea Party

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on April 22nd, 2010

On Wednesday, April 14, 2010, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Julia Skjerli, and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy of the Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker in Worcester, Massachusetts went to the Boston Common where a Tea Party rally addressed by Sarah Palin was held. At the edge of a crowd of about 4,000 Tea Party supporters, the Catholic Workers held signs and distributed almost 500 leaflets. Ken held a sign which read, “A Tea Party the US Needs Now.” It depicted colonists throwing boxes labeled “WAR” into Boston Harbor. Julia held a sign which read, “Cut Government Spending, End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Now.” Scott wore a tri-corner hat and colonial garb. He rang a bell and quoted James Madison and Patrick Henry on the evils of a standing army.

Their leaflet is reprinted below:
Read the rest of this entry »

Oel ngati kameie: I see you (Na’vi in Avatar)

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 19th, 2010

Finally got my acts together to see Avatar (3D) yesterday evening, two months after release. My Green friends Drs Richard Lawson, Derek Wall, and Rupert Read (and those over at Two Doctors blog in Scotland) all liked it, along with many of us studying the Accra Confession at the Saint Columba’s Manse Discussion Group.

L’Osservatore Romano did not like Avatar, some suspected due to alleged pantheism. But the philosophy therein was not really pantheism, but can be more accurately described as panentheism (as my friend Dr George Zachariah of the Mar Thoma Church taught): finding God in everything; finding the image of the divine in everyone. I would have to struggle if I had to deny this as Christian.

[…] Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries […]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The scene was indicative, where the scientist Dr Grace Augustine presented her results about the synaptic nature of the biosphere on the planet Pandora, and the businessman Parker Selfridge dismissed her thus: ‘what have you been smoking!’ Science is only accepted when it conveniently serves the imperial–rationalist exploitation: at all other times it is dismissed. As Dr Lawson pointed out (and echoed by the Reverend Dick Wolff), this has been going on in the climate-change debate: ‘If you are a committed free market fundamentalist, you will never accept the climate change facts, as they are incompatible with your ideology.’

I will be going to the Conference of the Green Party of England and Wales this Saturday; expecting Green hugs.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Creative Resistance, Green Party, Heresy, Orthodoxy, The Papacy | on February 19th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Oel ngati kameie: I see you (Na’vi in Avatar)” | Comments Off on Oel ngati kameie: I see you (Na’vi in Avatar)

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 17th, 2010

Ash Wednesday sermon at the chapel of Mansfield College, Oxford, based on two earlier blog posts: ‘What keeps me awake at night’ and ‘Brecht’s Galileo, or, Against Macho Science’.

Luke 15:11–32 (Prodigal Son).

May I speak in the name of God: Creator, Christ, and Comforter. Amen.

A few years ago, I went to the National Theatre in London, to see Bertolt Brecht’s play The Life of Galileo, in a version by David Hare. With 20th-century hindsight, the German playwright Brecht retold the life-story of the 17th-century scientist Galileo Galilei. Today, on this Ash Wednesday, I want to talk about the nature and motivation of scientific pursuit: this play happens to provide some hooks for my thinking. So, at the risk of substituting a theatre review in the place of a sermon, here I go.

If you recall, Galileo championed the theory of Copernicus that the Earth orbits the Sun. The Church forced him to recant this view. The famous British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says, ‘Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science.’ Is this modern science a good thing in the round? Was the Church right to slow Galileo down after all? Galileo’s 17th-century contemporaries did not have the benefit of hindsight and retrospection: They were riding the wave of the Renaissance, pregnant with the prospect of rationalism’s triumph in the 19th and 20th centuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Just another manic Monday

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 1st, 2010

At one o’clock Monday morning, I counted the votes to select a parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in the Oxford East constituency, to replace Peter Tatchell who had to stand down due to health reasons. Announcement to follow in due course, soon.

From one o’clock to three in the afternoon, I attended the Green group of councillors to discuss budget proposals for Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council, and election strategies.

From seven to about nine o’clock in the evening, I was glad to be at the launch of the inaugural issue of the Oxford Left Review. There I talked with three journalists (among other radical right-on comrades), from Aamulehti of Tampere, Corriere della Sera of Italy, and Samoa’s Environment Weekly. Very nice people they were.

Here is the table of contents for the inaugural issue of the Oxford Left Review (Issue 1, February 2010):

  • Samual Burt: Equality and Republican Ideals
  • Peter Tatchell: Voter Reform and the Left
  • Stuart White: An End to Labourism
  • Cailean Gallagher: Call to Scottish Labour
  • Matthew Kennedy: The Putney Debates
  • Jeremy Cliffe: A Fourth Way for Labour?
  • Brian Melican: Germany’s Fragmented Left
  • Christopher Jackson: The Return of Keynes
  • George Irvin: Time for a Tobin Tax
  • Kaihsu Tai: The Science of Copenhagen
  • Sophie Lewis: COP15 – Activist’s Perspective
  • Matthew Kennedy: Žižek review
  • Roberta Klimt: Bennett review
  • Noel Hatch: Today’s Lost Generation

Pace Radford, it was typeset in Palatino, to good effect dare I so say. All references to non-L——r party affiliation were cautiously scrubbed, for which I am (to be frank) a bit miffed. Despite that, it was an excellent effort by the editorial team in setting off this worthy initiative.

Near midnight, I refined my letter to the Oxford Times about public ownership of assets, after email-shots to follow up all the interesting discussions I had for the last 24 hours of politicking.

It is amazing that I am not getting paid to do any of this, but certainly it has been more fun than staring at molecules on the computer. Citizenship is a full-time job, and the work of a citizen is never done….