Michael True, 1933-2019, RIP

posted by Mike on May 1st, 2019

Michael True, Worcester activist, writer, and educator, has died. His intelligence, diligence, generosity, and kindness will not be forgotten by those who knew him.

His funeral and burial will be in Minnesota. We are told will be a celebration of his life in Worcester June 1 at Mechanics Hall, but no details yet.

Official obituary, Minneapolis Star Tribune

True, Michael Daniel: Lover of life, born in Oklahoma City, OK 11/8/1933 died at 85, on 4/28/2019 in St. Paul, MN. Michael was a prolific writer of books, essays and letters. He was a teacher and activist, loved good conversation, friends, food and music. He grew up in Lawton, OK with his 2 brothers and “Mother and Daddy” whom he cherished. He was a Sooner at Oklahoma University, received his MA in English at the University of Minnesota. Michael met his wife, Mary Pat Delaney, in St. Paul. They married in 1958 at St. Luke’s Parish. Mike went to Duke University for his Ph. D. He spent the majority of his life in his beloved city of Worcester, MA where he taught English, and later Peace Studies at Assumption College (1965-2000).

Worcester Telegram & Gazette: Michael True, activist, poet, educator, mourned

Michael True believed in peace, the power of art and poetry, and the worth of his adopted hometown, the city of Worcester.

“But he didn’t just talk about ideas,” said his son, John True. “He implemented them. He was an activist.”

Mr. True, also a renowned author, poet and historian who taught at Assumption College and in classrooms around the world, passed away last week in Minneapolis at the age of 85. He is survived by his wife, Mary Pat, six children, 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Mr. True was a central figure in Worcester’s nonviolence community, taking part in protests big and small, for causes well-known and unsung. Those who knew him remembered a man committed to what he believed in, willing to risk health and reputation, and who, despite his illustrious resume, never looked down on anyone.

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Lenten Gameplan, 2019

posted by Mike on March 6th, 2019

Fasting: At last, Facebook has become a miserable enough experience that it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to give it up. So the likely candidates this year are the old classics: giving up (some) sugar, giving up caffeine, and so on. There are so many fasting fads these days, I might play around with a few, more out of curiosity than spiritual discipline.

Prayer: This year, for the first time in a long time, I’m already doing plenty of praying by myself and with my various communities. My plan is to maintain these, in Lenten form, but not add much extra work.

Reading List: Kugel’s How to Read the Bible (because why not provoke a crisis of faith during Lent?), Hart’s weird New Testament translation (at least the Gospel of John, more if it seems helpful), the Catechism (spread out at around 20 pages per Lenten day, stopping at the nearest chapter/article/section break), and Dorothy Day’s diaries (stopping each day when I’m as inspired or discouraged as I need to be). Lent is 6½ weeks, so that feels like plenty of reading to me. (Looking at the stack, I notice that a bonus Lenten sacrifice may end up being “carrying heavy books.”) In the unlikely event I need to fill more time with reading, I have ebooks of St. Thérèse, Girard’s I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, Spitzer’s How to Find True Happiness, and Pilgrim’s Progress at hand. This might be the perfect Lent to include some books or films on clergy sex abuse, but I am already reading tons on that, believe me.

Scent List: Zoologist’s perfume “Bat,” which Luca Turin observes is built around geosmin, the chemical odor of wet dirt and beets. Maybe the closest thing you’re going to get to ashes, but not incense-y, but not bad. Really only something I’m using on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Lent is not a self-help guide, but about entering Paschal Mystery:

The purpose of Lent, therefore, is a microcosm of the life and worldview of the Christian believer. Knowing themselves to be the sons and daughters of the Resurrection, everything they think, feel, and do is placed in the light and hope of eternity. This gives the disciple of Jesus Christ the strength to forgive an enemy, control their sexual passions, suffer patiently, and selflessly serve others. When the Resurrection is lived and heaven is seen as a real possibility for the righteous, then everything is worth it and everything becomes ordered to it.

This week’s notes on the Catholic clergy abuse crisis

posted by Mike on February 17th, 2019

Here’s a summary I wrote for this week’s radio show that I thought I’d post here.

This week we are seeing a historic meeting on clergy sex abuse, including some Worcester participants; expanded rights for victims of abuse; financial difficulties in the Diocese of Worcester; and even some relevant anecdotes from my own life as a faithful Catholic.
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Václav

posted by Kaihsu Tai on January 2nd, 2019

A recent sermon on the carol Good King Wenceslas reminded me of this text of mine six years ago:

Quando dou comida aos pobres, chamam-me de santo. Quando pergunto por que eles são pobres, chamam-me de comunista.

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.

Hélder Câmara

In the carol, King Wenceslas did everything right to be called a saint. The “poor” was “gathering winter fuel” on St Stephen’s. Who would collect the fuel otherwise? When else? – What other time? What’s wrong with collecting fuel? Even if it were wrong, the king’s response was not – “Let’s reorganize the system for energy in the neighbourhood around my palace” but to call his page. All right – a feast might be had by all on St Stephen’s if the entourage made it to yonder the poor’s.

But on the festival of St John the Evangelist, on the Day of the Holy Innocents, the King remains king, the page page, the poor still poor. Only that the King now sleeps sounder on the 27th of December and will not look out. He may then commission the carol writer later in the afternoon for his hagiography. The unnamed “poor man” does not stop collecting winter fuel – even come January.

(New Year’s Day 2013)

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Christmas, Hagiography, Heresy | on January 2nd, 2019 | Permanent Link to “Václav” | No Comments »

Credo

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 14th, 2018

Credo – uskon siihen, että: Taivas ja Maa on täynnä Jumalan kirkkautta. Hänen luomakuntansa avautuu kuin sateenkaaren värit kirkkaasta valosta. Rauhan liiton merkki on monivärinen. – Mekin kaikki saamme osallistua Jumalan ikuiseen liittoon. Kun syömme yhdessä, leipä ja viini tulevat meille lihaksi ja vereksi. Näin osallistumme Kristuksen seurakuntaan. Hoosianna! – Pyhä Henki liikkuu meissä, kun puhumme ja ymmärrämme toistemme kieliä. Näin osallistumme taivaan valtakuntaan.

Credo – I believe: Heaven and Earth are full of the glory of God. God’s creation opens up like the colours of the rainbow coming out of the bright light. The sign of the covenant of peace is multicoloured. – We too can participate in the eternal covenant of God. When we eat together, the bread and the wine become for us flesh and blood. This is how we become part of the fellowship of Christ. Hosanna! – Holy Spirit moves within us when we speak in tongues … when we understand each other’s languages. This is how we get to the realm of heaven.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Finland, Heresy | on December 14th, 2018 | Permanent Link to “Credo” | No Comments »

[plate clatters] [sighs]

posted by Mike on August 28th, 2018

Five years ago I went to the mass celebrating the election of this pope feeling ill over the first round of allegations against him. This weekend I went to mass feeling ill over the latest ones. In between, I’d hoped that the church would change, if not radically, then at least in that it would prioritize justice and healing for its victims. In some places [PDF], maybe this has happened. In the top ranks, apparently not so much.

Some of my Catholic friends have reminded me that we should live in hope, that maybe something really good will come from this summer’s revelations. I’m not feeling that way. Every morning I wake up feeling as disoriented as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. On bad mornings I feel as impotent, too.

Lenten gameplan, 2018

posted by Mike on February 14th, 2018

A: As Lent approaches, I am both grateful that Facebook remains the *perfect* thing to “give up,” as well as a bit concerned that what with recent Facebook timeline tweaks making it more boring, the time may soon come when giving up Facebook is as blah as giving up LinkedIn. Maybe we didn’t know how good we had it…

B: Resources. Do I want to waste either of our time pointing you to some good resources? If there’s one thing our cup overfloweth with in 2018, it is resources.

C: Elizabeth Bruenig at Harvard Feb 20: “Religion, Politics, and the Left.” The last time both Bruenigs spoke at Harvard it was not only a great lecture it drew a really fun crowd. Let’s rideshare to this Liz-only talk Worcester buds. (In her last talk she did say of the Catholic Worker movement, “While it was flourishing, it was pretty impressive.” We will overlook that.)

D: Discouraging pope news of the season. Part 1: “Despite denial, Pope Francis got Chilean abuse victim’s letter.” (But see also “Reactions after Pope Francis’s decision to send a top prosecutor to Chile.”) Part 2: “Vatican Sells Out Chinese Catacombers.” (But see also “Why the Vatican’s potential deal with China is a good thing” and John Allen’s “Explaining why the Vatican seems so eager for a deal with China.”)

posted by Mike in Items, Lent | on February 14th, 2018 | Permanent Link to “Lenten gameplan, 2018” | No Comments »

Sata vuotta sitten – one hundred years ago

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 3rd, 2017

Pohjois-Haagan veljeshauta
My rough translation of a first-hand account of the Finnish Civil War, from a 1960 book. The citation and a link to the original text is at the end.

On the way to armed struggle

Dr J. A. Pärnänen had been the headmaster of the Workers’ Education Institute [in Tampere] since 1908. He made sure that the lecturers were not only academics with just master’s degrees or mere doctorates, but also professors from universities – occasionally also lawyers. As 1918 approached with all its tensions, he wanted a lawyer to come to explain to the youth about the new Acts on local elections, which were passed after much controversy. The job fell on the secretary of the city council, a young lawyer [the author himself]. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Advent, Books, Finland, Hagiography, Weapons | on December 3rd, 2017 | Permanent Link to “Sata vuotta sitten – one hundred years ago” | Comments Off on Sata vuotta sitten – one hundred years ago

Jaana Hallamaa

posted by Kaihsu Tai on June 18th, 2017

Ei kukaan saa yksin mitään aikaan. Vain paha on yleensä nopeaa, ja silloin se vaikuttaa välittömään reagointiin, välittömään muutokseen. Hyvähän on yleensä hidasta, koska hyvä rakentaa jotakin perustaa. Hyvä on hyvää vain, jos se on toisen käytössä, jos se on sellaista, mitä toinen voi käyttää. Hyvä antaa asioita toisen käyttöön, jolloin sen toteutuminen on kiinni myös siitä, mitä se toinen tekee.

Jaana Hallamaa haastattelussa Etsijä-lehdessä 1/2017.

Loosely translated:

Nobody gets anything done just by themselves. Usually, only Evil goes quickly, and invites immediate responses – knee-jerk reactions. In contrast, the Good is often slow, because it builds something radical. The Good is only good, if it is such that the Other can use – at the service of someone else. The Good gives for someone else to use, and gets things done taking into account what the Other is doing.

Jaana Hallamaa in an interview in the journal Etsijä 1/2017.

I refer you also to the theory of the Good by Robert Merrihew Adams; and to Henri Nouwen who talked about the spectacular Death which goes “boom” (e.g. in The Road to Peace edited by John Dear).

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Finland | on June 18th, 2017 | Permanent Link to “Jaana Hallamaa” | Comments Off on Jaana Hallamaa

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.

wp-image-1147166230jpg.jpg

posted by Mike in Advent | on November 27th, 2016 | Permanent Link to “First Sunday of Advent, 2016” | No Comments »