Transform Now Plowshares activists sentenced; and, the Worcester connection

posted by Mike on February 19th, 2014

Reuters, yesterday:

A U.S. judge sentenced an 84-year-old nun, Sister Megan Rice, on Tuesday to 35 months in prison for breaking into a Tennessee military facility used to store enriched uranium for nuclear bombs.

Two others accused in the case, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, were sentenced to 62 months in prison. The three were convicted of cutting fences and entering the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in July 2012, embarrassing U.S. officials and prompting security changes.

Tom LewisA fourth “participant” in the breakin was Worcester’s own Tom Lewis, the late artist-activist. As the Washington Post reported in an amazing article about this act of protest last spring:

They spray painted the building’s north wall, which was designed to withstand the impact of aircraft but not the words of the Book of Proverbs. They poured and splashed blood that had once been in the veins of a painter-activist named Tom Lewis, one of the Catonsville Nine who, on Hiroshima Day 1987, hammered on the bomb racks of an anti-submarine plane at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station near Boston. In 2008, Lewis died in his sleep, and his blood was frozen so that he might one day participate in one last Plowshares action.

In bright red rivulets, the last of Tom Lewis streaked down the concrete.

Hiroshima Day 2013, Worcester

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2013


13 people gathered in Worcester’s Lincoln Square today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.

Vatican Radio:

The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, is in Japan for the “Ten Days for Peace” inititative, which is marked in every diocese of the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place on the 6th and 9th of August, in 1945. He spoke on Tuesday morning at a meeting of inter-religious leaders.

“According to Catholic belief, God made man for life, for freedom and for happiness. And yet our destiny here on earth, much of the time, seems to consist of suffering, which we are tempted to undergo as chastisement or punishment, as a cruel fate. Such senseless suffering can eventually defeat us.

“In 1981, Blessed John Paul II properly named the suffering brought by war, specifically by the Atom Bomb, as the fruit of human sin and the result of evil at work. Pope Francis made a similar clarification: ‘The possession of atomic power can cause the destruction of humanity. When man becomes proud, he creates a monster that can get out of hand.’

“Individuals and societies are always tempted by the passions of greed and hate; but they do not have to succumb. Instead of excluding those who are deprived, let us meet their needs. Instead of avoiding those who suffer, let us accompany them. Instead of cursing what we ourselves suffer, let us offer it up for others. Instead of hiding from today’s problems, let us together bravely address the social situations and structures that cause injustice and conflict.

“For ‘no amount of “peace-building” will be able to last,’ according to Pope Francis, ‘nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself.'”


Hiroshima Day 2012, Worcester

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2012


20 people gathered at Worcester City Hall today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.


Hiroshima Day 2010, Worcester, Massachusetts

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2010

17 people gathered at Worcester City Hall today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.


Dave Griffith posted his great Hiroshima essay Pictures of the Floating World on his site today, in one of those Scribd-type crazy formats.


Radical priest Carl Kabat profiled in NYT

posted by Mike on September 7th, 2009

Carl Kabat at the 2008 Catholic Worker national gatheringNice profile in today’s New York Times of Fr Carl Kabat, OMI, a Catholic priest with longstanding ties to both the Plowshares and Catholic Worker movements:

At 75 he continues his crusade against nuclear weapons at missile silos across the United States, armed with a hammer and a pair of bolt cutters. He usually wears a clown suit, in homage, he says, to St. Paul’s words: “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”


Subsequent protests led to Father Kabat’s spending more time in prison than out, raising questions about the effectiveness of his approach.

Liz McAlister, who married Philip Berrigan, has an answer. “We live in a culture where we want to measure everything to know how successful things are,” Ms. McAlister said. “It’s beautiful to see people who don’t spend time wondering and worrying about that and are willing to do what they think is right regardless of the consequences.”

Photo: Carl Kabat at the 2008 Catholic Worker National Gathering in Worcester.

Hiroshima Day 2009, Worcester, Massachusetts

posted by Mike on August 6th, 2009

11 people gathered at Worcester City Hall today to repent, as Americans, for the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to call for nuclear disarmament.


A recent poll found that 61% of Americans think the bombing was “the right thing” to do. There are two ways to look at this. Was the bombing an effective way to bring WWII to an end? Was the bombing a horrible crime?

I think the answer to the second question is “Yes.” As to the first, Wikipedia is a good place to start. Hiroshima: Was It Necessary? is another introduction.

For another take on disarmament, one expressed by several passersby today, see Randy Newman’s “Political Science.”


How to: commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

posted by Mike on August 5th, 2008

August 6 is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. August 9 is the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

One year in South Bend we held a Nagasaki commemoration and our signs were confusing to passersby. A short, clear sign might be NAGASAKI / 1945 / MOURN THE DEAD.

Here’s a leaflet with a Catholic focus you can customize.:

Worcester, 2004

South Bend, 2006

IMG_0941 IMG_0934
Worcester, 2009

If you have constructive suggestions, or this info is helpful, please post a comment.

Pop Culture Peacemaker Shoutout

posted by Adam (Southern California) on June 30th, 2007

On last night’s Jeopardy!, the $1600 answer in the category “Rage Against the Machine” (all about people raging against machines, not about the band) was:

In a 1980 antiwar protest, these priest brothers, Daniel & Philip, attacked missile warheads at a G.E. plant.

Contestant Roy, a building inspector from Rancho Cucamonga, California, correctly, albeit ungrammatically, questioned, “What is Berrigan?”

posted by Adam (Southern California) in General, Weapons of Mass Destruction | on June 30th, 2007 | Permanent Link to “Pop Culture Peacemaker Shoutout” | No Comments »

The Spirit of Sakura

posted by Kaihsu Tai on April 25th, 2007

Author’s note: This is an essay I wrote in 1996 for the late Dr. Peter Fay‘s class, Hum 9a, at Caltech; transcribed with corrections in 2001. [Editor’s note: Hiroshima is the subject of a chapter in David Griffith’s A Good War Is Hard to Find, which we’ve been discussing here. Here are more of Griffith’s reflections on the subject.]

I come from Taiwan, or Takasago, as one would call it back in the days of colonization under the Empire of Japan before the end of World War 2. Taiwanese people who are of my grandmother’s generation were educated to be Japanese; for example, the late pastor of my church, like many Taiwanese who were drafted by the Imperial Armed Forces at that time, was to be one of the kamikaze, the suicide pilots who were crashing their fighters into the carriers of the Allies. People of that age often talk to us about the times of the Japanese occupation and the Pacific War. Although they resented the unnecessary War they had to fight and complain about the occasional cruelty of the Japanese, they described the Japanese rule as a period of order and stability, in which even during the extreme of hardship near the end of the War, rarely did riots arise and corruption of the administration were unusual. It seemed that everyone in the neighborhood cooperated to remain organized for the War. I always wonder how this kind of disciplined behavior was attained.

After reading John Hersey’s Hiroshima, I think I know a bit more about the way of the Japanese. Although the emblem of the Japanese Empire is the glorious chrysanthemum signifying the Royal Family, common people refer to themselves as sakura, the cherry blossoms, which bloom brilliantly in the spring for a very short time, usually only a few days, and then fall to the ground. A respectful Japanese is one that suffers tragically, or even sacrifices oneself, for the cause of the greater organization (e.g., the Empire, or, as is observed in the modern, post-War society Japan, the kaisha, the Japanese idea of the “firm”), just like the sakura flowers. Any performance less than this is considered a shame in the Japanese mind.

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Pope and Trident, via Bruce Kent

posted by Kaihsu Tai on January 17th, 2007

The (UK) House of Commons defence select committee took evidence yesterday from Bruce Kent who quoted the Pope about His Holiness’s objection against nuclear weapons, according to BBC‘s Today in Parliament. Sadly, the evidence has not been transcribed on the web (yet), but readers can take a look at the report in the Guardian.