Archive for 2005

Fasting and Eating and Understanding

posted by Mike on October 13th, 2005

Today is Yom Kippur. It’s also Ramadan. Many are fasting today, and many who would not fast ordinarily are joining them. So if you see a bunch of people looking cranky and repentant, that’s what’s going on.

Yesterday was the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in Worcester. I’d heard of “prayer breakfasts,” but I’d never been to one, so I did a little research and found the Prayer Breakfast Network. Their website does not feature symbols of religion (Christian cross, Jewish star, Muslim crescent, Buddhist wheel) or breakfast (Northern bagel, Southern grits, Western omelette), just a bunch of American flags. Their spiritual heritage page is entirely about Anglo-Saxon Protestantism.

Maybe some towns could have a monocultural prayer breakfast like that, but not Worcester. The breakfast emcee was a rabbi, the opening prayer was by a Catholic bishop, the opening speech was by a city employee identified as a Unitarian, the keynote speaker was Bernard Lafayette (Baptist minister, among other things), and the closing prayer was by representatives from Hillel and the Islamic Society.

Then an Indian man who’d known Gandhi read a poem!

Stuff like that, and the City Council’s choosing religious tolerance over mosque wiretapping, makes me happy to be in Worcester.

Here’s another story that makes me happy to be in Worcester. It’s about some folks who decided to meet their new neighbors instead of fearing them. As told in Worcester’s Catholic Free Press:
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Mayor’s Social Service Task Force Report

posted by Mike on October 11th, 2005

Here’s the full text of the report, typed from a copy. There’s also a scan of the report (5MB, .pdf format).
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Social Service Siting Report–the gist

posted by Mike on October 10th, 2005

Here’s the gist of the “Mayor’s Social Service Task Force Report” for Worcester, Massachusetts.
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Social Service Siting Report and other items

posted by Mike on October 7th, 2005

The report of the “Mayor’s Social Service Task Force” is not yet public, but already plenty of folks in Worcester have their hands on it and are discussing it.

Worcester Magazine leaked the guts of the report yesterday.

Let’s look at what they said. I’ll comment in much more detail once the report is no longer confidential.
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The Re-Dedication of St. John’s Church

posted by Mike on October 2nd, 2005

The first thing you’d notice upon entering the church: There’s no holy water.

The second thing: The tabernacle is wide open, empty.

Last September, the ceiling of St. John’s Church fell in.

Today, October 2, all the repairs were completed, and it was re-dedicated by Most Rev. Robert P. McManus, Bishop of Worcester.

The concelebrants were Msgr. Edmond Tinsley and Rev. John Madden, who is the administrator of St. John’s.
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Daniel Berrigan, Societas Iesu

posted by Mike on September 29th, 2005

All My Heroes Have FBI FilesFirst century Christians were seen as a threat to the powerful. Twenty-first century Christians are not. (First century Christian hipsters probably wore buttons reading: “All My Heroes Are Martyrs.”)

Last night, Father Dan Berrigan, Jesuit priest and FBI “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” laureate, read some of his poetry about war at Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross.

A noted anti-war activist, his most spectacular crimes are behind him, but his example continues to inspire others.
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posted by Mike in General | on September 29th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “Daniel Berrigan, Societas Iesu” | No Comments »

Arguing against the Iraq War/SP4 verdict in

posted by Mike on September 26th, 2005

The St. Patrick’s Four were acquitted of conspiracy to impede a federal officer in connection with a nonviolent 2003 demonstration against the Iraq War. (The jury found them guilty of misdemeanor charges of property damage and trespassing.)

This means it’s still OK to demonstrate against the war.

100,000+ demonstrated against the Iraq War in DC this weekend.

I was one of 30 in Worcester demonstrating against it.

For every person demonstrating against it, probably 10 people are blogging against it.

The best “US out of Iraq NOW” posts of the weekend are from Billmon and Juan Cole. Running Scared has a good summary of the latest arguments.

I recommend these posts because they might help you articulate these “out NOW” arguments to others. Especially those who prefer: “US Out of Iraq, But Not Yet.” (Several P&C contributors are leaning that way.)

Every week in Worcester we have a demonstration against the war–it’s been going on for years. (I recall demonstrating with a “No War On Iraq” sign in May 2002; I can’t recall what news item prompted this.)

Most drivers encourage us, but people still flip us off, too. I wish I had a way to reach out to these folks. Maybe you need a 500-word essay to articulate the argument, and not a 5-word sign.

I went to jury duty today. In our state there is a “one day or one trial” policy, and since they had more than enough juries for the day, my group was sent home without ever entering a courtroom.

How to Do Outreach and Build Community

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on September 23rd, 2005

One-man or one-woman revolutions are sometimes necessary, but should never result from a failure to invite others to your demonstration.

Use e-mail, mailing lists, and phone trees from groups sympathetic to your cause. Put announcements in your local newspapers’ calendars, and put up flyers in public places.

Introduce everyone at each protest. Honor all who join you. Ask for feedback afterwards and try to keep an open mind about incorporating new ideas.

Never use us/they language. Instead, describe problems as things which everyone in the human community must solve together.

Respect for your opponents will increase the likelihood of genuine dialog and eventual alliance.

Author’s note: Before my first demonstration in 1978, I enjoyed a nonviolence training session led by seasoned activists, using a booklet filled with wisdom gained over time. Later on, when organizing protests of my own, I enjoyed the advice of civil rights and Vietnam War protestor Tom Lewis. I have also learned a few things the hard way. I hope How to Hold a Demonstration will make it easier for others to organize powerful and persuasive protests.

How to Pick a Time and Place

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on September 20th, 2005

Select a place for your demonstration that has important symbolic value and is also visible to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

For example, you may have an arms factory located on an out-of-the-way road. In this case, an anti-war protest may have more impact at a war memorial downtown.

Symbolic dates are fine, but should not be stuck to if more people are likely to attend on a weekend.
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posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy in How to Hold a Demonstration | on September 20th, 2005 | Permanent Link to “How to Pick a Time and Place” | 1 Comment »

Trial of the St. Patrick’s Four and other items

posted by Mike on September 19th, 2005

St. Patricks\' Four sign

  • Today begins the trial of four Catholic Workers from Ithaca, New York who poured blood around the vestibule of a military recruiting office.

    They wanted the fresh recruits, the ones they believed had been seduced by video games and government lies, to see the blood and think about those destined to shed it: the Iraqi people and American soldiers. They refused to leave and prayed while they waited to be arrested.
    (New York Times)

    They were tried in a local court, and had a hung jury. Nine of the twelve jurors voted to acquit.

    After that, federal charges were brought against them for the same incident.

    Running Scared has done a good job of blogging the trial. See also: St. Patrick’s Four, the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Binghamton IndyMedia, and WICZ (a Fox affiliate that some on the scene think is doing the best reporting job).

    This is the dark side of our legal system. It’s gone beyond justice to raw, hungry vengeance.

    “Anyone who disagrees with this administration and dares to show it gets the crap beat out of them.”
    (Associated Press)

  • All that is good in the world is summed up by the Worcester Tornadoes’ Can-Am League championship! Cheap, independent baseball; good times; and the big win at the end.

    The Tornadoes don’t really have a good nickname. The local paper calls them the ‘Nadoes.

    Ralph NaderBut how about the ‘Naders?

    Or the ‘Nads?

  • Vern sums up all that is bad in the world with his review of the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards.

    Quoth Vern:

    The weird thing is, it turns out the ’80s could’ve been worse.


    It was like Caligula without the bestiality.


    So what did we do? Were we fiddling while Rome was burning? Well no, it wasn’t a real fiddle, it was keyboards.