508 #68: WPI and PILOT

posted by Mike on May 15th, 2009

508 is a show about Worcester.

This week, I talk to Brendan Melican. Topics include inaccurate predictions, the Telegram & Gazette’s website troubles, and WPI making non-tax payments to the city.

If you’d like to leave a comment for next week’s show, the number is 508-471-3897.


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Religious figures address the European Parliament

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 7th, 2008

I mentioned in these pages that the “green” Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, addressed the European Parliament earlier this year. This was as part of a series during the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The other speakers were His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Badr El Din El Hassoun, Grand Mufti of Syria; Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; and most recently His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Thanks to the intervention by the Liberals and the Greens, Dr Asma Jahangir, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, were also invited to speak. (Sophia in ’t Veld: “I would like to know why the Conference of Presidents has chosen to interpret intercultural dialogue exclusively as an interreligious monologue and whether it feels a part-session is an appropriate platform for religious messages.” and Sarah Ludford: “it seems that you [the President(s)] have made the Grand Mufti comparable to the Pope and the UK Chief Rabbi as a European representative of his particular religion.”)

Here are some highlights from each the speakers, with links to their texts for the gentle readers’ perusal over Christmastime: Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, China, Christmas, Green Party, Heresy, New Left Review, Orthodoxy, The Papacy | on December 7th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Religious figures address the European Parliament” | Comments Off on Religious figures address the European Parliament

Kyrie of the recycling centre

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 7th, 2008

At the risk of obsessively praying about waste and recycling, I have this prayer to offer, which I trust to be sensibly Trinitarian.

(John Calvin was wrong. The Purgatory does exist. I have seen it with my own eyes, at the Redbridge recycling station.)recycling symbol

God our Creator, in your mercy:
Help us to learn how to live in Paradise, where nothing is wasted,
where we walk or cycle with you as you intended.
Bless the workers who sort our recycling,
who, as befit people created in your image, re-create order out of chaos.

Kyrie eleison.

Christ our Saviour, in your mercy:
Remove us from the flashy sports cars and the 4×4s (SUVs)
which only speed us to the incinerating Armageddon.
Remind us of your crown, when we see the thornbushes growing over the landfill.
Remind us of your Cross, whenever we see smokestacks or wind turbines on the hill.
Remind us of your Passion and your Resurrection.

Christe eleison.

Holy Spirit our Advocate and Comforter, in your mercy:
Guard us on our bus route for the recycling centre.
Purge us of our sins of pride and greed.
Blow your wind on us and drive us in your dynamic,
as on the wind turbines, and as on Pentecost.
Bless with your wordless prayer
everything that has a recycling symbol.

Kyrie eleison.


(By the way, Chris Goodall’s second book is out: Ten Technologies to Save the Planet.)

Communion with the People

posted by Kaihsu Tai on October 24th, 2008

So they scorn: “The Left has been predicting for decades the recession that never came.” Alas, now the recession has finally come, where is the Left? The Right will steal and fight (indeed, are already stealing and fighting) to keep the status quo. See earlier kairos (καιρός).

I have been reading Saint Paulo Freire’s classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and not before time! It is steeped in Gospel (though without annoying prooftexts) and in every turn corroborating with the insights of Herman Dooyeweerd. He articulated about “praxis” better than I did in my muddle about shopping as prayer. And it remains relevant: to start, it is a devastating predictive analysis of the British phenomenon called New Labour.

Are you in communion with this church? Iglesia Cristiana Reformada Paraíso, Barahona, República Dominica:
Iglesia Cristiana Reformada Paraíso, Barahona, República Dominica.

Verso published earlier this month a collection of Toussaint Louverture’s writings, introduced by Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That’s the next book on my reading list.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Green Party, Hagiography, Itinerant Communicant, Prayer | on October 24th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Communion with the People” | Comments Off on Communion with the People


posted by Kaihsu Tai on September 7th, 2008

On Saturday, I went to the autumn conference of the Green Party of England and Wales. Not as many hugs as previous ones, but after 35 years, we finally elected our first leader, Caroline Lucas: yay! I also got my copy of the new book Making poverty: a history signed by the author, my friend Tom Lines.

I saw there fellow blogger Jim Jepps of The Daily (Maybe), who (gentle readers will recall) not only mentioned this blog in the Guide to Political Blogging in the UK last year, but also said that we were “extra-respectable”. (Thanks, Jim!) This year we were not mentioned in the text, but remain in the listing of political blogs.

In other news, thanks to the efforts of Jim and other Green blogging-activists, a Green Party bloggers home was launched at the conference! My little bit of contribution was to buy the domain name….

Non-political news: If our gentle western-Atlantic readers ever visit our humble town of Oxford, be sure to visit the café Vaults and Gardens next to the University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, run by local entrepreneur Will Pouget of French aristocratic stock. Most of the food there is local, organic, and/or Fairtrade, and there will always be a vegetarian/vegan option. His newest venture is a healthy “kebab van”, which has already been reported locally in the Oxford Times and nationally in the Daily Telegraph.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Green Party, Oxford | on September 7th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Navel-gazing” | 1 Comment »

Different kinds of non-resistance

posted by Adin Ballou on September 2nd, 2008

From the first chapter of Christian Non-Resistance by Adin Ballou (1846).

What is Christian Non-Resistance? It is that original peculiar kind of non-resistance, which was enjoined and exemplified by Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures of the New Testament. Are there other kinds of non-resistance? Yes.

  1. Philosophical non-resistance of various hue, which sets at nought divine revelation, disregards the authority of Jesus Christ as a divine teacher, excludes all strictly religious considerations, and deduces its conclusions from the light of nature, the supposed fitness of things and the expediency of consequences.
  2. Sentimental non-resistance, also of various hue; which is held to be the spontaneous dictate of man’s higher sentiments in the advanced stages of their development, transcending all special divine revelations, positive instructions, ratiocination and considerations of expediency.
  3. Necessitous non-resistance, commonly expressed in the phrase “passive obedience and non-resistance,” imperiously preached by despots to their subjects, as their indispensable duty and highest virtue; also recommended by worldly prudence to the victims of oppression when unable to offer successful resistance to their injurers.

With this last mentioned kind Christian Non-Resistance has nothing in common. With philosophical and sentimental non-resistance it holds much in common; being, in fact the divine original of which they are human adulterations, and embracing all the good of both without the evils of either. This treatise is an illustration and defense of Christian Non-Violence, properly so designated.

posted by Adin Ballou in Books, Religion | on September 2nd, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Different kinds of non-resistance” | No Comments »

Cherishing the Earth: How to Care for God’s Creation

posted by Kaihsu Tai on July 28th, 2008

Earlier I mentioned Margot and Martin Hodson’s book. It is being launched in America in a fortnight’s time. There does not seem to be another book quite like this in the States. My friends in the Church and I have found it a great resource for green Christians. So buy it (pre-order!), read it, and tell your friends! (Some reviews here.)

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Environment, Religion | on July 28th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Cherishing the Earth: How to Care for God’s Creation” | Comments Off on Cherishing the Earth: How to Care for God’s Creation

Two comments on two quotes from Nassim Nicholas Taleb

posted by Mike on July 20th, 2008

The first quote is from NNT’s book The Black Swan:

These were the days when it was extremely common for traders to break phones when they lost money. Some resorted to destroying chairs, tables, or whatever would make noise. Once, in the Chicago pits, another trader tried to strangle me and it took four security guards to drag him away. He was irate because I was standing in what he deemed his “territory.” Who would want to leave such an environment? Compare it to lunches in a drab university cafeteria with gentle-mannered professors discussing the latest departmental intrigue.

This reminds me of part of the reason I miss living in a Catholic Worker community in those times (like now) when I’m not. The world of finance gave NNT plenty of firsthand opportunities to practice his philosophy of uncertainty, just like a CW house gives someone interested in ethics/religion/politics more than enough real world confrontation with these issues in a given day. Praxis, praxis, praxis.

Also reminds me of a quote from this interview with Steve Van Evera on Iraq:

I felt the neoconservatives were the wrong crowd to be assigned a tough task like this. I think they’re almost congenitally incompetent. For reasons having to do with the way they function as a group. They’re kinda like a cult. They don’t talk much to outsiders. They have great suspicion of the rest of the foreign policy community, so they don’t rub shoulders with others. They don’t share thoughts with people they don’t agree with. And to me, if you want to be smart, you’d better talk to people you don’t agree with. Cause that’s the way you get smart.

The second quote comes from the profile “Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the prophet of boom and doom.” He explains why he’s still a practicing Christian:

Scientists don’t know what they are talking about when they talk about religion. Religion has nothing to do with belief, and I don’t believe it has any negative impact on people’s lives outside of intolerance. Why do I go to church? It’s like asking, why did you marry that woman? You make up reasons, but it’s probably just smell. I love the smell of candles. It’s an aesthetic thing.

I admire his honesty and self-awareness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nonviolence, racism, and the state

posted by Mike on July 3rd, 2008

You may recall my frustrated critique of the essay “Nonviolence as Racism.” One of many things I disliked about this essay is that it didn’t back up many of its assertions, and seemed more off-the-cuff than the subject deserves.

In trying to understand this line of argument, I stumbled across some references to Peter Gelderloos’s How Nonviolence Protects the State. I haven’t found much of the meat of this book online, but I did find this 7-part critique of the book by Parke Burgess. I plan to read this over the weekend.

I have chosen to devote considerable space to a critical review of this work not because it represents a formidable challenge to nonviolence in itself, but because it appears to collect under one title many of the grievances and frustrations of militant activists toward those who advocate nonviolent tactics.

(Everyone I talked to about “Nonviolence as Racism” disliked it, some intensely, but I have second-hand reports of people who agree with parts of it. I hope to track them down and talk about it.)

Book: Justice Seekers, Peace Makers

posted by Mike on June 23rd, 2008

Another Michael True work posted online this week: PDFs from his book Justice Seekers, Peace Makers. Don’t be surprised if some of these chapters show up as future posts on Pie and Coffee.

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929­-1968)
  2. Howard Zinn (1921-)
  3. Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J. (1921­-)
  4. Muriel Rukeyser (1913­-1980)
  5. Mulford Sibley (1912­-1989)
  6. Hannah Arendt (1907­-1975)
  7. George Orwell (1903­-1950)
  8. Dorothy Day (1897­-1980)
  9. Ammon Hennacy (1893­-1970)
  10. Wilfred Owen (1893­-1918)
  11. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890­-1964)
  12. Randolph Bourne (1886­-1918)
  13. Bertrand Russell (1872­-1970)
  14. Mohandas Gandhi (1869­-1948)
  15. Eugene Victor Debs (1855­-1926)
  16. Leo Tolstoy (1828­-1910)
  17. Abigail Kelley Foster (1811-1887) and Stephen Symonds Foster (1809-1881)