Lenten gameplan, 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.”)

Items: Worcester activist updates


Today’s the anniversary of Edward Snowden’s first NSA revelations. Worcester’s own Tiffiniy Cheng and Holmes Wilson were in NYC today speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum, not long before Snowden himself took the stage via Skype.

Screenshot from 2014-06-05 09:32:12

Cheng & Wilson are co-founders of the digital civil liberties group Fight for the Future. FFTF today launched the “Reset The Net” campaign, aimed at resisting mass government surveillance by spreading more secure technology. Reset The Net participants include Reddit, Google, Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and this blog.

More on the Chris Horton arrest

Worcester Magazine has a long article about anti-forclosure activist Chris Horton getting arrested at a Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team demonstration, for blocking the entrance to a foreclosed building.

According to a police spokesperson, Horton was charged with trespassing, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, interfering with a police investigation and intimidation of a witness.


The attempt to evict the Flores family last month marked the first time [activist Grace Ross] could recall things getting out of hand during an eviction protest. She and others on the scene say the constable and movers dumped items out onto the floor that had been packed in boxes and smashed some of Flores family’s belongings. The family ended up being able to stay in the apartment Thursday night because [WAFT’s Jon] Marien says he was able to obtain a temporary stay of eviction, and at a court appearance on Friday, he says [residents] Jose and Dinora Flores were given a two-month stay.

Horton also appeared in court and was given another court date of July 23.

This might be the first time someone was arrested in Worcester as part of a political action since Occupy Worcester three years ago.

Pope retires, and other items

We don’t post a lot of Catholic hierarchy news here, but this is outside the norm.

Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign:

A profoundly conservative figure whose papacy was overshadowed by sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, the pope, 85, said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s Roman Catholics.

Pope Benedict:

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

As someone who grew up under the leadership of John Paul II, Pope Benedict’s papacy will always be a mediocre one to me, lacking JPII’s charisma and vision, and marked by his failure to respond to the child sex abuse crisis with anything commensurate to the enormity of that crime.

More reactions via Andrew Sullivan.

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Fourth Sunday of Advent, 2012


You will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
–John 16:20

Today, as usual for the fourth Sunday of Advent, Worcester Catholic Workers and friends gathered to Christmas carol. We numbered a mighty 21 this year, and visited a nursing home and people around the neighborhood.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
Daniel Berrigan

Continue reading “Fourth Sunday of Advent, 2012”

Free Advent kit offer

Each year for the past few years, we’ve assembled an Advent wreath from scratch, scrounging candles from drawers and the supermarket, attaching them to a dinner plate with hot wax, and covering the rest of the plate with branches from the nearest evergreen.


This year I’ve bought a bunch of candles and plasticine so I can make a better wreath. In fact, I’ve bought more than enough, so if you’d like to make your own wreath, I’ll mail you enough candles and plasticine to do it. Send your address to pieandcoffee@gmail.com with the subject line “Advent.” I’d really like to get these in the mail by November 27, so please let me know ASAP.

Other items:

  • This month the US Catholic bishops endorsed the Vatican making Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, a saint. Dorothy is one of my greatest heroes, a woman who gave her life to serving the poor and speaking out for justice and mercy. She’s also a controversial candidate for sainthood, not only because she was a pacifist and anarchist, but because she famously said: “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Here’s a good article on that with thoughts from Fr. James Martin and from Robert Ellsberg, who worked with Dorothy near the end of her life and edited her published letters and journals.
  • Every year I encourage my Christian friends to take a mild step to “put the Christ back in Christmas” by not shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Julia Smucker makes a similar argument, with a big helping of theology.
  • Can’t believe I forgot to mention: The best Wal-Mart/Black Friday project yet, Mark Dixon’s My 49 Hours at Wal-Mart.

“Beloved Community” at St. Peter’s and other items

But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. The type of love that I stress here is not eros, a sort of esthetic or romantic love; not philia, a sort of reciprocal love between personal friends; but it is agape which is understanding goodwill for all men. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Deborah Plummer, Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Equal Opportunity at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, will be speaking on “The Beloved Community” at St. Peter’s Church in Worcester, Monday, April 11, 6:30pm.

The church is at 929 Main Street in Worcester, across from Clark University.

Worth noting that not only does Dr. Plummer specialize in the issues surrounding “diversity,” she was a nun for 13 years.

Happiness Pony

Asa Needle, Sarah Assefa, and I have published the first issue of a new newspaper for Worcester, Happiness Pony. We’re still figuring out distribution stuff–if you have a suggestion of a place you want to be able to find it, please post a comment.

And yes, we’ve talked about this title before.


Want to help with this week’s 508 show? Make a short video (3 seconds to 3 minutes) that has to do with Worcester, Christmas, the holidays, or whatever is preoccupying you this week. Send it to me. I’ll edit the ones that go best together into a show, and link to the rest.

The video will be posted to the net and cablecast on WCCA TV13.

How to contact the 508 show.

Continue reading “Items”

Worcester blogger coffee and other items

There hasn’t been a meetup of Worcester bloggers in some time, so this Saturday, Sept 11, at 9am there will be a Worcester “blogger coffee” at the Friendly’s in Tatnuck Square (642 Chandler Street). This is a chance to meet some of the other folks making our local internet an interesting place. If you are a non-blogger looking to chat with bloggers (I know at least one political campaign manager in this category), you’re certainly welcome, but be warned that 6 or 7 bloggers is a great turnout for these things–this isn’t a big networking event.

Continue reading “Worcester blogger coffee and other items”


Zackary Sholem BergerOur old college buddy Zack Berger, medical doctor and Yiddish poet, got a shout-out on Boing Boing this week, highlighting his Yiddish versions of classic children’s books. Good job! You can order the books here. I don’t speak Yiddish, but reading them aloud is a treat anyway.

Catholic anarchism
Michael Iafrate excerpts an essay from the latest Catholic Worker. If I find the thing online I’ll post a link.

Telegram & Gazette paywall
Our local paper, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette is planning to charge for some local stories on their website, starting this summer. The first few stories each day would be free, after that you’d have to pay. Jeff Barnard has an impressive rant about the modern economics of newspapers and how they relate to the T&G and its plans.

New Ubuntu released today
For the past few years, I’ve mostly used computers running the Ubuntu operating system, the most popular flavor of Linux. The latest version is out today.