Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They did know!

A chilling report from Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The RC church hierarchy knew about the sexual abuse of children in the late 1950s by priests and workers in church run homes and institutions which continued into the 1960s and 70s - and failed to act. The excuse has been that they didn't know anything about it.   New evidence - a letter  in the church archives, written in 1958, reveals that they did know.  And church authorities did act - they took a conscious decision not to do anything to remove the offending priests and workers in the homes.  It was more about protecting the clergy rather than the children!

On This Day

Samuel Langhorne Clemens - better known as Mark Twain - was born 30 November 1835 in Florida, Missouri (though he grew up in Hannibal, Missouri).

Here's a quote on government by him:

" country can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more." - The Gilded Age

More curmudgeonly Twain quotes on government here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Revival of Occupy Burlington: "The warmest love is a revolutionary love from solidarity and unity."

By Al Suarez, a fellow Occupier in Burlington, on November 18, 2011. This was posted on Facebook and shared around. I met Al this week and helped him remove the parts of the tee pee after BPD had ordered the dismantling of the Burlington Encampment, storing the branches of the tee pee in the back yard of another Occupier.
It is still very painful for me to delve into the tragedy at Occupy Burlington, I rather at this time focus on the positive, on the events that unfolded last night that were truly inspiring. Yesterday at about 5pm at City Park, several dozen of us set up a "free speech zone". A orange gate, we had encircled ourselves with, and led the march, followed by others with signs and what not, the homeless and with home alike, student and worker alike, all marching as equals, under the same banner of justice, of a just cause that cannot be silenced or wiped out, no matter how the city and the State come at us, our chants, from LA to New York, from Egypt to Spain, will be heard the world over.

We marched down Church St. to the surprise of many people, who have been hearing in the media our movement is dead, it is far from it. A man tried to break out free speech zone but we immediately reesembled it, and kept march, no one could stop us. Finally we reached the Post Office and sang solidarity with the union there against the cuts of the workers there. Then we headed down the road blocking traffick, to Edmonds Middle School, where Senator Palino, union leaders, students, and others were to meet together into the night.

Only 3 months ago in the Burlington where my sister worked and died, I spoke with her here about the new society I wanted, and we dreamed together of that new society, a better world for my niece. Off in the distance as I marched, suddenly I could see my sister's face, and I lit up, and could feel the energy of resurrection, of revival, all around us, and all the blisters in my feet, all the tiredness, went away, and all I could feel was energy, which is hard to explain, a revolutionary energy that charged us into our destiny, as we continued to defy the unjust system where the poor are left to die in the street. A wave of people came to reinforce us, old faces I could see, survivors of the storm, the storm troopers that stormed our camp in a most despicable manner, but we continue, unabatted, unintimidated, till final victory, so that no more Natashas may die from this unjust system, so that my sister may live in me...


Thursday, November 10, 2011

May Josh Rest In Peace

Earlier today - Thursday, November 10, 2011, one of the members of the Burlington encampment tragically died, apparently taking his own life.
This statement below has been approved by the Occupy Vermont General Assembly tonight:

Today, November 10th at 2pm, Josh, a valued member of Occupy Burlington and the houseless community, took his own life at the encampment. We want to take this moment to offer our thoughts and condolences to Josh's family, and to the members of the Occupy community who got to know Josh over the last two weeks.

The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the encampment are with his friends and family. We appreciate the support we have received from the Burlington community, the country, and the world. We ask for everyone’s continued support and solidarity as we deal with this tragedy.

From the first day of the encampment, we have welcomed all members of the community by providing anyone in need with food, shelter, and social support. Despite our best efforts to provide care and support to all members of the community, occupations are not equipped with the infrastructure and resources needed to care for the most vulnerable members of our community. The lack of resources to care for those in need was brought to the attention of Burlington city leaders. Unfortunately, our plea for assistance was not heeded in time to help Josh.

This tragedy draws attention to the gross inequalities within our system. We mourn the loss of a great friend tonight, while discovering an ever-deeper resolve to stand with our most vulnerable citizens. The failure to provide citizens with adequate and accessible physical and mental healthcare is one of the many issues this movement is fighting for.

Again, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone reeling from this loss and we deeply appreciate everyone who has offered support, compassion, and solidarity. It is our hope that this tragedy will serve as a rallying cry for occupations around the country to continue the fight for system change.

In Solidarity,
Occupy Burlington

There's help for people that are having a mental health crisis, but you won't find it in a tent at a protest. You'll find it at Fletcher Allen up the street, for free online at , or at 1-800-273-8255. The resources are there, in Vermont perhaps more than most states. 
For those that were with him or are affected by his loss, and may be interested in counseling, check out for more information and local resources.

There will be a memorial and candle light vigil at the north side of City Hall Park on Friday beginning at 5:00 p.m. to commemorate Josh, a veteran and committed member of the occupation.
May Josh rest in peace and rise in glory.
May God give comfort, consolation, and the peace that passes understanding to all who love Josh.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Haik Bedrosian interviews Bram Kranichfeld

Burlington's Democratic caucus will choose its 2012 mayoral candidate next Sunday, November 13. My choice is Bram Kranichfeld, and fellow Burlington blogger Haik Bedrosian has interviewed him.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


ThinkProgress has uploaded a video of Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire speaking on how religious people might react to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
"One-sixth of all the words that Jesus spoke and one-third of all the parables are about the dangers of wealth and possessions. It is something we hear in the prophets, particularly in the Old Testament... and of course, that's what Jesus himself was steeped in, those words were his scriptures... that any culture, but certainly one that claims to be godly, is to be judged on how well the most vulnerable are treated...
It's really about our sense of community, and indeed, do the wealthy have a responsibility to the larger community. Are we really going to live in an every man-woman-child for themselves world or are we going to be a community in which the greater good - the common good - is also a value that we hold.
You know the prophet Micah said we must "do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our god" and the 'do justice' part is figuring out what is wrong with the system that makes this happen, that causes people to be drowning almost literally, certainly drowning in debt, in the richest nation on earth.
And so, to be true to our tradition, we can't just provide food and clothing and even housing for those who have hit really hard times; we have to figure out what the system is that is causing that in the first place."

H/T to The Lead.

Richard Hooker, Priest and Theologian, 1600

The Episcopal church commemorates Richard Hooker, one of the great theologians of our tradition, today. Hooker's writings, in particular Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, stressed tolerance and inclusiveness and the middle way of Anglicanism between what he saw as the extremes of Catholicism and the Puritan movement.
And in recent years, I remember this day in 2007 when the presiding bishop preached about him at the Diocese of Vermont's convention Eucharist.
Hooker is a remarkable example of what wisdom in the flesh looks like—which is probably why he made it onto our list of saints. He wrote his most famous work in response to controversy with another wing of the church. And you don't have to look much beyond the first page to see the connections with current controversies in this church.
Richard Hooker was appointed Master, or Rector, of the Temple Church in London in the late 1500s. He had an assistant there, from the Puritan wing of the church, named Walter Travers. Hooker's duty was to preach in the morning. Travers followed him in the afternoon, and he took the opportunity one day to refute what the rector had said in the morning, when he preached about salvation and the possibility that all of us will be saved. The Puritan position, along with Calvin, believed that some may be damned even before they can do anything. Hooker insisted that that understanding took away the possibility of God's grace.
Hooker's focus on reason and tolerance and inclusion is foundational to that broad stream of Anglican thought. This isn't just academic theologizing. It has to do with the basic identity of our tradition—that we can be comprehensive and inclusive as we search for a larger truth. And that rather than being a cop-out, that focus on comprehension is a sign of the spirit at work.
That focus on comprehension lies underneath the challenging and uncomfortable place we are trying to stand in as a church today—affirming that gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians are deserving of the best ministry of this church, AND that there is a place for those who take a different theological position. We say that we are willing to live in that uncomfortable and unsettling place because we believe that only God has truth in its fullness.
Wisdom, and the search for it, is one of the gifts and vocations that the body of Christ always needs. None of us ever has it all, and it is only in the wisdom of the body gathered that we can even begin to think that we might have the mind of Christ.
Hooker's statue stands outside Exeter Cathedral.