Back On the Air in December

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I’m happy to announce that the “Theology in Action” online radio show will return to the interwebs with new shows on Sunday December 3 at it’s new time, 8am EST. Having been on hiatus since June, I will return to my hosting duties for the long running show on Activate Media Radio. We will continue the conversation about spirituality, social justice and the intersection between the two on a weekly basis. We tackle topics from the headlines, questions about and abounding in these turbulent times, and commentary on living in the world today. Interviews and round table discussions will be par for the course for us, but we hope to have real conversations about what we are doing and how we go about our lives in the best way possible and leaving it better for future generations. Please join us every Sunday morning at 8am for insights and discussions on Activatemedia.org. Hope to see you on Dec. 3!

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“Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100” Poem by Martin Espada

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This is my second favorite poem about 9/11. The other I posted on this site several years ago is “Names” by Billy Collins. This one is great because it shows the lives of people in the background in most everyday life and puts them in a cherished place. Alabanza.

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
by Martín Espada

for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with the shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook’s yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up,
like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium.
Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen
could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations:
Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana,
Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning,
where the gas burned blue on every stove
and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers,
hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs
or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.
Alabanza. Praise the busboy’s music, the chime-chime
of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher
who worked that morning because another dishwasher
could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime
to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family
floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen
and sang to herself about a man gone. Alabanza.

After the thunder wilder than thunder,
after the booming ice storm of glass from the great windows,
after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs,
after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen,
for a time the stoves glowed in darkness
like the lighthouse in Fajardo,
like a cook’s soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us
about the bristles of God’s beard because God has no face,
soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations
across the night sky of this city and cities to come.
Alabanza I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan to Kabul
two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other,
mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:
Teach me to dance. We have no music here.
And the other said with a Spanish tongue:
I will teach you. Music is all we have.

Marching Against Nazis

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On Saturday August 19, there was supposed to be a “free speech” rally on the Boston Commons, that was originally supposed to be a white nationalist rally. To most of Boston, it was still a racist, or Nazi, rally. I of course wanted to be there and I wanted Sophia to be with me to stand up against racists and white nationalists. We needed to show they were cowards hiding behind the coattails of a failed president. I was a little worried about violence towards us, how I could protect Sophia if anything happened, stuff like that. I arranged to meet Sophia’s brother and another friend during the march. However when we saw the crowds about 30,000+ waiting to march, I was pretty sure we had nothing to worry about. Sophia kept up her photojournalist end by shooting pics of the protest signs. I broadcast on FB live as best I could. It all came out pretty well. We spent the Saturday marching against Nazis. What did you do this weekend?

 

 

 

Reasons for Treason

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After the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, “President” Trump planted himself in a very precarious position. When he spoke about the events to the press right after the death of Heather Heyer and the injury to 19 others, he said “we condemn in the strongest possible terms, the egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence—on many sides. On many sides.” This implies that leftist anti-Nazi protesters were just as violent and hate filled as the neo-Nazi alt-right provocateurs. In fact, a statement on the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi blog, said Trump “didn’t attack us… nothing specific against us… [H]e implied the antifa are haters. There was virtually no countersignalling at all.” I’m loathe to agree with neo-Nazis but they are right: his ambiguous denouncement of the neo-Nazis responsible for terror, injury, and death helped to shield their alt-right fascist activities. After backlash and controversy, “President” Trump eventually gave a second statement where he said “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” However he undermined that the next day at a press conference where he defended his initial remarks and continued to claim violence on both sides. If you only have one chance to make a first impression, Trump screwed up royally. Then given a Mulligan, he recovers but fails again. However this isn’t about Trump’s flip-flopping; this is about treason.

The legal definition of treason according to US Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 115, Section 2381 is “whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason.” As such those guilty of treason, among punishments like death, “shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” The neo-Nazis, KKK, and alt-right are hate groups whose presence and numbers pose a dangerous threat to our democracy and Constitution that upholds it. The purpose of the Constitution is to “ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare..” among other things. While the Constitution was created by white male land and slave owners for said white male land and slave owners, the Constitution has been amended to include women, people of color, disabled, the poor, the young, and working class people among others. Neo-Nazi’s purpose is to bring the original intent of the Constitution back through “purging” the land of people of color, and other undesirables. This purge–threaten, murder, attack, etc.–is against the laws of the land as they stand and to the Constitution they claim to adhere to, and makes them enemies of the nation. By not denouncing the alt-right Nazis from the start by name–and reaffirming his allegiance to them by recanting his harsher second statement–“President” Trump given comfort and aid to an enemy within the United States. Nine more neo-Nazi rallies have been scheduled this weekend, proving that they are not only comforted but emboldened by the “President’s” words and actions. Trump has therefore met the criteria for treason and can (and should) be removed from office as per the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.

Words have consequences, which is one reason the neo-Nazis are an enemy to this country. As such, the “President’s” words should have the consequence of his removal from office, especially since his words has helped this enemy of us all.

Constitutional Question

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I have an important question to ask any lawyers or Constitutional scholars out there: can the president be removed from office for inciting police brutality?

On Thursday, “President” Trump spoke to law enforcement officers at Suffolk County Community College in Long Island in what was touted as a “law and order” speech. Among the problematic things he said was encouraging police to hurt prisoners.

When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon—you just see them thrown in, rough—I said, “Please don’t be too nice.” Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put the hand over? Like, don’t hit their head, and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head. I said, “You can take the hand away, OK?”

The immediate response to that from police in the audience was applause; the response from Police Chiefs was much the opposite. Groups like the International Association of Chiefs of Pollice to the poliece chiefs of Boston, Houston, New Orleans, and New York have criticized the “president” for encouraging police brutality. The Chiefs of Police needed to speak up because as head law enforcement officers, they are required to follow the law—as opposed to Trump who hasn’t seen a law that he hasn’t broken in some way. This is not the first time Trump has spoken to incite violence, especially during the primaries, but this has gone too far.

Our country is going through an epidemic of police shootings, especially of unarmed Black and Latino people. The Blue Wall of Silence that is inherent in police departments and the abuse stemming from overzealous police does not help, but put that aside for a second; having the leader of our country not only advocate but encourage a practice in our police that we are trying to stop is problematic to say the least. This is an ethics violation if there ever was one. He is encouraging police to violate an arrestee’s civil and constitutional rights. One retired police detective called Trumps remarks as “treasonous.” If “President” Trump is actively inciting violence against people, he is working against the Constitution, thus violating the oath of office he took. So isn’t this grounds to justify his removal from office? Please correct me if I’m wrong. But if I’m not, please let us know what we or Congress needs to do to get him out of there.

Stop The Insanity!

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Dear people of America,

Please for the love of God STOP!

A couple of weeks ago, an outside PAC group filed notice with the Federal Election Commission to fundraise, campaign and draft Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to run for president. A few days later, rapper Kid Rock announced he wants to run for the Michigan Senate seat. And this is well in the shadow of Kanye saying he wants to run for president. Enough! We already have a failed reality show celebrity running a failed presidency, the last thing we need is more celebrity leadership for this country!

I’m sure Dwayne Johnson is a genuinely nice and intelligent man, and is someone I would feel safe walking down a dark alley with, but with the damage that the current president has already cause six months on the job and three and a half more years on the horizon, we’ll need more than the People’s Elbow to fix all the carnage and our standing in the world. We need truly qualified and educated people who can not only run the day-to-day operations of the country, but can be diplomatic across numerous cultures and populations to maintain a stable geopolitical climate. I liked Johnson in his SNL appearances, but that’s not reason enough to give him the nuclear codes. Famous and likable doesn’t mean qualified and capable.

Believe me, I am not indifferent to the problems that has given ride to the idiocracy we find ourselves in. We’re so desperate for a stable life and a way out of our declining economy that we have voted the evil of two lessers for decades in hopes someone has an answer. And when the best that current politicians can say is “the other party is wrong,” we will look to anyone that makes sense to us; even if that means turning to con men and carnival barkers that play on our fears, or even likable celebrities who have saved the day in countless dramas. But that doesn’t solve the problems we have and often make it worse. (I know many people will point to Ronald Reagan as a good example of a celebrity turned politician, but I thought his policies were horrible to live through during and after his presidency. Just because it may have been good for people above a certain tax bracket doesn’t mean it was good for everyone).

We need leaders who can both listen to the people and plot a course through a tough political field; we DON’T need leaders who parrot back what they think we want to hear. There are leaders out there that we can do such work. They are community organizers, grassroots activists, and lower level political reps that tackle issues where they have direct impact. Take a look and listen, and you will find them. They are out there working where it counts for little or no money. These people aren’t famous, but they are right more often than not; at the very least they have good ideas.

What we don’t need are ego filled personalities with a large fan base but no skill for running a lemonade stand much less a country. We’re doing that now with disastrous results—and have been for some time.

So please stop trying to elect famous people to political office! It helps NOTHING! It’s a trend we need to end, NOT encourage.

News about “Theology In Action” Radio Show

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The show “Theology in Action” has been on the internet on and off since December 2011. It started out as a part of Occupy Boston Radio, which was part of the group that held Dewey Square during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Occupy Boston Radio has become Activate Media Radio and the show has been on it ever since. I try not to forget out roots and what the show means to some listeners, but I do admit it is easy to lose track of where we are, especially in an incredibly unstable political (even historical) environment. However, that is part of the show’s premise: while politics is a constant sea of change, our morals should be an immutable shoreline, the base from which we can wage the fight for what is right. Whether it is because the shoreline is being eroded more and more or because the fight itself has gotten harder, I have lost sight of what this show is doing. By that I mean “Theology In Action” is becoming harder and harder to stay on track, on topic, and on time. It doesn’t help that the Trump Administration—as dangerous as it is—moves at lightning speed on so many fronts in so many horrific and idiotic ways that it’s almost impossible to stay current and/or focus on what is being done while we are distracted.

All of this has led me to the point of burnout. I want to do the show, but I want to do it well; with the way things are and all the things I juggle on a daily basis, I can’t do it well. However, the mission of the show is important enough that I can’t end it. So I have made a compromise with Activate Media. “Theology In Action” will be on official hiatus for a few months (possibly airing repeats). I will spend time tending to other important matters in my life (including getting my daughter ready for high school) as well as trying to retool the show. I hope to air/record three new shows before Memorial day of this year when the hiatus begins, and be ready to come back to the show at the beginning of December. Hopefully we will have refocused our concentration of the show, and include support staff to help the show stay on message and on track. The blog will remain up and active as a way to keep people updated on progress, as well as an occasional rant or two. All of this is needed to make the show a better one and keep our listeners informed and learned.

Many thanks go out to Activate Media for allowing me to have a show in the first place and affording me the opportunity to improve the show—as well as putting up with me all these many years. As always, thank you to anyone who has tuned into the show or read the blog from wherever in the world you are from. There would be no show without my listeners and no reason to come back or even improve standards either, so thank you so much for that. I assure all of you that this isn’t good bye, but until we meet again.

Be good to each other and yourselves for the rest of the year, and keep resisting. Blessed be.

 

David Concepcion

Photos From the Boston Science Rally-Earth Day 2017 (and one article)

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Me and my daughter attended one of the pro-science rallies organized across the country this Earth Day. This time we both snapped photos, though she had a higher 3-to-1 ratio of photos taken. Enjoy. (click on the image if you want to enlarge)

 

For those interested in peer review, an environmental activist wrote a blog entry about why he didn’t march on Saturday and he makes some excellent ethical points. Read it here.

 

 

 

A Note to Women on International Women’s Day

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My friend Michael Dobson wrote this on his Facbook page on International Women’s Day 2017, especially with the strikes and rallies held in the US and worldwide. I asked if I could post this and he agreed. It’s a couple days late, but the sentiment still resonates.

To the women who are not able to take a day off of work, because of the socioeconomic realities they live in, where the loss of a day’s work puts them in a dangerous place when it comes to food, housing, and other necessities.

To the women who fought last year for a living wage, were told to accept less, even by a major presidential candidate, and nevertheless still persist to fight for a living wage today.

To the women who advocated for universal healthcare, because money really does make a difference in health and even living, and were told “now is not the time,” or “you’re being politically impractical,” and yet remained undeterred.

To the women in other countries who still mourn civilians killed by our foreign policy.

To the women who look at empty chairs at dinner tables, that were once filled by black & brown men, or children, shot unarmed by police, and who live in a society where even white liberals still call neighborhoods “sketchy” and support the line of “we need to be tough on crime,” because they essentially view certain groups of human beings as predators who “need to be brought to heel.”

To the women who decided to make up their own minds, do & support what & who they thought was right, and were told there was a “special place in hell” for them, or were derided for their age, being told they were just doing what they were doing because “that’s where the boys are.”

To the women who have their own agency and intelligence questioned, and not just by men.

To the women who place values and morals above groups, organizations, and political parties.

To the women who are told that having a moral compass, or having certain lines they’re not ok with seeing crossed, are bad things and they need to abandon such foolish “purity standards,” and they should “compromise.”

To the women who know that they may see every college educated middle to upper class white woman succeed, and that success will not “trickle down” to them, because they are not college educated, not white, not socioeconomically privileged. And because racial and socioeconomic realities are not ameliorated when people and realities are ignored.

To the women who are working class, and recognize the fallacy of “if they just go to college, they’ll be able to get better jobs and live better lives.”

To the women who went to the Women’s March, spoke out about how they were treated because they weren’t white, and were met with responses of “why can’t we all just be positive?”

To the women who are dismissed because of their age, especially in regards to their ideals, who aren’t treated as equals in movements they participate in, who regularly hear lines as adults like “you’ll understand when you’re older.”

To the women who are told they’re participating in their own oppression for choosing to practice Islam, or wear hijab, especially by well-meaning liberals.

To the women who are told their agency & control over their own bodies is invalid, because someone knows better about what they should do with those bodies, especially in the name of female empowerment.

To the women who are told who they love, or who they’re attracted to, or how they choose to identify or express their gender, are somehow wrong.

To the women who survive sexual assault, only to be called crazy, called liars, have their integrity questioned, have people try to ruin them publicly, especially because someone was trying to cover up for an athlete, a celebrity, or a politician.

To the women who speak out daily about needing a feminism that is intersectional, that values more than just reproductive rights or whether women who work in middle and upper class jobs (which are more likely to be filled by college educated white women) can make equal pay, and recognizes the cogent need to address issues & problems that affect women across racial and socioeconomic lines.

You are not forgotten. Especially not today.

3/8/17 International Women’s Day 

Photos From Boston Women’s March

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While at the Boston Women’s March on that historic January 21. 2017, my daughter was the one snapping all the photos of signs she could see and loved. She has graciously allowed me to post them here on the blog. Thank you Sophia. (click on the image if you want to enlarge)