Author: Christopher Cocca

Christopher Cocca is a Pennsylvania-based writer and community organizer. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Brevity, elimae, Pindeldyboz, Geez Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, Generate, and elsewhere. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 2005 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing (fiction) from The New School in 2011. He helps lead the Air Quality Partnership of Lehigh Valley - Berks and is the Associate for Urban Mission at FPC Allentown. Opinions expressed on-line are solely his. Quotation does not equal endorsement, except for when it does.

Those Unknown Search Terms on Your WordPress Dashboard

Vintage_mail_bag_at_the_Postal_MuseumThe Search Term Mail Bag is one of my favorite kinds of posts.  It’s that part of the show where we pretend your search terms are sent by you to me ala David Letterman’s CBS Mail Bag or Craig Ferguson’s email segment.  They’re collected here, but they’re getting harder and harder to do.

As Google encrypts more searches in an effort to satisfy consumer privacy demands, bloggers are seeing fewer real search terms come through in our metrics.  There are some, of course, mixed in with the growing chorus of unknown terms.  WordPress says weighs in here.

We all understand why Google and other engines are doing this, but there was something charming about seeing every term and gauging all the reasons people found your koans and haiku about Axl Rose and Plato.  We can still use metrics about tags and posts to piece these things together, but that creates the kind of vacuum space and writers always seek to fill.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church no longer praying for the government; Tetyana Derkatch calls for Yanukovych’s excommunication

In an unprecedented move, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church leadership says prayers for the current government will no longer be included in the liturgy.

Instead the denomination’s ruling body, known as the Holy Synod, advised believers to ask God to protect Ukraine and its people, and to pray [for] the many victims.

More here.

And from Euromaidan in English – Site of the Official English-language Public Relations Secretariat for the Headquarters of the National Resistance in Kyiv, Ukraine, this:

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate on February 20 issued a decision to stop the remembrance of those in power during worships.

“Taking into account that the repeated calls of the Church not to use weapons against people, who elected them to serve people and Ukraine, but not for violence and murder were not heard by the State authorities, it was decided not to mention those in power during services” starting from February 20, 2014 said the statement.

In addition, the clericals appealed to the authorities to stop using weapons against the people immediately. Now the church, in spite of the Scripture and the Constitution of Ukraine, which imply the necessity to pray for those in power, will pray for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people .

The church also appeal to pray for the dead and wounded in clashes in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, also this:

Tetyana Derkatch, the religious publicist, initiates public petition to Metropolitan Volodymyr and the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) for the purpose of excommunication and anathematizing Viktor Yanukovych. She has announced the action on her Facebook page, http://risu.org.ua reports.

“The idea of ​​excommunicating authorities and anathematizing them for their crimes, incompatible with even the slightest requirements for a Christian, is not new. This should be done when an especially high-ranking member of the Church sets a bad example for society by his or her inadequate response, which spells corruption for the whole society,” – Tetyana Derkatch explains.

The publicist advises everyone who agrees with this initiative to put a cross under her post.

“It is better to cut off the seducing hand than to lose the whole body,” – she notes.

Tetyana admits that it was not uncommon in the past for the Church to punish highly-placed parishioners.

“Somewhat similar events happened to the emperor Theodosius and Ambrose, bishop of Milan. It seems even more reasonable in circumstances where the leadership is no longer considered to be a sacred gift from the Lord. The President of Ukraine is not the Byzantine emperor. He is a parishioner of the particular Church. He does not only take the desired benefits of power, rather he also takes responsibility for its spiritual condition.”

“For example, an excommunicated person is no longer welcome to visit Mount Athos to pray for forgiveness,” – Tetyana states.

On her opinion, excommunicating Yanukovych will suspend the conflict between the people and the government.

“If the Church wants to contribute to the settlement of institutional conflict in Ukraine caused entirely by its parishioners, it must use all available means to influence them, and not only appeal to someone unnamed for peace and nonviolence. Otherwise it must not be surprised, if its voice is never heard,” the religious publicist summarizes.

Living Here In Allentown and on Reverse Frontiers

At about 118,000 people, Allentown is the third-largest and fastest-growing city in Pennsylvania.  After long and short falls from its place as a national commercial and industrial leader, Allentown is again a city in transition, with a downtown redevelopment project (heavily subsidized, of course) poised to renew the economic vitality of the urban core.

Allentown is a mid-sized city, and here’s what that means to me:  big enough to be burdened with great responsibilities and blessed with great potential, but small enough that people — and partnerships — can make real differences.  Small enough, then, for me to take the success of my city personally.  Developers may be footing parts of the bill, but at 80 public cents spent for every private dollar, so am I.   So are the working poor, and I continue to demand real opportunities for everyone affected to have a voice in all this change.   Allentown’s size also means there are real opportunities for territorialism, silo-building, Richard-Coreyism, and real opportunities to have a personal stake in the subversion of those things.   Those former things are bad for my city, and I can be given to take that personally. It’s no coincidence that my spiritual tradition holds out a vision for a kind of city where those former things have passed away.

The opportunities in Allentown mean specific things for young Gen Xers and Millennials.

Creative class: we need you.

Come here.  Move here.  Create here.  Advocate here.  A hundred more of you could be the tipping point that creates thriving art and green scenes that you’ll build with the people here who are working hard at connecting around those kinds of issues now.  If developers and politicians assert with their branding and their braggadocio that Allentown is up for grabs, I’ll assert it with them.  And if it’s up for grabs for them, it’s up for grabs for us.  We need you to help us chart the course of Allentown’s civic identity in the 21st Century.  Help us see our iconography anew.  Help us celebrate our history by building a future together.  Join the good work being done here and stake your own claim on this reverse-frontier.

Someone found my blog today by searching the term “Generation X is broken.”  We’re not, and neither is this place.  We are poised to make a difference, to create and lead the change.  Come back from the hinterland and be part of something real.

For reference, Allentown is bigger than fellow mid-sized cities like Springfield, Illinois; Athens, Georgia; Lansing, Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Berkley, California; and Burbank, California.  Like most of these cities, Allentown is part of a larger metropolitan area.  And we’re uniquely positioned within reasonable distances from Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and DC. We have unique colonial, consumer and creative heritage, an institutional art scene and an emerging network of eager independents.

See you soon.

Solidarity, Serendipity, Grace: a brief story from my morning

Yesterday I reposted a three-year old piece about Hess’s, the famed and sorely missed downtown commercial icon that owned the 20th century not just here in Allentown but really across this part of Pennsylvania.

As you know if you live here, Allentown is undergoing half-a-billion dollars in new capital investment (highly subsidized, of course).

This morning, I had a breakfast get together downtown. I was early, and I found myself sitting in the lobby of the Butz building, about 830, silently praying. At some point, a kind woman I’d never met before who works somewhere in the building asked me if I wanted anything to eat or if I could use some coffee. Yesterday, I gave a little extra at a local coffee shop and said if you don’t want the tip, please do pass it on to a homeless friend in need. #solidarity #serendipity #grace.

The kind woman from this morning may have thought I was homeless or just simply hurting, and maybe that’s on her mind because of all the awareness being raised about the needs in Allentown. Maybe looking out for others is part of who she is.  In any case, I’m  grateful there are people out there wanting to help each other.  I’m grateful for her kindness and her courage, and I know that someday soon it will encounter someone with needs I can’t begin to imagine, and I bet it has already.

Tweet: Solidarity, Serendipity, Grace: a brief story from my morning http://ctt.ec/smVhl+

Bill Russell On Michael Jordan (and Cartesian Circles)

I get a few queries for this topic every day, but I’ve never actually posted about it.  I’ve talked about Kareem on Russell and Jordan and about what Jordan says about Russell (as little as possible), but given all the recent talk about who should be on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore and Will Kobe and/or LeBron Ever Get There, I thought I should see what I could do.

In so doing, I found a still-extant Tripod (yes) website explaining why Russell is the greatest ever, and you need to see it.   There’s also a detailed Straussian discussion about how Russell’s claim that Jordan was the greatest is purposefully meaningless.  I sort of said the same thing about Kareem.  And there’s also this picture of Wlit Chamberlain wearing a fanny pack that says Wilt.

Jesus Chills With Spider-Man, Hulk, and Captain America and The Comic Book Where Batman Was a Priest

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So many hits on this blog are because of things I’ve said about Jesus or things I’ve said about comic books.  Roll with it, right?

I saw this via George Takei via In Good Faith.  I love that George shared this and what he said about it.  Everybody wins.

It also reminded me of this, from one of the best Batman Elseworlds ever:

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I’m fairly certain this book has informed a lot of what I do.

Opening Lines: Victory by Joseph Conrad

There is, as every schoolboy knows in this scientific age, a very close chemical relation between coal and diamonds. It is the reason, I believe, why some people allude to coal as “black diamonds.” Both these commodities represent wealth; but coal is a much less portable form of property. There is, from that point of view, a deplorable lack of concentration in coal. Now, if a coal-mine could be put into one’s waistcoat pocket–but it can’t! At the same time, there is a fascination in coal, the supreme commodity of the age in which we are camped like bewildered travelers in a garish, unrestful hotel. And I suppose those two considerations, the practical and the mystical, prevented Heyst – Axel Heyst – from going away.

Joseph Conrad, Victory, 1915.  page 1.

 

The Wop-Shaming of Matteo Renzi

I know there are many more and many worse injustices perpetrated every day against my sisters and brothers of different backgrounds. But today, wop-shaming just went a little too far for me.

“Italy’s political stability has just gone from bad to worse,”  The Daily Beast says.  Basically, because the new PM is a “Tony Danza look-alike” and “he has also been dubbed “the Fonz” thanks to his penchant for t-shirts and leather jackets.”

Really, Daily Beast?  Really?

Fa nable. 

David Byrne. (Photo via Getty Images)

David Byrne: What If We Broke Up With the Internet?

A few problems with David’s observations.
1) Spotify is awesome. Spotify didn’t kill all that was good about music. Spotify lets us make playlists. If DB’s bringing back analogue tape, I’m all for it.
2) Skyping With Grandma is what some art school band aping the Talking Heads are calling themselves right now.

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Ken Cuccinelli: Stop The Widespread Collection Of Americans Metadata

Christopher Cocca:

So is THIS the angle with which Republicans will gain some traction? Crudely, progressives fear the tyranny of business more than the tyranny of government; conservatives the inverse. Is it possible to fear both (as we all should) AND legislate with both fears in mind? I think so. Neither major party has been great at that. Too often, once-progressives settle into “liberal” middle-age (think Ed Rendell) and the fear of corporate tyranny goes out the window as the campaign cash comes rolling in. Too often, their conservative counterparts place unbridled faith in the market and its rigged system (often as the campaign cash comes rolling in). And so, let the fight over metadata begin.

Originally posted on CBS Philly:

By Dom Giordano

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ken Cuccinelli, a former candidate for Governor in Virginia, spoke with Dom Giordano today on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, about a lawsuit he filed with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky against the National Security Agency.

“The NSA sweeping up all of our telephone metadata, the phone numbers we’re calling, who we’re getting calls from, how long those calls are, and all sorts of other things, Americans generally expect that information to be private,” Cuccinelli said laying out his case for protecting what can and cannot be collected by the federal government.

“That expectation of privacy under the 4th Amendment is critical to determining whether the NSA is actually violating the Constitution which we have asserted in this lawsuit we filed,” he said explaining his argument that current levels of data collection have crossed the line into illegality.

Listen to full podcast here…           

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