A Casablanca Thanksgiving


Due to the fact our American Thanksgiving is fixed to the fourth Thursday in November, the actual date floats around the last of the month. This year it coincides with the premiere of the 1942 film Casablanca, starring, as pretty much everyone on the globe knows, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Henries, and while he gets secondary billing, the show stealing Claude Rains. And, yes, a host of others deserving our recalling.As the Wikipedia article tells us "Although Casablanca was an … [Read more...]

A Prayer of Thanksgiving


First, that prayer."For the woman who came to my office with duct-taped slippers, clutching a bag that she said was once filled with gold, who then wrote out a check for Glide for one million dollars, saying that it's the least she can do for the place that feeds her. Lord, in your mercy." Karen Oliveto, Senior Pastor at Glide Memorial in San FranciscoPretty much all any of us can do in the face of goodness.Never earned.Can't be repaid.So, why not? A check for a million … [Read more...]

And a Blessed Evolution Day to You!


Some good news this year from the Pew Research Center for those who care about science and equally, about the long standing campaign against science, particularly biological science (okay climate science is right up there, as well) by organized fundamentalists of several religions, but mostly Christians. This with an assist in this country from a certain political party that has annoyed me sufficiently that I shall refrain from naming it here.Okay. That good news. About two thirds of … [Read more...]


A SONG OF THANKSGIVINGJames Ishmael Ford22 November 2015Pacific Unitarian Church Rancho Palos Verdes, CaliforniaI really love Thanksgiving. I mean I love the whole thing, soup to nuts. Well, that speaks to it, doesn’t it? Most of all I love the fact that the major focus is getting together with the family and eating. I just love the fact that Thanksgiving is about nothing so much as pleasure in the moments of our lives, respite in the rush and worry of existence. It is a c … [Read more...]

November 22nd. Pausing. Remembering.


Hard for me to believe it was fifty-two years ago. What a season of sadness. John, Martin, Malcom, Bobby. Shaped the rest of my life... … [Read more...]

A Big Fat Thumb’s Up for Jade Dragon Mountain

Jade Dragon Mountain

I've just finished Elsa Hart's debut mystery, Jade Dragon Mountain.Mystery queen Donna Leon blurbs it, "This debut historical mystery deftly combines ingenious plotting and suspense with a subtle understanding of China, its culture, and its people. The protagonist, Li Du, a librarian and intellectual, is well worth keeping an eye on."No doubt.For me pretty much everything I might want. China at the beginning of the eighteenth century. A librarian as hero. Jesuits. Representatives of … [Read more...]

Bilious Bale is Born

John Bale

John Bale, most of all a controversialist of the first water, hence the nickname "Bilious Bale," but also variously a Carmelite friar, an Anglican bishop, literary antiquarian, poet, and playwright, was born on this day in 1495.While his penchant for bile, scandalous parody, and outright denunciation spewed on the page threatens to overtake most everything else about him, the good bishop also wrote two editions of a catalog of the writers of Great Britain that are essential to the literary … [Read more...]

A Transgender Day of Remembrance


I have over the years been blessed with several friends who are transgendered. Among the many wonderful things in our relationships has been that invitation for me to see ever more truly the fulness of our humanity, and the complexity of our sexuality. A good thing. An unmixed good thing.And, I've seen how people are so afraid of the fact who we are as human beings is more mutable and messy than people sometime, often want. Too often with terrible consequences for those who cross the … [Read more...]

Visiting Lincoln’s Temple, Recalling that Address


Last Sunday I preached atthe Pacific Unitarian Church on pilgrimage as a spiritual practice. I mentioned that pilgrimage is an ancient human thing that is not only overtly religious but can be found in other aspects of our many cultures. As an illustration of a non-religious sort of pilgrimage I cited my recent visit with my spouse to Washington D.C. For Jan, as a librarian, I think our tour of the Library of Congress had spiritual elements. And for both of us the tour of the White House … [Read more...]

Mr Twain Leaps Onto the Stage Along With His Celebrated Frog

Mark Twain

It was on this day in 1865 that Samuel Clemens leapt onto the world stage when the New York Saturday Press published Mark Twain's Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog. There are now a couple of versions floating around. Here's one.The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras CountyMr. A. Ward,Dear Sir: -- Well, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler, and inquired after your friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as you requested me to do, and I hereunto append the result. If you can … [Read more...]