TAPROOTS FOR A NEW UNIVERSALISM Zen Buddhism & Unitarian Universalism, Encounter, Conflict, New Visions

TAPROOTS FOR A NEW UNIVERSALISM Zen Buddhism & Unitarian Universalism, Encounter, Conflict, New VisionsJames Ishmael Ford24 June 2016Delivered as the Conrad Wright Annual Lecture Unitarian Universalist History & Heritage Society At the 2016 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, Columbus, OhioI never tire of telling this story.In 1844, a chapter from the Sadharmapundarika-sutra, the seminal Mahayana Buddhist text the Lotus Sutra was published in the Boston … [Read more...]

Love: A Zen Meditation

I've been thinking a lot about love of late.I recall an etymological dictionary that suggested the distant ancestor of love was "lub," a word meaning desire. It kind of works, don't you think? Of course desire is a dangerous thing, a variation on the very thing that old Gautama Siddhartha marked out as the cardinal cognitive error in human consciousness - grasping, specifically grasping after that which is in motion as if it were permanent. A fool's chase that ends, always, in grief.At … [Read more...]

The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered: Or, the Perfect Curse for an Author

A few days ago Facebook offered for my consideration and possible reposting a picture from a couple of years ago. What I'm pretty sure the robot that picked it out was unaware of was that it was taken of a stack of copies of a book I'd written that was now being remaindered.If you're unaware of the term, Wikipedia explains. "Remaindered books are printed books that are no longer selling well and whose remaining unsold copies are liquidated by the publisher at greatly reduced prices." For an … [Read more...]

And Yet it Moves: the Poetry of Reality

As it happens, it was on this day in 1633 that Galileo Galilei, threatened with torture and worse hanging in the air formally recanted his heretical view that the earth circled the sun.Legend has it that after his formal recantation, which earned him the mercy of a life-time of house arrest instead of the rack and hot irons, he was said to have muttered, "And yet it moves."That is the interesting thing about science. It is concerned with things that happen whether one believes in them … [Read more...]

Reinhold Niebuhr Steps onto the Stage

Reinhold Niebuhr was born on this day in 1892. He and his brother H. Richard Niebuhr would become two of the most significant of American Protestant thinkers, whose influence extended deeply into our culture. Speaking of the birthday boy, I think more for the good than ill, although it could be and is argued otherwise. I would add they had a sister, Hulda Niebuhr who would also become a professor of religious education, mostly at the Presbyterian McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. … [Read more...]

Fascism as Farce: A Small Meditation on Donald Trump & a Problem for the American People

Trying to put my finger on the rise of Donald Trump has been difficult. He’s not Hitler. He’s not Mussolini. He’s a lot like Silvio Berlusconi. But, not quite. He is something of an American original.I find two quotes come to mind when I think of Mr Trump and his campaign. The first from Sinclair Lewis, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” The other from old Karl Marx, not someone I usually cite, but. “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, … [Read more...]

President Obama on Juneteenth

Just outside the Oval Office hangs a painting depicting the night of December 31, 1862.In it, African-American men, women, and children crowd around a single pocket watch, waiting for the clock to strike midnight and the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect. As the slaves huddle anxiously in the dimly lit room, we can sense how even two more minutes seems like an eternity to wait for one’s freedom.But the slaves of Galveston, Texas, had to wait more than two years after Lincoln’s dec … [Read more...]

Let’s Get this Straight. One More Time. Jesus Never Went to Tibet. Sorry, Would Have Been Great. But, He didn’t.

It appears that every few years someone or another discovers Jesus spent some time in India and or Tibet before beginning those three years we get in the canonical Gospels. I wrote on this a half dozen years ago, and then again two years ago. It seems time to repeat once again.In fact the primary document addressing those “missing years” before that public ministry is a text originally titled Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men. The editor/translator was a Russian journalist Nicolas … [Read more...]

Zen in the Christian Desert, Finding that Cloud of Not Knowing in Our Backyard

I just learned that one of my fellow travelers on the great way, a Zen priest is going to be ordained into the independent sacramental tradition. It is important to add, without renouncing his Buddhist vows. I am endlessly fascinated by the Buddhist Christian encounter. And, actually, I find enormous value in the dialogue, and more in those places of conflict, and most of all in those attempts at fusion. Most of these will fail. Maybe all of them.And yet I feel something rich within that … [Read more...]

Hurray! It’s International Eat a Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

Well, sort of. Okay, it should be.It was, after all, on this day in 1903 that Ruth Graves Wakefield was born.And the glorious Ms Wakefield is credited with creating the "Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie." The recipe was included in the 1938 edition of her constant best seller the Toll House Tried and True Recipes. And as best anyone can tell this was the first instance when anyone thought of including chocolate chips in their cookies.People just really, really liked … [Read more...]