Charles Schulz as Religious Humanist

Peanuts wrong

I notice that it was yesterday in 2000 that the wildly popular cartoonist Charles M Schulz died. And as it happens the next day, today, sixteen years ago, the last of the original Peanuts strips appeared.Among the many reasons I find Schulz interesting is because of the religious themes that ran through his strips. Originally they were quite orthodox, even, looking at the earliest among them, quite conservative Christian. But, things shift. As of course they do in any lived life.I … [Read more...]

The Heavens Cry out in Joy: Charles Darwin is Born on this Day!

Darwin Valentine

Just yesterday I was thinking how Darwin's Origin of Species, in addition to arguably being the most important book written in the nineteenth century, was a really good read.And now I notice it's Charles Darwin's birthday. Were he alive he would be two hundred, and seven years old today. Me, I always consider this day one to celebrate. And it turns out I'm not alone.Wikipedia notes how his birthday has been observed as something special since his death in 1882. But in 1909 on the … [Read more...]

Salvation by Bibliography: a Universalist Spiritual Discipline

vinegar tasters

In my opinion the only great Unitarian Universalist theologian, that is the only great religious thinker associated with the consolidated Unitarian Universalist denomination so far is James Luther Adams. I love that Adams was teased by his colleagues for believing in “salvation by bibliography.” I think it touches not only on what Adams brought to the table, but also to what a liberal spirituality might look like. I believe there is a potential treasure-trove of the heart to be uncovered in rea … [Read more...]

The Great Schnozola is Born

Jimmy Durante

One of the interesting things about being raised among the first television generation was that the airwaves were filled with people who had made their bones in an earlier generation, including more than one aging vaudevillian. Because of that voracious need of the young medium Jimmy Durante who was born before the Spanish-American war was fought became a fixture of my childhood imagination. He not only appeared on the evening variety shows favored by my parents but versions of his immediately … [Read more...]

As Things Fall Apart


In the Way of the Elders family of Buddhism the Buddha’s death is folded together with his birth and awakening into a single holiday, Vesak or Wesak, usually observed in May. However, within the traditions of the Great Way family of Buddhism the Buddha’s death is marked as Parinirvana Day or sometimes Nirvana Day, in solar calculation most commonly on the 15th of February, but for many the 8th of February.As he lay dying he continued what he had done for the forty years following his great a … [Read more...]



Zen Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, and Finding a Life that Matters,Or, Like Someone in the Middle of the Night Reaching Behind Her Head for the PillowA Sermon by James Ishmael Ford7 February 2016Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach Long Beach, CaliforniaTextYunyan asked Daowu, ‘How does the Bodhisattva Guanyin use those many hands and eyes?’ Daowu answered, ‘It is like someone in the middle of the night reaching behind her head for the pillow.’ Yunyan said, ‘I … [Read more...]

Enter the Sultan of Swat

Babe Ruth

George Herman Ruth, Jr, was born on this day in 1895. Better known to us as "the Sultan of Swat," the "Bambino" and, of course, simply as "Babe."The Babe was a left-handed pitcher for the Red Sox, but was sold to the New York Yankees in the off season of 1919-20, where he gained his greatest fame as a "slugging" outfielder, establishing records for runs batted in, bases on balls, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, and, of course, home runs, delivering 714 in his career.He would … [Read more...]

Happy birthday, Bill! Okay, maybe nineteen years after William S Burroughs died is a bit late, but…


Bunches and bunches of years ago I was working in Moe's bookstore in Berkeley. Moe told me that William Burroughs was going to do a reading at the store and he, Moe, wanted me to make a flyer to post around the area announcing it. I wrote up the copy, you know something along the lines of William Burroughs, author of Junkie & Naked Lunch speaking at Moe's Books, address & time, then got some magazines and a newspaper and cut out the letters and an occasional word and then cellophane taped them … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Rosa!

Rosa Parks

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was born on this day in 1913. The world, at least our corner of it, is a better place because of that... … [Read more...]

Bob & Ray Call It a Day

Bob & Ray

I was saddened and I admit a little surprised to learn that Bob Elliott, of the comedy team Bob & Ray, died this past Tuesday. He was ninety-two. His comedic partner Ray Goulding died in 1990.His wife Lee died in 2012, but he is survived by his children Chris, Coloney, Amy, Shannon, Robert jr., eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.Oh, yes, and all of us...Rest in peace Bob. And thanks for the laughs! … [Read more...]