B. R. Ambedkar and His Wonderful Vision for a New Buddhism

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on this day in 1891. He is better known as B. R. Ambedkar, sometimes Dr Ambedkar, and to the many whom he served throughout his life, as Babasheb. Dr Ambedkar is one of the singular figures of the Indian revolution. And, significantly, in the years that followed, as a religious reformer.I wrote an appreciation of Babasheb last year. He is someone who should be known better than he is, and recalled by those of us who do know him. I slightly expand that … [Read more...]

William Ellery Channing: The Reluctant Radical

William Ellery Channing was born on this day in 1780 in Newport, Rhode Island. I try to acknowledge this every year. He is one of the more important people in my own spiritual life.William Ellery Channing was the grandchild of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. As a child Channing attended with his family an extremely conservative congregation led by the Reverend Samuel Hopkins. Dr Hopkins was a strict Calvinist who preached the utter depravity of humanity and how nearly … [Read more...]

Ah… And, a Blessed Darwin Day to You!

One of my favorite koans, those Zen presentations of reality and invitations into the fullness of our hearts and minds is gathered as case twenty in the twelfth century Chinese anthology the Book of Serenity.The monk Fayan visited Master Dizang who asked the young student of the way, “Where have you come from?” Fayen replied, “I wander from here to there on my pilgrimage.” The master asked, “What is the point of your pilgrimage?” Fayan answered, “I don’t know.” Master Dizang replied, “Not kno … [Read more...]

Forever Young at Heart: Jimmy Durante Takes the Stage

A month or so back Jan & I were walking through a grocery store when the muzak (or, the moral equivalent) started up Jimmy Durante's novelty song Rudolf the Red Nose Raindeer. At the time I marveled that a singer who has been dead now some thirty-six years was accompanying all of us shopping that day. A bit of the miracle of voice recording. And the various technologies that have followed, all of which he was in the pioneering stages for.Of course there has to be something there to bring … [Read more...]

Bless you Sister, May all your sons be bishops: Thinking of Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan, poet, short story writer, novelist and playwright in English and Irish, was born on this day in 1923.He led a tumultuous life, born in Dublin, by the age of sixteen he joined the Irish Republican Army, and was involved in a plot to blow up the docks in Liverpool. He was arrested in possession of explosives and sentenced to three years. Later Behan returned to prison for attempting to assassinate two Garda Siochana detectives, this time sentenced to fourteen years. However he … [Read more...]

Recalling the Mother of the Freedom Movement

Rosa Louise McCauley, later Parks, was born on this day in 1913.Sometimes called the mother of the freedom movement, sometimes the first lady of civil rights, on the 1st of December, 1955, she refused to give up her seat for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama.And with that sparked something that continues to burn bright to this day.Thank you, Rosa!Thank you... … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday to Conan the Barbarian, Or, I Mean Robert E. Howard

On January 22, 1906, Robert Ervin Howard was born in Peaster, Texas. He died by suicide at the age of 30. In between he grew to become a prolific writer for the American pulp magazine industry. During which time, drawing upon the established "weird tales" genre developed by Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft and others, but then mixing together as Wikipedia tells us "fantasy, horror and mythology with historical romance, action and swordplay," he pretty much single handedly invented the "Sword and … [Read more...]