Is Our Destiny in the Stars? A Small, Mostly Zen Meditation

  It was forty-eight years ago on this day in 1969 that Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon. The next day Neil Armstrong and then Buzz Aldrin would be the first humans to walk on the surface of a natural body other than the Earth. Seven years later on this same day the unmanned Viking 1 successfully landed on the surface of Mars.I love these facts. Me. As a child I would look up to the stars and wonder. These events made my heart jump with dreams of the possible. For … [Read more...]

Zen for Humans

A while back I posted on my blog a note about the anniversary of the convening of the council now called Nicea I. I opined how this could be seen as the end of the glorious mess that was early Christianity as the emperor Constantine began to remake the Christian church in his own image.One of the commentators at the blog opined that he saw some parallels between this and the creation of an organization of Soto Zen clergy in the United States. I tried to respond. But, I found my words were … [Read more...]

William Flees the Pope & the Razor is Sharpened

"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."Bertrand RussellIt was on this day in 1328 that the minister general of the Franciscan order and three other friars, including William of Occam, fled the papal court at Avignon. They were reasonably confident if they stayed they would be condemned as heretics and executed at the order of the pope.As it turned out that feared condemnation indeed followed, but … [Read more...]

Thinking of Jesus’ Many Descendants

Okay, not really. What I am thinking about is that perennial desire among some, including friends that Jesus married somebody. Mary Magdalene is my personal favorite among the various candidates, in case you were wondering. And, there's more, there is also a deep wish that together with this spouse the holy couple had descendants. The good people at Wikipedia have traced how this narrative has evolved over the years. What follows is my summary of how this took place together with some asides, as … [Read more...]

Zen Teacher David Loy Points to the Intimate Universe

The Universe is not a place where evolution happens, it is the evolution. It is not a stage on which dramas unfold, it is the unfolding drama itself. Loyal Rue, in Everybody's StoryIf the universe is not something that is evolving but is the evolutionary process itself, then another word to describe that development, in all its cosmological, biological, and cultural aspects, is creativity. Are the cosmic formation of galaxies, the biological ramification of spectating life forms, and the … [Read more...]


A MEDITATION ON SPIRITUALITY AFTER RELIGIONS Or, Mark Twain’s Large Dream19 March 2017James Ishmael FordUnitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaI love Mark Twain. I just love Mark Twain. In fact Jan and I have made Mark Twain pilgrimages twice in our lives. The first time was a tad more than twenty years ago when we lived in Wisconsin, and I served a suburban Milwaukee congregation. During the summer hiatus in our regular services, we took US 90 to La Crosse, and t … [Read more...]

What Rough Beast? A Small Meditation on Book Smugglers

Jurgis Bielinis was born on this day, the 16th of March, 1846, in Purviskiai, Lithuania.During the long Russian occupation of Lithuania, books written in Latin-Alphabet Lithuanian were banned. It was a part of Russia's assimilation program, which necessitated the destruction of historic Lithuanian culture, or at least the extreme attenuation of it. And, of course, at the heart of such things books must be banned. And so they were.These were heady and lethal dangerous years. In the face … [Read more...]

In the Neighborhood: A Meditation on the Golden Rule, Cheaters, and Prophets

Jan and I were walking into the parking lot after a quick run to one of our local grocery stores, when we noticed a bumper sticker. At first glance it seemed one of those “co-exist” stickers with the letters twisted out of symbols from the world religions. However, as we looked more closely we could see it was a parody of that sticker and instead, while using world religions letters it read “contradict.”I’m certainly okay with that. I mean, after all. But, then in smaller print was a citation … [Read more...]

Gary Snyder Talks Religion

Old Zen hand, Pulitzer prize winning poet, essayist, and the poet laureate of Deep Ecology Gary Snyder shares a panel with religious studies academics Christopher Patrick Parr, Bron Taylor, Christopher Ives, with Mary Evelyn Tucker pressing.He takes questions.But no prisoners... … [Read more...]

James Ishmael Ford’s Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Sermons

As it happens it was on this day in 2005 that a group of college students launched YouTube. For me as with so many of these advances of our computer age that have become ubiquitous, I find it hard to conceive that it was a mere eleven years ago. I was serving at the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts, the Boundless Way Zen network was just taking shape, this blog was still not even something I was thinking about, and wouldn't begin for another year. Today, anyone can go there and … [Read more...]