My Television Life

I am in some genuine ways a product of the dawn of television. I know this is generally considered a bad thing. And there is no doubt it brought with it a bucketful of difficulties. It was also something magical. I believe television was critical in knitting the country together. And, I guess, later in helping to unravel any false sense of ours being any kind of mono-cultural nation.We were poor people so we weren’t the first to get television sets. But, also as poor people we didn’t budget p … [Read more...]

A RAINBOW RELIGION: Or, Why Pride Day is a Unitarian Universalist Holy Day

A RAINBOW RELIGIONOr, Why Pride Day is a Unitarian Universalist Holy DayJames Ishmael Ford21 May 2017 Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaIf you wonder whether you’re an introvert or extravert, I have a small thought experiment that can clarify the matter for you. Simply ask yourself what you think of bed and breakfasts? If you like them, you’re an extravert. You may think you’re an introvert, but you’re not. Me, on the other hand, I draw up just short of rat … [Read more...]

Recalling the First Analog Computer

In the summer of 1900 some sponge divers came across an ancient wreck offPoint Glyphadia on the Greek island Antikythera. The salvaged a number of artifacts most of which were packed up and sent to the National Museum of Archeology in Athens.Two years later, on this day, the 17th of May, 1902, Valerios Stais, the museum's director noticed a particularly unusual artifact among the collection. It has come to be called the Antikythera mechanism among the more technical crowd and the first … [Read more...]

Enter the Mouse

It was on this day in 1928 that Walt Disney Studios showed Plane Crazy, a single reel silent cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse. However the Mouse failed to pick up a distributer. Later that year Disney tried again with Steamboat Willie to wild success.So, while this is actually Mickey's birthday (In case the math is difficult he turned 89 today.), this particular film wasn't seen until the next year as the fourth of the now voluminous adventures of Mickey Mouse. … [Read more...]

The Last Witchcraft Trial in America. Well, Sort of…

It was on this day one hundred, and thirty nine years ago, in 1878. that the last trial on a charge of witchcraft was initiated in an American court. Somewhat awkwardly for all concerned, the case was heard in Salem, Massachusetts.At the age of fifty the life long invalid Lucretia Brown of Ipswich, Massachusetts, embraced Christian Science. And it seemed she was cured of her spinal injury. However not long after being cured she suffered a relapse. When Mary Baker Eddy heard of this she was … [Read more...]

Colonel Blood Steals the Crown Jewels!

Blood, that wears treason in his face, Villain complete in parson's gown, How much he is at court in grace For stealing Ormond and the crown! Since loyalty does no man good, Let's steal the King, and outdo Blood!John Wilmot, History of InsipidsIt was on this day in 1671 that Colonel Thomas Blood stole the English crown jewels. Or, well, tried to.Blood was born in County Clare in 1618. His father was a blacksmith and successful business man. So young Thomas got a good education. … [Read more...]

Dreaming of Steinbeck’s Country

It was today, May the 6th, in 1940, that John Steinbeck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel the Grapes of Wrath. He also won the National Book Award for the book, and when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, it was cited as principal among his writings.That novel has been celebrated, occasionally castigated, and summarized in film and song. I even wrote a sermon about it.I consider the Grapes of Wrath one of the great novels of our American heritage.He was a life … [Read more...]

My Annual Statement of Why I Celebrate Cinco de Mayo…

Today is Cinco de Mayo. I usually offer a reflection on this day, about why I think it is in fact a holiday we in the United States should be observing. With, I quickly add, some serious caveats.I feel a pretty good measure of discomfort at how the holiday has become the Mexican St Patrick’s Day. And I mean with all the ills that follow that sad degeneration of someone’s largely religious holiday into shamrocks and green beer. Except now with sombreros and margaritas.Don’t get me wrong, l … [Read more...]

Spiritual Long Beach: The Catholic Shrine to Mary Cared for by Buddhist Monks

When we first arrived in Long Beach two years ago, early one evening as Jan and I were driving along the coast on Ocean Boulevard, as we came to the intersection at Redondo, we noticed a large Mary shrine. I've mentioned it in this blog before, it is a ubiquitous part of that drive. And as we drove by Ocean and Redondo yesterday, I thought it really is wonderful, and a subject worth revisiting.Yesterday, the shrine like that first time we saw it, was adorned with flowers and candles already … [Read more...]

Beltane!

There are so many things that could be noted about May 1st.But, me, as usual, I'm going whole hog for Beltane!It's a holiday in the calendar of my ancestors, or, some of them, anyway.In ancient Celtic cultures it's the beginning of summer. And so its the time cattle were taken to their summer pastures. There was also a tradition of visiting holy wells. And various doings with flowers. Of course, there's that May pole. Also, a time of bonfires, the ashes of which have special powers … [Read more...]