Parrots Over Long Beach

This morning as I got up to make my coffee I heard the now familiar joyful squawking that told me the parrots are visiting the neighborhood. We live in Long Beach's Alamitos Beach neighborhood. Our local feral colony actually live in Belmont Shore the next neighborhood over. But they like to roam a little. And on some rough cycle they come around our neck of the woods every three or four or five days.I'm not positive I'd been quite as enthusiastic about them if they were nesting next to me. … [Read more...]

The Short Review: We Saw “Their Finest.” We Liked It. You Might, as Well.

Jan and I took off for our regular weekly movie and a dinner this past Sunday. Our desired weekly rhythm had been interrupted by various events. And, also, one or two of the films we saw most recently didn't fit for my review standards (I either can say something positive, or I don't write about it), so thanks to that perfect storm it's been a while since I've been able to share our reaction to a movie.And then this Sunday we saw Their Finest.I found it a delightful contemporary take on … [Read more...]

The Great Calamity: A Meditation on Genocide, Memory, and Our True Home

The 24th of April marks the anniversary of the beginning of what the Armenian people call the Great Calamity, and what the rest of the world calls the Armenian genocide. I believe this event is not noticed enough outside of the Armenian diaspora. And, I find in that something deeply disturbing. So, most years I try to hold it up. When I was in the pulpit I visited the subject a number of times. And, now, here, on this blog.That terrible event visited upon a small nation is sadly, part of a … [Read more...]

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...]

Thomas Jefferson, America’s Second Unitarian President. Sort of…

Thomas Jefferson was born on this day, the 13th of April, 1743 at the family estate in Virginia.In my circles there is an ongoing debate as to whether Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian. Actually the short answer is simple enough. Yes. However, a slightly longer answer is yes and no.Jefferson's theology was a mix of deism and Unitarianism and he declared in a letter written late in life that if there were a Unitarian church in Virginia, he would be a member. That said, Jefferson had been … [Read more...]

Celebrating the Rocket Man, Celebrating Yuri’s Night, Celebrating Dreams

It was fifty-six years ago on this day in 1961 that Yuri Gagarin flew the Vostok 1 in an orbit of the Earth. This made him the first human being to touch outer space.As the rocket was poised to launch ground control informed him they were about to lift off, and he replied, "Poyekhali!" Which translates as "Let's go!" I understand in the Eastern bloc his excited call to go has become the moment they mark as when the space age began. I like that. The excitement, the dream of humans reaching … [Read more...]

Zen and the Four Commitments: A Small Meditation

In 1993, a hundred years after the renowned World Parliament of Religions met in Chicago a second parliament gathered. The highlight for many was an address by the Dalai Lama. And certainly a worthy thing.For me, however, the most important thing to come out of that gathering was a document, “Towards a Global Ethic.” The principal author was the Roman Catholic priest and scholar Hans Kung. Father Kung is something of a controversial figure within his church, I once heard him described as the … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday to the City of Angels

Of course trying to name the beginning of a city is a pretty hard thing.And for Los Angeles, it really is pick your preference.Humans appear to have been in the area for the last eleven thousand years. The Chumash were principally in the Santa Barbara area ranging down to modern day Ventura, but well may have had an outpost or two within the bounds of what we call Los Angeles. The Tongva peoples lived directly in the basin, although they also ranged out to the Chanel Islands. They … [Read more...]

A Feast for John Donne

John Donne was born in London on the 22nd of January, 1573 and died on this day, the 31st of March, in 1631.His family were recusant Roman Catholics. He studied at Cambridge but was not awarded a degree as he could not take the oath of supremacy, which included acknowledging the sovereign as head of the church. Donne then read the law, and was admitted to the bar.Rather than take up a practice he traveled through Europe giving him the opportunity to master several modern languages. And … [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...]