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...]

Holding the Lotus to a Rock: Boundless Way Zen Leadership Gathers in Worcester

The Boundless Way Zen network's leadership circle gathered this past weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts, for our third annual meeting. We currently have sixteen teachers. Ten hold one of our forms of Dharma transmission including the four roshis, three senseis, and three dharma holders. We also include our six senior dharma teachers, who while not dharma successors, all have permission, with guidance, to give talks and most importantly to provide practice interviews including supervising koan … [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...]

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...]

A Feast for Martin

It was today, the 4th of April, in 1968, that the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr was shot while standing on the balcony in front of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. After the police and FBI arrived, during all the confusion, people running around, agents trying to get a handle on what had happened, one agent informed his superior on a walkie-talkie how he just heard Coretta Scott King say that Martin’s dream would never die. There was, I gather, a pause. Then the agent’s superior in … [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...]

THE FOUR FREEDOMS A Speech, Some Paintings, and an Essay

As it happens it was on this day in 1943 that Norman Rockwell's painting Freedom from Want was presented to the general public in the Saturday Evening Post. It was the last of Rockwell's Four Freedoms series inspired by Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union address. I personally think that the president's address, and the accompanying paintings by Rockwell are a beautiful if not completely adequate summation of what I believe the American Dream in fact is.Possibly of interest to … [Read more...]

WHO IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A Buddhist Meditation on a Christian Text

WHO IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A Meditation for Hard TimesJames Ishmael Ford5 March 2017Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaThus have I heard.A lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus told a story.“ Once there was a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was set upon by thieves, who beat him severely, stripped him of his money and even his clothing, and left him lying in the road, half-dead. A series of people passed by the man. The first was … [Read more...]

A Dream for America

Words from Valarie Kaur.One of the more beautiful reflections I've heard in a long time.I can only hope it is true. … [Read more...]