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...]

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...]

Mary as Quanyin. Quanyin as Mary. Liberation Theology and Engaged Buddhism.

Helder Pessoa Camara was born in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil, on this day in 1909. Today he is remembered as Dom Helder Camera, the late Roman Catholic archbishop of Olinda and Recife in that country, a fierce opponent of the military dictatorship, and an advocate of Liberation Theology.There is in fact a move within some circles of the Catholic church to canonize him. I find it about as likely as Dorothy Day or that other troublesome priest Thomas Merton getting the nod from the official … [Read more...]

BENDING TOWARD JUSTICE Theodore Parker’s Religion, and Ours

BENDING TOWARD JUSTICE Theodore Parker's Religion, and OursJames Ishmael FordA Sermon5 February 2017 Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaTheodore Parker was born on the family farm in Lexington, Massachusetts, on August the 24th, 1810. His paternal grandfather, John, was in command of the Minutemen on that day thirty-five years earlier. When the Minutemen confronted the British regulars, he declared, “If they mean to have war, let it begin here.” And there it … [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...]

Recalling the Immortal Chaplains

It was seventy-four years ago, today.Methodist minister George Fox, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Reformed minister Clark Poling, and Catholic priest John Washington were aboard the troop ship SS Dorchester. They were all commissioned first lieutenants, they were all chaplains.At twelve fifty-five a.m. on the 3rd of February, 1943, the Dorchester was torpedoed off the coast of Newfoundland.As the ship began to sink the chaplains helped as many troops and civilians as they could into the … [Read more...]

Who is Our Neighbor: A Zen Buddhist Reflection on a Christian America

I was distressed to see a new Pew survey written up at FiveThirtyEight that shows that a majority of Americans think being an American also means being a Christian. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed stated they believed it is very important to be a Christian if one is to be an American, while a softer nineteen percent only felt it "somewhat important." Together that counted for fifty-one percent. Of course that does mean almost the same number believed it wasn't very important (seventeen … [Read more...]