Malcolm X: A Meditation

Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska on this day, May 19th, 1925. I consider him one of the signal figures in the spiritual history of the United States. I've written here about him before. But, I never feel I've quote captured what I hope to share. So, one more time...Malcolm was the fourth of seven children. His father a Baptist preacher and an outspoken advocate of Black self-reliance. The family moved first to Milwaukee and then to Lansing.His father was killed when he was six … [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...]

Earth Day, the March for Science, and Three Things We Should Know

Today across the nation there are a number of public demonstrations set as a "March for Science." I'm an enthusiastic supporter of anything that holds up science. And, these days of political turmoil where we have stumbled into a fact free era, this isn't a bad time to pause and recall.As I hope everyone knows, today, the 22nd of April is also Earth Day. I suspect there was no coincide in this meeting of these two events.Earth Day is observed both nationally and internationally, and … [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...]

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...]

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...]

And the Irish Became White: A Small Meditation for St Patrick’s Day

Despite having been here from before the beginning of the Republic, with the great waves of immigration in the nineteenth century the story of the Irish in America is also very much an immigrant’s story, with all the beauty and sadness that comes with being immigrants. I believe there are few who would be reading this who are unaware of the broad outlines. Prejudice against the Irish as immigrants raged in the middle of the nineteenth century, and actually continued in various ways right to the m … [Read more...]