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...]

What Rough Beast? A Small Meditation on Book Smugglers

Jurgis Bielinis was born on this day, the 16th of March, 1846, in Purviskiai, Lithuania.During the long Russian occupation of Lithuania, books written in Latin-Alphabet Lithuanian were banned. It was a part of Russia's assimilation program, which necessitated the destruction of historic Lithuanian culture, or at least the extreme attenuation of it. And, of course, at the heart of such things books must be banned. And so they were.These were heady and lethal dangerous years. In the face … [Read more...]

Alexander Hamilton Calls Out Donald Trump

There's an excerpt from a letter written by Alexander Hamilton in 1792 going around the social media world that disturbingly looks like it was addressed to Mr Trump. Allow me to do my small bit to make sure as many people who can, will see it...The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on … [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...]

Gary Snyder Talks Religion

Old Zen hand, Pulitzer prize winning poet, essayist, and the poet laureate of Deep Ecology Gary Snyder shares a panel with religious studies academics Christopher Patrick Parr, Bron Taylor, Christopher Ives, with Mary Evelyn Tucker pressing.He takes questions.But no prisoners... … [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...]

Bearing Witness: The Horror & the Glory of I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro is filmmaker Raoul Peck's imaginative recreation of James Baldwin's last book proposal, a thirty page treatment titled Remember This House. Mr Baldwin hoped to explore American's heart, and particularly the destructive nature of racism through the lives and deaths of three men he personally knew, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.Raoul Peck delivers.Owen Gleiberman, writing at Variety, tells us Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro is the rare movie that … [Read more...]

Bless you Sister, May all your sons be bishops: Thinking of Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan, poet, short story writer, novelist and playwright in English and Irish, was born on this day in 1923.He led a tumultuous life, born in Dublin, by the age of sixteen he joined the Irish Republican Army, and was involved in a plot to blow up the docks in Liverpool. He was arrested in possession of explosives and sentenced to three years. Later Behan returned to prison for attempting to assassinate two Garda Siochana detectives, this time sentenced to fourteen years. However he … [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...]