My Uncertainty Principle: A Modernist, Or, Perhaps Its a Post Post Modernist Zen Buddhist Priest Reflects on What’s What

Early morning thoughts...I find my heart and mind wandering to the thought of axioms. By axiom I'm thinking of an assertion that a person thinks is self-evidently true. And by a person, I'm thinking me.What are those things that are the foundations of my conscious life? For the most part they're derived from my Zen and Buddhist experiences wandering through the depths of my heart and mind. There is a rationalist and broadly humanistic sense as well, which has led me to align with the … [Read more...]

Remembering the Immortal James Weldon Johnson

The immortal James Weldon Johnson was born on this day, the 17th of June, in 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida. I think of him as one of those wonderful examples where genius rises despite astonishing obstacles.Against a backdrop of terrible racism and bigotry he made a life. Johnson was at various times in his remarkable life a poet, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and always, an activist. He was never interested in his success alone.James Weldon Johnson’s writings included the Auto … [Read more...]

Bessie Coleman Earns Her Wings

It was on this day in 1922 that Bessie Coleman received her pilot's license. An American hero, and one we should all know a little more about.Bessie was born on this day, the 26th of January,1892, in Atlanta, Texas. Her parents were illiterate sharecroppers. Facing unimaginable obstacles she strove for excellence.Bessie was able to obtain some university education, but poverty prevented her from finishing. She became interested in flying. She also saw that while no flying school in the … [Read more...]

The Roman Index Goes Away

It was fifty-one years ago today the the Vatican announced it had abolished the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the Index of Prohibited Books. The Index can be traced, at least spiritually to the 9th century and the Decretum Glassianum. And, as the book we know and love since 1559. It would go through twenty editions, the last in 1948.It would come to an end on the 14th of Jun, 1966, when Pope Paul VI abolished publishing an official list of books that the faithful should not read. A fairly … [Read more...]

The Edict of Milan and the Idea of Religious Tolerance

According to the good folk at Wikipedia it was on this day in the year 313 that the Edict of Milan extended religious tolerance to Christianity. Now, as it happened, it was simply a marker on the shifting of who was persecuting and who was persecuted. But, the idea is a nice one.I have friends who disdain toleration. They want something else. Often the term is celebration. I think that's asking for way too much.We have a right to demand tolerance of each other and our beliefs. But, let … [Read more...]

A Dictator Dies

It appears that it was on this day in 455 that two and a half months into his reign the Western emperor Petronius Maximus was fleeing the Vandal assault on Rome when an angry mob overtook him, stoned him, hacked up his body, and threw the remains into the Tiber.I think of it as a minor holiday... … [Read more...]

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...]