Love Beyond Beliefs: Or, My Unitarian Universalism

The other day I posted a letter I wrote to a Unitarian Universalist ministerial search committee. In it I pointed out what I consider a terrible problem facing UU churches, particularly smaller ones.For complex reasons much of it involving a generational shift which I mention in that post, there has been a shifting in the broader theological perspectives of people coming into our congregations. Shifting perspectives are part in parcel with Unitarian Universalism with its deep belief in the … [Read more...]

This Saturday: A One Day Zen Sit With Zen teachers James Ishmael Ford & Gesshin Greenwood

Zen in Orange CountyJoin us for a day-long Zen meditation intensive ledby Roshi James Ishmael Ford & Sensei Gesshin Greenwood.This event is sponsored by the Blue Cliff Zen Sangha & the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church.This is our inaugural Blue Cliff (soon to be Bright Cloud) intensive Zen meditation retreat. It consists almost entirely of zazen in twenty-five minute sessions broken with five to seven minute kinhin (slow follow-the-leader walking … [Read more...]

A Letter to a Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Search Committee

(A real letter to a real Unitarian Universalist ministerial search committee, slightly edited, and with a few additions not thought of in the heat of the original composition. Offered in the hope it will be of use...)Dear (chair of the search committee),It was such a pleasure visiting with you and the committee. Our conversation was consuming, and I found myself falling in love with you, and through you all, with the (church).And, in the hours that have passed, visiting with my … [Read more...]

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...]

(Zen) Buddhism and the Unitarian Universalists

While rummaging around my blog, I stumbled upon this paper I delivered back in 2014. It's about some details of the meeting between Buddhism, really mostly the meeting of Zen Buddhism and Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists. I consider it an important subject. It certainly has been in my life.A MEETING OF THE WATERSA Preliminary Report from the Buddhist and Unitarian Universalist EncounterA Paper Delivered at the Fraters of the Wayside Inn Sudbury, Massachusetts27 January … [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...]

ZEN AND A HOLY TRINITY A Zen Priest Meditates on the Vagaries of Love

ZEN AND A HOLY TRINITY A Zen Priest Meditates on the Vagaries of LoveJames Ishmael FordThen one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang … [Read more...]

Enter the Cult of the Supreme Being

It was on this day on the 8th of June, in 1794, with a Festival of the Supreme Being, the state sponsored Cult of the Supreme Being was launched. The cult was to be a new religion. It had been formally established the month before by the decree of Maximilien Robespierre. At the time while legally simply one of the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre was functionally dictator of the French Republic.The Parisian celebrations were immortalized by the artist Pierre-Antoine Demachy, and is … [Read more...]

Zen, Buddhist Modernism, & a Naturalistic Perennialism

Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler is one half with his brother Hondo Dave Rutschman, of the blogging team No Zen in the West. I consider that blog one of a handful of seriously important Zen Buddhist blogs out on the inter webs right now.On the first of this month Jiryu wrote a piece called What Real Buddhist Should Do. His thesis is simple. I quote. "...if you don’t get interdependence, and if you don’t hear the call to enact, live out, and DO interdependence in some real way in your actual life an … [Read more...]