Finding Myself Thinking of “You Nazty Spy!” Can’t Imagine Why…

While Charlie Chaplain's Great Dictator was in the can, in fact the very first film in popular distribution in America to mock Adolf Hitler and his Nazi movement were, of course, the Three Stooges.Today in 1940 the Three Stooges' 44th short You Nazty Spy was released. As, I noted, best anyone knows, the first of what would become a bit of an industry.Don't know why I find myself thinking of Alec Baldwin... … [Read more...]

Our Fucking City: A Review of Patriots Day

My interest in going to see Patriots Day was a mixed bag. I don't have much of a taste for disaster films or their closely related. And I was, I admit, mildly put off by the idea of a "heartfelt tribute" or "inspiring story" as was said of Patriots Day. I like uplift as much as the next person, but I have a pretty deep aversion to treacle.On the other hand Jan and I spent a fraction shy of fifteen years in Eastern New England, half of that in Newton, an inner ring suburb of Boston, the … [Read more...]

Recalling John Biddle, Unitarian Saint and Martyr

One of those memories I treasure for the years I served at the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts, was the pulpit. I was always careful when speaking of the church and various things about it to say "our," after all it was our church. But, I always said, "my" pulpit. Even though I held it in trust, it had been presented to me within that trust and it was "mine" for eight years.As an object it was a wonder to behold. Among the delights of the thing were the carved figures that … [Read more...]

Kensho, Samadhi, & the Practices of Zen

As Zen first came west, kensho, or satori, was the great prize. The Zen priest scholar Victor Sogen Hori tells us, “The term consists of two characters: ken, which means “see” or “seeing”, and sho, which means “nature”, “character”, “quality.” To “see one’s nature” is the usual translation for kensho.” Satori, which derives from the Japanese verb satoru, is for all practical purposes a synonym for kensho, although some suggest kensho be used for the initial insight, and satori for the deeper matu … [Read more...]

Zen Communities Confronting Mr Trump’s Assumption of the American Presidency

I understand some scholars suggest that it was yesterday in the year 49 before our common era that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon.I have no doubt with our recent election we have crossed another Rubicon.At the current moment there is a great deal of conversation going on about how to respond to what is happening. As with other spiritual traditions within our Zen communities we are torn, largely between those who feel compelled to speak out and those who want to make sure that everyone … [Read more...]

Death Comes for the Archbishop of Canterbury

Within the Anglican communion today is marked as a feast for William Laud who lost his head on this day in 1645..I find him a very interesting person, and a pivotal figure in the formation of the Anglican tradition.I commented on him this past October on the occasion of his birthday on the 7th, some four hundred, and forty three years ago. And, I think it worth revisiting.William Laud eventually rose to the rank of Archbishop of Canterbury and was the close advisor to King Charles … [Read more...]

The Method of Zen: A Small Meditation on Galileo’s Wonderful Telescope & Bodhidharma’s Marvelous Not Knowing

Toward the end of the year 1609 Galileo Galilei, who had been tinkering with lenses and telescopes for a while was able to improve one to a 20x magnification.He promptly turned this vastly superior telescope toward the skies. In a letter he wrote dated today, the 7th of January, 1610, he stated he had discovered three new celestial objects near Jupiter. In another day he found one more. At first he believed they were stars. But, he quickly figured out they were in fact moons circling … [Read more...]

La La La La Land: A Perfect Entertainment

Jan and I saw La La Land on Sunday. The headline: it was a delight!Not exactly a throw back to an earlier era, but not not, either. La La Land brings tinges of musicals of days long gone. And, at the same time, it is very much a movie for our day. A pitch perfect entertainment.And we are mostly talking an entertainment. I was aware that several brief descriptions called it a "drama." Musical. Comedy. Drama. All of that. But, most of all it is a romance. And, along the way, a bit of a … [Read more...]

Zen & Politics: A Zen Priest’s New Year’s Resolution

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus … [Read more...]

Noor Inayat Khan: Sufi & War Hero

Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan was born in Moscow on this day in 1914. She was the eldest of the Indian Sufi teacher Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and his American wife Ora Ray Baker's four children.Noor spent only a few years in Russia. The family relocated to England ahead of the war, and then finally settling in France. She studied at the Sorbonne and the Paris Conservatory. Noor was a highly accomplished musician, poet, and children's book author, perhaps best known for her adaptations of … [Read more...]