Nicholas Winton Dies


Nicholas Winton kept a secret for much of his life.It wasn't until 1988 when his wife found a scrapbook in their attic that she learned the truth about her husband.Pretty much on a whim canceling a skiing trip in the winter of 1938, when he instead flew to Prague to join a friend aiding refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. He ended up being a principal organizer in the escape of nearly seven hundred mostly Jewish children.He always seemed … [Read more...]

Evolution: Turns out it is here to stay

Darwin & Wallace

It was on this day in 1858 that the two people who first articulated the theory of evolution through natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin delivered papers at the Linnean Society. In short here's where it begins. There are those who like to ruminate on whether Wallace was cheated out of his place in history as the "real" discoverer. The bottom line reality is the idea was in the air. I suggest because in large strokes (we wouldn't know about genes for a long time, and lots … [Read more...]

Nelson Eddy Steps onto the Stage


Today Nelson Eddy would have been one hundred and fourteen!Another child of Providence, Rhode Island, Nelson Eddy rose from poverty to become an acclaimed actor. More important within that, he was a trained opera singer, and an early "crossover" star, appealing, as Wikipedia tells us "both to shrieking bobby-soxers as well as opera purists." He is considered the gateway for a generation to classical music. Quite an achievement... … [Read more...]

Many Thanks: A Small Meditation on the Village that Made Hellen Keller

Helen & Anne

Helen Keller was born on this day in 1880. She is justly recalled as a singular figure. And, of course, in truth however unique we might be, in a deep and true way, it takes a village. None of us, even the most remarkable, the most driven, the hardest worker, ever does it completely on their own. And so this morning I find myself thinking about those people who led to the miracle that was Helen Keller.For instance there is Dr Samuel Gridley Howe, genius and monster who decided he could … [Read more...]

Gay Marriage is Now Marriage: The Briefest of Meditations on Cultural Shifts

supreme court

I've now lived through three amazing cultural shifts here in the United States.The first the American Civil Rights movement, the second Equal Rights for women, and now Marriage Equality as the signature issue of Gay Rights, marked today as the Supreme Court declared there is no gay or straight marriage, there is only marriage.I'm so proud that Jan & I were a small part of this later process. When I was serving as minister of the First Unitarian Church in Providence it became the … [Read more...]

Dunhuang Library Discovered!

Diamond Sutra Frontispiece

It was on this day in 1900 that the Taoist monk Wang Yanlu while trying to salvage ancient religious artwork in one of the ruined Caves of the Thousand Buddhas near Dunhuang, found a hidden door. It opened into another cave now known as the renowned "Library Cave." In it he found a gigantic archive of documents.The archeologist Aurel Stein who was the first European to see the collection in 1906, described what he saw. "Heaped up in layers, but without any order, there appeared in the dim … [Read more...]

A Little Something for the Nine Year Old Boy in All of Us

Not to mention a fair warning to astronauts... … [Read more...]

Thank Goodness, the Typewriter Has Arrived!


Like many inventions of genuine import, the typewriter has many parents.An article on the subject at Wikipedia gives a litany of advances toward the development of a mechanical writing machine. As early as 1575 an Italian printmaker named Francesco Rampazzetto invented something he called the "scripture tattle," which impressed letters onto paper. Then in 1714 an Englishman Henry Mill received a patent for something very much like a typewriter. Although nothing seemed to come of it. The … [Read more...]

And a Blessed World Humanist Day to You!

pilgrim seeing through

Various of my friends and more often folk who are passingly familiar with my work think I'm some sort of Buddhist Christian. While it is true I have deep affinities with the Christian tradition, particularly its metaphors and images, and could be called a cultural Christian with some truth, the best box to try and cram me into would have to be "liberal Zen Buddhist," or, some might prefer "modernist Zen Buddhist." So, in fact, the tradition outside of Buddhism I most align with, at least … [Read more...]

Recalling Juneteenth

Civil War black-soldiers

Particularly considering the terrible murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, but really, in the midst of our constant struggle dealing with our American history with race, slavery, and ongoing racism here, it might be a good time to pause and notice yesterday was Juneteenth. … [Read more...]