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...]

Hello Bodhisattvas! Another of Zen’s Inside Jokes

I understand that when he would give talks the early Zen missionary to the Barbarians of the United States, Nyogen Senzaki would address his audience as "bodhisattvas." A friend who knows his way around, suggested the sensei was throwing out a net, hoping to snare a wise heart, maybe even two.Years later I sometimes say to someone who has done a small mitzvah, "you're a bodhisattva." Maybe in the same spirit. Okay, maybe with a bit more snark. But, then I stand solidly within my age, and our … [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...]

That’s Entertainment: My Reviews of the 2017 Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Award

Over the years Jan & I have said we'd love to go the movies more. But, the reality was we never did much. A big part of this was my work life as a Unitarian Universalist parish minister and with the erratic hours that parish ministry meant doing something regularly was difficult. And, we chose to guard the time for our Zen community rather than anything else.And time flows, and things change.Now, in the first year of retirement we have started doing things that we just couldn't put … [Read more...]

Every Day is a Good Day: Zen teacher Mary Gates comments on Case 6 in the Blue Cliff Record

Mary Gates is a past interesting person.She's a psychologist.She's an Episcopal priest.She's a Zen teacher in my lineage.And, oh my, finally we seem to have gotten it right.You want a taste of authentic Zen in a Western flavor? Here you go, Dharma Holder Mary Gates pointing to the great way. … [Read more...]

Leonard Cohen Traveling Light

Thanks to Adam Cohen for this... … [Read more...]

On Dropping the F-Bomb: A Preliminary Report of a Zen Experiment in Small Truths

A bit more than a week ago I declared to everyone on Facebook that I would try to expunge Anglo-Saxon epithets from my vocabulary. While I was thinking in the moment of the range of epithets that we English speakers derive from that ancestral language, I realized pretty quickly that I was actually thinking about one word, what some of my friends like to call the f-bomb.What I really wanted only gradually became clear over the next five days as I failed to make it through twenty-four hours … [Read more...]

What a Man Will Do for a Woman: Or, How to Gird Up Your Loins

Post cards from Long Beach, California #231The storm is raging...And we have the crockpot simmering away with a beef stew for tonight.Of course, one must have biscuits with beef stew. So, I was reviewing the recipe. I don't do biscuits often, well, don't do beef stew often, either, and realized we need milk - something we don't normally have in the house. Half & half and almond "milk" but no milk without the quotes.So, I girded up the old loins, put on a coat I haven't worn in … [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...]