How Would You Define Love?

   Asking for a friend.Please tell me in the comments... … [Read more...]

Enter Rosie the Riveter

As it happens it was seventy-four years ago on this day, the 29th of May, in 1943, that Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. A bunch of years later it would inspire this sermon... A MEDITATION ON ROSIE THE RIVETERThe Divine Feminine and Liberal Religion and a Vision for a New World8 November 2009James Ishmael FordFirst Unitarian ChurchProvidence, Rhode IslandTextThe spirit of God has sent me to bring good news … [Read more...]

William Flees the Pope & the Razor is Sharpened

"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."Bertrand RussellIt was on this day in 1328 that the minister general of the Franciscan order and three other friars, including William of Occam, fled the papal court at Avignon. They were reasonably confident if they stayed they would be condemned as heretics and executed at the order of the pope.As it turned out that feared condemnation indeed followed, but … [Read more...]

Announcing our July Zen Meditation Retreat in Seattle with James Ishmael Ford

A Zen Meditation RetreatLed by James Ishmael Ford, Roshiand Janine Larsen, Practice LeaderWhen: Friday, July 14 through Sunday, July 16 (see retreat schedule) Where: University Unitarian Church (UUC) in Seattle. Plus: Optional Retreat Preview, Thursday, July 13, Woodinville UU Church (WUUC), 7:00 – 9:00 PMCost: Pay what you are able.And we have suggestions: The full retreat, $60. Friday or Saturday only (single full day), $40. Friday or Saturday morning or afternoon (half da … [Read more...]

Gary Snyder Turns 87

Happy birthday, Gary!He once sang to us:Ah to be alive on a mid-September morn fording a stream barefoot, pants rolled up, holding boots, pack on, sunshine, ice in the shallows, northern rockies.Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes cold nose dripping singing inside creek music, heart music, smell of sun on gravel.I pledge allegianceI pledge allegiance to the soil of Turtle Island, and to the beings who thereon … [Read more...]

America’s Buddhist. Happy Eightieth, George!

George Hosato Takei was born in Los Angeles, California, on this day, April 20th, 1937.Today, he is probably best known for his social media presence as a wit and social commentator. He is, of course, also a social justice activist, with a focus, although hardly exclusively on LGBTQ rights. And, for most all of us of a certain age, and it seems generations following, he is and will always be Star Trek's Lt Hikaru Sulu.In 2008 he married his long time partner Brad Altman. Walter Koenig … [Read more...]

Zen Priest Seeks Work: Has Zafu & Kyosaku. Can Travel.

As many of my friends know I've worked principally as a Unitarian Universalist minister for the past quarter of a century. This has supported my family and me as I've also studied and then taught Zen. I like to think I've been useful.And now that I have retired from parish ministry I am devoting myself fully to guiding our Blue Cliff Zen Sangha, writing, leading retreats, and supporting a handful of Zen teachers in their early formation. There is no charge for joining our sangha, or that … [Read more...]

Soto Zen: A Collection of Videos

There is an ever increasing library of videos regarding Zen available on Youtube. As one might expect, they are of varying quality and usefulness. Here are a handful I believe are useful for someone looking to know more about Soto Zen, and particularly Soto as it is taking shape here in the West, and more specifically in North America. The ancient way with some new wrinkles... First, an historical overview. Not the best, but serviceable... In … [Read more...]

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...]