black jesus

A SermonJames Ishmael Ford14 September 2014 First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandThis summer has been filled with so much, some of it wonderful. But, too much of it marked by hurt. Of all the sadness that is our news right now, the rise of a murderous cult pouring like a plague out of broken Syria into divided Iraq, the spread Ebola in West Africa, and for me particularly those enduring images of the influx of c … [Read more...]

The Heart Sutra (A Paraphrase)


When the heart of compassion walked through the gate of wisdom, she looked into the body of the world and each of us, seeing each of us and the world itself is boundless. And with this all suffering vanished.Dear one, all things are boundless; the boundless is nothing other than all things. Everything in itself is boundless; Boundlessness is all things. This is true of us and our feelings, experiences, and consciousness itself.Dear one, the stuff of the world is boundless. It is not … [Read more...]

Thirteen Years


Hard to believe it has been thirteen years since those planes flew into the twin towers.In the years following the Bush administration threw away the world's sympathy and launched us into an endless series of wars, much of it having more to do with neoconservative fantasies of reshaping the Middle East in America's image than with dealing with those who actually caused the attacks.Today, these thirteen years later, at home we've come to be divided even more than we were before, something … [Read more...]

The Blue Boat: A Homily at the Beginning of a Church Year


THE BLUE BOAT A Homily at the Beginning of a Church YearJames Ishmael FordFirst Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode Island7 September 2014A READINGChapter eight of the Tao Te ChingThe supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao.In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't … [Read more...]

GOING WITH THE FLOW A Retelling of a Story from Chuang Tzu for Children of All Ages

niagara falls

GOING WITH THE FLOW A Retelling of a story from Chuang Tzu for Children of All Ages(told at the Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Providence on 7 September 2014)James Ishmael FordHave you ever heard of Chuang Tzu?He lived in China a very long time ago. He died around three hundred years before Jesus was born, around the time the Torah, the first five books of the Bible were being edited into the books we know. He is one of the first people we know as a story … [Read more...]

A Whole Lot of Silence

John Cage

John Cage Would have been one hundred and two a couple of days ago... … [Read more...]

A Feast for a Unitarian Bishop

Gregorio Aglipay

It was a small treat to see that the Episcopal Church has a feast day for Gregorio Aglipay.Certainly a fascinating figure, Aglipay who was born in 1860 and died in 1940, was a priest and fervent Filipino patriot, one of the leaders of the revolution, who led a schism from the Roman Catholic Church, founding the Philippine Independent Church. All the original clergy had been Roman Catholic priests. Following his election as their supreme bishop in 1903, the clergy laid hands on Aglipay and … [Read more...]

The Birth of the Universalist Church

John Murray

It was on this day in 1793 that "ministers, elders and messengers" from Universalist churches & societies in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York who had joined together in Oxford, Massachusetts at a convention moderated by the Reverend John Murray, voted to create the first General Convention of the Universalist Societies in the United States.The Universalist Church of America consolidated with the American Unitarian Association in 1961 forming the … [Read more...]

Embracing a New Universalism

universalism picture uu world

Embracing a new universalismWe find our completeness in knowing that we are woven out of each other and the cosmos itself. By James Ishmael FordThe spiritual tradition of Unitarian Universalism is rich. We are children of the West, heirs to the biblical traditions of Judaism and especially of Christianity. Just as truly, we are profoundly marked by the wisdom traditions of Athens and by earth-centered spiritualities. Because of our radical openness to both theism and nontheism, first … [Read more...]

We’re All Broken. And, a bit of What to Do About It.

Inaugural Preparations Around DC Ramp Up Days Away From Obama's Swearing-In

The violinist Itzhak Perlman was born on this day in 1945.One of the more beautiful memories I have of my years out here in New England is a time Jan and I and several friends were at Tanglewood and I got to see and hear the master in person.And both of these things, my memory of Tanglewood and the fact this is Perlman's birthday reminds me of that inspirational, but sadly, also, apocryphal story of Perlman losing one string while on stage, but continuing on perfectly. Snopes traces the … [Read more...]