Time to Celebrate! Proclus, Last of the Great Neoplatonic Philosophers is Born

Thanks to an astrological chart we can know when the philosopher Proclus was born. It happens to be today in 412 of our common era, in Byzantium. While Christianity had taken over the business of state, here and there philosophy still could be pursued, and Proclus proved to be the last, and some might even hazard, the greatest of the Neoplatonics.The New World Encyclopedia summarizes for us how "Proclus’ greatest concern was the elevation of the human soul to unity with its divine origins. B … [Read more...]

Recalling the Immortal Chaplains

It was seventy-four years ago, today.Methodist minister George Fox, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Reformed minister Clark Poling, and Catholic priest John Washington were aboard the troop ship SS Dorchester. They were all commissioned first lieutenants, they were all chaplains.At twelve fifty-five a.m. on the 3rd of February, 1943, the Dorchester was torpedoed off the coast of Newfoundland.As the ship began to sink the chaplains helped as many troops and civilians as they could into the … [Read more...]

The British Invade!

It was on this day fifty-two years ago that a British band's single hit number one on the American pop charts. And with that the British invasion can be said to have established its beach head.One can safely say that nothing has been the same, since... … [Read more...]

The World is a Burning Hut: A Zen Meditation

There was an old woman who supported a hermit. For twenty years she always had a girl, sixteen or seventeen years old, take the hermit his food and wait on him. One day she told the girl to give the monk a close hug and ask, “What do you feel just now?”The hermit responded,An old tree on a cold cliff; Midwinter – no warmth.The girl went back and told this to the old woman. The woman said, “For twenty years I’ve supported this vulgar good-for-nothing!” So saying, she threw the monk o … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday to Conan the Barbarian, Or, I Mean Robert E. Howard

On January 22, 1906, Robert Ervin Howard was born in Peaster, Texas. He died by suicide at the age of 30. In between he grew to become a prolific writer for the American pulp magazine industry. During which time, drawing upon the established "weird tales" genre developed by Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft and others, but then mixing together as Wikipedia tells us "fantasy, horror and mythology with historical romance, action and swordplay," he pretty much single handedly invented the "Sword and … [Read more...]

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...]