The Life of an Artist: Recalling John Wesley Hardrick

John Wesley Hardrick was born on this day in 1891.As early as eight he showed a natural talent for art, and by the time he was in High School he was winning awards for his work. He began formal study at the Herron School of Art studying with William Forsyth & Otto Stark. He worked in a stove foundry to support himself. Although people began to notice his work, continuing to be shown and winning various awards.The African American History site notes "Beginning in 1928 Hardrick exhibited … [Read more...]

A Hobbit is Born, And the Middle Earth Will Never Be the Same

According to the good folk at Wikipedia, "In a 1955 letter to W. H. Auden, Tolkien recollects that he began work on The Hobbit one day early in the 1930s, when he was marking School Certificate papers. He found a blank page. Suddenly inspired, he wrote the words, 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' By late 1932 he had finished the story and then lent the manuscript to several friends, including C. S. Lewis and a student of Tolkien's named Elaine Griffiths. In 1936, when Griffiths was … [Read more...]

Two Glorious Old Codgers Debate the Existence of God

In 1948, incidentally the year of my birth, BBC radio hosted a debate on whether God exists between Frederick Copleston and Bertrand Russell.I've long been a fan of both of these old codgers. I was a High School dropout and an autodidact, and had by good fortune stumbled upon both these worthies at an important point in my life. Russell’s An Outline of Philosophy was a very important book early on for me. Basically my introduction to the subject. And Copleston’s History of Philosophy which fo … [Read more...]

On Going to See Map Against the World

In the middle of the nineteenth century a geographer and cartographer, Kim Jeong-ho presented the imperial regent Daewongun with his most elaborate map yet, an incredibly detailed and accurate rendition of the entire Korean peninsula. What happens next is disputed. Perhaps angered by the revelations of military installations he was promptly thrown into prison, and died soon after. Or, maybe not.There are extremely few facts that are known about Kim Jeong-ho, also known by his literary … [Read more...]

GETTING TO KNOW YOU A Meditation on Spiritual Community

GETTING TO KNOW YOU A Meditation on Spiritual CommunityMitra Rahnema & James Ishmael Ford18 September 2016Unitarian Universalist Church of Long BeachJAMESAn extremely long time ago, I believe there were still corners of the globe where dinosaurs lurked I was working in a large used bookstore in San Diego. Not long before that I’d been an inmate in a Zen monastery up near Mount Shasta, so the owner of the bookstore assigned me to tend to the religion and metaphysical s … [Read more...]

A Feast for the Sibyl of the Rhine

The truth is more than one religion finds its source in what outsiders would call hallucinations. I admit I'm past suspicious of any assertions grounded, if you will, in such things.Too often what is being packaged within the claims of these grand experiences is glaringly self-serving. Actually one spiritual director I worked with said, a pretty good way to tell whether any entity that presents itself to you with a word of counsel, was if you liked the word, it probably is a lying spirit. … [Read more...]

King of the Blues

Riley B. King was born near Itta Bena, in Mississippi on this day in 1925. He first sang in his Baptist church and later for a Pentecostal church where the minister taught him the rudiments of the guitar. At twelve he saved enough money to purchase his own guitar, or, maybe, such stories don't always square a relative gifted him with the guitar. He worked fields during the day but began playing for a local radio program in the evening. And then for another. Eventually he was able to work full … [Read more...]

Saicho and the Beginnings of Japan’s Bodhisattva Ordination System

The Japanese monk Saicho was born on this day in 767. A signal figure in Japanese Buddhism he was the founder of the Tendai school in that country. Rather more important for me is how in response to the tight control of the ordination platform at Todaiji in Nara which was required for Vinaya monastic ordination, he petitioned the imperial court for permission to establish a new ten precept ordination model based in the bodhisattva precepts contained in the apocryphal Chinese Bramajala Sutra. The … [Read more...]

Eat Your Chocolate Proudly: A Smallest Meditation on International Chocolate Day

Milton Hershey was born on this day in 1857. And the National Confectioners Cartel, I mean Association have declared with the full weight of the sugar lobby that this day be celebrated as International Chocolate Day. Works for me, particularly when I learned the principal way of celebrating is through the consumption of chocolate, ideally, in large quantities.Now, there is a schism among the chocoholic community as some would rather observe this glorious holiday on July 7th, the traditional … [Read more...]

Let Go or Be Dragged

Recently someone posted a meme that made its way to my Facebook page that proclaimed, "Let go or be dragged." The attribution for this bit of wisdom was "Zen proverb." Setting aside the value of the comment for a moment, which, okay, is fine in my book, what annoys me is the attribution. I’ve been doing this Zen thing for well past forty years, and I've never seen this "proverb.” Possibly someone can come up with a citation, it wouldn’t be the first time I missed something, but in this situation … [Read more...]