Johnny Cash at Folsom


It was on this day in 1968 that Johnny Cash played live at Folsom State Prison. He was well received... … [Read more...]

On Reading a Sermon by the Minister of My Church from a Hundred Years Ago

Augustus Menden Lord

Earlier today I was rummaging through a little pile of sermons delivered by my predecessor as minister of the church I serve, the First Unitarian Church of Providence, the Reverend Dr Augustus Mendon Lord (the picture shown here is from his portrait which hangs in one of our church's parlors), who served here in Providence between 1890 and 1931. I've often wondered about someone with the name Augustus Lord, and what that must have meant in his life. Given that as I read into his sermons a little … [Read more...]

THE JESUS SUTRAS Some Early Morning Thoughts on What Might Have Been, and Perhaps What Could Yet Be

THE JESUS SUTRAS Some Early Morning Thoughts on What Might Have Been and Perhaps What Could Yet BeJames Ishmael Ford11 January 2015First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextCompassionate Father, Radiant Son, Pure Wind King - three in one.Supreme King, Will of Ages, Compassionate joyous lamb Loving all who suffer Fearless as you strive for us Free us of the karma of our lives Bring us back to our original nature Delivered from all danger.Great … [Read more...]

Possible Christian Influences on Early Japanese Buddhism: Footnote Found While Researching for Something Else Entirely

Nestorian Chinese Bishop

I stumbled on this while researching for this coming Sunday's sermon on the so-called Jesus Sutras, early Chinese Nestorian Christian texts.Turns out that in 782 an Indian Buddhist monk named Prajna came to the Chinese imperial capital Chang'an. He carried with him a collection of Sanskrit Buddhist texts. He found an unlikely collaborator in doing his translations in the person of a Nestorian bishop, Adam. The two embarked on a twenty year long project. The results of their efforts was a … [Read more...]

A Small Rant About Religious Fundamentalism


I find myself haunted by the horrific storming and murders at the humor magazine Charlie Hebdo's offices in Paris reported in today's news.First, for those who ask why Muslims aren't taking public stands in reaction to such terrible things, in fact they are. The press for many complicated reasons just don't give the larger Muslim community's statements the play they really need. At least that's been so in the past. And I see little reason to believe things are going to change in the near … [Read more...]

WHEN IN DOUBT, TELL THE TRUTH: Mark Twain and the Authentic Life


WHEN IN DOUBT, TELL THE TRUTH A Meditation on Mark Twain and Living an Authentic Life in Times that Call us to Be Anything ButJames Ishmael Ford4 January 2014First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextLet us now consider the real God, the genuine God, the great God, the sublime and supreme God, the authentic Creator of the real universe, whose remotenesses are visited by comets only comets unto which incredible distant Neptune is merely an out post, a Sandy Hook to … [Read more...]

So, Why January 1st? A Micro History Lesson

butt trumpet

At least one source asserts the earliest record of a new year festival comes to us from Mesopotamia, some four thousand years ago. It marked the vernal equinox, so took place in mid-March. It appears the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and the Persians began their new year with the fall equinox in September, while the Greeks liked the winter solstice at the end of December. The Chinese New Year is a celebration of the Spring, although the date is arrived at through a complex mix of lunar and solar … [Read more...]

A Couple of Idle Thoughts as the Hours Tick Down on 2014, With Just a Little Finger Wagging

Happy New Year

I understand that Arthur Guinness started up his business after signing a nine thousand year lease on an unused Dublin brewery on this day in 1759.So far, so good...I kind of like audacious.And, frankly, after years like the one just passed, looking forward a little audacious may be particularly in order, at least if we want to be hopeful.And, I do, and so, well, here are some of my more audacious hopes for this new year.May our American dialogue about race and the reality … [Read more...]

Twenty Minutes: A Meditation on Tests, & Failure, & the Long, Long Path of Being Human


I find my thoughts going to the tragic accident in Maryland where a man on a bicycle was struck and killed by a person driving an automobile.The case is still under investigation. But there are a few facts on the ground. Most important was that the driver left the scene. But then returned twenty minutes later in the midst of the investigation.The other fact that at least caught my attention was how the driver of the automobile was an Episcopalian bishop.At this moment there are no … [Read more...]

The Religion We Really Need.

child blowing planet bubbles

I see that it was on this day in 1170 that Thomas Becket, one time tool of the king Henry II, and later thorn in his side in an interesting if generally antique argument over the relationship between church and state where neither were particularly concerned for the actual people under the thumb of state & church died a bloody death, possibly following a casual remark from the king.At the same time on my Facebook feed I noticed an article about the rise of the new atheism linked and with a … [Read more...]