WRESTLING WITH GOD: A Sermon Preached at the Ordination of Catherine Senghas to the Unitarian Universalist Ministry

WRESTLING WITH GODA Sermon preached at the Ordination of Catherine Senghas to the Unitarian Universalist Ministry31 May 2009First ParishFramingham, MassachusettsJames Ishmael FordSenior MinisterFirst Unitarian ChurchProvidence, Rhode IslandText So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is … [Read more...]

Alan Watts on How to Fake Your Way as a Spiritual Teacher

The Trickster Guruby Alan WattsI have often thought of writing a novel, similar to Thomas Mann's "Confessions of Felix Krull," which would be the life story of a charlatan making out as a master guru - either initiated in Tibet or appearing as the reincarnation of Nagarjuna, Padmasambhava, or some other great historical sage of the Orient. It would be a romantic and glamorous tale, flavored with the scent of pines in Himalayan valleys, with garden courtyards in obscure parts of Alexandria, with … [Read more...]

Gotta Serve Somebody

Gotta Serve SomebodyYou may be an ambassador to England or France,You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,You may be a socialite with a long string of pearlsBut you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeedYou're gonna have to serve somebody,Well, it may be the devil or it may be the LordBut you're gonna have to serve somebody.You might be a rock 'n' roll addict prancing on the stage,You might have drugs at your command, women in a … [Read more...]

Life, Death and Everything

Yesterday while driving to a wedding rehearsal I received a call telling me the member of the congregation in intensive care was worsening. After the rehearsal, such sweet young people, charming, smart, fun to be around; I dashed to the hospital. There his wife said that it was time, she'd consulted with the family and their doctors and they were scheduling removing the breathing tube - for today.So, today the tube comes out and we will wait.This afternoon I conduct that wedding. Tomorrow … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Dolores…

Dolores Hope turned one hundred today.Bob's widow.Bob was probably my parent's favorite comedian. And therefore on our little black and white a ubiquitous presence...He and Bing and that whole gang still have a place in my dreams.Here's a bit of a retrospective (together with one throw away joke that is palpably racist) that includes both Bob & his beloved Dolores... … [Read more...]

Buddha in Glory

Center of all centers, core of cores,almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--all this universe, to the furthest starsall beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.Now you feel how nothing clings to you;your vast shell reaches into endless space,and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.Illuminated in your infinite peace,a billion stars go spinning through the night,blazing high above your head.But in you is the presence thatwill be, when all the stars are dead.Rainer Maria Rilketrs by Stephen … [Read more...]

Recoiling at California’s Supreme Court Decision on Prop 8

While I think today's decision by California's Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8 was more than unfortunate, I am heartened by the fact they did not invalidate the more than eighteen thousand marriages already performed. I'm also glad faculty and staff from my old seminary joined with other religious leaders in the protests that followed and should have followed. Our Unitarian Universalist president Dr William Sinkford issued this statement. "I am deeply troubled that the discrimination … [Read more...]

A Bibliography for Zen Students (Draft)

       Draft   BOUNDLESS WAY ZEN   A BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR ZEN STUDENTS   Two points. This bibliography isn’t meant to be exhaustive. Nor, that every book on this list needs to be read by a serious Zen student. Still, that serious student, particularly anyone pursuing ordination as a Zen priest within the Boundless Way, will find these books an important beginning to the intellectual side of Zen study. Also, one more point: this is very much a work in progress. Suggestions for addition or deletion ( … [Read more...]

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882)The clip is from RWE.org, a site devoted to the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Worth a visit...Thank you, Boston Unitarian, for the reminder! … [Read more...]

Was Alan Watts an Independent Catholic Bishop? An Historical Footnote

For several years following my sojourn as a Zen Buddhist monk and before I found a happy home blending Zen Buddhism and Unitarian Universalism, while I was still trying to find my way I fell in with what for a lack of a better term I've called ecclesiastical gnostics as a subset of something larger often called "Independent Catholicism." The far better term coined in recent years by the scholar participant John Plummer is "the Independent Sacramental" movement, particularly in light of the fact … [Read more...]