Charlie Wilson’s War

Yesterday, after attending a friend's mother's memorial service we returned to the house where I took apart the first half of Sunday's sermon and feeling a bit desperate completely rewrote it.After dinner Jan & I took off to the movies where we saw Charlie Wilson's War about the Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's epic struggle to fund the Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation in the 1980s. As the story unfolds it remains shadowed by the knowledge of what would follow. The film is based on a … [Read more...]

How to Have a Good Next Life

HOW TO HAVE A GOOD NEXT LIFE Seven Resolutions for a New YearJames Ishmael Ford30 December 2007First Unitarian SocietyWest Newton, MassachusettsText Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet, on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks Compassion on this world Yours are the feet With which He walks to do good. Your are the hands With which He blesses all the world Yours are the hands, yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes, you are His body. Christ has no body now but … [Read more...]

A Gentle Reminder

In a lifetime where as a child I saw the segregated schools of cousins in Mississippi, and used the outhouse of my grandparents, the 2008 presidential race is not an unsung story. Yet one cannot sing enough about it.Going by the latest polls in the key early caucus or primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, either a black man or a white woman will win the Democratic nomination. It is happily hilarious to see the black man, Barack Obama, tout the white women who support him and … [Read more...]

Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto1953-2007Hard not to think of women past and present who have stood up against the status quo and the terrible price they sometimes pay... … [Read more...]

John Assheton and the Dawn of English Unitarianism

It appears the priest John Assheton was the first person tried in England for anti-trinitarianism on this day in 1548.From this distance it is hard to tell if he was a Socinian or an Arian. Probably his views conflated these perspectives, although he did seem to argue that Jesus was a human being and not some aspect of God. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer gave him the alternative of continuing to hold his view publicly and being burned at the stake or abjuring his heresy. The Reverend Assheton chose … [Read more...]


BOXING DAY a sermon byJames Ishmael Ford preached on26 December 1999 at the Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Chandler, ArizonaToday I want to talk about the mystery that is service. I want to suggest it is a secret need of every human heart. We are called to serve and to be served. The wonder of that vast web of relationships within which we find ourselves tangled is a mystery of service and intimacy.When we serve one another we find the fulfillment of our humanity. When we understand the … [Read more...]

Happy Christmas

Youtube offers a number of versions of John Lennon's classic "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" including various covers. Some versions come with truly horrific visuals of contemporary and recent war and its victims - an irony worth recalling, and obviously part of the song's point. Personally, however, for the most part I prefer a somewhat more subtle touch.Most importantly, I find an invitation in the song that shouldn't be overwhelmed by the sad and obvious complexity of our human condition. At … [Read more...]

Shel Silverstein’s Snowball

'Snowball'I made myself a snowballAs perfect as could be.I thought I'd keep it as a petAnd let it sleep with me.I made it some pajamasAnd a pillow for its head.Then last night it ran away,But first it wet the bed.-- Shel Silverstein Somehow I find a touch of Zen in this... Thank you Panhala & Linda for pointing it out!Web archive of Panhala postings at To subscribe to … [Read more...]

Ruminations on Christmas

The Winter holy days are relentless in their march.Bodhi Day has come and gone.Hanukkah is over.The Solstice has turned.And now, for our Western culture the most common of the observances of that turning point and of human hope waits pregnant. Our First Unitarian Society in Newton will observe this evening with two services of lessons and carols. (And as PC as we and I normally are, tonight the words for the hymns come from a Methodist hymnal...)For reasons I can't completely say I found my mind … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush was born on this day in 1745.No simple list can encompass this complex and significant figure in American history. A physician who combined a curiosity about the workings of the human mind that earned him the name "father of American psychiatry" with anachronistic views such as holding on to blood letting as much of medical science was moving away from it. He mixed creative with frankly bizarre treatments for illnesses mental and physical. His theories about race were particularly … [Read more...]