Sinead’s Hand

And even more to ask here in the States...Rhode Island next!Thank you, Michelle, for the pointer... … [Read more...]

THE BALLAD OF TOM JOAD: A Reflection on That One Big Soul

THE BALLAD OF TOM JOAD A Reflection on That One Big Soul A Sermon byJames Ishmael Ford 6 September 2009 First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode Island Like all true stories, there are more than a couple of versions to how Woody Guthrie got around to writing the Ballad of Tom Joad. In fact Woody is responsible for a couple of those versions, himself. The gist of it appears to be that Woody, who was not famous for wide reading, one day went to a Manhattan theater and saw John Ford’s m … [Read more...]

A Brief Rumination on the Question Does Some Part of Us Survive Death?

In response to my brief and fragmentary rumination on souls, an old and dear friend wrote me a note which included a spelling correction for detritus...She then went on to write:I recall Robert Thurman debunking the idea of reincarnation as wish fulfillment. He said, "What if 'no reincarnation' is actually the wish fulfillment?" He was pointing out the Western idea that we can eventually escape the consequences of our actions, and if all else fails, you just die and start over. Vs. continuing … [Read more...]

Soul & God & Missing Points: Detritus from this Coming Sunday’s Sermon

Can't use it, but also, didn't really want to just throw it away.So...Back when I was smarter, maybe that was last week, I liked to tell people that the real problem in religion isn’t whether we believe in a God that acts in the world or not, but whether we believe we have a separate soul or not. I, I’m embarrassed to say, am inclined from that preface to go into a rant about the problems with the ideas of soul that separate us from the world. There are, I find, many. And, sadly, if you know m … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, San Marino!

On this day in 301 (that's right, three digits) what would come to be called the Most Serene Republic of San Marino was founded by a stonemason and later saint, Saint Marinus (whose feast day is to my mind quite appropriately celebrated on this day rather than on the more traditional date of his death). Founded as a republic, this microstate completely surrounded by Italy is the oldest continuous republic in the world...Pretty cool... … [Read more...]

Briefest Thought About Frederick Douglass

Wikipedia tells us that on this day in 1838, "(d)ressed in a sailor's uniform and carrying identification papers provided by a Free Black seaman, future abolitionist Frederick Douglass boards a train in Maryland on his way to freedom from slavery."One of the great American heroes... … [Read more...]

Thinking a Little About Buddhist Movies

There is a tiny but growing oeuvre of Buddhist themed film available here in the West. Right off the top I think of Hollywood blockbusters like Seven Years in Tibet,Kundunand Little Buddha (my favorite of these, but for which at this moment I cannot find a trailer...).It is interesting these big flicks illustrate Tibetan Buddhist themes, particularly the idea of rebirth which in the Tibetan telling and the Hollywood interpretations looks a lot like reincarnation, a controversial perspective in a … [Read more...]

The Ghosts of September 1st

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A Small Thought About a Purple Heart

The other day I found my father's VFW cap. It carries the ribbons from his war years. Among them is a Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters. I know lots about how he got them. Among other things I spent my childhood watching the shrapnel working its way out of various parts of his body...Now his life wasn't much before the war.And he threw most of the rest of his life away following the war, and in that throwing away caused much pain for his family.It took a long time to forgive him. … [Read more...]

Edward Kennedy’s Legacy

Thank you, Tony, for the pointer... … [Read more...]