Rains are Coming

As I write this I understand a major rain storm is rolling toward us.When I count my blessings, living here in New England provides many of them. I love the culture. I love the history. I love the countryside. I love the cities. The roaring Atlantic ocean breaking on the shores of Maine. Northampton and the Berkshires. The Freedom trail. The beauty of Vermont and New Hampshire. Connecticut. The Cape.Nearly all thoughts of living in Providence and Rhode Island are a delight to … [Read more...]

A Note to Senator Clinton

Today I sent the following to Senator Hillary Clinton at her Congressional email addressDear Senator Clinton,Please, for the sake of the party, and vastly more importantly, for the sake of the nation; it is time for you to step aside and let Senator Obama begin his national campaign.You have fought tooth and nail.And you came within a hair's breadth of winning.Your future is bright. You will continue to serve the nation and the world in many ways. Perhaps as the party's vice-presidential … [Read more...]

A Brief Thought About Science Fiction and Particularly Robert Heinlein

Part of the whole process of "search," engaging in the process that hopefully leads a minister within our liberal tradition to a "call," that is employment, is lots and lots of self-revelation. One thing I've said a lot in a lot of different contexts, including here at this blog, but out of various interactions with folk along the way to that election this past Sunday to serve at the First Unitarian Church of Providence, really, really hit me: was how much I owed Science Fiction for what I call … [Read more...]

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was born on this day in 1861. Tagore was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for literature, in 1913.Of particular interest to me is how following his father, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, a Hindu-reform movement inspired in part by both English and American Unitarianism, Tagore would be closely associated with this spiritual movement for the whole of his life.(By the bye, as frequent visitors to this blog probably know, I'm quite fond of Wikipedia, using it … [Read more...]

Remaining Agnostic About Agnostic Buddhism

The following is an essay written by Victor Lapuszynski. Vic is an old friend and Dharma companion with both a strong practice and a reflective habit. Here he shared a note taking umbrage with my Batchelorphilia, making some very strong points. I think they should be considered by anyone engaged in the conversation about the shape of Batchelor's Agnostic Buddhism.I had thought to write something to you in response to an older post, but procrastinated. Then you mentioned Batchelor again, and … [Read more...]

Phoebe Ann Coffin Hanaford

Phoebe Ann Coffin Hanaford was born on this day in 1829.One of the first women ordained as a Universalist minister, she was the first ordained in New England. Raised a Quaker, Hanaford was a successful writer, and was active as an abolitionist and suffragist. She was ordained by the Hingham Universalist church in 1868.Her first pulpit was in Waltham, Massachusetts, then she accepted a call to New Haven, Connecticut where she also served as chaplain for the Connecticut Legislature. Later she … [Read more...]

The Fifth of May

As a native Californian for me the fifth of May is Cinco de Mayo. It is generally thought of in the circles in which I move as "Mexican Independence," and so comparable to the 4th of July. In fact this secular holiday is something more like St Patrick's Day, originally a relatively minor celebration in Ireland, but becoming a celebration of Irish culture among the expatriate community largely here in the States and eventually making it's way back to the mother country as something big. Just … [Read more...]

Breaking News

Jan and I have just walked in the door returning home from our adventure in Providence.This morning the congregation of the First Unitarian Church of Providence elected me their seventeenth (senior) minister since they gathered in 1720 (some very long ministries in that count...).I will begin sometime in August.Well, I'm swimmingly deliriously tired.And about to collapse onto the bed... … [Read more...]


SAYING YES TO LIFE, EVEN THE HARD PARTSA Sermon byJames Ishmael FordDelivered on the4th of May, 2008at theFirst Unitarian Church of ProvidenceTextThis past week I facilitated a service at the cremation of a child who lived four hours. I first wrote “of a child who lived only four hours.” But I realized that what I was feeling and wanted to express is that there was no need for the modifier “only.”The parents both identify as Buddhist so I found myself gathering materials out of the Zen traditi … [Read more...]

Candidating: Sunday

Please consider this part one.After worship this morning, Jan & I will retire to a local coffee shop. The congregation will fortify themselves with some coffee or tea and perhaps light snacks, then return to the meeting house.At which point there will be a congregational meeting with a single item of business.(While I'm nervous as a cat I'm also conscious as to how this congregational meeting and the town meeting, which in old New England, was the same thing, are deep roots of our American … [Read more...]