Good News from the Fraters

The smoke billowing from the chimney at Sudbury's Wayside Inn is white.At today's one hundredth seventh business meeting of the Fraters of the Wayside Inn, we increased our active number to our traditional twenty-one with the election of the Reverend Frater Carolyn Patierno (all fraters are fraters - what can I say?) minister of the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation in New London, Connecticut.Congrats Frater Patierno.For those unfamiliar with the arcane habits of the fraters, there … [Read more...]

Back to the Wayside Inn

Well, here I am, once again, in Sudbury, at the renowned Wayside Inn, for the one hundred and seventh (I believe as I type this out) gathering of the Fraters of the Wayside Inn.We straggled in yesterday and last night, at least most of us. A few are not here because of illness or the illness of a spouse. One is away on sabbatical.Some fresh or refreshed, some bedraggled (me, with my back acting up in unpleasant ways), but however we've gotten here, we have arrived. The program (bolstered with … [Read more...]


LIKE SOMEONE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT REACHING BEHIND HER HEAD FOR THE PILLOW What Buddhism Teaches Me About Being a Unitarian Universalist MinisterA Sermon byJames Ishmael Ford25 January 2009First Unitarian ChurchProvidence, Rhode IslandText Yunyan asked Daowu, ‘How does the Bodhisattva Guanyin use those many hands and eyes?’ Daowu answered, ‘It is like someone in the middle of the night reaching behind her head for the pillow.’ Yunyan said, ‘I understand.’ Daowu asked, ‘How do you understand … [Read more...]

The Kind of Rumor I Like to Hear - New YorkFriday January 23, 2009Lama Surya Das passed on this fascinating bit. Richard Blum, who is the husband of California Senator Diane Feinstein, also happens to be a major supporter of Buddhism. He was up on the platform during the swearing in.Beforehand, he told Barack Obama that he had with him a white khata -- a silk Tibetan scarf -- given him by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Blum described what happened next in a letter to an associate of the Dalai Lama:"I offered it to … [Read more...]

Pope Embraces Holocaust Denier?

Not my usual territory, but I find it interesting that the pope appears to be moving resolutely to reconciling with the ultra-traditionalist Society of Pius X, apparently lifting the excommunication of its four bishops. This, of course, includes the notorious antisemite and Holocaust denier, Bishop Richard Williamson. What exactly this is supposed to mean, and what outsiders should divine, is not at all clear.But, it does feel creepy...Written a bit later: It turns out the deed has actually been … [Read more...]

The Scandal of E-Sangha

For ages now I've heard complaints from folk within the larger Zen sangha that the enormous Buddhist web portal E-Sangha runs a quiet reign of intolerance enforcing a very narrow view of Buddhist orthodoxy, something many, maybe most actual Zen practitioners who post eventually run afoul of... A Zen teaching colleague blew the whistle on this some time ago. But, while I really admire him, he also has a bit of a mouth and I thought perhaps his penchant for over the top comments earned him his … [Read more...]

This one’s not about death

In a sense this is a follow up on my previous blog entry, "Every Day is a Good Day," the teisho by young Agnes.My friend Holly sends me poetry. The following was sent under the heading "This one's not about death!" Of course, she was trying to trick me. It's all about death. And all about life. And all about passion. Each thing in its moment, one hundred percent.In our culture we seem to miss one hundred percent. Mostly we trivialize it with meaningless terms like one hundred and twenty percent … [Read more...]

Every Day is a Good Day

Teisho by Agnes … [Read more...]

Susan Blackmore on Zen

I'm deeply interested in the work of the British psychologist Sue Blackmore. Early in her life she took an interest in parapsychology, and put together a doctoral program in order to study it. By the time she finished her studies she had determined there was so little evidence in support of the major claims of parapsychology that she felt comfortable rejecting the field.She has continued to apply this relentless looking to a number of areas. Along the way she has become a leading authority on … [Read more...]

Yo Yo Ma at the Inauguration

Lynn Ungar is to my mind far and away the best poet among the fraternity and sorority of UU ministers. Most of us think if we have a moderately good image and arrange it poem like it's a poem. Others simply arrange homilies that way.Not so the Reverend Ms Ungar. She sings...Sadly her lovely little book Blessing the Bread is out of print. But every once in a while she writes something new.And here is one!Yo Yo Ma at the InaugurationHe has to be cold, on the marble icebergof those steps, but how … [Read more...]