An Ode to Joy

It was on this day in 1824 that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premiered in the Theater am Kaminertor, in Vienna, Austria.There is some question about who actually directed, Michael Umlaut was on the bill as such, but Beethoven who at this time was almost completely deaf stood on the stage with him also directing the music playing in his mind. Accounts vary as to who the orchestra attended to.Wikipedia tells us "the public received the musical hero with the utmost respect and sympathy, … [Read more...]

Of a Sack of Rome, Paradigm Shifts, Post & Neo Fascism, and Just a Hint of Hope for the Future

According to the good folk at Wikipedia the sack of Rome that occurred on this day in 1527 is considered at least by some to mark the end of the Renaissance. This battle and the ensuing sack was a nasty affair, where notably some one hundred, forty-seven Swiss guards died in the fighting, which allowed the pope, Clement VII, to escape.Of course such markers are arbitrary and usually not the actual event precipitating something as great a cultural paradigm shift as great as that from the … [Read more...]

Hurray! It’s Cinco de Mayo!

A while back I saw a meme on Facebook promising that this year Cinco de Mayo would fall on Taco Tuesday. Mildly amusing. And wrong on a couple of levels. First, obviously, as Cinco de Mayo falls on a Thursday this year. And, me, I feel some discomfort in the holiday becoming the Mexican St Patrick's Day, with all the ills that follow that sad degeneration of someone's largely religious holiday into shamrocks and green beer. Except now with sombreros and margaritas.Don't get me wrong, lift a … [Read more...]

Two Lives. One Life. A Small Meditation on Attribution, the Real, and that Wild Ride to the Great Ocean

On Facebook I just ran across the epigram, "We live two lives. The second begins when we discover we have one life." It's attributed to Confucius. I found the sentiment compelling, and in the very same draw of my breath I felt suspicious of the attribution.A bit of googling lead to several versions of the the text. Sometimes "we." Sometimes "I." Sometimes, "you." But the drift remains the same. And it consistently is attributed to the ancient Chinese sage. However, never with an actual … [Read more...]

Watching A Hologram for the King

I'm still struggling with what to call my comments on the movies that Jan & I go to see. I'm shy of the word "review," because it implies a level of expertise I do not bring to the table. I'm inclined to the term "appreciations." But, not completely satisfied with that, and in fact I would be happy for a better term.I particularly feel the complexity within being someone who likes movies but lacks a professional eye as I write about my experience watching "A Hologram for the King." Up to … [Read more...]

Anne Boleyn is Arrested, and a Small But Important Spiritual Lesson is Suggested

It was on this day in 1536 that the Queen of England, Anne Boleyn, was arrested, charged with treason, oh, and also incest, and adultery, and just to make sure, witchcraft. Seventeen days later she lost her head.I'm not exactly sure what the take away should be for us as we note this day. But, I think I'm going with don't cross absolute monarchs.Oh, and maybe don't let anyone be an absolute monarch. Even yourself. You know that one that lives inside your head and wears the Napoleon … [Read more...]

SETTING A PLACE FOR ELIJAH: Welcoming Into the Circle as Spiritual Practice

SETTING A PLACE FOR ELIJAHWelcoming into the Circle as Spiritual PracticeJames Ishmael Ford1 May 2016Pacific Unitarian Church Rancho Palos Verdes, CaliforniaNot long ago Vivian Hao and I were sitting in a little coffee shop in Long Beach talking about church growth. A subject that you might imagine is close to my heart. In that particular conversation we were discussing communities that we as Unitarian Universalists have not reached out to, but should be thinking about. … [Read more...]

Everything is Nothing, With a Twist

Wisdom from Kurt Vonnegut.In case you were wondering.Of course, we find it in older texts, as well. From the Heart Sutra we hear it all summarized as "Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. Form is exactly emptiness. Emptiness is exactly form."And, if all this remains confusing, perhaps the following video clip from the delightful "I (heart) Huckabee" will help... … [Read more...]

Visiting the Chinese Theatre and Taking a Peek Into our American Heart

Jan and I are settling happily into our Los Angeles, or more accurately as people have come to say while we were tramping around the country, SoCal lives. Last evening it was sufficiently cool that we closed the sliding door to the balcony of our condo. First time in a while. (Think of this as a small shout out to our friends in New England...)We've also begun to figure out the tours we provide for friends passing through. So far the staple sights remain close in to Long Beach. Drives along … [Read more...]

Hair, Glorious Hair

My friend Larry Ladd pointed out that it was today in 1968 that the musical Hair opened on Broadway.While I think attempts to capture cultural moments through such things as a musical are inevitably compromised - in this case professional writers trying capture the rise of the Hippie phenomenon is a bit like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. What is amazing is how they came so amazingly close to something real.My coming of age, or a pretty interesting part of it. For good and for … [Read more...]