Why I’m Afraid of Christians: Or the Briefest Meditation on Wishing Happy Holidays to All

god hates

Okay, I’m not afraid of all Christians. Some even, as people like to say, are my best friends. And I mean it...But.I just saw my first Christmas advertisement on television.And it sets me to thinking.Yes, never a good thing.But now that Halloween is over and we are quickly skipping over Thanksgiving and rushing madly into the Christmas season I find myself thinking of the seasonal outrage of so many of those in the majority with those who notice there are other religions with … [Read more...]

A VOICE IN THE PULPIT: Or, Why This Preacher is Happy to Advise People on How to Vote their Faith


(Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Politics in the Pulpit. Read other perspectives here.)“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”The point here is not to protect the state from the church, but to protect the many churches from the state, to prevent co-option of one religion into the state. This is often missed in the contemporary dialogue, particu … [Read more...]

ONCE I WAS A SKELETON A Homily for Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls


ONCE I WAS A SKELETONA Homily for Halloween, All Saints, and All SoulsJames Ishmael Ford2 November 2014First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandFor us, as children, mostly, of the west, we have inherited the observation of this turning of our planet between autumn and winter within an amazing collection of opportunities to notice. But these days it’s mostly that triple holiday of Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls.We Unitarian Universalists tend to join them i … [Read more...]

Your Brain on Zen

Jim Austin the cognitive scientist and Zen practitioner was passing through Providence on his way to one of the Dalai Lama’s brain science conferences to make a presentation. He is a Brown alum, his daughter lives in the vicinity and he’s both an old friend and a friend of our sangha.So, instead of our usual Monday evening sit this week, we set up a lecture.(The Unitarians who love a good conversation about meditation came in droves.)Jim made his presentation on the relationship bet … [Read more...]

A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE BARELY RELIGIOUS A Meditation on the Currents of a New Humanism


A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE BARELY RELIGIOUSA Meditation on the Currents of a New HumanismJames Ishmael Ford26 October 2014First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextBlessed are the man and the woman Who have grown beyond their greed And have put an end to their hatred And no longer nourish illusions. But they delight in the way things are And keep their hearts open, day and night. They are like trees planted near flowing rivers, Which bear fruit when they are … [Read more...]

Renowned Brain Researcher & Zen Practitioner Dr James Austin to Speak at the First Unitarian Church of Providence


Neurologist, researcher, and Zen practitioner, James Austin, MD, will be speaking at the First Unitarian Church of Providence this Monday evening. Professor Austin is perhaps best known as the author of the award winning Zen and the Brain (MIT Press, 1998). His most recent work is Zen Brain Horizons: Toward a Living Zen.Come for this illuminating, perhaps we should say enlightening talk on the relationship between brain research and Zen practice by a leading scholar and long time … [Read more...]

The National Women’s Rights Convention Gathers

lucy stone

It was on this day in 1850 that the first National Women's Rights Convention gathered in Worcester, Massachusetts.Two years earlier Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others had organized a gathering at Seneca Falls, in the Fingerlakes region of upstate New York. At that gathering they agreed there should be a regular gathering focusing on the issues of women's rights, with a particular emphasis on obtaining full voting rights.The organizers will forever be remembered as part of … [Read more...]

Soto Zen Buddhist Association Conference, 2014

SZBA 2014

The 2014 Biennial Gathering of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, OregonPhotographs by Hoko Karnegis … [Read more...]

JULIA & SAMUEL A Meditation on Liberal Religion in an Age of Crisis

JULIA & SAMUEL A Meditation on Liberal Religion in an Age of CrisisJames Ishmael Ford19 October 2014First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextI went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, 'I must get up and write these … [Read more...]

Time To Observe International Necktie Day

beau brummell

Most of my male friend decry the very idea of the tie. "The symbol of my subjection to the Man," moans one friend. Me, I've always liked ties. In addition to my regular collection, I have bow ties, and even a nice little stash of bola ties from my days in our great American Southwest, waiting patiently until I age into (I believe the line is 80) being allowed to wear 'em outside of Arizona or New Mexico.My feeling has been the tie is about the only article of clothing in a man's wardrobe … [Read more...]