Happy Birthday, Mr President

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A Postcard From the Future

long beach

Walking around downtown Long Beach I realized this is the future.Edgy. Dangerous.Colorful.Chaotic.A mix of energy and despair, people succeeding and people crushed. And downtown everyone living cheek-by-jowl, the same block with high-end lofts, middle-income condos, and inexpensive apartments. In places trash in the street, and not far away, pocket public gardens.A young woman sporting a brightly colored hijab pushing a baby in a perambulator, a young man with dreads … [Read more...]

And a Blessed Lughnasadh to You!


Today is Lughnasadah, one of the four great Gaelic seasonal festivals.I'm not sure how much is really known about its origins, although it is almost without a doubt a harvest festival, at least in part.Named for a high king and later a deity, the festival has collapsed for many, particularly modern neo-pagans with the English Lammas, and marks that spot half way, more or less, between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.Early on observances of the moment included offerings … [Read more...]

Happy birthday, Gary!

gary lewis

Gary Lewis of Gary Lewis & the Playboys was born on this day in 1945... … [Read more...]

Joshu Sasaki Dies

joshu sasaki

I’ve just learned that Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi died at 4:25 pm, this Sunday, the 27th of July, 2014, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He was one hundred and seven years old.Sasaki Roshi was the founder and abbot of Mount Baldy Zen Center as well as head of the Rinzai-ji organization of Zen centers.He was the most credentialed Zen teacher of the many Japanese priests who have come to live and teach in the West. However, his teaching career in the west was followed by whispers a … [Read more...]

A Zen Invitation into the Ring of Fire

francis xavier

According to the good folk at Wikipedia this is the day in 1549 that the Jesuit Francis Xavier's ship arrived in Japan.When I went to the google machine for some details I saw near the top of the page for "Francis" and "Xavier" and "Zen," a link to a video clip that claims the good father actually converted to Zen Buddhism. A sweet fantasy that might appeal both to those within the Zen Buddhist community that always like another fellow traveler, and those within the more traditional forms of … [Read more...]

The Master of Irony Is Released from Prison

O Henry

It was on this day in 1901 that William Sydney Porter was released from prison.A former pharmacist, bank teller, and sometime journalist, it was Porter's work as a bank teller that led to his indictment for embezzlement. He fled to Honduras, returning to America only when he learned his wife whom he had planned on joining him in Central America, was diagnosed with tuberculosis and that she was dying. He returned where we was left free on bail. Porter's wife died in 1897. The following year … [Read more...]

A Sign from the Past, a Sign for the Future

merchant marine

I've been asked to read the manuscript for a new book about the formation of convert Zen in the West and its principal personalities, and, to write an afterword.As I'm reading I found an interesting line about how when Gary Snyder dropped out of Reed College he joined the merchant marine and with that the marine cooks and stewards union. It was 1947. There was a sign in the union hall that announced "No Red-baiting; no queer-baiting; no race-baiting. First offense $100 fine. Second offense, … [Read more...]

What Should We Think About Death? A Humanist Public Service Message Narrated by Stephen Fry

humanist logo

Post by British Humanist Association. … [Read more...]

Mother of Exiles

American poet, Emma Lazarus (1849-1887).

Today marks the one hundred and sixty-fifth birthday of the American poet Emma Lazarus. I've said this before, but I believe it worth repeating. There are a tiny handful of documents that sing to the world our American dream. Thomas Jefferson's preamble to the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. Perhaps Henry Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience. Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms section of his 1941 State of the Union speech.And, … [Read more...]