The Stage Opens: Julian is Declared Emperor

  It was on this day, the 3rd of November, in the year 361 of our common era that the Emperor Constantius II died. In his will he name his cousin Julian his sole “legitimate” heir. A golden child of the Constantinian dynasty, and ultimately that last child of the dynasty, Julian had previously served as Caesar of the western provinces. His own army had proclaimed him Augustus 360, and with the death of Constantius and with that will, Julian… Read more

Those Zen Christians: George Herbert Puts His Finger on the Great Matter

Okay maybe he would never think of himself as a “Zen Christian.” But, I have trouble not doing so. The poet and Anglican priest George Herbert sings into our hearts: I struck the board, and cry’d, ‘No more; I will abroad.’ What, shall I ever sigh and pine? My lines and life are free; free as the rode, Loose as the wind, as large as store. Shall I be still in suit? Have I no harvest but a thorn To… Read more

Saint Death: Noticing a Feast for Santa Muerte, Our Lady of the Holy Death

      In the Christian calendar today is the feast of All Saints. However, within some circles, particularly those called “folk Catholics” this is also the feast of Santa Muerte, Saint Death, or Holy Death, or most formally Our Lady of the Holy Death. Santa Muerte is a female saint of a folk sort. She is certainly in no way official. And possibly, and in my view pretty obviously, actually she is a full on deity. She is the… Read more

Save a Ghost: A Zen Meditation for Halloween

        Today is the 31st of October. In the Western calendar today is Halloween. While in my corner of the world Halloween is basically about small children, and sometimes not so small putting on disguises and hoping to extort candy from their neighbors and for some adults costume and alcohol driven parties, at the same time there is something thing more important to our human psyche being offered. This is my small reflection on that other offering. Halloween… Read more

Recalling the Zen Street Priest Junsei Jana Drakka

    I only met her once. But, I’ve admired her for ages. And now I’ve learned that this past Friday evening Jana Junsei Drakka Sensei died. She’d just turned sixty-five. She had been suffering from lung cancer, and had been in hospice since late July. Junsei Sensei was a street priest, one of the first American Zen priests to take our ministry to the homeless. Junsei spent her Zen life ministering to the lost and left behind. Her ministry,… Read more

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head: a Zen Reflection

        One of my favorite koans was anthologized in the Biyan Lu, in Japanese the Hekiganroku, in English, the Blue Cliff Record. Case 46 in the collection of one hundred koans, “Jingqing’s Voice of the Raindrops” in my paraphrase: Jingqing asked a student of the way, “What is that sound outside?” “Dripping rain,” the student replied. “Jingqing responded, “Ordinary people are always topsy-turvy. They chase after things and tumble into delusions. With that they pursue things beyond their… Read more

All in It Together: Zen & the Art of Asking Questions

      The church with which I am affiliated is undergoing a ministerial transition. And, I was one of several people asked what questions should potential interim ministers be asked. Me, I have little use for the usual questions. Some may be important, like “what three or five things you want to accomplish during your tenure.” It is good to be on the same page. But, others, like “what is your greatest weakness,” only invite obfuscation and sales. In… Read more

Oryoki: The Zen Retreat Meal

              A friend just posted this video. I laughed. But, I realized perhaps this is only really funny for those of us who have done this ritual. It certainly can be fussy. And, yes, controlling. But, then within the confines of the Zen retreat, something else is also going on. Kind of a both and, and, and… Oryoki means “just enough.” For most practicing here in the West it is a central aspect of Zen… Read more

Zen Buddhism: An Evening With James Myoun Ford

South Coast Interfaith Council & the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Religion 101 Series presents: Zen Buddhism People, Practices, & Beliefs With James Zeno Myoun Ford Soto Zen priest & teacher Thursday, October 26, 7:00pm LDS Institute of Religion at California State University at Long Beach 6360 E State University Dr Long Beach, CA 90815 All are Welcome! Free to the Community! Donations Greatly Appreciated Read more

A Feast for Nestorius: Maybe Heretic, But, in the Dream Time, Founder of My Buddhist-Christian Church

          As I understand it, within some branches of the Eastern family of churches, today is celebrated as a festival in honor of Nestorius, sometime archbishop and Patriarch of Constantinople. He would later be considered a heresiarch, advocating, perhaps, maybe, some say, a hard division within Jesus’s heart between the human person and the divine. And as such the putative founder of “Nestorianism,” which together with the Orthodox and the “Oriental Orthodox.”is a third stream of continuing ancient… Read more

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