May 25, 2023

          Today marks the 220th anniversary of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s birth. Me, I consider this a signal event in the spiritual development of North America. And, who knows, perhaps the world. He was a central founder of the Unitarian Transcendentalist movement. For most of America, Transcendentalism was a literary movement. However, in fact it was a theological and spiritual revolution within American Unitarianism and only incidentally a literary phenomenon. I often think of how Zen’s rise... Read more

May 23, 2023

    After I shared my ChatGPT “homily on love” in the style of “James Ishmael Ford” one of my kinder friends assured me the voice was no where near like mine. Way too saccharine. Which I appreciated until I realized in a sentence by someone who is a precise writer, who exactly was saccharine was not actually clear. Then another friend agreed that it wasn’t my voice. “Not a single single word sentence.” Which is sort of my trademark.... Read more

May 22, 2023

      I asked ChatGPT to “write a homily on love in the style of James Ishmael Ford. It did. At least sort of. Parts of it have robot James suggesting some sort of essence to life that we call love. On the one hand I’m pretty relentless in rejecting any form of essentialism. On another I probably have written words like that. And I’m assuming ChatGPT is drawing on things I’ve written. Then it shifts and I’m a... Read more

May 21, 2023

          Me, I love saints. I love the whole category of saints, holy people of their various religions. Holy people who are not quite considered gods, but who partake of something special. Sometimes they’re martyrs for their faiths. Often they’re wonder workers, in large or small ways. They might have the marks of the divine like stigmata among Christians. They may blend into prophecy, or be charismatic teachers. A very important function of saints is as... Read more

May 20, 2023

      I noticed how today, the 20th of May, is a feast for Lucifer in some parts of the Catholic liturgical calendar. Okay, Lucifer of Cagliari, a fourth century bishop of Cagliari in Sardina. Not much remembered these days outside of Sardina, he left a trail of controversy. His fame at the time was as a ferocious opponent of Arianism. His views were so extreme that even Athanasius who is said to have physically assaulted the priest Arius,... Read more

May 15, 2023

    Originally a sermon preached back when Jan & I lived in New England, revisited, dusted off, and lightly rewritten in honor of the 146th anniversary of Emily Dickinson’s death. 1263 Tell all the truth but tell it slant – Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth’s superb surprise As Lightning to the Children eased With explanation kind The Truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind – Jan and I treasured our... Read more

May 14, 2023

  Mother’s Day. I find myself thinking about my mother now long dead. My auntie, my “junior mother,” more recently dead. Although also slipping back in time and memory. And, looming behind their mother, my grandmother. Each of them now among the great cloud of witnesses. A few times I’ve tried to outline my relationships with these women and how each is a mother for me in very, very important ways. I never feel I do them justice. And, so,... Read more

May 14, 2023

  Mary Baker Eddy and America’s Last Witchcraft Trial  Today, the 14th of May, might be counted as a minor religious holiday. At least of some sort. I try to note it when it rolls around. It was, as it happens, on this day, in 1878, that the last trial on a charge of witchcraft was initiated in an American court. It was a somewhat awkward event for all concerned. Not least as the case was heard in Salem, Massachusetts.... Read more

May 13, 2023

  LIKE A SHOT OF HEROIN Jack Kerouac on Buddhist meditation Complex, by turns wonderful and awful, the beat writer Jack Kerouac is one of the handful of people responsible for bringing Zen into the popular English speaking imagination. Any number of people have struggled to contextualize Kerouac’s beatnik Buddhism. Some with more success than others. And sometimes its wise to let the person speak for themselves. And so, a poem first published in book form near I can tell... Read more

May 10, 2023

    God as a Zen Koan or Huatou James Ishmael Ford When I am silent, I fall into the place where everything is music. Rumi I notice that today, May 10th, is one of the days that Job of the Book of Job is celebrated. Job is one of my favorite figures in the Bible. And, thinking about him, I found a stream of mind bubbles playing out… Job and God. And from there about God. When I read... Read more

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