Having a dream is not the same as being had by a dream

The genetic flaw of idealism

by Ken Sehested

       Any of you who spend time on Facebook know you will endure . . . well, uh, let’s keep it decent and say a pre-edited version of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” And not just from . . . uh . . . the incredulous and socially-challenged who have too much time on their hands.

        There are also memes from the seriously well-intentioned, like the one I saw recently proclaiming, in all caps and bold face type, “RACISM DESTROYED IN ONE MINUTE.” As if being able to state insight about a problem is equivalent to implementing the remedy.

        Like many, I thoroughly enjoy stimulating conversations exploring seemingly intractable problems and coming to what feels like actual clarity about what might be done to at least nudge reality toward just and compassionate solutions. Read more ›

Remembering the Future

A World Communion Sunday sermon

by Ken Sehested,
Text: Hebrews 2:5-12 (The Message)

      The main title of this sermon, “remembering the future,” is a nonsensical notion. How can you remember the future since it hasn’t happened yet? Maybe if you love science fiction, or if you’re a fan of the actor Michael J. Fox, you can imagine going “back to the future.” But remembering the future?

      How silly is that, in a grown-up world?

      Maybe, in our growing up, we have actually grown in, grown in on ourselves, grown sour on the world, grown weary of illusions, grown cynical about pious propaganda, pious politics, as well as pious religion. Read more ›

The City: Besieged and Beloved

A collection of biblical texts for personal meditation and public liturgy

Racial antagonism, income inequality and urban decay go hand-in-hand in our culture.
The collection of texts below—for use in personal meditation or public liturgy—
bear witness to both the horror and the hope of our cities.

§ How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. (Lamentations 1:1)

§ Blessed be the Lord, for God has wondrously shown steadfast love to me when I was beset as in a besieged city. (Psalm 31:21) Read more ›

The US “secret war” in Laos, 1964-1973

President Obama's visit to Laos casts light on a forgotten war

by Ken Sehested

       Earlier this week, 5 September 2016, President Barack Obama became the first US president to visit the nation of Laos in Southeast Asia. "Given our history here, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal," he said.

        As a result, two important things happened.

        First, media attention was directed to the “secret war” waged by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1964-1973, part of a larger war (legally it was considered a “police action”) centered on the war in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia ordered by President Nixon in an expansion of the war. Read more ›

Old dogs, new tricks, and social media

Is the "fear of missing out" actually causing us to miss out?

by Ken Sehested

“I don’t know how to act my age. I’ve never been this age before.”
— cartoon character Dennis the Menace, responding to a scolding from his Mom

        I am more or less at the age of old-fartness. My Medicare coverage is in place—started Social Security early to fund prayer&politiks. Not so long ago I organized a “Pilates for Old Farts” exercise group. Read more ›

In memory of Brother Roger, founder of the Taize community in France

A meditation on tribulation and contemplation

by Ken Sehested

Written after receiving news of the death of Brother Roger,*
founder of the Taizé community in France, 16 August 2005

I did not know Brother Roger. Haven’t been to the South of France. Hadn’t, until recently, experienced a “Taizé” service, though I am enchanted with the music created there. (In our congregation’s recent delegation to Cuba, we sang "Come and Fill Our Hearts" at each of our stops.) Read more ›

O Shizzle!

An electoral season parable

by Thom Fogarty and Micah Bucey

We learned of the following anecdote by way of friends at Judson Memorial Church in
New York City, involving Micah Bucey, Judson’s associate minister, and Judson
member Thom Fogarty, Artistic Director of 360 Repertory Theatre Company.
Thom tells the story, and Micah adds commentary at the end.

        Micah met me for lunch today to debrief on the fabulous reading of Alyson Mead’s “The Quality of Mercy” and talk back we had at Judson last Saturday. Read more ›

Magdalene’s recovery

The church’s first evangelist joins an elite group of saints

by Ken Sehested

        Hillary Clinton’s election this week as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee surely knocks another hole in the “glass ceiling” obstructing women’s full inclusion into the human enterprise. [1]

        It should go without saying that the struggle for gender justice is far from over; but every advance should be permitted its celebration—even for those who, like me, maintain profound concerns about Clinton’s entanglement with Wall Street’s domination of our economy along with her militarized foreign policy instincts.

Right: "Mary of Magdala" from Dina Cormick's "Heroic Women" series.
Read more ›

Steal away to Jesus

When the pulse is imperiled, find what is needed to keep on keeping on

by Ken Sehested

        I was planning an abbreviated edition of “Signs of the Times” to allow time this week for other projects. The Pulse nightclub butchery, in a location named by many of its patrons as a “sanctuary,” sent us all tumbling into ravaging emotions of grief, horror, anger and despair.

        I’m not alone in the work of attempting to write my way out of such despondence. (See “Hate crime vs. terrorism: How our language highlights or disguises violence.”)

        In such moments, we are inevitably caught in the conflicting needs of making sense of such tragedy and mourning it. Some do these very different tasks more or less together. Others separate them. Both demand attention, both needs must be met. Read more ›

Hate crime vs. terrorism

How our language highlights or disguises violence

by Ken Sehested

            Headlines about the Orlando nightclub slaughter regularly include the phrase “largest (or worst) mass shooting in U.S. history.” (See some of the photos and all of the names of those killed in this ABC News post.)

            Hardly. Not by a long shot.

            •There were dozens of attacks against Native Americans by white colonists that tallied higher body counts before and after the Revolutionary War up into the final decade of the 19th century. In one of those incidents, when the Pilgrims torched a Pequot village on the Mystic River, Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford wrote: Read more ›