God and stuff

Lawnmowers, banking boodle, and the Spirit’s traffic in human affairs

by Ken Sehested

       While the nation’s eyes were recently glued to the former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, the House of Representatives quietly passed the Financial Choice Act which rolls back much of the 2010 Frank-Dodd Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted to prevent another round of reckless behavior by banks and other major financial institutions that created the Great Recession of 2007.

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Day of Pentecost choral reading

A script for nine voices, inspired by Acts 2:1-13

(Leader and reader instructions at bottom.)

When the day of Pentecost had come,    [1]

they were all together in one place.    [1, 2, 3]

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Such is the journey

A call to Jesus' memorial table

by Ken Sehested

We are free to act boldly because we are safe.

We are safe because we are at rest.

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When was the last time you heard a tourism expert talk about land redistribution and debt forgiveness?

TV travel program host Rick Steves donates $4 million apartment complex for homeless woman and children

by Ken Sehested

        Years ago, when I first heard Rick Steves’ squeaky voice, channel flipping late on night, I thought it was satire. This being my last resort of delaying bedtime, I continued watching. And then later, in my night owl habit of TV diversion to put my brain in neutral to (hopefully) coast toward sleep, I would stumble across his show again. Over time, I actually began to look for the “Rick Steves’ Europe” program.

        Why? I don’t remember exact details now, but interspersed with touristy stuff, he actually made a few honest comments about some of the history that had occurred in that place which the local chamber of commerce doesn't mention, the kinds of things travel brochures will never say.

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Holy Saturday 2017

by Ken Sehested

Betwixt and between. Jesus’ disciples and followers are bereft and adrift. The world seems to be coming apart.

As are we.

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Funeral songs

by Ken Sehested

When I was in seminary I remember thinking that all of us, as part of our final year of study, should be required to build our own casket, hauling it around as a storage chest wherever we lived, until the day for its final use. Odd as it sounds, the “remember you are dust” charge provokes an intensity and a freedom to the living of our days, chipping away at the anxiety that too often drives our frenetic habits.

Along that same line, one element of our congregation’s seven-week Lenten reflection group was beginning and ending each meeting by listening to songs participants’ want at their funeral service, in keeping with the season’s invitation to reflect on our own mortality.

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The United States at War

There have been only 17 years that the US has not been involved in a war since 1776

“We’re at War!”
And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making

Danios, loonwatch.com blog, 20 December 2011

Year-by-year Timeline of America’s Major Wars (1776-2011)

1776 – American Revolutionary War, Chickamagua Wars, Second Cherokee War, Pennamite-Yankee War

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Follow-up on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

by Ken Sehested

¶ Connecting the dots—or, as we now say, intersectionality. “But when, exactly, did the post-civil rights era begin? Arguably it was fifty years ago today when in a speech [‘Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,’ aka ‘Declaration of Independence From the War in Vietnam’] at Harlem’s Riverside Church Martin Luther King Jr. definitively broke ranks with the liberals he once considered allies. . . .
         “The very liberals who supported and signed civil rights legislation while waging war in Vietnam would wind up in the years ahead being the chief promulgators of new laws that criminalized the daily lives of the urban poor and authorized the militarization of municipal police forces. The 1968 Safe Streets Act, signed by Johnson, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into building up law enforcement and the criminal justice apparatus—astronomically more than was ever spent on the same president’s anti-poverty programs. This legislation would lead to a slew of other law-and-order policies that together helped lead us into the age of mass incarceration.” —Eric Tang, “‘A Society Gone Mad on War’: The Enduring Importance of Martin Luther King’s Riverside Speech,” The Nation

¶ Can’t turn back now. “At first blush it may seem counterintuitive to elevate [the ‘Beyond Vietnam’] speech above the watershed ‘I Have a Dream’ speech delivered four years earlier, or the "[I Have Been to the] Mountaintop’ speech he would give on the eve of his death. But if King's address at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom made him into an American icon, his Riverside Church speech announced him as a genuine prophet for social justice, one who willingly sacrificed his hard-won status to defy an empire.” —Peniel Joseph, “This speech made Martin Luther King Jr. revolutionary,” CNN

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Palms, Passion, Politics and Prayer

A Palm Sunday sermon

by Ken Sehested
Text: Matthew 21:1-13
Sunday 17 April 2011
Circle of Mercy Congregation

      Before I begin, a word of explanation about our special communion table cloth. No doubt you’ve seen the photo on this banner many times before. It’s probably the most widely published photo in human history, and it is the first clear image of an illuminated face of the earth. Officially, it’s known as “The Blue Marble.” It got that name because the astronauts on the Apollo 17 spacecraft, at a distance from about 28,000 miles high.

      One other bit of trivia: originally the photo had the South Pole at the top of the image. (How confusing is that?) It was rotated, with the north at the top, before being distributed.

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Health care as a fundamental human right

by Ken Sehested

       Last fall one of our local journalists, who has an “answer man” column devoted to readers’ questions, was asked about hospitalization insurance coverage, particularly why some of the services received were covered by insurance but others (the ones in small print about “out-of-network” exceptions) were not.

       The hospital president wrote an explanation. This was my response.

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