Labor Day

Quotes, quick-facts, extracts

by Ken Sehested

Introduction

This collection of material is especially designed for use in planning a Labor Day observance—but also more: on work in general, both the productive and destructive varieties; on sabbath-keeping, which is so much more than blue laws; on discerning vocations and callings; on the terrorizing disconnect between commerce and the flourishing of every living thing; on the increasingly barbarous treatment of immigrants and refugees.

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Preface to special issue on white supremacy

Part 1

by Ken Sehested

“No one cops to their own ingrained white supremacy, even though white supremacy is the water
and we are the fish, and it’s unlikely that we are not at least a little bit wet.”
—Timothy B. Tyson

        In recent years it feels like we have been drenched with news of a plague most thought was laid to rest with the successes of the Civil Rights Movement: festering white supremacy and white nationalism.

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Reversal of fortunes

What if schools enjoyed pork-barrel largesse and the military depended on corporate charity?

by Ken Sehested

     One recent slow morning, in late August, the grocery stores’ circulars in the newspaper caught my attention. I began to wonder how things might be different if certain fortunes were reversed. Instead of “back-to-school” it’s “back-to-basic-training” discount offers.

     Imagine, if you will:

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Calling terrorism by its true name: blasphemy

A theological meditation

by Ken Sehested

        In my mind, missing from the public conversation among mass shootings—about the clash between hatred and neighborliness of every sort—is the failure to acknowledge that behavior is always rooted in and propelled by a moral vision. That vision may be formally articulated and reasoned or merely be gut instinct and unreflected rage.

        That moral universe may be as simple as sheer anarchy, the struggle of each against all, but it does have a certain coherence. Our deepest convictions shape our behaviors, which then refine and reinforce (or rearrange or undermine) those core beliefs.

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Thoughts and prayers, shots and tears

A meditation on mass shootings

by Ken Sehested

Our nation, averaging one mass shooting per day, now has suffered two in the span of 13 hours. Thoughts and prayers. Shots and tears.

Has there ever been a time when the practice of “prayer” has been so debased and its announcement greeted with such cynicism?

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Pride Month and proud nations

The difference between dignity and arrogance

by Ken Sehested

       Nearly a year ago I wrote a close friend who pastors in Texas, attaching a photo of seven of our congregation’s teenagers arrayed in baptism robes, standing on the bank of a lake.

        My note said simply, “Is it OK to brag about this?”

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North Carolina torture taxis

Commemorating the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture

by Ken Sehested

Preface
June 26 is the International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture. The United Nations
Convention against Torture (CAT), approved in 1984, took effect on 26 June 1987. Since the CAT’s
entry into force, the absolute prohibition against torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or
degrading treatment or punishment has become accepted as a principle of customary
international law. The US ratified the CAT in 1994, but with a boatload of exceptions.

§  §  §

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US citizens should be very wary of any US rationale for an attack on Iran

by Ken Sehested

        The dogs of war threatening full scale conflict between the US and Iran are straining their respective leashes. Iran openly admits that it shot down a US drone, claiming it was over Iranian territorial waters—by international law, extending 12 miles from a country’s coast line.

        The US claims the drone was over international waters, doing so under the terms of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS). Complicating matters: Oman, across the Strait of Hormuz, also has legal claim to a 12-mile territorial sovereign claim. Yet at its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz is only 21 miles wide.

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Greta Thunberg

When the muted find a voice

by Ken Sehested, with extensive quotes from Jonathan Watts, “Greta Thunberg, schoolgirl climate change warrior: ‘Some people can let things go. I can’t’”, The Guardian

        I confess I’m head-over-heels in awe of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who was recently awarded Amnesty International’s coveted “Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019, on behalf of the Fridays for Future movement of school children demanding bold action to address the global climate crisis.

        [For more on that, see Amnesty International. Also, watch this short (4:12) video of Thunberg and fellow “school strikers for climate change” from around the world.]

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T.S. Eliot’s Pentecostal agenda

Refined by Pentecost’s blaze or consumed by war's conflagration

by Ken Sehested

        Pentecost Sunday is far and away my favorite moment on the church’s liturgical calendar.

        It wasn’t always so. In fact, I grew up with inherited suspicion of “Pentecostal” Christians. Their rambunctious style of worship—speaking in “tongues,” ecstatic trances, slayings in the spirit and, generally, excitable emotions—were considered reprobate in my pietist-revivalist culture. We had our amen corners, but other outbursts were frowned upon. Such intrusions into more restrained Baptist sanctuaries were considered divisive and inflammatory.

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