News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  9 April 2016  •  No. 67

Abbreviated issue

This edition of “Signs of the Times” is abbreviated to clear space for hiking in Utah, with some of our kiddos, pictured at right, in Dead Horse Point Park: Rich, Jonathan, Jessica, Sydney and (behind) Nancy and Ken.

Processional. Grammy winner Rhiannon Giddens and friends sing at a College Park Baptist Church, Greensboro, NC, rally against HB2, a draconian piece of North Carolina legislation aimed primarily at gay and transgendered persons but also threatens, in the guise of “religious liberty,” discrimination against others (including, of all things, the rights of NC cities to establish minimum wage laws). (3:17. Thanks Jane)

Call to worship. Psalm 23,” Bobby McFerrin, The 23rd Psalm (a stunning rendition, with feminine pronouns).

Invocation. “Oh may Your Favor be restored, to creatures great and small. / Restore to us the confidence of bountiful enthrall. / And haste the day when righteousness and peace embrace, caress. / When Rizpah’s vigil, bold and brave, heals all the earth’s distress.” —continuing reading Ken Sehested's new lyrics to “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need"

Extraordinary news (that won’t likely make your news feeds). Next week, 11-13 April, the Vatican is hosting the first-ever conference on “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence,” co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International. Read more.

When Easter’s shout is choked by the hangman’s noose. In 1945, the Western church celebrated Easter on 1 April. Eight days later, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a leader in the “Confessing Church” movement opposing Hitler’s reign of terror, was hanged. (Right: Bonhoeffer portrait by David Levine.)

¶ “We must acknowledge the essential defect in the just war tradition, which is the assumption that violence can somehow achieve justice. And we must with equal courage acknowledge the essential defect in pacifism, which is the assumption that justice can somehow be achieved simply by opposing violence.” —Ivan J. Kauffman, “If War is Wrong, What is Right? The New Paradigm,” in Just Policing, Not War: An Alternative response to world violence

Hymn of praise.Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen, performed here by Rob Landes (multiple violin parts) and Aubrey Pitcher (piano).

Confession. To live a “forgiven” life is not simply to live in a happy consciousness of having been absolved. Forgiveness is precisely the deep and abiding sense of what relation—with God or with other human beings—can and should be; and so it is itself a stimulus, an irritant, necessarily provoking protest at impoverished versions of social and personal relations. —Rowan Williams, former Anglican Archbishop of Cantebury

Words of assurance. Post-Easter poem on hope—Wendell Berry reads his poem. (5:30. Thanks Dennis.)

A Cuban pastor responds to President Obama's visit. Shortly after President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, Rev. Eduardo Gonzalez, pastor of Iglesia Enmanuel in Ciego de Avila, Cuba, wrote a letter to his congregation’s “partner,” Northminster Church in Monroe, Louisiana, and copied others here in the US who have visited. Here is the text, along with a brief response of my own. (Read Eduardo’s letter.)

Musicians have long known this intuitively; but having neuroscientists document it, and NPR report, makes it legit. “When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat.” —Anna Haensch

This is stunning. Sand art by Sandy Tales (4:58), this one depicting Good Friday and Easter. (She has a series of such.) (Thanks Sharon)

The recent terror attack in Lahore, Pakistan, almost certainly was aimed at the city’s Christian population, many of whom were celebrating Easter in a city park at the time of the explosion. If you are curious about Pakistan’s Christian population, the BBC has produced a concise profile: “Who Are Pakistan’s Christians?(Thanks Dennis)

Preach it. “The resurrection isn’t an argument. It’s the Christian word for defiance. . . . It is who we are—our word for how we go on in the face of overwhelming odds.” Giles Fraser, The Guardian

Call to the table. “We cannot say that in the process of revolution someone liberates someone else, nor yet that someone liberates him or herself, but rather that people in communion liberate each other.” —Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Altar call. “[The Eucharist] only makes sense as the beginning of the gathering of semi-penitent former participants in the violence of the world, who, on a day-to-day basis, are learning to live in a way which does not require sacrifice.” —James Alison, Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay

Left. Art ©Julie Lonneman

Benediction.Hallelujah,” with lyrics drawn from Psalm 23, by Ken Sehested, performed by Ken Medema.

Recessional.Sing Me Back Home,” Merle Haggard, R.I.P. (Thanks Tim)

Lectionary for Sunday next. “The One on the Throne will pitch his tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes." —Revelation 7:15b-17

#  #  #

Featured this week on prayer&politiks:

New lyrics to “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

A new batch of annotated book reviews in “What are you reading and why

A Cuban pastor’s response to President Obama’s visit.

New lyrics to the Leonard Cohen song, “Hallelujah,” drawn from Psalm 23.  9 (Listen to the Ken Medema's performance.)

©Ken Sehested @ Language not otherwise indicated above is that of the editor. Don’t let the “copyright” notice keep you from circulating material you find here (and elsewhere in this site). Reprint permission is hereby granted in advance for noncommercial purposes.

Your comments are always welcomed. If you have news, views, notes or quotes to add to the list above, please do. If you like what you read, pass this along to your friends. You can reach me directly at