James Cone: The Scalpel & The Compress

James ConeThe reflections on Dr. James Cone’s life and teaching keep on pouring in from his former students.  This one is from Ken Sehested the curator of Prayer & Politiks.

I was traveling when the news of Dr. James Cone’s death was reported on Saturday. The first thought that came to mind was what seems to be a providential concurrence: His passing came two days after the opening of the National Peace and Justice Memorial, solemnizing the lynching in the US of some 4,400 black people, in 800 counties, between 1877 and 1950. Cone’s last book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, was recipient of this year’s Grawemeyer Award in Religion. Continue reading

Earth Day – The link between Easter and Pentecost

VenturaBeachBy Ken Sehested

Pacem, pacem, pacem in terries

Easter’s focus is always sharper when allied with Earth Day. We sing, properly, of being wayfaring strangers. “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor” (Deuteronomy 26:5) is among the oldest testimonies of fate and faith. An alternate translation—“A Syrian ready to perish was my ancestor”—brings added poignancy to the text.

We are indeed strangers; but not foreigners. In common usage these two words seem similar. Biblically speaking, though, the theological difference could not be greater. Continue reading

Resurrection’s Approach AND Commentary on the March For Our Lives

A Prayer and Commentary from Ken Sehested

Resurrection's approach.jpeg

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be:
Commentary on the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, DC
Saturday 24 March 2018

I am not ashamed to admit it. They made me do it. Cry. More than once. “They” being the uncommonly common students who led the March For Our Lives rally—three-quarters of a million strong—in Washington, DC. The day may well be accounted as among the most significant in our nation’s history. Continue reading

Bright Sadness

indexA litany for Lent, to be read while “How Can I Keep From Singing” is played in the background, after which the congregation sings one or more verse of the song

by Ken Sehested

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the season of Lent is described as a “bright sadness.”

In the sadness that surrounds our lives, our community, our world, we give thanks, nevertheless. More is at work than we can see. Continue reading

The Ties that Bind: The Integrity of Penitence, on the 50th Anniversary of the Massacre at My Lai

my-lai-1024x683By Ken Sehested

Concealment makes the soul a swamp. Confession is how you drain it.

—Charles M. Blow

Except in a few traditional religious settings, penitence is a relatively unknown word. While its more common synonyms—confession, apology, contrition, and repentance—are standard parts of many church liturgies, the images they convey have generally fallen out of favor. There are good reasons why this is so. The primary definition of penance is “voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.” A web search for penance reveals more than a few pictures of people whipping themselves. Continue reading