You Corrupted Wisdom for the Sake of Splendor

KenBy Ken Sehested

I will likely be considered antiquated, maybe maniacal, even apoplectic when I say we in the US (with derivative outbreaks elsewhere) are under the spell of the demonic, of those who worship death’s malicious craving, specifically the sacrificial scalp of dissenters, of those who do not genuflect in its presence, of any and all who stand in the way of imperial designs, who claim authority to divide the world into makers and takers, to shape all reality in service to the ruthless pursuit of power’s conceit, arrogance being the elixir of indefinite, everlasting rule of the strong over the weak, the privileged over the disdained, the worthy over the maimed. Continue reading “You Corrupted Wisdom for the Sake of Splendor”

More is at Work than Passes for the News

SehestedBy Ken Sehested

Almost every breakthrough begins with a breakdown. Goodness is not thereby assured; then again, neither is our breath, day by day.

We hope to be effective; but our perseverance is not hitched to efficacy. We insert ourselves, compassionately and intelligently, because that’s who we are. (Or at least who we are becoming.) Continue reading “More is at Work than Passes for the News”

Another Story

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Pictures of Money, flickr, cc

By Ken Sehested

We have a lot of competition for our attention these days. I urge you to give a little space for this matter, which is unfolding right now in Congress.

“Any time there is a crisis and Washington is in the middle of it is an opportunity for guys like me.” —industry lobbyist on Capitol Hill

“Take Boeing. The aerospace giant of course wants a $60bn bailout. Financial problems for this corporation predated the crisis, with the mismanagement that led to the 737 Max as well as defense and space products that don’t work (I noted last July a bailout was coming). The corporation paid out $65bn in stock buybacks and dividends over the last 10 years. . . . Continue reading “Another Story”

Prepping for Ash Wednesday A supplication

ash-wednesday-4823377_960_720By Ken Sehested, borrowing from St. Augustine and Isaiah 55:12

Return to your heart, O you transgressors,
and hold fast to the One who made you.
Stand with the Beloved and your footing
shall be firm. Rest in the Merciful One
and you shalt be buoyed.

Where do you go along these rugged
paths, pilgrim, so far from home yet so
winsomely loved? Be clear about what
you seek, and where you seek, for the
beatific life cannot be found in the land
of illusion. Continue reading “Prepping for Ash Wednesday A supplication”

Joseph

Rembrandt_Dream_of_Joseph
Rembrandt, Dream of Joseph, 1645, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

By Ken Sehested

Obscured brother
consigned to the margins
of Incarnation narrative.
Carpentry-calloused hands
now shield the shame
of sagging face, drooping, disgraced.
Chiseled lines prematurely sculpting
age in youthful countenance.
Thoughts of Mary smudge the heart
as tears smear the face.
Mary. Beloved. Betrothed. Betrayed?
Mary. With child. Whose? How, and why?
Joseph, companion in confusion
over God’s intention.
No multi-colored coat for you as for
your scoundrel namesake of old.
But who dares answer, much less complain? Continue reading “Joseph”

Sacramental Operative in a Sullied World

KenBy Ken Sehested, originally published last month at Ethics Daily, a publication of the Baptist Center for Ethics

We need to recognize, and adjust in appropriate ways, to the
fact that we humans maintain a perverse fascination with
disaster. I’ll leave it to psychologists to explain why, precisely;
but this habit is easily illustrated: From “rubber-necking” on
the highway (slowing down to view the scene of a wreck), to
the media’s 24/7 coverage of hurricane news. We rarely recall
the car trips made without incident, or the sunny days that
predominate in the Bahamas’ and Outer Banks’ weather
patterns. Continue reading “Sacramental Operative in a Sullied World”

In Praise of Ordinary Days

Ken SehestedBy Ken Sehested

A meditation on Ordinary Time on the church’s liturgical calendar

“He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars.”—William Blake

When people of faith speak of God, and how the love of God leads to the flourishing of souls and soil alike, such language appears on the surface as something being done to us, as from the outside.

Merely being acted upon—being objectified—hints at coercion, manipulation, feeble dependency, indignity. As if we are to be kept in chains and, moreover, taught to love those chains—lovely as they may appear, but chains, nonetheless. As if we are merely utensils in a cosmic drama. As if we are chess pieces on a divine board game. Continue reading “In Praise of Ordinary Days”

Dad’s “Heart Shield” Bible

By Ken Sehested

Pictured below is my Dad’s “Heart Shield” Bible, a copy of the New Testament on to which a metal plate front cover has been attached. The engraved cover, now smudged by corrosion, reads “May this keep you safe from harm.” It was sold by the Know Your Bible Sales Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, manufactured by the Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin, and was designed to fit into a soldier’s uniform shirt pocket. Multiple stories exist of soldiers reportedly spared serious injury when bullets struck this tiny piece of body armor.

Dad's _Shield and New Testament_

An inscription inside the cover indicates that Dad’s sister, my Aunt Juanita, gave him this gift. No date is listed, but it was sometime before Dad landed with the first wave of soldiers storming Omaha Beach in the June 1944 Allies’ D-Day invasion on the French coast in World War II. Dad was among the fortunate survivors, though he carried for the remainder of his life a piece of German artillery shrapnel embedded in bone behind his right ear. Continue reading “Dad’s “Heart Shield” Bible”

Eastertide: the Outing of the Church

KenBy Ken Sehested (photo right with grandchildren), curator of prayerandpolitiks.org

Some years ago, writing in the days leading up to Easter, I realized important though tragic anniversaries arrived in the days immediately following that Sunday.

“Even before our resurrection flowers have wilted, we will be confronted again with the presence of evil. Since Easter falls early in the calendar this year, in the coming resurrection week we will be forced to remember the enduring power of death. In 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, was executed by the Nazis two days after Easter Sunday. This next Thursday, April 4, we will remember the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. right here in Memphis.” —continue reading “Open Letter to My Daughter: Easter morning, with the stench of death still in the air

What it is

We have entered Eastertide, the liturgical season beginning with Easter and ending 50 days later on Pentecost (aka Whitsunday). The formulation of this season parallels the period in Judaism between the first day of Pesach (Passover, marking their liberation from Egypt) and the feast of Shavu’ot (Feast of Weeks, both a harvest festival and a commemoration of the giving of Torah at Mount Sinai). Parallel resurrection moments, setting the stage for resulting resurrection movements. Continue reading “Eastertide: the Outing of the Church”