Blog

The backdrop of Veterans Day

Remembering red poppies and the Great War’s armistice

by Ken Sehested
for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day ending World War I

 “You can no more win a war than win an earthquake.”
—Jeanette Rankin, first female elected to federal office (in 1916, to the US House of Representatives,
before women were allowed to vote) and dissenting voter on US declarations of war in both world wars

I used to think the symbolic wearing of red poppies in remembrance of war’s sacrificial cost was a British thing. And mostly it is, if you include other nations who belong to the Commonwealth. It was a Canadian military surgeon, one with poetic inclinations, who established what is essentially a weed’s place in literary and military history. Read more ›

Vote, or don’t

The issues are larger than elections

by Ken Sehested

        To my friends who question the value of voting, or have ethical qualms about choosing between the lesser of two evils: Vote, or don’t. Its significance will always lie somewhere between essential and useless. None of us is allowed to assess any action as ultimate—but that’s no license for skepticism or despondence.

        Voting is such a small part of our commonwealth duty. I spend more time in grocery store lines every month than in polling stations every year. Elections are but the end result of an advocacy for the common good that starts in each watershed. Imagine a different future, find collaborators, and spend yourself extravagantly.

        Renewed public policy requires new public consensus. As Frederick Douglass knew all too well, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” Be demanding. Justice often requires the painful work of delegitimizing existing power arrangements before reconstruction can occur. Read more ›

Safe church policies

Pastoral advice on getting started

by Ken Sehested

      I’m embarrassed to admit muffling a groan when I first heard “safe church policy” mentioned in conversation among our members. Three thoughts came rushing up in complaint.

      First, I remembered the news, from years ago, of a daycare center announcing it was instituting a “no-touching” policy guiding staff behavior with children. No hugs. No encouraging hand-on-the-shoulder. No child-on-lap comforting of distress. I thought then, and still think: that’s nuts.

      Also, I had recently spent many hours wrangling with two different insurance companies, trying to get a very basic liability policy, a new requirement by the church whose space we rent. None of the agents with whom I spoke could conceive that we didn’t want a dozen or more types of coverage. ‘Danger” marketing (“Risk management”) is a growth industry. Read more ›

Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero

Canonizing El Salvador’s beloved archbishop

by Ken Sehested

        This Sunday, 14 October, former Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romeo (15 August 1917 – 24 March 1980) will be officially canonized—declared a saint—by the Roman Catholic Church during its 2018 Synod of Bishops in Rome.

        In 1997 Romero was declared a “Servant of God,” a process which makes him a candidate for sainthood. But the process stalled when the hierarchy worried if such a move would be too “political.” Then in February of 2015 Pope Francis decreed that Romero had died “for the faith” (in odium fidei); and then in May announced his beatification, the final step before canonization as a saint of the church. A quarter of a million Salvadorans attended Romero’s beatification service.

        When in 1977 Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador, many in the government, wealthy landowners, the military, and the Catholic hierarchy were pleased. Romero was known as a traditionalist, compliant on matters of piety, doctrine, and relations with the state. Read more ›

Getting soaked

A meditation on the recovery of baptismal integrity

by Ken Sehested
24 September 2018

Last week I wrote a quick note to my friend Kyle, who gets as excited about baptism as I do, to share the news.

“We’re baptizing seven of our youth group this coming Sunday. Is it OK to brag about this?” Read more ›