Blog

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?”

        He and I both knew well that the Bible takes a dim view of pride. Dozens of texts warn against it, associating it with injustice (“Your doom has come, injustice has blossomed, pride has budded.” Ezekiel 7:10) and violence (“Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment.” Psalm 73:6). Read more ›

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.
Read more ›

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.

        Understand, though, that neither the US nor Iran ratified the UNCLOS. Read more ›

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.]

        Then 15, Thunberg was considered little more than a curiosity when, in August 2018, she began skipping school to hold vigil outside Sweden’s parliament. She sat rather forlornly against the building with her hand-painted sign, which read skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for climate), calling on Swedish legislators to take climate change seriously. Read more ›

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.

        I have this bit of news in my files as illustration. When Southern Baptists in Georgia came to their 1998 convention meeting, among the first orders of business was to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments for congregational membership in the body, both being causes for being “disfellowshiped.” The first was endorsement of homosexual behavior; the second, engaging “in non-biblical charismatic worship practices.” Read more ›