Blog

The imposition of Ash Wednesday

by Ken Sehested

           The imposition of Ash Wednesday, inaugurating the practice of Lenten lament, is the preparation for and anticipation of the exultation of Easter Morning.

            The ashen smudge is not accusation but recognition of our frenzied and frantic efforts at braggadocios living; it is the call to reclaim our true selves in the leisure of Sabbath’s composure aligned with Creation’s intent.

            To live in this sort of leisure, this sort of rest, comes by acknowledging Creation’s gravitational sway on history’s alignment with the Creator’s assignment. Read more ›

What a friend

The influence—for good and ill—of the Wesleyan tradition of faith

by Ken Sehested

Correction. In the original post of this commentary, I mistakenly attributed authorship
of "What a Friend We Have In Jesus." The correct author is Joseph M. Scriven.
That's a big goof on my part—but an instructive one, since the story behind
Scriven's writing is a dramatic and compelling narrative. I've posted
a summary at the bottom of this page.

The recent decision by the United Methodist Church policymakers to retain (and harden) its rejection of lgbtq pastors and matrimonial blessings is, for many inside and out of that confessional body, a bitter pill. The news prompted me to push everything aside and compose a pastoral note. (“A humble word of encouragement to my Wesleyan friends: On the United Methodist Church’s General Conference decision to ostracize queerfolk") Read more ›

A humble word of encouragement to my Wesleyan friends

On the United Methodist Church’s General Conference decision to ostracize queerfolk

by Ken Sehested
24 February 2019

Today’s hard news from the United Methodist General Conference made me remember something a friend (and United Methodist pastor) wrote some years ago about another travesty in the Wesleyan tradition.

“John Wesley recognized such violence hidden in the clean and tidy profits of slave traders and owners. He exposed it, addressing them with the fire of a prophet: ‘Thy hands, thy bed, thy furniture, thy house, thy lands are at present stained with blood.’ Read more ›

Taxing matters

Tax laws and troublesome faith

by Ken Sehested

“Some people are so poor all they have is money.”
—Bob Marley

        The question of tax fairness has long been on my radar. But it wasn’t until the phrase “marginal tax rate” made headlines recently that I realized few people know what it means, and my own understanding was pretty vague. Read more ›

The cultivation of gratitude and the practice of thanksgiving

by Ken Sehested

        The topic of gratitude has become a marketing trend in publishing over the past decade—confirmed, most recently, in Diana Butler Bass’ best-selling Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, not to mention a score of books written by and for the “positive psychology” school of authors and readers.

        If you do a Google Scholar web search for the word, you immediately get 1.32 million results.

        Scientists continue to provide confirmation of things mystics have promoted for eons: that singing is good for personal and communal health; that a cultivated devotional life tends to extend life expectancy; that wealth is not neutral but actually diminishes the capacity for empathy; that even the spiritual hunch that everything-is-connected is being confirmed by ecologists, cosmologists, and quantum physicists. Read more ›