Blog

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 ›

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 ›

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 ›