Articles, Essays & Sermons

Good news on the environmental front

Six very significant wins for Mama Earth

by Ken Sehested

In an attention-deficit-disordered culture, alongside a news cycle that feels like a gerbil on a spinning wheel track, important news often goes unnoticed.

Taken together, in just the past few weeks, six dramatic actions on slowing ecological disaster are worth celebrating—even when you recognize that we’re still in deep doo-doo with regard to our climate crisis.

#1-3. Within a 24-hour period in the US, “three major oil and gas pipelines were stymied—two by court decisions and one by economic pressures—in moves that represent a suite of successes for the indigenous and environmental activists long opposed to pipeline development.” Alejandra Borunda, National Geographic Read more ›

A (brief) history of the Liberty Bell

by Ken Sehested

        There are four great ironies behind the “Liberty Bell,” associated with the founding convictions of the United States of America and inscribed with the phrase “Proclaim Liberty throughout the land and unto the inhabitants thereof.” The reference, from Leviticus 25:10, is a text that stipulates profound social renewal as part of God’s covenant with the Hebrew people, requiring the forgiveness of debt, reclamation of ancestral lands and the release of slaves every 50 years.

        In the first instance, the colonial Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania's original Constitution, which contains Penn's far-reaching ideas on religious freedom, his liberal stance on Native American rights, and his inclusion of citizens in enacting laws.

        The second great irony was the bell’s tolling announcing the opening of the first Continental Congress in 1774 was preface to the nation-building policies that enshrined slavery as a legal form of commerce, beginning a long history of political ideals being trumped by the lure of commercial gain. Read more ›

You corrupted wisdom for the sake of splendor

Meditation amid pandemic and pandemonium

by 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.

Not just rule, but a despising and revulsion of the frail, now consigned as burnt offering to an unholy, odious, heinous god; a god who justifies caging children, who threatens fire from (nuclear) heavens, who shrugs and scoffs at the sight of trauma, of those begging for breath, during pandemics, racial and economic pandemonium, and ecological devastation; who laughs at every attempt of impeachment, whose word is less than worthless, whose every step is concealed in deceit, whose smirking face tells lies at every turn, whose law has become a license for infamy.

And all the profiteering minions chant: “It’s the cost of doing business. Nothing personal.” Read more ›

More is at work than what passes for the news

Pastoral encouragement for dispirited lovers of justice

by Ken Sehested
(in Pentecost’s wake 2020)

“The riches and beauty of the spiritual landscape are not disclosed to us
in order that we may sit in the sun parlour, be grateful for the
excellent hospitality, and contemplate the glorious view.”
—Evelyn Underhill Read more ›