Articles, Essays & Sermons

Holy hell week

In the panic, be still; in the ordeal, take heart

by Ken Sehested

“Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you.
Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you
that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest.
That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together,
to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes Read more ›

Things are not getting worse—just getting uncovered

COVID-19 and apocalyptic imagination

by Ken Sehested

The root meaning of “apocalyptic” is not “catastrophe” but “unveiling.” That which was hidden is now revealed. It is not the brutal, final flourish of history, but the opportunity for renewal, the chance to begin anew.

Simply typing the word—apocalypse—makes my fingers feel awkward, clumsy, hesitant, requiring uncommon coordination. “Apocalypse” is a tricky word. It evokes memory of the surreal 1979 film (“Apocalypse Now”) by Francis Ford Coppola and the mind-bending roles of Brando and Sheen and Duvall. Not to mention the glut of more recent dystopian movies and television shows featuring zombies and the trail of gore they dramatize.

“Apocalypse” is one of those “don’t-go-there” words for me and mine. Its associations are best left to the Left-Behind crowd, quarantined behind their cruel glee at the prospect of getting to cut in line among the lucky few refugees escaping the final sadistic revenge of a ghoulish god. Read more ›

On the character of persistence

Elizabeth Warren and the schooling of US politics

by Ken Sehested
5 March 2020

I’m glad that Senator Elizabeth Warren did not cry in her press interview outside her home this afternoon, announcing she was dropping out of the race for the Democratic nominee for president. Because I was already on the verge of tears.

I have supported more losing candidates for political office than I care to admit. The immediate, sensory evidence of victory—for those pursuing the Beloved Community—is typically piecemeal and prelude. Read more ›

Trouble is where we go

A sermon for Lent, following the death of my Mom

by Ken Sehested
Circle of Mercy Congregation, first Sunday of Lent 2020
Text: Matthew 4:1-11

(The first draft was written late night of 25 February 2020, Shrove Tuesday, following the death of my Mom early that morning.)

“Isn’t there anything you understand?
It’s from the ash heap God is seen.
Read more ›

14 tentative conclusions on the U.S. presidential primary process

by Ken Sehested

1. Save us, Lord Jesus.

2. We reap what we sow. We have not sown righteously. Looking through a wide lens, we citizens really do get the politicians we deserve. We need to prepare for the possibility that things will get worse before it gets better—regardless of November’s election results.

3. We invest far too much in what happens in Washington, DC, or state capitols, or county seats, or city commissions. Long-term change begins with grunt work in neighborhoods. All politics—as former House Speaker Tip O’Neill said a lifetime ago—is local. Systemic change is dependent on the patient, persevering work of shifting the conversation in nearby streets. Read more ›