Articles, Essays & Sermons

The Baptizer’s Bargain

A sermon based on Luke's story of John the Baptist

by Ken Sehested,
Texts: Luke 3:7-18; Zeph. 3:14-20; Phil. 4:4-7

            The text and sermon for this week is a continuation of the story from Luke, and Joyce’s commentary last week: the story John the Baptist. Or, more properly, John the Baptizer. (John really wasn’t a Baptist—although, one summer during college I worked as a youth minister in a church whose pastor believed that Baptists can trace their history back to John. If that were true, that means there were Baptists before there were Christians!)

            Before I read the second part of the text from Luke 3, let’s review the first part. Read more ›

Same question, different outcomes

A meditation on Zechariah

by Ken Sehested

Zechariah’s question to the angel: “How will I know that this is so?
For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”
—Luke 1:18

Mary’s question to the angel:
“How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
Read more ›

In Greed We Trust

Greedlock and the god of fiduciary responsibility: The question of idolatry is with us still

by Ken Sehested

       You likely heard recently that former hedge fund manager-turned-entreperneur Martin Shkreli’s company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, bought the patent to a drug treating toxoplasmosis, a potentially deadly parasite disease, increasing the per pill cost from $13.50 to $750. (Before being sold several previous times, the Daraorun medication per pill cost was $1.00.)

        Now San Diego-based Imprimis Pharmaceuticals has announced it would manufacture customized versions of the drug for less than $1.00 (though the Federal Drug Administration has yet to sanction the new drug).

        In his announcement, Imprimis CEO Mark L. Baum conveys the contradiction in which we live. He begins with generous sentiment, saying “recent generic drug price increases have made us concerned” for the well-being of “a needy population.” Read more ›

Thomas Merton

A special edition of "Signs of the Times" featured quotes from that most unusual monk

Selected and edited by Ken Sehested

Introduction: A special issue of “Signs of the Times” devoted to Thomas Merton (31 January 1915 – 10 December 1968) quotes was already in the works, to mark the centennial of his birth. But when Pope Francis, in his historic address to a joint session of Congress, lifted Merton's name for special recognition (along with three other Americans), it seemed timely to move up the schedule. (Continue reading Ken Sehested’s "Introduction: The Quotable Thomas Merton.")

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§ Meditation has no point and no reality unless it is firmly rooted in life. Read more ›

Another world is possible

Introduction to "We Are the Socks," Dan Buttry's new book

by Ken Sehested

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood
and assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them
to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery

            What Dan Buttry does in We Are the Socks is what he does better than anyone I know: Write vivid, easy-to-read narratives that are hopeful but not sentimental, honest but not cynical, revealing without being voyeuristic, personal without being self-serving, sometimes humorous but never silly. And the people he writes about, in these few selected episodes out of literally dozens of others from his global work, are not drawn from self-selected elites—the morally heroic or intelligent or ingenious. Mostly they are commonplace folk, drawn from every sort of circumstance, typical admixtures of hope and doubt, compassion and malice, vision and blind sightedness. Not your stereotypical candidates for sainthood. In other words, folk like us, like the ones in our churches and neighborhoods and families. Read more ›