Articles, Essays & Sermons

Open Letter to My Daughter

Easter morning, with the stench of death still in the air

by Ken Sehested
Eastertide 1991

Background. In 1991, after hearing that the bombing had begun in Iraq, I knew I had to respond—respond in a way like never before. After discussing it with my family and then with a clearness committee of trusted friends, I began a bread-and-water fast. It started on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and lasted until Easter morning.

To prepare for the breaking of the fast I invited friends in Memphis to join me in a sunrise eucharistic service at the “Yellow Fever Martyrs Memorial and Mass Grave” park (right) on the banks of the Mississippi River, honoring those who died while tending the sick during several yellow fever epidemics that swept through the city in the 1870s. I asked my oldest daughter, 14 years old at the time, to preside at the meal. During the following week I wrote her the following open letter to further interpret the season just past. Read more ›

If You Do Well: The Vanity of Vengeance and the Restoration of Righteousness

by Ken Sehested
Texts: Genesis 4:1-16; Psalm 133; Matthew 18:1-22

        "Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

        The logic of that bumper-sticker aphorism sounds so simple. Is it simplistic? If you think so, ponder this more complex quote in 1994 by former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, who died earlier this year: Read more ›

Confrontation in Jerusalem

by Ken Sehested
Mark 11:1-11

This week we come to the dramatic events of Lent’s finale. Holy Week. Jesus’ so-called triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In order to figure out where this parade is taking us, we need to remember some clues that have been given earlier in the story.

The first thing we need to remember is that the nativity stories of Jesus’ birth were not originally sung as lullabies. Rather, they were provocative hints at the political intrigue unfolding with the birth in Bethlehem. Read more ›

Religion of the Heart

Ken Sehested
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Circle of Mercy, 2 April 2006

        Friday’s Asheville Citizen-Times featured front-page story was about the first day of our new lottery. The story, titled “Let the Dreams Begin,” was dominated by a photo of the woman who won the area’s first prize. She shelled out $20 at the Hot Spot convenience store and gas station south of where Nancy and I live on Brevard Road. The fact that she only won $3 didn’t seem to dampen her enthusiasm. “This is the only way I’m ever going to be a millionaire,” she said. “I can work all my life, and it isn’t going to happen.” [Hold up paper with headline: “Let the Dreams Begin”]

        Meanwhile, the state of North Carolina raked in $10 million on the first day. Last year the voters were promised the money would supplement spending on education, that it would be added to the profits from thousands of bake sales and raffles and school-sponsored carnivals—and, of course, property taxes that support public education. It wasn’t until all the lottery machinery was in place that the governor announced: Oh, by the way, a full 35% of the profits would go to education. And . . . well . . . the richest school districts would be getting more than their proportionate amount because . . . well . . . those poor owners of expensive homes pay an awful lot of taxes. Read more ›

The cost of freedom entails moral accountability

The need for truthtelling about the CIA’s torturing practices

by Ken Sehested

 

A few weeks ago, Senator Richard Burr [R-NC] took over as Chair of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, whose responsibility is to oversee the Central Intelligence Agency. But already we are troubled by his actions in that job.

Mr. Burr stepped into this role at a critical time: A little more than a month ago, the Committee released a 500-page summary of its “Torture Report,” publicly documenting the inefficacy and brutality of the CIA’s torture program. The full report, which totals some 6,900 pages, remains secret.
Read more ›