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In the Land of the Living

In the Land of the Living

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""If required to summarize my deepest conviction in a single sentence, it would be something like this: I believe that God is more taken with the agony of the earth than with the ecstasy of heaven."" So begins the preface to In the Land of the Living: Prayers Personal and Public by Kenneth L. Sehested. What follows from that conviction is a collection of prayers and poems, most of which are ""inspired by"" one or more particular biblical texts and many of which were originally written for use in Sehested's own congregation. Sehested's lifelong work as a justice and peace organizer informs his ""poetic eloquence,"" which, in the words of one reviewer, produces reflections on Scripture that create ""a flash of insight, a bolt of courage, a stretch of imagination, a surprising peek into the heart of God"" and ""cries out against second-hand convictions."" In the Land of the Living (Ps 27:13) represents a significant addition to that tradition of spirituality which takes seriously both the pain of the world and the claim of a God at work disarming both the heart and the nations. Indeed, ""These prayers are jumper cables from the pew to the world."" ""Having spent a lifetime at the convergence of Scripture, faith, ministry, and justice, Sehested brings to voice what he has seen and heard and known in that long, faithful life. Readers will be led beyond themselves in this poetry in the way worship-filled utterance has always led afresh. No doubt good poetry comes from suffering. This poetry exhibits both suffering and the hope that does not give in to it."" --Walter Brueggemann, author of Prayers for Privileged People ""Never pray in a room without windows, the Talmud teaches. Ken Sehested prays in a room with wall-to-wall windows, all wide open to the heartbreak of the world. In the Land of the Living makes Scripture what it was meant to be. . . . If you want to learn how to pray the Scriptures, start with this book."" --Mary Lou Kownacki, author of A Monk in the Inner City ""For decades Ken has been one of our most passionate faith-rooted organizers for peace and justice. Unlike many, however, his vision and competence extend to the aesthetic and poetic. This volume should be employed alongside prayer books and hymnals, whether our work is in the seminary, the sanctuary, and/or the streets!"" --Ched Myers, author of Binding the Strong Man ""In the Land of the Living is the cry of a modern psalmist. Here is poetry for authentic worship of the wild and unfettered God. This collection should be within easy reach of every pulpit and a companion for those following the way of Jesus."" --Rose Marie Berger, author of Who Killed Donte Manning? ""This collection is not the standard 'plug and play' worship aid. Sehested offers prophetic, mercy-filled, prayerful poetry that demands deep soul work. Get ready to pray, to sing, to lament, to groan, to shout, and to rejoice with authentic, powerful, evocative voices!"" --Taylor Burton-Edwards, Director of Worship Resources, The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN ""Ken Sehested has profound thoughts and an excellent grasp of the English language. He combines them to produce poems that facilitate needed reflection on Scripture."" --Tony Campolo, author of Red Letter Christians ""Through Ken Sehested's liturgical poetry, the spirit is set free to blow afresh. Full of faith and anchored in the realities of our current context, Ken makes the wall between worship and the world a very 'thin place.' This is a rich treasure. Enjoy, be troubled, be stretched, be transformed."" --Daniel L. Buttry, author of Christian Peacemaking ""Ken Sehested has provided us with a wonderful collection that speaks to our human condition. That he has done so in poetic form adds another delightful dimension to this book. There is great hope in these writings."" --Martin Darby, past President, Institute for Servant Leadership, Greenville, SC ""Here is a prophetic poet whos
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