The newSpin Newsletter, April 16, 2012
By Bill Lewellis
Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday
• The new user-friendly, useful and attractive DioBeth website ... A complete do-over. Explore a bit. You'll find it eminently user-friendly, useful and attractive. www.diobeth.org . As a retired communication minister, I'm so proud of Kat's work and the work of everyone who had a hand in putting this together. It will become, I'm confident, an effective tool for evangelism. I will not hesitate to refer it to anyone who expresses to me an interest in becoming an Episcopalian and a parishioner in the Diocese of Bethlehem.
• The shocking truth about Christian Orthodoxy ... Andrew Gerns points us to "a fascinating lecture by Fr. John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in New York. Behr believes that the early church communities that were the most diverse--catholic--were what came to be known as orthodox." Here or here.
• Bad Religion: How we became a nation of heretics ... [Ross Douthat, Interviewed on NPR] The United States ranks as the most religious country in the developed world. And New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says that despite our politics, debates and doubts, this country is as God-besotted today as ever. But in his new book, Douthat argues that religion has fallen into heresy. Douthat recently spoke with NPR's Linda Wertheimer about why he thinks American Christianity has become distorted ... So if the country remains religious, but the institutional churches are weaker than they used to be, what steps into the breach? ... An alternative Jesus, best embodied by that sketched out by Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code ... a much more congenial figure for a lot of Americans than the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ... The prosperity gospel of Joel Osteen says that's what God wants you to be rich, not precisely the message of the New Testament ... The heresy of Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love, of Oprah Winfrey, of Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle that God is there to make you feel happy about yourself, blessing impulses you already have, putting a kind of Christian stamp on narcissism, where the things we already want to do, we tell ourselves, are things that God wants us to do, too. Read transcript or listen here. [h/t Ann Fontaine at Episcopal Café]
• Bishop Paul's Easter sermon ... What I am going to say now is not for everybody in this room, and I hope you will bear with me for a minute if it doesn’t include you. I want to speak to those in the room who are suffering today and do not reasonably expect a cure. I want to say a word to those who go through life with a sense that there is something wrong with them, a feeling that they are fundamentally flawed, people who labor with the awareness that tasks and relationships that are very easy for others are not at all easy for them. They know there are no quick fixes for some things. I also dare to speak a word to those in the room who may believe in their most secret heart that life is not worth living. More here.
• For Gerre Hancock ... [Archdeacon Stringfellow] Here.
• High School Mission Trip ... Here.
• Diocesan Events for 2012 ... Here.
• Diocesan Life, March/April ... Here.
• Public news and info lists ... At the Diobeth website , enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.
• Allentown: Funds from Grace Montessori 15th Annual Benefit Auction provide scholarships ... Grace Montessori School is a key part of the mission of Grace Church. We serve 106 students, ages 3-10. About one-third of the students receive scholarship assistance from money we raise. This annual benefit accounts for a sizable part of that scholarship aid. This year's goal is $25,000. There is a silent auction and a live auction, in a lovely atmosphere, with live music, food, and drinks. The event takes place this year on Friday evening, April 27, 6:00 p.m. at the Fegleys' Allentown Brew Works(812 West Hamilton). Tickets ($25) will be available in advance and at the door. Please consider attending, as neighborhood families often need financial support for their children to come to our school. Executive Director Mrs. Elizabeth House and The Rev. Beth Reed will each make remarks at the event. GMS website.
• Bethlehem: The Cathedral presents ... a Night with the Phantom, April 20. More here.
• Bethlehem: Cathedral ... [Mariclair Partee] There are still a few seats left for the May Icon Workshop with Fr. Peter Pearson at the Cathedral. This year we will be writing a modified icon of the Nativity in celebration of the Cathedral’s Sesquicentennial. I hope that you are able to attend! The cost is $225, which includes all materials and instruction, and for those coming from far away there are rooms at two local retreat centers available, or I can help with finding other accommodations. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
• Pottsville: Renowned organist performed at Trinity ... [Republican-Herald] The sound of organs once again filled Trinity Episcopal Church in Pottsville on Sunday as part of the church's ongoing concert series.The concert featured Mark Laubach, an internationally acclaimed organist who directs the music program at St. Stephen Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre. Since January 1986, Laubach has served as organist and choirmaster of St. Stephen Episcopal Church, the Pro-Cathedral of the Diocese of Bethlehem, where he administers an active music program. In addition to liturgical planning, training choirs affiliated with the Royal School of Church Music in America and playing the church's Berghaus pipe organ, Laubach oversees a concert series and weekly radio program on the local National Public Radio affiliate. More here.
• Scranton: Celebration of New Ministry ... Church of the Good Shepherd and their new rector, Peter F. Pearson. Sunday, April 22, at 4:00 p.m.
• Weekly eNewsletters from parishes
Allentown, Grace Church, April 12.
Bethlehem, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, April 13.
Dallas, Prince of Peace Church, April 13.
Easton, Trinity Church, April 13.
Trexlertown, St. Anne's Church here, click on "Weekly Calendar."
Wilkes-Barre, St. Stephen's, April 13.
There may be others. If so, please send me a link.
• Monthly Newsletters from parishes ... Most parishes publish a monthly newsletter that is mailed to parishioners. Many, if not most, of those are available at the parish websites.
• Calendar of Events ... Here.
• Episcopal News Weekly bulletin inserts ... Download inserts here.
• Episcopal Church new website ... complete transformation and redesign, launched December 28, efficient and user friendly. Read about it here. ... Episcopal News Service ... ENS blog ... Episcopal Church on Facebook ... Episcopal Church on YouTube ... Anglican Communion website ... Anglican Communion News Service. ... Anglican Communion News Service on Facebook.
• Jesus was an Only Son ... [Episcopal Café] Bruce Springsteen sings, and explains one of his lesser known songs.
• The best kept secret of the Catholic Church ... [National Catholic Reporter] The Catholic church has a very big secret. It is so powerful, challenging and relevant that if every bishop, priest, deacon, religious and layperson was committed to communicating and implementing this secret, it would turn society upside-down and literally transform the world. However, revealing its contents and tirelessly urging the full application of its message would surely cause great controversy. The church would come under fierce attack from both conservatives and liberals for being naïve and acting outside acceptable ecclesial boundaries. Therefore, most Catholics have opted to tread lightly, sadly guaranteeing that Catholic social teaching will remain our best-kept secret ... What is it about Catholic social teaching that is so threatening to the status quo? More here.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Congregational Resource Guide ... March 27.
• Daily Office ... Lectionary Page ... Lectionary ... Oremus Bible Browser ... Revised Common Lectionary
• Last Waltz ... [Barbara Crafton] Today being the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, the enduring popular interest in this most famous of all maritime tragedies has quickened, and it's been all over the television and radio for days. This morning I heard that the band may not have been playing "Nearer My God To Thee," as I'd always heard it was when the vessel finally upended and sank beneath the waves. The very last tune wasn't the beloved hymn, it seems. It was a sad little waltz, one not known to me: ''Songe d'Automne", by Archibald Joyce, was the last song the eight musicians played on the frigid top deck, before they went into the icy water.
• Holy Silence, Holy Talk ... [Barbara Crafton] Privacy from what? I could tell Q was a little wounded. I had announced that I was taking myself out to breakfast, something he never does. No, no, I said, sorry for this need of mine to be alone. It's not FROM anything. Just...privacy. I could keep the cats away, he offered. But it's not the cats -- well, okay, it is the cats, but it's not more them than anybody else. There are times, especially when I have been on duty for days on end, when I just crave solitude. I want a waitress who calls you "Hon" and then leaves you alone, and you don't have to feel guilty that you're not talking to her because it's her job to leave you alone.
• Heaven ... [Excerpt from Time cover story, April 16, by Jon Meacham] What if Christianity is not about enduring this sinful, fallen world in search of a reward of eternal rest? What if the authors of the New Testament were actually talking about a bodily resurrection in which God brings together the heavens and the earth in a wholly new, wholly redeemed creation? As more voices preach a view that's at odds with the pearly gates (but supported, they note, by Scripture), faithful followers must decide which approach they believe in ... For me, the scholarly redefinition of heaven as a manifestation of God's love on earth has been illuminating, for it at once puts believers in closer proximity to the intent of the New Testament authors and should inspire the religious to open their arm more often than they point fingers. Heaven thus becomes, for now, the reality one creates in the service of the poor, the sick, the enslaved, the oppressed. It is not paradise in the sky but acts of selflessness and love that bring God's sacred space and grace to a broken world suffused with tragedy until, in theoloigcal terms, the unknown hour when the world we struggle to piece together is made whole again. We could do worse than think in such terms. Cover story available only to subscribers. Apart from Time, a Jesuit speaks of heaven.
• God's care for the poor ... [Sightings] The text for today's meditation comes from The Wall Street Journal, a quotation provided by a major novelist, whose newest work was being reviewed. The quote, first: "The Lord commands us to 'do good to all men,' universally, a great part of whom, estimated according to their own merits, are very undeserving; but here the Scripture assists us with an excellent rule, when it inculcates, that we must not regard the intrinsic merit of men, but must consider the images of God in them, to which we owe all possible honour and love." The reviewer is Thomas Meaney, co-editor of The Utopian, who assumes that readers will be surprised to find that the author of that quotation, so typical of liberal Protestant rhetoric, "as improbable as it may sound, is John Calvin." More here.
• UMC website Here. News Service Here. Communication Resources Start here. Communication newsletter (tips and tools) Here. Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• Two milestones for B16 ... [Reuters and CNS] Pope Benedict marks two milestones this week and while his health appears stable, signs of frailty have again prompted speculation over whether he will be the first pontiff in seven centuries to resign. Benedict, one of the oldest popes in history, turns 85 on Monday, and on Thursday he marks the seventh anniversary of his election as successor to the immensely popular John Paul II. Benedict is already older than John Paul was when he died in 2005 and is now the oldest reigning pope since Leo XIII, who died aged 93 in 1903 after reigning for 25 years. Reuters and Catholic News Service.
• The landmark Philadelphia abuse trial ... Daily reports. A NYTimes editorial suggests why this trial is especially important: "The issue of hierarchal responsibility is finally front and center." Complete Phila Inquirer coverage.
• RC Bishops issue manifesto ... [Episcopal Café] More pointed and hostile than previous statements, expressing disdain for (and even a refusal to acknowledge) court rulings against the Bishops, vowing not to obey "unjust laws," and pledging to deploy "all the energies the Catholic community can muster" to resist "totalitarian incursions against religious liberty" this summer. Predictably, the Bishops point first to the Department of Health and Human Services contraception converage requirement as one of the "concrete examples" of the supposed infringement of their religious liberty, charging it amounts to an "unjust law." The Bishops conveniently gloss over the fact that two state supreme courts have ruled similar laws constitutional. But ignoring court rulings is a major part of this document. Several of the Bishops' other "concrete examples" turn out to be matters on which courts have ruled there is no infringement of religious liberty. ... Possibly the biggest canard offered in the phony religious freedom wars is that because Catholics are called by their faith to provide services to the needy, that requiring them to play by the same rules as every other provider of those services somehow "treat[s] the good works of religious believers as a threat to our common life." More here. See also "Catholic bishops issue rallying cry" at National Catholic Reporter. See also Commonweal's (a Catholic magazine) strongly critical response to the statement on religious liberty issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here. Diocese of Scranton ... Here. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here. Catholic News Service ... Here. Vatican website ... Here. Vatican Information Service blog ... Here. Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• Alleviate stress ... It's easy to let the little stresses of life pile up and overwhelm, usually at the worst moment. USA.gov can help put things in perspective with helpful resources. Constantly being on the go can be an added stress to an already busy day. The National Center for Telehealth and Technology has a free app, Breathe2Relax, available on androids and iPhones. The app includes instructions and practice exercises. Stress an come in all different forms, and can affect you on many levels. Too much st4ress can lead to other unhealthy behavior an lifestyles. Take the quick Stress-o-meter quiz to get your personal stress profile. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or severe emotional distress, call 800-273-8255, or if it is a medical emergency, call 911. USA.gov offers any resources on specific mental health conditions as well as substance abuse effects on mental health.
• The Hunger Games ... Hunger for meaning, or the transcendence games; Losing the moral center; The Hunger Games and moral formation; Review by Frederic and MaryAnn Brussat.
• April 20 Episcopal Church webinar ... on "Mobile Apps for Churches." Pre-registration required. More here.
• April 21 Episcopal Church live webcast ... on "The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment." Here.
Calendar of Events ... Here.
Additional sources of news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Faith in Public Life ... here.
(1) The Episcopal Church
(2) Episcopal News Service
(3) Episcopal Café
(5) AnglicansOnline News Centre.
You are reading the newSpin newsletter. The newSpin blog, which includes the newsletter and other items, is available here. When the newsletter is completed on Mondays and occasionally on Thursdays as well, it is published immediately to the blog and on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,000 addresses. Many recipients forward it to many more. Bakery and the blog are interactive. The ChurchPost list is not. The newsletter comes, of course, with some spin from the editor. The views expressed, implied or inferred in items or links contained in the newsletter or the blog do not represent the official view of the Diocese of Bethlehem unless expressed by or forwarded from the Bishop or the Archdeacon as an official communication. If you're wondering why you haven't seen something related to your parish or agency here, it's probably because no one has sent relevant info. Regarding items about your parish or agency as well as feedback on any other items ... send email to Bill.
Bill Lewellis, Diocese of Bethlehem, retired
Communication Minister/Editor (1986-2010), Canon Theologian (1998)
Blog , Email (c)610-393-1833
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]