The newSpin Newsletter, April 23, 2012
By Bill Lewellis
Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday
• Returning to the Sermon on the Mount ... [NYTimes, The Stone] Read alone, the Sermon on the Mount will either confuse us or merely reinforce the moral prejudices we bring to it. To profit from its wisdom we need to understand it through traditions of thought and practice within or informed by Christianity. This does not require membership in any particular church, but it does require immersion in the culture and history of the Christian world. In this sense, to forget the church is to forget Jesus.
• 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.
• Diocesan Life, May/June ... Stories on St. Alban's, Sinking Springs, Family Promise at All Saints, birthday bags for the Nazareth Food Bank, our New Hope campaign update from Charlie Barebo, Vocare, Bishop's Day for Kids, the Whitehall Food Pantry, What is a deputy? (for General Convention) and more. Here.
• Young 'Millennials' losing faith in record numbers ... [RNS, Lauren Markoe] A growing tide of young Americans is drifting away from the religions of their childhood -- and most of them are ending up in no religion at all. One in four young adults choose “unaffiliated” when asked about their religion ... Most within this unaffiliated group -- 55 percent -- identified with a religious group when they were younger. These younger unaffiliated adults are very nonreligious. More here.
• A recent note from Bishop Anthony in Kajo Keji to Bishop Paul ... [April 19] "Thanks for your e-mail and greetings from Kajo-Keji. The situation between South Sudan and Sudan is is of grave concern to us all. It is difficult to tell whether open war has been declared or not. The statement from President Beshir has added more concerns where he said that he will work to liberate South Sudanese from Sudan People's LIberation Movement. The government of South Sudan is saying that there side of the story is being ignored as they have restrained themselves for the last nine months. Pray for peace and for willingness of both countries to return to the negotiating table. It is hard to get accurate news. One of my daily sources of news in Sudan Tribune as well as John Ashworth's e-mails." More from The Christian Science Monitor.
• Our new website ... See above, under TopSpin.
• High School Mission Trip ... Here.
• Diocesan Events for 2012 ... Here.
• Diocesan Life, May/June ... 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.
Allentown: Grace in the news ... [Grace priest-in-charge Beth Reed] Wednesday's Morning Call, April 18, had an article about Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to local groups that have been cut. The CDBG program disburses federal funds to cities, which then disburses them to local organizations. Grace Montessori applies for and usually receives one of these grants, and we have again this year ($10,000), though it is substantially less than last year's amount ($15,000). The grant we receive goes directly to fund scholarships. There was a happy picture of children at our school in the paper, with four more pictures on the paper's website. The article contained a quote from the Grace Montessori School's Executive Director, Mrs. Elizabeth House.
• 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 email@example.com to register.
• Clarks Summit: Epiphany in the News ... [Abington Journal] The formation of the church began on the Festival of the Epiphany, January 6, 1912, at a small gathering of residents of the Abingtons held in the 1876 Centennial Schoolhouse in Glenburn. The meeting was cut short because the potbelly stove provided insufficient heat to encourage extended discussion. Enough interest was expressed though, and the schoolhouse was subsequently purchased and renovated; it serves to this day as the worship area of the Church of the Epiphany. More here.
• Dallas ... Resumes are being accepted for the position of organist and choirmaster. Must be proficient at organ and choral direction. Adult and youth involvement. Send resume to Pastor, Prince of Peace Church, 420 Main Street, Dallas, PA 18612. An application for employment and full job description are available following submission of resumes.
• Note to parishes ... [Republican-Herald] Please send news summaries and links to Bill.
• Weekly eNewsletters from parishes
Allentown, Grace Church, April 19.
Bethlehem, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, April 20.
Dallas, Prince of Peace Church, April 20.
Easton, Trinity Church, April 20.
Trexlertown, St. Anne's Church here, click on "Weekly Calendar."
Wilkes-Barre, St. Stephen's, April 23.
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.
General Convention 2012 in July
• What is a deputy ... Diocese of Bethlehem deputation chair Anne Kitch recommends Cathy Bailey's new post on the GC Deputies Blog. "As we approach the 77th General Convention in July," Canon Kitch writes, "there will be more and more news about events and issues in the Episcopal Church. The deputies will be posting updates on the blog as our way of keeping you in the loop. As always, please feel free to contact any of the deputies with questions about General Convention. Deputies are available to meet with parish or regional groups. Our contact information is on the blog."
• The Blue Book ... information and resolutions for GC2012 is available for downloading. Here.
• Let go of the peanuts ... [Episcopal Café, Jim Naughton] You will have to read the Rev. Gay Jennings' entire sermon at the closing Eucharist of Executive Council to understand the headline on this item. More here.
• Diocese of Pittsburgh ... elects Dorsey McConnell as bishop. More at Episcopal News Service.
• Diocese of Virginia... elects Susan Goff as bishop suffragan. More at Episcopal News Service.
• The Archbishop of Wales ... [The Independent,UK] has publicly called on Anglicans to support gay civil marriages arguing that the church’s record on equality has made homosexual men and women often feel “unwanted, unloved and sinful.” Dr Barry Morgan made his comments during an impassioned plea for Anglicans to be more tolerant towards homosexuals during a meeting of the church’s governing body in Llandudno. He is one of just a handful of senior Anglican clergymen to publicly come out in favour of extending civil marriage rights. Most bishops who have spoken publicly since the government began consultations on gay marriage have voiced vehement opposition to the plans. More 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.
• Finding sanity in the experience of wonder... [Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch] The concluding paragraph, p. 1016: Original sin is one of the more plausible concepts within the Western Christian package, corresponding all to accurately to everyday human experience. One great encouragement to sin is an absence of wonder. Even those who see the Christian story as just that – a series of stories – may find sanity in the experience of wonder: the ability to listen and contemplate. It would be very surprising if this religion, so youthful, yet so varied in its historical experience, had now revealed all its secrets.
• Move over, Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, in the burgeoning Christian sports icon department ... [BillyGraham.org] Bubbs Watson is an outspoken Christian golfer and he uses his Twitter account — along with his platform as one of the PGA Tour's magnetic personalities — to share about his faith in Christ. More here. [h/t RNS Daily]
• The number one mancrush ... According to Mancrush.com, Jesus Christ is number one, followed by Hemingway, Thoreau… and Bill Murray. I did not make this up. [h/t The Jesuit Post]
• The Rosa Parks of Manhattan streetcars in 1854 ... [Ephemeral New York] Elizabeth Jennings was run– ning late. It was July 16, 1854, and Jennings, a 24-year-old teacher, was headed to the First Colored American Congregational Church on Sixth Street and the Bowery. At Chatham and Pearl Streets, she boarded a streetcar. Like schools, hotels, and many jobs, streetcars operated on a color line and often refused black New Yorkers. On this summer morning, the driver insisted Jennings get off and wait for a colored streetcar. She said no.
• Most people don’t care about politics ... UCLA political scientist Lynn Vavreck tells the WaPo’s Ezra Klein. More at Poynter.
• Ripped Reverend Amy Richter ... [Episcopal Café] What about when a priest wears a bikini? What if she complicates the picture by having sizable biceps or well-defined lats? Can “buff” and “holy” go together? “Ripped” and “reverend”? If the “reverend” is a woman? Here.
• The Jesuits are $14 richer after selling a rare gospel ... [NYTimes] A seventh-century gospel discovered in a saint’s coffin more than 900 years ago, and the oldest European book to survive fully intact, has been acquired by the British Library for $14 million, the library said. The book, a manuscript copy of the Gospel of John called the St. Cuthbert Gospel, was placed in Cuthbert’s coffin, probably in 698, and rediscovered there in 1104. “It is undoubtedly one of the world’s most important books,” said Scot McKendrick of the British Library. The book was sold by the Society of Jesus.
• B16, a pope of ironies ... [NCR, John Allen, April 20] For Benedict XVI, this has been a week of milestones. The pontiff turned 85 on Monday, making him the oldest pope in the last 110 years and one of just six to reign past 85 in the last half-millennium. On Thursday, Benedict also marked the seventh anniversary of his election to the papacy in April 2005. ... The most intriguing feature of this papacy isn't how Benedict has confirmed expectations, but rather how he's confounded them. The following are eight such defining ironies, meaning sharp contrasts between the stereotypes and mythology that surrounded Benedict at the beginning versus the lived reality of his reign. Here.
• 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.
• Virginia priest who headed child protection office is accused of abuse ... [WaPo] The Rev. Terrty Specht, 59, the Catholic priest who headed the Northern Virginia Diocese of Arlington's office responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse was placed on administrative leave Wednesday while he is investigated for alleged sexual misconduct with a teenage boy. More here.
• The 13 most useless majors, from philosophy to journalism ... [The Daily Beast/U.S.News] Here.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Congregational Resource Guide ... Here.
• Daily Office ... Lectionary Page ... Lectionary ... Oremus Bible Browser ... Revised Common Lectionary
• The hidden costs of a gallon of gas are rising ... [NCR Editorial] This month marks the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and leaked 4.9 million barrels of crude oil, causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the area’s fisheries and tourism industry. The spill’s local impact still unfolds. Now the nation is in the midst of an election-year energy debate -- with mostly a sole focus on rising prices at the pump -- that is, in light of the Gulf disaster, woefully shortsighted. 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.
• Vatican reprimands group of U.S. nuns and plans changes ... [NYTimes and RNS] The Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying that an investigation found that the group had “serious doctrinal problems.” The Vatican’s assessment said members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that represents most of the U.S.'s 55,000 nuns had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care. ... Another group was also cited for focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage. More at NYTimes. and RNS.
Also, this from a WaPo column by Melinda Henneberger: The Vatican is cracking down on American nuns who, as one of my fellow Catholics noted over a cup of unconsecrated wine last night, “Only do what Jesus told us to do,’’ in their hospitals, schools and orphanages, “so no wonder they’re in trouble.’’ Also, with his opening tweets, the immensely popular Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin, SJ started his drive to remember how much Catholics (and non-Catholics) value the contributions of U.S. Catholic Nuns. "Catholic sisters teach me what it means to persevere in ministry without the benefit of institutional power. #WhatSistersMeanToMe," he tweeted, following up with a second tweet asking, "How have Catholic sisters helped in your life?" [Bill] Way back in the late 60s or early 70s, while still a Roman Catholic priest, I led a retreat day for a group of nuns during which I said their troubles began – and will continue – because they have been taking Vatican II seriously. Also, at Episcopal Café from Andrew Gerns.
• 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.
• The real Catholic social teaching and the Ryan budget ... [Religion Dispatches] Here.
• National Catholic Reporter editorial on the budget ... The RC bishops sent letters to congressional leaders in March, weeks before Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled his budget proposal. Ryan, despite his rhetoric that Catholic social teaching informs his budget decisions, clearly ignored the bishops’ advice. The budget Ryan proposed and the House passed is a radical document, punitive toward the middle class and the poor. An analysis of the Ryan budget released April 13 by 60 prominent theologians, priests, nuns and national Catholic social justice leaders says the “budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can’t be justified in Christian terms.” The bishops’ April 17 letter called the Ryan budget a moral failure. More here.
• 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.
• He who sits the most dies the soonest ... [The Atlantic] A study of more than 200,000 Australians adds to the growing body of evidence that people who sit the most die the soonest. It also found that you can't exercise this effect away, though exercise does help reduce it greatly. The study's simple message is that spending more time standing and less time sitting prolongs life. More here.
• The healing power of gardening ... Here.
• MedlinePlus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Quality Care Finder ... [Medicare/Medicaid] Here.
• AP's approval of 'hopefully' symbolizes larger debate over language ... [WaPo, Monica Hesse] The barbarians have done it, finally infiltrated a remaining bastion of order in a linguistic wasteland. They had already taken the Oxford English Dictionary; they had stormed the gates of Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. They had pummeled American Heritage into submission, though she fought valiantly — she continues to fight! — by including a cautionary italics phrase, “usage problem,” next to the heretical definition. Then, on Tuesday morning, the venerated AP Stylebook publicly affirmed (via tweet, no less) what it had already told the American Copy Editors Society: It, too, had succumbed. “We now support the modern usage of hopefully,” the tweet said. “It is hoped, we hope.” More here.
• Baseball as a road to God ... [NYTimes] New York University president John Sexton teaches this course for credit. “The real idea of the course,” he put it in an interview, “is to develop heightened sensitivity and a noticing capacity. So baseball’s not ‘the’ road to God. For most of us, it isn’t ‘a’ road to God. But it’s a way to notice, to cause us to live more slowly and to watch more keenly and thereby to discover the specialness of our life and our being, and, for some of us, something more than our being.” ... The springtime class had its genesis in the challenge of a skeptic. In the 1998-99 school year, an N.Y.U. law student presented himself to Dr. Sexton to say, “I understand you’re a real baseball fan, and I don’t get it.” Dr. Sexton, invoking the words of his own long-ago mentor at Brooklyn Prep, replied: “Then you are among the great unwashed. But there is hope for your soul.” By means of evangelism, Dr. Sexton oversaw an independent-study project for the law student, assigning him 10 books about baseball and theology. Word of mouth around campus led more students to ask for a similar tutorial. Dr. Sexton instead devised an entire class, and made it available to undergraduates. The core of his original reading list — “The Sacred and the Profane,” by the religion historian Mircea Eliade — remains central to the class all these years later. More here.
• Thinking theologically about using social media ... [Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Verity Jones] Although we don’t have all the answers yet -- or even all the questions -- one thing is clear: the widespread use of technology and social media in American culture today is rapidly changing the landscape in which Christian life occurs. Our task at the New Media Project is not to justify or be an apologist for technology or for social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter. Rather, we seek to understand this dramatic shift in communication patterns and tools theologically. If, as Anselm said, theology is “faith seeking understanding,” then our challenge -- our hope -- is to understand what is at stake for the body of Christ during this time. More 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]