newSpin, the newsletter
April 30, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• Former ABC Rowan Williams: We are a post-Christian nation ... [London Telegraph] Former archbishop of Canterbury says Britain is no longer a nation of believers, as Telegraph poll reveals Christians are reluctant to express their faith. Telegraph Editorial: Wise words from Rowan Williams on Christianity in Britain.
• In his homily at the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II ...Pope Francis portrayed the two former popes as “men of courage” who shared a place in history. “They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful.”
• Anti-gay Anglicanism ... [Religion News Roundup, Lauren Markoe] The conservative wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion — made up chiefly of Anglican archbishops in Africa, Asia and Latin America — equated the experiences of Ugandans who support a new anti-gay law with those of victims of an earthquake or a terror attack. The law calls for life imprisonment for those guilty of certain homosexual acts. Uganda, by the way, is drafting more anti-gay laws.
• Why won't Anglican Church in North America say it is wrong to put gay people in prison? ... [Jim Naughton, Episcopal Café] Archbishop Robert Duncan was given an opportunity yesterday by Cathy Grossman of Religion News Service to say that he did not support Uganda’s harsh new anti-gay law, which not only penalizes people involved in same-sex relationships, but also people who have knowledge of same-sex relationships and do not report them to the authorities. The U.S. Government and every major human rights group have publicly opposed the bill, but Archbishop Duncan, leader of the Anglican Church in North America, couldn’t bring himself to do it. Read on.
• Nine lies you hear in church ... [United Methodist Community at American University] Popular Christianity has often reduced deep spiritual truths to simple bumper-sticker statements or theological sound-bites and these can change the way that people understand their faith. Here's a sermon series from the United Methodist Community at American University exposing some of the more unhelpful (and misleading) things Christians say as a result and looking at the deeper truth that doesn’t get said enough. Read on. A few of the nine lies: If you pray hard enough, God will answer. God never gives you more than you can bear. It's all part of God's plan.
• OMG: Spirituality in the Digital Age ... On April 3 at the General Theological Seminry, Bishop Steven Charleston presented the 2014 Kay Butler Gill Lecture, “OMG: Spirituality in the Digital Age.” He spoke of the development of a unique spiritual community: an inter-religious, international congregation of people from many distinctive backgrounds, all linked by a shared response to a spiritual vision that is both pragmatic and poetic. Each morning he compresses a single spiritual thought into a few concise words and posts it on Facebook, the largest social network in human history. The result is an ever-growing community of thousands that may tell us something about the evolution of faith into the far horizons of both the human spirit and human technology. Read the rest of this intro here. Download a .pdf file of the text of the lecture here.
• Who wrote the Serenity Prayer? ... [The Chronicle of Higher Education, Fred Shapiro] God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Here.
• Spirit Spinning ... [The Lutheran Synod] Each week, different members of the Spirituality Ministry Team of the Northeast PA Lutheran Synod offer ways for you to take a few minutes a day to pause and reflect on your ongoing relationship with God. Click here now to be connected with the spirituality team's blog. When you visit the blog, you can sign up, and the reflections will be sent directly to your email inbox. You can also follow Spirit Spinning on twitter at @tendingtheholy.
• Father John Wagner ... Please keep Fr. John Wagner in your prayers this week. He will be going through a laminectomy procedure at Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Center on Tilghman St. this Thursday.
• Barbara Brown Taylor among TIME's 100 Most Influential People ...“If you are in the dark, it does not mean that you have failed and that you have taken some terrible misstep,” she says. “For many years, I thought my questions and my doubt and my sense of God’s absence were all signs of my lack of faith, but now I know this is the way the life of the spirit goes.”
• The Golden Rule ... is not "Do one to others bfore they do one to you."
• Innocence ... [Br. Curtis Almquist, Society of Saint John the Evangelist] Whatever has compromised your own innocence, God knows you before that, and God knows you in that, and God will see you through that. That’s why we call Jesus our Savior.
• To all knitters/crocheters ... [Christmas at Sea, Jane Teter] Just a reminder that, once again we are collecting items for the mariners on the high seas at Christmas time. We will collect them at our convention in October, but items may be dropped off at Diocesan House anytime. You can find the patterns on The Seamen's Church Institute webpage. There are several patterns for hats, scarfs. vests, socks, etc. Please consider making an item or two for those away from home on the high seas away from family and friends at Christmas time.
• SpiritSpin Resources ... Below, near the bottom.
• Grapes of Wrath speaks to our time ... [Leonard Pitts, columnist] It was an angry book. Much of the response was angry, too. Some towns banned it, some towns burned it. Every town talked about it. The Grapes of Wrath was published 75 years ago this month, a seminal masterpiece of American literature that seems freshly relevant to this era of wealth disparity, rapacious banks and growing poverty. Read on.
• Europe is seen as a secular continent ... but the leaders of European countries still maintain some kind of religious identity. With UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent comments on religion, the Economist looks at the religious identities of England, France, Germany and Italy. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Inequality ... [Pope Francis] Inequality is the root of social evil.
• Riverside Church in Manhattan ... [Religion News Roundup, Lauren Markoe] is wooing the Rev. Amy Butler, who would be the first woman to lead the 83-year-old congregation. Butler has done a bang up job in D.C., where 11 years ago she took the struggling Cavalry Baptist Church and made it into a center of Washington religious life, reports our own Sarah Pulliam Bailey. If you’re unfamiliar with Butler, here are her five reflections for Good Friday.
• More Catholic than the pope ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, Ross Douthat] My Sunday column used the double canonization of two of his predecessors to discuss some of the perils awaiting Pope Francis as his pontificate advances, and it concluded with a fairly stark claim: Some of the proposals on divorce, remarriage and communion that have been put forward by prominent figures in the church, I wrote, might lead to schism if the pope were to adopt and implement them. Read on.
• Patrick Malloy ... [American Theological Review] In his review essay on two recent works on liturgical revision in the Roman Catholic communion, Patrick Malloy provides us with a critical examination of the newest edition of The Roman Missal. He points to the rejection of “dynamic equivalence” by Pope John Paul II in his 2001 instruction on the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy, Liturgiam authenticam, in favour of “formal equivalence,” a more restrictive approach to translation and adaptation. In some ways Malloy asks whether the new Missal is an example of retranchement rather than ressourcement. Read it in the Spring 2014 issue of the ATR. Table of Contents here.
[Seabury] Pat has also written Chapter 3 in the collection of essays on The Episcopal-United Methodist Dialogue, That They May Be One? Chapter 3 is: A Review of Sacramental and Liturgical Matters.
• Episcopal News Service... welcomes submissions, including live event coverage, news stories, feature articles and commentaries. Submission guidelines here.
• New Hope is The Ask ... [New Hope in Pictures, Archdeacon Stringfellow] When we visit a school, The Welcome is quickly followed by The Ask. Together they form the most memorable set pieces of a visit. Above one of the head teachers reads his memorandum to us of the things he needs. It is The Ask. It seems to last forever and to be a surprise when it begins. I manage to blot them from my mind between journeys to Kajo-Keji.
To begin to understand the Ask, we need to remember that the South Sudanese have almost nothing. Their needs, from our perspective, are immense. Our list of their needs is much larger than their list. But The Ask never seems modest at the time. It's during the Ask that I feel the heat, that I imagine the bumpy ride back to Romogi, that I begin to yearn for the cramped quarters of the economy section of the airplane, and that I know that all we've done, all the money donors have generously entrusted to us, and all that we hope to do will but scratch the surface of their needs.
The Ask gives me a chance to mature a bit and to contemplate something other than my discomfort. Read on.
• Diocesan Episcopal Church Women ... Annual Luncheon and Program. Wednesday May 14, Kirby House, $12.00 per person. Registration: mail to Martha Fox 4465 Farm Drive, Allentown 18104, 610-395-4857. Program: The Rev. Lou Divis. Holy Eucharist: Canon Anne E. Kitch.
• DioBeth news, info ... DioBeth website, newSpin blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn,
• 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.
• EYE: The 2014 Episcopal Youth Event ... will take place at Villanova University, July 9-13. Read on.
• The EYE 2014 Team ... Here.
• Chancel Opera replaces sermon at Mediator Allentown ... Sunday, May 4, at 8:00 and 10:15. More info here. Also, Jo Trepanier at The Episcopal Church of the Mediator (610-434-0156) or Susan Bingham (610-573-4141), or through Mediator’s website.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• The Chernobyl Disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, occurred in Ukraine ... [Writer's Almanac] It took place not ten, not 20, but almost 30 years ago. During a systems test on April 26, 1986, the plant experienced a series of power surges, which led to an explosion in the core of one of its reactors, and a fire that burned for 10 days. Radioactive material 400 times greater than the amount released at Hiroshima shot into the atmosphere and blanketed the surrounding countryside. The public was not informed of the disaster until three days later, and only then because the radiation had traveled almost 700 miles to Sweden, triggering alarms at a nuclear power plant there. The Soviet government was forced to admit that a disaster had occurred. The nearby city of Pripyat was evacuated. The residents, believing that the evacuation would only last three days, left all their personal belongings behind, and most of them have never returned, although some elderly Ukrainians have defied the Exclusion Zone to return to their homes in spite of the high radiation levels.
• I've learned ... that most of the things I worry about never happen ... that every great achievement was once considered impossible ... that I should make the little decisions with my head and big decisions with my heart ... that to love and be loved is the greatest joy in the world ... that it doesn’t cost anything to be nice ... that if you smile at people, they will almost always smile back ... that I should not underestimate the potential and power of human spirit ... that I still have a lot to learn.
I didn't have time ... [Seth Godin] This actually means, "it wasn't important enough." It wasn't a high priority, fun, distracting, profitable or urgent enough to make it to the top of the list. Every few days, Twitter and Facebook soak up a billion hours of 'spare' time. Where did that time come from? What did we do before social media was here? Weren't we busy five years ago? Running out of time is mostly a euphemism, and the smart analyst realizes that it's a message about something else. Time is finite, but, unlike money, time is also replenished every second. The people you're trying to reach are always recalibrating which meetings they go to, which shows they watch, which books they don't read. The solution has nothing to do with giving people more time (you can't) and everything to do with creating more urgency, more of an itch, more desire.
• Telling the good news, in the media ... [Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson] If the media isn’t telling the stories you want told it is possible (we say very gently) that those stories aren’t interesting or significant enough to warrant coverage. Or, it is possible that you are not presenting them to the media in a way that catches their attention. Or perhaps you have not presented stories to the media at all. It isn’t easy to get your congregation, diocese, conference, or other sort of Christian organization into the newspaper or in online media outlets unless something has gone significantly wrong. It is even harder to get it on television or the radio. But it is possible if you absorb these 10 simple tips. Read on.
• No accounting skills? No moral reckoning ... [NYTimes] Sometimes it seems as if our lives are dominated by financial crises and failed reforms. But how much do Americans even understand about finance? Few of us can do basic accounting and fewer still know what a balance sheet is. If we are going to get to the point where we can have a serious debate about financial accountability, we first need to learn some essentials. The German economic thinker Max Weber believed that for capitalism to work, average people needed to know how to do double-entry bookkeeping. This is not simply because this type of accounting makes it possible to calculate profit and capital by balancing debits and credits in parallel columns; it is also because good books are “balanced” in a moral sense. They are the very source of accountability, a word that in fact derives its origin from the word “accounting.” Read on.
• I didn't have time ... See above, under TimeSpin.
• United Methodist website ... Here.
• The Moravian Church in North America website ... Here.
• The Moravian Church Northern Province website ... Here.
• The Presbyterian Church USA website ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website ... Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• The Episcopal Church website ... Here.
Rest in Peace
• Jack Docker, 76 ... [Sally Heist] In addition to the info found here, Docker was a son of the parish of St. Gabriel Douglassville where he grew up.
• Pam Adams ... [St. Gabriel's Douglassville, David R. Green, rector] We will gather to celebrate Pam's life on Sunday, May 18 at 4:00 p.m. Whether you knew her or not, I want to encourage you to come join in the service. An ice cream social will follow in Adams Hall. (Pam and Cal loved ice cream!!) In part, Cal and Pam's passing marks the end of a vibrant and fruitful era at St. Gabriel's and in the diocese. As we chart our transition into the future, understanding and celebrating this past is really important.
Cal was Rector of St. Gabriel's for 23 years. Cal and Pam retired in 2010, only for Calvin to come down with cancer and die two years later. Pam was diagnosed at about the same time as Cal in 2011. To say that Cal and Pam had a huge effect on St. Gabriel's and the Diocese of Bethlehem is an understatement. Indeed, their inspiring love and devotion to God and God's people forms much of the modern-day spiritual foundation we are building on at St. Gabe's today.
Episcopal/Anglican (beyond DioBeth)
• Free weekly bulletin inserts ... provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Find the inserts here.
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
• Woman initially accused of stealing $95K from clients of Lehigh Conference of Churches now accused of stealing $300K ... [Emily Opilo, The Morning Call, April 23] What follows is the earlier story. During 2012, a woman allegedly stole $95K from the representative payee program, in Social Security payments intended for the area's poorest residents, clients of the conference's Homelessness Prevention Program. She worked for the conference since 1997. Conference executive director Jack Felch said the investigation into the theft is ongoing, and the conference expects that the total amount of money stolen to increase as older transactions are analyzed. [It has, since this story was written, increased to $300K.] A review of the theft showed that there were no "adverse events," such as evictions, for clients as a result, Felch said, but the conference has pledged to return all of the money that can be found. Officials are "fairly confident" that their insurance plan will cover the lost money, he said. Felch said the conference has explained the situation to conference members, but not all of the clients of the Homelessness Prevention Program are aware of the situation, he said. The conference has tried to be sensitive, he said. "These are folks that have had enough challenges in their lives from a victimization point of view," Felch said. "We don't want to make it worse by them feeling victimized. This is a conference issue, and the conference it dealing with it." Read on.
• Are you as Bible smart as you think you are ... [RNS] The American Bible Society’ surveyed 1,012 people on their Bible IQ. Now, quiz yourself to see if you know as much as you think you do.
• Many Americans scramble their scriptures ... [RNS] Here.
• Religion for $1,000, Alex ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, Nicholas Kristof] With Easter and Passover freshly behind us, let’s test your knowledge of the Bible. How many mistakes can you find in the following? Read on.
• National Catholic Reporter ... 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.
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
• Immunizations help protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases ... [USA.gov] Take a look at the vaccination schedule for infants and children (birth-6 years) and find a tool to help you determine missed or skipped vaccines. The importance of vaccinations is not limited to babies and kids. Be sure to keep up with recommended immunizations at all stages of life. Find vaccination schedules for:Preteens and teens (7-18 years) and Adults (19 years and older). Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional information, including answers to the question "Why Immunize?" and resources on vaccine safety.
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
• How to sell Pope Francis ... [The Atlantic] How do you sell a book of theological reflections to a mass-market audience? Read on.
• Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg ... Here. • Free Audiobooks from LibriVox ... Here. • Free Audiobooks and eBooks ... Here and Here.
• Google Books ... Millions of books you can preview or read free. Here. • The Online Books Page ... from UPenn. Here.
• More free eBooks and Audiobooks ... [Techlicious] Here.
• Religion Research Hub ... ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, an especially useful site.
• Many Congregational Resources ... The "Using Resources" series of publications by the Center for Congregations is designed to help congregations make the most effective use of capital funds, consultants, architects, contractors, books, congregation management software, and more.
• Church locators ... Here.
• Insights into Religion ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• The Alban Institute ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here.
• The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project: Daily Religion Headlines ... here.
• Religious Freedom Blog ... a weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. Here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
(1) The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
(2) Episcopal Café
(3) AngicansOnline website and news centre.
(4) The Living Church
(5) The Anglican Communion website and news service.
(6) The Daily Scan: Contact email@example.com to add subscribers for news releases, notices, statements, or Daily Scan.
• The Book of Common Prayer ... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• The Daily Office ... from the Diocese of Indianapolis. Here.
• Daily Prayer ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Soul ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.
• The Lectionary ... A collection of Lectionary resources for the Episcopal Church, updated Sunday night. Here.
• Lectionary Page ... A liturgical calendar for upcoming weeks, with links to readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), as adapted for use in Episcopal worship. Here.
• Jubilate ... [Diocese of Bethlehem] Hymnody for Lent and Easter is published by the Diocese of Bethlehem for our diocesan community and for free distribution to the world. It is a service of our Liturgy and Music Commission, specifically Canon Cliff Carr who has been doing this for more than 30 years. Find it here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Here.
• The Liturgical Calendar ... BCP, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, HWHM ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.
As soon as the newSpin newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the newSpin blog and posted on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,200 addresses. Many recipients often forward it to others. 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 Standing Committee 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. If you think something about your parish or agency merits inclusion, send email to Bill. Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there in the right hand column on the title of the current newsletter. Then, make your comment below.
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]