The newSpin newsletter
November 25, 2014
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• Thanks to Jim Naughton for his work in church communication at Episcopal Café … [Bill] Over the newSpin newsletter years, I have frequently looked to Episcopal Café for news you can use. Many, including me, have benefitted from Jim Naughton's professional leadership. Jim is stepping down as editor. He has written two farewells, What I think I've learned and Pay attention, tell the truth, say thank you. Both are worth reading. When the Café began, Andrew Gerns and Nick Knisely, both Diocese of Bethlehem rectors at the time, were among Jim's six volunteer journalists.
• Wishing may not be enough … to change the severe weather forecast for Wednesday. You may think the forecasting jury is still out, but "they say" that getting slammed with snow in the Lehigh Valley is a near certainty. If you intend to drive, check the warnings for your destination. Thanksgiving will come around again next year. Make a wise decision to ensure you will be around. Your loved ones will thank you, even if you promised to bring the yams.
• Putting people before politics … [Jim Wallis, Sojourners] Tonight (Nov. 20) faith leaders and all those who have spent years trying to fix our broken immigration system should feel gratitude toward President Obama. In a primetime address to the nation, the president announced he was taking executive action to relieve some of the suffering caused by the failures of the status quo. Millions of families will no longer live under the daily threat of having their lives torn apart by senseless deportations, which is something all Christians – whether Republican or Democrat – should celebrate. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have spent significant portions of their lives hiding in the shadows, can now enjoy the flourishing God intends for us all. Their joy and well-being must inform our judgments of the president’s action, especially in light of the biblical call to “welcome the stranger.” Read on. Also, Presiding Bishop's statement here.
• Everything you need to know about President Obama’s executive action … ThinkProgress breaks down the immigration relief announced by the president Thursday night. Who gets relief and who is left out? What about border security? Your questions answered.
• “Rejoice always,” St. Paul encourages us … [Bill] “pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thess 5:16-18)“Expect nothing,” Alice Walker has written. “Live frugally on surprise."Surprise is the beginning of gratitude. It may also be the beginning of living with a clue. “Have you ever noticed how your eyes open a bit wider when you are surprised?” asks Brother David Steindl-Rast.
Be surprised, then obviously grateful, when you walk through a supermarket brimming with the gifts of God and the labor of people you’ll never know. Be surprised when your car starts tomorrow morning.Technologically, as a high-use, low-tech person, I’m easily surprised. I’ve been surprised when my computer works, even though it works 99% of the time, when I’m able to connect so quickly with someone by email, post something on a blog, upload a podcast, lay out a newspaper with a computer program and convert the page files to specifications required by a distant printer and distributor. I’m surprised – and grateful – when the technology works.
When I sit at my computer to write a column or a sermon, I’m surprised when I see paragraphs begin to form on the screen, even though my head has been playing with the topic one way or another for days.
“For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth ad sky and sea … For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends … For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve, For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity … For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty and justice … We thank you, Lord. (From A Litany of Thanksgiving in The Book of Common Prayer)
• Do we pass over the mystery of ourselves without a thought? … [Bill] The following quote is from St. Augustine's Confessions: “And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, yet pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.” The Church Times recently named the best 100 Christian books. Confessions topped the list. [Hey, Laura. The Rule of St. Benedict was #2.]
Carl Sagan was special.
More than a popularizer of science, more than an educator and scholar, Sagan—born on this day (Nov. 9) in 1934—was able to convey the wonder and magnificence of the universe in ways most scientists and teachers cannot.
I think that was because of his approach to science. For Sagan, science was not just a technical pursuit, nor was it simply about the discovery of new facts.
Rather, it was a profound spiritual enterprise which had much to say about human beings, our ethical responsibilities toward each other, and our role in the cosmos.
In The Varieties of Scientific Experience, Sagan wrote: “I would suggest that science is, at least in my part, informed worship.”- See more at: http://chrisstedman.religionnews.com/2014/11/09/atheists-carl-sagan-lead/#sthash.XXbX7XsJ.dpuf
• Interspiritual pioneer Beatrice Bruteau loomed large in the contemplative universe … [ Cynthia Bourgeault, NCR] Beatrice Bruteau, a scholar, teacher, interspiritual pioneer, and intrepid explorer of the evolutionary edge of consciousness, died Nov. 16 at the age of 84. Her passing exemplified her signature brand of clarity, freedom and intentionality, traits that for more than five decades have been the hallmarks of her teaching presence among us and that she now bequeaths to us as both a legacy and a continuing invitation.
Mention the name Beatrice Bruteau, and I dare say that most Christian contemplatives will never have heard of her. She never attained the "superstar" status of a Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Bede Griffiths, or David Steindl-Rast. By her own choice, Beatrice preferred to remain slightly below the radar, where she exerted her quiet presence as one of the most powerful shaping influences on contemporary mystical theology, interspirituality, and contemplative practice. In her lifetime, she was a friend, colleague and mentor to all the people mentioned above (and dozens more of comparable stature) and a teacher to thousands of appreciative students, including me. Those who had the privilege of working with her directly speak of the clarity and precision of her mind, the luminosity of her vision, and the down-to-earth practicality of her contemplative practice. Read on.
•• Six popular Christian sayings that are not true ... [OnFaith] Here.
•• Advent resources from the Episcopal Church …Here.
•• Resources ... Here.
• Weak guardian system puts seniors at risk… [Morning Call, Paul Muschick] Being appointed the guardian of an elderly person is a huge responsibility. Yet in Pennsylvania, you can take on that role with no training or even a background check. And there might not be anyone watching what you do. Those were the conclusions of a state Supreme Court task force that issued a report this week calling for changes in the guardian system and other areas to ensure that seniors aren't taken advantage of. Read on.
• The greatest NFL catch ever ... [Kottke] Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Read on.
• Front page of the day ... [Poynter] Tuesday, Nov. 25. St. Louis Dispatch.
•• Rick Cluett to return to diocesan staff as Archdeacon … [Bishop Sean Rowe, November 18, 2014]
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Last month, I wrote to you about our need to reduce the diocesan operations budget, make the staff structure more sustainable, and focus our work more fully on creating vital congregations. Today I am pleased to tell you that the Ven. Rick Cluett, archdeacon emeritus, has agreed to assist me in this work by returning for a time to the post from which he retired a decade ago. I am grateful for his dedication to our diocese and his willingness to serve.
Because Rick is retired and receiving health coverage and other benefits from the Church Pension Fund, he will be able to serve full time as archdeacon for approximately half of the cost normally associated with this position. As archdeacon, he will assist me in a variety of ways, including serving as the diocese’s chief of staff, advising about the development and implementation of diocesan policies and programs, visiting and worship with congregations to support their ministry and mission, and assisting clergy in their ministry. He begins his new position on November 20.
Before serving as archdeacon from 1984-2004, Rick served as rector of St. Margaret’s Church in Emmaus and in parishes in New York and Maryland. Since his retirement, he has served as chaplain to retired clergy and families and as the bishop’s representative for world mission. He was interim dean of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in 2005-6. In the wider church, he has been deputy to the Presiding Bishop for reorganizing dioceses, a conference leader and consultant for CREDO Institute, and project manager of Strength for the Journey, a program that assisted dioceses that were reorganizing after their bishops and many clergy departed the Episcopal Church. He is a graduate of Hobart College and Virginia Theological Seminary.
Since I talked with you at convention about the need to reduce the budget, diocesan staff members have already begun to identify potential cost savings, streamline workflow and technology, and improve business practices. I expect to write to you again by the end of 2014 to tell you more about which staff members will handle existing and new programs, initiatives, and administrative functions.
Advent is nearly upon us, and with it comes a sense of holy anticipation at what God has in store for us and for our ministry here in the Diocese of Bethlehem. My prayers are with Rick, with all of our staff and leaders who are working to build a sustainable future, and with all of you and your commitment to our shared ministry. In Christ, Bishop Sean Rowe
•• Diocesan staff email ... [Adam Bond] Diocesan staff email has migrated to Google Apps for Nonprofits. There shouldn’t be any issues with staff sending or receiving emails. The new email addresses are: Adam Bond, email@example.com; Anne Kitch, firstname.lastname@example.org; Bill Lewellis, email@example.com; Bruce Reiner, firstname.lastname@example.org; Cindy Bakos, email@example.com; Dan Charney, firstname.lastname@example.org; Ellyn Siftar, email@example.com; Jane Teter, firstname.lastname@example.org; Nanette Smith, email@example.com. You will also be able to send undesignated messages (To Whom It May Concerns) to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you send an email accidentally to the older format email@example.com, it will continue to be delivered, so, don’t sweat it. Please be patient if there are any hiccups — nothing is truly failsafe — in staff receiving your emails, we will resolve them as quickly as possible.
•• In-Formation in Bethlehem … Canon Anne Kitch's newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources for the Diocese of Bethlehem. November.
•• Resources ... Here.
• Yuletide Revels with the famed Sonnambula Viol Consort … [Trinity Bethlehem, Laura Howell] You are herewith, and with great pomp and circumstance, summoned to attend the annual Yuletide Revels, held at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, December 6, at Trinity Episcopal Church, in the Christmas City of Bethlehem.The famed Sonnambula Viol Consort will perform 15th to 17th century holiday music from Renaissance Europe. The evening concludes with a magnificent Boar's Head Procession, (no Boars will be hurt, or even annoyed). A reception of Dickensian proportions including legendary Yuletide goodies such as wassail, nog, and flaming Christmas pudding follows. Sonnambula features five expert early music professionals: a violinist, a tenor, and three players of the viola da gamba. This will be a chance to hear an unusual repertoire that mixes sacred and festive selections in a beautiful setting.This seasonal jollity is co-sponsored by the Moravian College Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Studies. http://www.moravian.edu/medieval/ Artist website: http://www.sonnambula.org/ Tickets at the door only: $15 suggested donation, under 12 free. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 610-867-4741. Information: email@example.com; 610-867-4741. Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 E. Market St., Bethlehem, PA 18018.
• Gift Auction and Italian Dinner at Grace Allentown … [Hillie Cousart] Items for every price range, Saturday, Dec. 6, 5 - 8 pm. $10 suggested donation for delicious Italian dinner with beverages. Purchase hand-sewn quilts, beautiful gift baskets, Interior Design consultation, beauty items, art and ceramics, country décor and more. All proceeds to benefit Grace Urban Ministries. Corner of 5th and Linden. For more information, call 610-435-0782. See wwwgraceallentown.org/
• How to Survive a Plague ... [Hillie Cousart] Grace Allentown will host the showing of this film, Thursday, December 4, 6:00 pm. In honor of World AID’s Day and as a benefit for FACT (Fighting Aids Continuously Together). National AID’s Quilt Panels will be on display. Corner of 5th and Linden. For more information, call 610-435-0782. The film tells the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and '90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making.
• Christmas Cookies, Baked Goods and Crafts sale at St. Andrew's Allentown … Saturday, Dec. 13, noon to 2 pm. Proceeds benefit the church's ministries. St. Andrew's is located at 1900 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Allentown. From Catasauqua Road, turn on to Pennsylvania Avenue, then on to Taft Street to enter the parking lot. Website: standrewsbethlehem.org – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Phone: 610-865-3603.
•• Congregational Renewal Grants … are due November 20. Mail completed applications to Diocesan House. Download Congr Dev App 2015
•• UTO Grant Applications ... [Cathy Bailey] Find the 2015 United Thank Offering grant information along with How to Write a Grant here or here. Contact Cathy Bailey, email@example.com, Diocesan UTO Coordinator, if you have any questions or need assistance.
•• Free Welcome Posters, customized for your church … Jenifer Gamber has produced a set of seven welcome posters for churches based on the liturgical seasons. Sets are customized by church name and available free as a downloadable pdf file at www.myfaithmylife.org. These full-color, 11" x 17" posters can be printed in-house or by your local printer for a modest cost. This year's series features the photography of Episcopal Christian educator Fran Woodruff who blogs at on the chancel steps. If your church name is not represented at Jenifer's website, you may request a set by emailing Jenifer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Liturgical Posters” in the subject line.
Jenifer is the Director of Christian Formation at St. Anne's in Trexlertown and serves the wider church as author, consultant, and presenter. Her first book My Faith, My Life: A Teen's Guide to the Episcopal Church is used widely to prepare youth for confirmation. A revised version along with a leaders guide was released in September 2014. She is co-author with Bill Lewellis of Your Faith, Your Life: An Invitation to the Episcopal Church. Her website, www.myfaithmylife.org, also provides resources for the ministry of Christian formation with children, youth, and adults.
Columns, Sermons, Reflections and other Spin
• New shelter in Allentown only part of homeless solution ... [Morning Call, Thomas Gibson, interim president and CEO of the Allentown Rescue Mission, which has cared for the city's homeless population for more than a century.] One of the uncomfortable truths about homelessness in Allentown — or, frankly, anywhere — is that most people don't have a solution and therefore would simply prefer to avoid it. That means not only the individuals on the streets but also discussions surrounding the issue. Although their heart goes out to the person hungry and shivering in the cold, many people believe that the problem is too big, the resources too small and th desperate souls caught in the homeless trap can't — or won't — take the steps necessary to escape.
And, so, when Mayor Ed Pawlowski, along with city leaders and advocates for helping the homeless, gathered to announce the opening of a third emergency shelter at Alliance Hall, folks across the Lehigh Valley rejoiced. At least one entity — in this case a consortium led by the Lehigh Conference of Churches — stepped up with a pre-emptive solution to keep folks off the streets of Allentown during cold winter nights. As of Nov. 1 and extending through the end of April, Alliance Hall will provide a cot and shelter to as many as 50 homeless individuals, including couples and children, each night. That follows the good news regarding Allentown Rescue Mission's Gateway Center, which just added beds to accommodate up to 18 additional homeless men this winter. These initiatives demonstrate the spirit of compassion, caring and commitment that courses through the veins of homeless advocates through our community. It also reflects one of the very best traits we have in the Lehigh Valley: the willingness to reach out and help those whose current circumstances leave them unable to help themselves. And yet those advances, positive as they are, represent only one piece of a very complex puzzle. Read on.
• You can lose everything, but win in the end by simply going on
… [Leadership at Duke Divinity, via Crux, Margery Eagan] The day before Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley went on “60 Minutes” to declare the Vatican investigation of American nuns “a disaster,” the woman who once led those nuns, Joan Chittister, knocked it out of the park before 600 rapt fans who packed the Wellesley College chapel Saturday. “The rising comes when we are able to commit our lives to something wortth being condemned for,” said Chittister, a Benedictine nun.
In 2001, the Vatican under Pope John Paul II, did, in fact, condemn Chittister. They actually threatened unnamed punishments should she insist on going ahead with a speech in Dublin favoring the ordination of women. It was quite the standoff. But then her superior courageously sent the Vatican a letter saying she would not punish Chittister for speaking. The letter included signatures of 127 of 128 of Chittister’s fellow Benedictine sisters. Plus, 35 younger nuns signed a statement asking that any punishment inflicted upon Chittister be inflicted on every one of them as well. And the men with power backed down.
She spoke about the 14 Stations of the Cross as a model for how the rest of us “can get through the hard stops of life without batting an eye, how you can lose everything and win in the end by going on.”
[Bill] The author of this piece described Chittister as "a Catholic force of nature."
• Our problem with authority ... [George Clifford, Daily Episcopalian] Let's be honest. Authority is a form of power. And, like it or not, authority has a place in the Church. In the absence of authority, we would cease to be both connectional and a Church … Pushed to its logical conclusion, congregationalism becomes individualism: each person is the ultimate arbiter of right thinking, behavior, and relationships. In one respect, individualism is unavoidable because no organization or person can dictate what another person thinks or does. In another respect, however, radical individualism displaces Jesus from the very center of Christian life. This type of radical individualism is anarchistic and therefore anti-communal. Any commitment to be together requires a common ordering of communal life incompatible with radical individualism …
Few Anglicans, regardless of how much they admire aspects of the Roman Catholic Church, want to be part of a branch of Christianity that has such an authoritative (even authoritarian!) hierarchy. So, we Episcopalians and TEC, as good Anglicans, seek a middle way. We do not want anarchy, nor consensus (we may pay the ideal lip service, but our actions indicate that we think the cost of always reaching consensus far too high), nor an authoritative hierarchy.
To find and then walk a middle way, we can beneficially: • Cherish our theological diversity. In the Anglican tradition, our unity depends upon common prayer and not uniformity of belief. Thankfully, we have mostly abandoned prior generations' efforts to enforce doctrinal conformity. • Invest time in developing strong connections. Being a connectional church is costly … • Stop sweating the small stuff (and it's all, or mostly all, small stuff). Ultimately, TEC, its clergy, and its congregations have little real power. Our unity is more valuable than our differences … • Trust those with whom we pray to make good decisions … • Retain only the minimum levels of ecclesial authority compatible with being a connectional Church … • Adopt an annual Advent discipline of self-examination to discern your personal level of comfort (or discomfort) with authority. The gospel narrative is ultimately a story about authority and power. Genuine dialogue requires participants try to understand their own issues and motivations. To what extent does the authority of Scripture—however understood—grate? Do you read the Bible in the hope that God will illuminate your life and path? When, for this is something we all do, do you read the Bible seeking to find confirmation of what you believe and how you live? When and why do you resent ecclesial authority? Read on.
• A debate that should not be silenced … [The Tablet, UK, 20 November 2014] This week, the General Synod of the Church of England has finally made the ordination of women bishops its official policy. The first women bishops can be expected in a matter of months or less. Why is it then that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome is so hypersensitive about any suggestion for the ordination of women put forward by a Catholic writer or speaker? If it hears of a future speaking engagement by such a person, even if the topic is about something else altogether, it writes to the local bishop and demands that the event be cancelled. But treating it as so great a mischief is clearly out of line with, if not rather insulting to, the Catholic Church’s ecumenical partners in the Anglican Communion. Read on. [The Tablet self-defines as "The International Catholic News Weekly"]
• The givers and the takers ... [Kottke] Michael Lewis' new book, Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust, is about the increasing economic inequality in America, and the impact of the behavior of the very rich is having on politics and happiness. The camp breakfast anecdote at the beginning of the article is gold. Read on.
• Tolls and a matter of interest … [Bill] New York recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Staten Island with Brooklyn. Would you believe the roundtrip toll will soon be $16? Significantly less with EZ-Pass NYC. I was stunned when my oldest son told me a few years ago that he paid about $10,000 annually to commute from his then NYC apartment to his work at Toys R Us corporate in north Jersey. He now works at Dick's Sporting Goods headquarters in Pittsburgh. :-) I was stunned a few days ago to see an ad pop up on my laptop for a credit card with a variable intereat rate of 59.9%. Boys and girls, can you say usury?
• Grand Tour of the Self … [NYTimes Opinion, Joe Nocera] Barcelona, Spain — From the castle grounds atop Montjuic, you can see the warrens of the old city running into the Dr. Seussian spires of the new one that sprouted from Antoni Gaudí’s imagination. Below or up high, Barcelona is a tapas menu of urban surprise. But a new breed of visitor bouncing from one sight to another in the warm November sunshine barely pauses for a taste. These peripatetic pilgrims may be at the Boqueria market, or inside Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Família basilica, but they are not lingering to soak in Catalonia’s ageless delights. Instead, they are looking at themselves from smartphone cameras at the ends of thin poles — selfie sticks, the latest and most obnoxious tool in the kit of digital narcissism.
The intrusive extensions are everywhere you want to be, waving above Roman ruins or ribbons of sliced jamón, poking strollers along La Rambla, all to get the best view of Me While There. The stick looks like the kind of tool used by convicts to pick up roadside litter. It operates by timer or Bluetooth wireless remote. And the purpose — to avoid the fisheye angle of a hand-held selfie — is understandable … When Tom Wolfe called the 1970s the Me Decade, he could not have fathomed what Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have done to allow everyone to be the star of his own movie in the twenty-teens. And perhaps travelers of today are no more self-absorbed than those of any other time. But you wouldn’t know it by how they billboard the experience. Read on.
•• On Episcopal argumentation and Advantage Seeking Invocations of Friedman … [Bill] Anyone who has ever invoked the name of Rabbi Friedman might enjoy this witty truth from Jim Naughton at Episcopal Café.
•• You've met the ‘nones.’ Now meet the ‘dones’ … [Baptist News Global] The ‘dones’ are those Christians who consider themselves faithful to God but are turned off by the institutional aspects of church -- and they just quit going. It figures. Just as churches, seminaries and congregational consultants were wrapping their heads around the concept of “the nones” in religious life, yet another term emerges for yet another category of Americans abandoning the church: “the dones.”
The first group denotes the growing number of Americans with no religion affiliation. “Nones,” which may represent as much as 38 percent of the U.S. population, also are known for generally having had no or very little in the way of religious upbringing. But sociologists, church historians and congregational coaches have realized for a while that another subset of Americans are answering “none” on surveys about religious affiliations: Those who have grown up in the church and remained active in adulthood — at least until getting tired of church life.
They’ve been included in other names created by researchers, including the “unchurched” and the “de-churched.” They’ve been the target of evangelistic efforts now and then, but the newer term, “dones,” captures a fact about them that other monikers didn’t: they’re finished — and most likely for good. Read on.
People from our diocese and parishes in the media
Nothing to report.
• Youth at General Convention … [Canon Kitch] Applications and nominations for High School teens to participate in the General Convention Official Youth presence are now open. Any ndividual youth is welcome to apply. Two youth will be selected form each Province of the Episcopal Church (The Diocese of Bethlehem is part of Province III). Complete info here.
• 2014-2015 Diocesan Youth Events ... Here.
•• Resources ... Here.
•• Five churchy phrases that are scaring off millennials ... [FaithStreet] Here.
•• What evangelism is and isn't … [Jim Naughon, for Diocese of Chicago] Author Sara Miles, who has written deeply personal books on her conversion to Christianity and her ministry in poor communities in San Francisco, will be talking about listening when she gives the keynote speech at the diocese’s convention on November 21 at the Westin Hotel in Lombard. “I am really interested in talking about evangelism and what evangelism is and isn’t,” says the author of City of God, Take this Bread, and Jesus Freak. “The short version is that evangelism is about listening; it is not necessarily about telling. It is about listening to people’s stories and really paying attention to how others’ experiences of God are part of a larger story. “It is about training ourselves to engage in a midrash on our own lives and to do that in a way that is honest, that is not looking for a moral, that is not looking for a solution, that is not looking for ‘Aha! I have found the theme of this essay.’ That’s not story telling. That’s bad English class.” Read on.
•• One in five Americans … share their faith online in a typical week. Read the new survey from the Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel.
•• Resources ... Here.
Rest in Peace
•• Bishop J. Mark Dyer, 84 ... died November 11, 2014. He served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem from 1982 to 1995. The Diocese of Bethlehem has arranged with the Dyer family to hold a memorial service at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in the near future, at time convenient to them. We will keep you informed of those plans.
•• Sent from God: A man whose name was Mark … [A tribute to Bishop Mark Dyer, by Bill Lewellis] During a morning in January 1986, we were standing near the aroma of coffee in Diocesan House in Bethlehem. It was my first week on staff; but I knew Bishop Mark Dyer from earlier volunteer work. He seemed down. "Everything all right?" I asked. Mark had spent the previous evening at a meeting with the onetime Committee for the Episcopate, mostly wealthy men who set the assessment expected from parishes, determined the budget for the bishop’s side of a segregated diocesan budget, and usually met at a country club. Diocesan Council set the other side, diocesan ministries funded from a purely voluntary acceptance received from parishes. Mark was down, yet determined. "If people expect me to lead this diocese by the bottom line, I'll go back to Boston and drive a cab." I knew then that I was in the right place, with the right person. Read on.
•• In Memoriam: Bishop Mark Dyer, 1930-2014 … A letter from Bishop Sean Rowe to the people of the Diocese of Bethlehem is available at our website, with a photo of Bishop Mark who served as bishop in our diocese from 1982 to 1995. An excerpt: Those of us who had the privilege of sitting at his feet as students caught a glimpse of what it must have been like to sit at the feet of Jesus. Bishop Mark served each of us in different ways. For me, he was a pastor, mentor, spiritual director, exemplar, and friend. He exercised the episcopate with a particular grace and equanimity that can only be evidenced by a life centered in Jesus Christ, and one of the great privileges of my episcopate is to occupy the seat he once held with the support of his prayers and blessings. Find obituary by Diocese of Bethlehem here. Find obituary by Episcopal News Service here.
• Mike Nichols, 83 ... [Chicago Tribune and wire report] a nine-time Tony Award winner on Broadway and the Oscar-winning director of films such as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "The Graduate" and "Carnal Knowledge," died on Nov. 19. Nichols was married to Diane Sawyer, former anchorwoman of ABC's "World News Tonight" broadcast. No director ever moved between Broadway and Hollywood as easily as Nichols. He also was one of the few people to win Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy awards (sometimes known jokingly as an "EGOT" award) in a career that first blossomed with a comedy partnership with Elaine May in the late 1950s. Read on.
•• Resources ... Here.
• The Protestant mainline goes to Washington … [Religion and Politics] On a Sunday morning this past October, some 1,500 preachers and ministers across the country joined in a nationwide protest they called Pulpit Freedom Sunday. They spoke defiantly from their pulpits about political campaigns and pending legislation. They even endorsed politicians, knowingly violating laws meant to prevent such mixing of church and state. Organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, this group of evangelicals targeted the Johnson Amendment, which forbids tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates and getting involved in campaigns. By violating these rules in an act of civil disobedience, they hoped to trigger a court case to get the amendment overturned. The issue, as they see it, is too much involvement by the government in religious life. The government should not tell Christians how to run their businesses, how to teach their children, or—as the Pulpit Freedom Sunday protesters asserted—how to write their sermons.
These sermons of protest were part of a broader political mobilization among religious institutions in the United States in recent years. The number of “Nones”—those professing no religious affiliation—is on the rise, and a small but vocal group of atheists are challenging Christian displays in public spaces. And the Christian Right appears to be losing the battle on gay rights. In response, many of the leading conservative religious organizations are mobilizing politically while also shifting their strategy. Their new aim is to mark off a part of life that can remain Christian, to protect Christians as a minority that can stand apart from the demands of a national culture they see as being dominated by secularism. The Hobby Lobby case was only the most prominent example of this trend.
On the other hand, a broad swath of American Christians sees things entirely differently. Although they receive far less attention, members of the religious left do not feel besieged by their country. Instead, they are pushing law and politics in the very directions the religious right is resisting. The United Church of Christ filed suit in April 2014 to overturn the prohibition on gay marriage in North Carolina. In the same state, many ministers are participating in the “Moral Monday” campaigns, a movement that is saturated in religious language. And Jim Wallis and Cornel West were arrested last month for protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri. Although the left differs with the right on cultural policy, both groups see political mobilization as being at the heart of religious thought and practice. Read on.
• Yale Conference continues 'Journey of the Universe' … [NCR, Jamie Manson] "What is the creativity that brought forth a trillion galaxies?" It is a daunting question asked by evolutionary cosmologist Brian Swimme in the film "Journey of the Universe." His line echoed throughout the halls at Yale Divinity School, where hundreds gathered for the Nov. 7-9 conference "Living Cosmology: Christian Responses to 'Journey of the Universe.' " The conference was a historic gathering of many of the finest theologians, ethicists and activists in North America, all of whom joined together to contemplate the ways in which the Christian tradition can open up more fully to a sense of the sacredness of the universe and the flourishing of the Earth community. Read on.
• Archdiocese bans gay rights speaker from Detroit parish … [Detroit Free Press] The Archdiocese of Detroit has banned a support group for Catholic families with gay members from using a Detroit parish for a Saturday meeting because the scheduled speaker represents a pro-gay rights ministry censured by the Vatican.It comes a month after Catholic bishops publicly feuded at a Vatican meeting over Pope Francis' more welcoming words and outreach to gay Catholics and their families. Read on.
• The secret life of passwords … [NYTimes Magazine, Ian Urbina] Howard Lutnick, the chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the world’s largest financial-services firms, still cries when he talks about it. Not long after the planes struck the twin towers, killing 658 of his co-workers and friends, including his brother, one of the first things on Lutnick’s mind was passwords. This may seem callous, but it was not.
Like virtually everyone else caught up in the events that day, Lutnick, who had taken the morning off to escort his son, Kyle, to his first day of kindergarten, was in shock. But he was also the one person most responsible for ensuring the viability of his company. The biggest threat to that survival became apparent almost immediately: No one knew the passwords for hundreds of accounts and files that were needed to get back online in time for the reopening of the bond markets. Cantor Fitzgerald did have extensive contingency plans in place, including a requirement that all employees tell their work passwords to four nearby colleagues. But now a large majority of the firm’s 960 New York employees were dead. “We were thinking of a major fire,” Lutnick said. “No one in those days had ever thought of an entire four-to-six-block radius being destroyed.” The attacks also knocked out one of the company’s main backup servers, which were housed, at what until that day seemed like a safe distance away, under 2 World Trade Center …
Five years ago, people averaged about 21 passwords. Now that number is 81, according to LastPass, a company that makes password-storage software … We despise them – yet we imbue them with our hopes and dreams, our dearest memories, our deepest meanings. They unlock much more than our accounts. Read on.
•• St. Mark's Moscow … is in need of an organist and/or pianist. Even a part timer would be helpful. If you know of someone please contact Father Earl Trygar. email@example.com.
•• Trinity Mt. Pocono, PA is seeking an organist/choirmaster with a diverse musical background. Send cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
•• West Side Moravian Church in Bethlehem … The West Side Moravian Church is seeking and administrative assistant to manage the office of the church. Looking for a pleasant, organized and motivated person to greet the public, prepare bulletins and newsletters, creates printed material, maintain data, works with accounts payables, payrolls and provide accounting. Strong computer skills required with Microsoft Word, Excel, Publisher experience. The candidate will also need to maintain the church’s social media outreach. 20-25 hours/week, hourly rate based on experience. Knowledge of church dynamics and administration helpful. Email resume to email@example.com or mail resume to Personal Committee, West Side Moravian Church, 402 Third Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18018.
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
Ecumenism and Interfaith
Evangelical Lutheran Church
•• Resources ... Here.
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United Methodist Church
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Presbyterian Church USA
•• Resources ... Here.
• Many U.S. Hispanics and Latin Americans are leaving Catholicism … [Pew Research] but they don't always end up in the same place. In Latin America, most former Catholics are now Protestants, while about half of U.S. Hispanics who are ex-Catholics have no religious affiliation, a Fact Tank post explains.
• Brazilian RC bishop urges ordination of married community elders as priest shortage grows … [RNS] The largest Roman Catholic geographical district in Brazil, located deep in the Amazon along the Xingu River, has more than 800 Catholic congregations but only 27 priests. Read on.
•• Hypoallergenic incense and low-gluten hosts … [NCR via Diocese of Allentown] Frankincense -- the incense traditionally burned in religious ceremonies -- can act on the brain to lower anxiety and diminish depression. It also can deeply affect people with respiratory problems and cause coughing fits and force them out of church to seek fresh air … Celiac causes the body to attack the lining of the small intestine and other organs when certain proteins found in the cereal grains of wheat, rye, and barley are ingested. The autoimmune condition is estimated to affect one in 133 people in the nation. Read on.
•• Tips for Obamacare health insurance shopping … [nextavenue, PBS] Here. Also, at healthcare.gov, explore health insurance options so you can sign up for a plan. Once you've done that - then what? This video series from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will help you make the most of your coverage with: •Policy Tips, •Help finding a Provider, •Information on preparing for your first doctor visit, •Words and terms to know, •Ways to live a long and healthy life.
•• Resources ... Here.
• Love and Gravity … [NYTimes, David Brooks] Bloggers have noticed the religious symbols in the movie "Interstellar." There are those 12 apostles, and there’s a Noah’s ark. There is a fallen angel named Dr. Mann who turns satanic in an inverse Garden of Eden. The space project is named Lazarus. The heroine saves the world at age 33. There’s an infinitely greater and incorporeal intelligence offering merciful salvation.But this isn’t an explicitly religious movie. “Interstellar” is important because amid all the culture wars between science and faith and science and the humanities, the movie illustrates the real symbiosis between these realms.
More, it shows how modern science is influencing culture. People have always bent their worldviews around the latest scientific advances. After Newton, philosophers conceived a clockwork universe. Individuals were seen as cogs in a big machine and could be slotted into vast bureaucratic systems. But in the era of quantum entanglement and relativity, everything looks emergent and interconnected. Life looks less like a machine and more like endlessly complex patterns of waves and particles. Vast social engineering projects look less promising, because of the complexity, but webs of loving and meaningful relationships can do amazing good.
As the poet Christian Wiman wrote in his masterpiece, “My Bright Abyss,” “If quantum entanglement is true, if related particles react in similar or opposite ways even when separated by tremendous distances, then it is obvious that the whole world is alive and communicating in ways we do not fully understand. And we are part of that life, part of that communication. ...” I suspect “Interstellar” will leave many people with a radical openness to strange truth just below and above the realm of the everyday. That makes it something of a cultural event. Read on.
• Voters have no faith in Alicia's atheism … [The Daily Beast, Regina Lizik] The Good Wife is a show about political campaigns, the law, and love. It is also, by extension, a show about the cultural impact of religion. Robert and Michelle King, the show’s creators, regularly question its role in politics and why we, the voters, pretend that the illusion of religion is more moral than a lack of belief. In a country with a constitution that values secularism, religion is still the prime indicator of morality and goodness. The Kings want to know why. This season, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is running for state’s attorney. In many ways, she seems a lock for the win, but her atheism puts her entire character in question. If she wants voters to believe and trust in her, she must court favor with the local pastor, Jeremiah. His approval may determine the outcome of this election … during every election we ask politicians to do something immoral just so that we can cling to the false belief that religion is the only path to fairness and strength of character. If politicians are disingenuous, it’s because we make them that way. Perhaps it’s time to take a cue from the Kings and start asking ourselves whether truth matters more than appearance. Read on.
•• Resources ... 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 other diocesan lists of nearly 4,000 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 Bishop, 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 likely that no one has sent relevant info. If you think something about your parish or agency merits inclusion, send email to Bill. Comments are welcome on Bakery (if you are subscribed to that interactive list) anf at the newSpin blog. Click at the newSpin blog 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]