newSpin, the newsletter
February 9, 2017
[A DioBeth newsletter (General or Leadership) or the newSpin newsletter is published online on Thursdays in the following rotation: (1) Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) General News, (4) The newSpin newsletter. If you find something online or in print(or if you'd like to write something) that you think might warrant inclusion for the sake of many in this newSpin newsletter, please send the link or your text to firstname.lastname@example.org]
TopSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• Turning away refugees violates Christian principles… [Bishop Sean Rowe, Erie Times, Feb. 2] One of my favorite Bible verses comes from the first chapter of the Gospel of John: "A light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it." I have been thinking about that verse lately as darkness began to fall over our country and light struggled to reassert itself.
The executive order closing our borders to Syrian refugees and suspending refugee resettlement and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries is a profound betrayal of Christian principles and American ideals. If we, as a nation, are to be that indomitable light the Scripture speaks of, we must resist the efforts to close our border to those who are in desperate need of our help.
Recent events have given me reason for deep unease, but also reason for hope. Read.
• Solidarity with refugees and relief for Kajo Keji … [Bishop Sean, Jan. 31] International news events are having an impact on our life as a diocese, and I wanted to talk to you about them and suggest a couple of ways in which we might respond. Read.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 2 … Here. •"We Are Here to Support the Child": Radhika Hoshing, •Turning away refugees violates Christian principles: Bishop Sean Rowe, •Solidarity with Refugees and Relief for Kajo Keiji: Bishop Sean, •Standing Committee Opens Nominations for Bishop Search Committee, •2017 UTO Grant Applications Now Available, •Unholy Trinity Gun Violence Conference April 20 - 22, •News of the Diocese, •People of Bethlehem, •Upcoming Diocesan Events
• DioBeth Leadership News, Jan. 19 … Here. •Standing Committee Opens Nominations for Bishop Search Committee, •In Memoriam: The Rev. Canon Jane Teter, •Unholy Trinity Gun Violence Conference April 20 - 22, •2017 UTO Grant Applications Now Available, •The Episcopal Church Welcomes Refugees Webinar, •Roanridge Grant Application Now Available, •Clergy Housing Resolution, •2016 Parochial Reports, •News of the Diocese, •People of Bethlehem, •Upcoming Diocesan Events
Intersection: Religion, Culture, Politics [•New item ••Repeat]
• The Senate stops Elizabeth Warren from reading a letter from Coretta Scott King … [Kottke, Feb. 9] Last night, during the Senate confirmation hearing of Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III for Attorney General, Senator Elizabeth Warren attempted to read a letter that Coretta Scott King had written to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 opposing Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship (which he did not get). King pretty plainly states that Sessions abused his position in an attempt to disenfranchise black voters. Read.
• Christians, don't be fooled: Trump has deep religious convictions … [WaPo, Stanley Hauerwas, Jan. 27] The Washington Post: Trump is pious and his religious convictions run dangerously deep, but it's not a reflection of a Christian faith, says Stanley Hauerwas. Christians must call his profound and mistaken faith for what it is: idolatry. Read.
• An Episcopal priest on writing a sermon in the age of Trump … [Bernard J. Owen, Slate Magazine, Feb. 1] Every week of national turmoil is followed by a Sunday when preachers have a job to do … I begin many a Monday with one idea of how to interpret the readings, but as I move through the week, things inevitably change. Writing a sermon means paying attention to all that unfolds through those seven days. If I’m doing it right, ideas that seem fully formed early in the week will fade in time. New thoughts emerge that tend to be more nuanced and inclusive. Stronger words and statements may find their way back into the text by Thursday or Friday, but they are very rarely the ones that were in play on Monday.
Most weeks the hot buttons get edited out. I have learned that there are a whole host of words or thoughts that, once uttered, will be all that many people remember—even if they were peripheral to the main point. The mention of this president in particular evokes a strong emotive response for people across the political spectrum, and I haven’t yet figured out how to navigate that. Read.
• Neil Gorsuch belongs to a notably liberal church – and would be the first Protestant on the Court for years … [WaPo, Julie Zauzmer, Feb. 1] The day after Donald Trump was elected president, the Rev. Susan Springer wrote to her congregation that they should strive to behave as Godly people who spread hope even though “the world is clasping its head in its hands and crying out in fear.” That Sunday, one of the ushers at Springer’s church was Neil Gorsuch — soon to become President Trump’s nominee for the open spot on the Supreme Court.
Gorsuch has staked his own conservative positions on numerous issues, including topics of religious concern: In cases involving the art supply chain Hobby Lobby and the Catholic order Little Sisters of the Poor, both of which eventually reached the Supreme Court, Gorsuch ruled in favor of religious conservatives who said the Affordable Care Act infringed on their religious freedom to not pay for contraception. But at church, he often hears a more liberal point of view.
He belongs to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colo., the Episcopal diocese of Colorado confirmed on Wednesday. Church bulletins show that the judge has been an usher three times in recent months. His wife Louise frequently leads the intercessory prayer and reads the weekly Scripture at Sunday services, and his daughters assist in ceremonial duties during church services as acolytes. If he joins the Supreme Court, Gorsuch as an Episcopalian would be the first Protestant member since 2010. Read.
• Who funds the Religious Right? … [Inside Philanthropy] Forget the fact that the new U.S. president has been married three times and allegedly cheated on each of his wives, or that he made part of his fortune on gambling casinos. The Christian Right has forged an unlikely alliance with Donald Trump. Many evangelical leaders endorsed his candidacy and evangelical voters helped secure his victory. As a result, these are heady days for the Christian Right, which has laid claim to a new level of influence since the election.
With a range of Christian groups gearing up to push hard on multiple fronts under Trump—like finally knocking off Roe v. Wade—this is a good moment take a look at the funders backing this movement. Who's putting up the money to wage a new kind of holy war in Washington and state capitols?
Lots of funders are religious, or support religious causes. Here, we’re looking at the funders who steadily fund policy and advocacy organizations on the Christian Right. Read.
•Steve Bannon vs Pope Francis? … [WaPo, EJ Dionne, Feb. 8] Stephen K. Bannon disrupted American politics and helped elect Donald Trump as president. Will he disrupt the Roman Catholic Church by joining forces with right-wing Catholics who oppose Pope Francis? Bannon’s dark vision contrasts sharply with the sunny disposition of a pope who has chided “sourpusses” and “querulous and disillusioned pessimists.”Bannon believes that “the Judeo-Christian West is in a crisis.” He calls for a return of “the church militant” who will “fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity,” which threatens to “completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.” Read.
• Sean Spicer's chilling words … [WaPo, Erik Wemple, Feb. 8] If White House press secretary Sean Spicer says it’s so, does that make it so? Read.
• SpiritSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• The Sermon on the Mount is counter-cultural. That's the point … [Baptist News Global] If you listen to the whole thing instead of picking and choosing the passages you like, the Rev. Amy Butler guarantees you'll feel uncomfortable ... which is not something Americans like very much. Read.
• What the Bible says about welcoming refugees … [NYTimes, The Conversation, , Jan. 29] As a Roman Catholic scholar who lived in South Asia for a total of four years, I know what it is like to be initially considered a “stranger” but be quickly welcomed with open arms. And I, like all Christians, look to the Bible for guidance when asking about how to best welcome the stranger …
It is true that the application of biblical principles to contemporary matters of policy is less than clear to the many Christians who have taken opposing sides regarding how the United States should deal with immigrants, undocumented workers and refugees. However, in my reading of the Bible, the principles regarding welcoming the stranger are broad-reaching and unambiguous. Read.
• Twisted … [RenewalWorks, Forward Movement, Monday Matters, Jay Sidebotham, Jan. 30] Best-selling author Nadia Bolz Webber leads a Lutheran church in Denver. It’s called The House for All Sinners and Saints. That covers about all of us. I heard her speak last week at a conference of folk who serve in churches, a group that does remarkable holy work. It’s also a group that knows well the foibles and failures seen in the pews on Sunday, seen around the table at a church meeting, and of course seen in the mirror. In a season of heightened anxiety, she gave hope for why we do church, why we need church, even with all the foibles and failures. Bolz Webber is a big presence, not just because she is tall. She speaks truth to her generation. She has lots of tattoos. She wears a lot of black clothes. Clergy often do that, but this is a bit different with its goth flavor. She cusses some when she speaks publicly. I find that sort of fun and unexpected, but ultimately not that important. Read.
• Religious, not spiritual … [RenewalWorks, Forward Movement, Monday Matters, Jay Sidebotham, Feb. 6] Building on what I wrote last week, a few reflections on words recently heard from Nadia Bolz Webber. She described herself as bei religious, but not particularly spiritual. She suggested that she often practiced her faith as a habit, even though she often didn’t really feel all that spiritual, all that holy. It’s the opposite of what we hear often in a culture filled with nones and dones. (Nones are those who claim no religious affiliation. Dones are those who have given up on organized religion.) Increasingly, religious observance is regarded as quaint, outdated, irrelevant, boring, mindless, offensive, oppressive, and if nothing else, optional. Spirituality is embraced. Religion, not so much. Read.
• The Book of Job's cold comfort for those who suffer … [RNS, Jeffrey Weiss, Feb. 7] For the couple of months since I went public about my brain cancer, I’ve had many people of many faiths send me messages that they were praying for me. Some said they were hoping to nudge the Almighty to heal me. Read.
• On Life's Pilgrimage …
May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps;
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey;
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on life's pilgrimage; and,
The blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you wherever you may go. Amen.
• Spirit Resources
... way below.
Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin [• New item •• Repeat]
• One audacious and tenacious woman … [Rick Cluett, archdeacon, Diocese of Bethlehem, Jan. 28] This has been very hard – trying to capture the faith and the life – the essence of a beloved friend and sister I have known for 40 years. But here is where I have come to this morning. Because of her firm and uncluttered faith in the God who created her and loved her, Jane Ballantyne Teter was one audacious and tenacious woman. Just ask her kids. Just ask me. Read.
• Rich in God's Spirit are those who … [Sermon, Tony Pompa, dean, Nativity Cathedral, Jan. 29] I believe our Lord’s Inaugural address – the Beatitudes – paints a sharp contrast in our current context I pray you will consider. This contrast has moved me to act by shortly sending to you all a pastoral response where I will make known that this Cathedral stands with our denominational leaders, our Presiding Bishop, our President of the house of deputies, and faith leaders from many denominations, making it known that we will continue to be a place that seeks to live the beatitudes. Specifically, I believe the beatitudes speak directly in a contrasting and challenging way to the policy decision to ban on refugees. Read.
• Consider always the challenge of the Gospel … [Tony Pompa, dean, Nativity Cathedral] This past Sunday in a sermon I delivered on the Beatitudes, (Matthew 5:1-12) I was moved by the Spirit to bring what I believe to be a Gospel word and challenge to the recent policy decisions that dramatically impact refugee resettlement and immigration. I do so fully appreciating when it comes to things political often our views vary dramatically, however, as your Priest and pastor, the invitation is to consider always the challenge of the Gospel and stretch beyond the political and seek to find a truth through an incarnational experience. Read.
• Not a role model … [WaPo, Richard Cohen, Feb. 6] Lots of men have failed as presidents, as Trump surely will, but few fail so dismally as role models. Read.
• Maybe there's more that brings us together than you think … [Kottke] This lovely video from a television station in Denmark highlights the similarities we all share across seemingly impassable social, economic, racial, and religious boundaries. Read and View.
DioBeth [• New item •• Repeat]
• Turning away refugees violates Christian principles … [Bishop Sean Rowe, Erie Times, Feb. 2] See above, under "TopSpin."
• Solidarity with refugees and relief for Kajo Keji … [Bishop Sean, Jan. 31] See above, under "TopSpin."
• One audacious and tenacious woman … [Rick Cluett, archdeacon, Diocese of Bethlehem, Jan. 28] See above, under "Columns, Sermons …"
• Rich in God's Spirit are those who … [Sermon, Tony Pompa, dean, Nativity Cathedral, Jan. 29] See above, under "Columns, Sermons …"
• Consider always the challenge of the Gospel … [Tony Pompa, dean, Nativity Cathedral] See above, under "Columns, Sermons …"
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 2 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Jan. 19 … Here.
Episcopal/Anglican [• New item •• Repeat]
• C of E bishops refuse to change stance on gay marriage … [The Guardian, UK, Harriett Sherwood, Jan. 27] Church of England bishops have upheld traditional teaching that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, in a move that has infuriated campaigners for gay rights and risks further alienating the church from wider society. Read.
•• Weekly bulletin inserts … provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Current inserts here. To view the archive of bulletin inserts dating back to 2006, please visit here.
• Resources … way below.
•• Welcome to the Jesus Movement … The Episcopal Church is working with diocesan teams to organize a series of Episcopal Revivals in 2017 and 2018, six major events that promise to stir and renew hearts for Jesus, to equip Episcopalians as evangelists, and to welcome people who aren’t part of a church to join the Jesus Movement. Read.
•• Evangelism resources … from the Episcopal Church. Here.
• Resources ... way below
In the Media [• New item •• Repeat]
• Turning away refugees violates Christian principles … [Bishop Sean Rowe, Erie Times, Feb. 2] See above, under "TopSpin."
TaleSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• America's new ministers … [Christian Science Monitor] In a fundamental shift in American Protestantism, hundreds of churches across the country are allo't wing people in the pews to handle pastoral duties, such as delivering sermons. Read.
•• The Obama Era … [NYTimes, Parts 1-6] A transformation of the delivery of health care may be an enduring legacy for the president, even as Republicans plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Read.
• Sex doesn't sell anymore, activism does. And don't the big brands know it … [The Guardian, UK, Alex Holder, Feb. 7] Three days ago I hadn’t heard of Lyft. Not until I was greeted on Monday morning by a right-on colleague demanding to know if I’d deleted my Uber app and replaced it with Lyft. On Saturday #deleteuber had been trending after many believed it had undermined a taxi strike at New York’s JFK airport protesting against Donald Trump’s immigration ban. By Sunday, with swift marketing prowess, Lyft’s CEO Logan Green tweeted that the company was donating $1m to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). Which led to Lyft’s downloads surpassing Ubers for the first time ever. They used to say sex sells; now, evidently, it’s activism. Lyft wasn’t the only company flaunting good deeds this week. In reaction to Trump’s immigration ban, Starbucks CEO wrote an open letter to staff committing to hiring 10,000 refugees and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky tweeted that it was providing free accommodation to anyone not allowed in the US. Even Uber, presumably in a bid to outdo Lyft, created a $3m fund to help drivers affected by the “wrong and unjust” ban. Companies are now attempting to outdo each other with major acts of generosity, but there’s a catch; they’ll do good as long as they can make sure their customers know about it. There is no room for humility when a brand does a good deed. Read on.
Rest in Peace [• New item •• Repeat]
• Yvonne Walther, 92 … died on February 6 after a prolonged illness. She was a longtime parishioner at Nativity Cathedral.
• Kermit Von der Heiden, 83 … died February 5. He was a member of St. Anne's Trexlertown, serving on the finance committee. Obituary.
• Cynthia E. Caddoo, 95 … died on January 21. She was a member of St. Anne's Trexlertown. Obituary.
Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not [• New item •• Repeat]