newSpin, the newsletter
January 12, 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 email@example.com]
TopSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• Diocese of Bethlehem issues call for election of next bishop … Diocese of Bethlehem Bishop Provisional Sean Rowe said Jan. 5 that the diocese is ready to begin the process of electing its ninth bishop diocesan. Read on.
• DioBeth General News, Jan. 5 … Here. •Call for the Election of the Ninth Bishop of Bethlehem, •South Sudan at Risk of Famine and Genocide, •Seamen's Church Institute Holds Christmas at Sea, •News of the Diocese, •People of Bethlehem, •Upcoming Diocesan Events
• President Obama's farewell address … Transcript. Here.
• Seven questions about health reform … [NYTimes] Vague promises are not enough when we are considering enormous changes in this country’s $3 trillion medical economy. Here are seven important questions that Congress must answer about its replacement plan before repealing the Affordable Care Act. Read on.
• A car, a cop, an act of kindness … [Morning Call, Dan Sheehan, Jan. 6] It was shaping up to be a pretty good Christmas. Priscilla Bejaran of Allentown had the week off, and planned to get a lot of errands done. But on Dec. 20, a Tuesday, she told her 10-year-old daughter, April, to get her two little brothers into the car, and April came back in the house and said the car wasn't there. Read on.
Intersection: Religion, Culture, Politics [•New item ••Repeat]
• We have to choose to stop invasion of fake news … [NCR Editorial Staff, Dec, 30] A sense exists across the spectrum of political inclinations that the recent presidential campaign was, above all, an unremitting and damaging assault on valued traditions and decorum. Perhaps no departure from the norm was so dangerous as the ugly attacks on standard journalism and the concomitant and utter disregard for facts that, sadly, won the day. Read on.
• As Donald Trump denies climate change, these kids die of it … [NYTimes, Nicolas Kristof, Jan. 6] Tsihombe, Madagascar — She is just a frightened mom, worrying if her son will survive, and certainly not fretting about American politics — for she has never heard of either President Obama or Donald Trump. What about America itself? Ranomasy, who lives in an isolated village on this island of Madagascar off southern Africa, shakes her head. It doesn’t ring any bells.
Yet we Americans may be inadvertently killing her infant son. Climate change, disproportionately caused by carbon emissions from America, seems to be behind a severe drought that has led crops to wilt across seven countries in southern Africa. The result is acute malnutrition for 1.3 million children in the region, the United Nations says.
Trump has repeatedly mocked climate change, once even calling it a hoax fabricated by China. But climate change here is as tangible as its victims. Trump should come and feel these children’s ribs and watch them struggle for life. It’s true that the links between our carbon emissions and any particular drought are convoluted, but over all, climate change is as palpable as a wizened, glassy-eyed child dying of starvation. Like Ranomasy’s 18-month-old son, Tsapasoa. Read on.
• When to describe things Donald Trump says as 'lies' … [Commonweal, Peter Steinfels, Jan. 9] It’s a nice question. Chuck Todd asked it on Meet the Press to Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal. Should that paper ever describe things that Donald Trump says as “lies”? Mr. Baker did not say never. He did say, “I’d be careful about using the word ‘lie.’ ‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”
As Mr. Baker points out, despite the trail of falsehoods that Candidate and now President-Elect Trump has strewn behind him, the mainstream news media has been reluctant to speak of “lie” or “liar,” even as it has wearily tried to point out the real facts.
At what point does this reluctance itself become deceitful, especially when, as Mr. Baker says, “it’s reasonable to infer that Mr. Trump should know that these statements are untrue”? Isn’t this systematic surrender to euphemism an injury to the truth? A mistress becomes a “close acquaintance,” a bribe becomes an inducement, dishonesty becomes questionable conduct, lies become campaign rhetoric. …
In general, I favor Mr. Baker's reluctance to label what he calls Trump “whoppers” as lies. Let the reader and viewers decide. This leaves one problem. Evaluating a leader’s trustworthiness involves more than keeping a scorecard on individual statements. Too often we lack the necessary time or public or “unclassified” information. We cannot be instant fact-checkers. Ultimately we must rely on some overall judgment on a person’s character, his or her integrity or how his or her mind works. Is that a case for labeling Mr. Trump a “liar”—some would say “serial liar”—even while abstaining from classifying individual declarations as “lies.”
Not really, at least for the news media. Again reporters should not pretend to have penetrated Mr. Trump’s inner life. They should stick to the surface reality. I would be content if, in every case of questionable assertions, the news media simply followed Mr. Trump’s name with something more modestly descriptive. For example: “Mr. Trump, whose pattern of making inaccurate statements has been extensively documented.” Or “Mr. Trump, who regularly makes statements that are demonstrably false.” Or “Mr. Trump, a political leader well known for denying established facts.” That would suffice. I wonder whether Mr. Baker would agree. Read on.
• High noon for the religious left … [Bloomberg, Jan. 3] If ever there were a moment for the left to seize the mantle of religion from conservatives, surely it arrives Jan. 20 at noon. Read on.
• Republicans look to punish Planned Parenthood – without any evidence … [WaPo Editorial Board, Jan. 5] Fifteen months and nearly $1.6 million later, a Republican-run House panel investigating Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue research ended up where it started: with no evidence of wrongdoing. That has not deterred the Republicans from proposing a political agenda so extreme it should scare not only those who care about women’s health care but also anyone who values science and its contributions. Read on.
• Declassified report says Putin 'ordered' effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump … [WaPo, Jan. 6] Russia carried out a comprehensive cyber campaign to sabotage the U.S. presidential election, an operation that was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and ultimately sought to help elect Donald Trump, U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a remarkably blunt assessment released Jan 6. Read on.
• SpiritSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• Therefore will I trust you always … [Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude] My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself – and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
• Forgiving the others … [Bill] A French playwright, I believe, tells a story of where theological certainty gets one. I'm not certain of the source. I used it in one of my sermons, a few decades ago. The elect have gathered outside the heavenly gates, confident that their orthodoxy and good works have secured their reservations inside. Suddenly … a rumor: “He’s going to forgive the others as well.” Ideological distress, theological certainty, kicks in. Indignant protest. They perceived God’s mercy as somehow diminishing them. Seeking justice, they curse God. Thereby, judging themselves. Damned to a world of justice, only justice, no more.
• Lay ministry … [Bill] As I was growing up and during most of my 18 years as a Roman Catholic priest, my parents operated a neighborhood tavern in Schuylkill County. Whenever I visited them, I spent time also with the patrons of the establishment, many of whom were longtime friends and neighbors.
I never had to initiate discussions on religion or spirituality. My mere presence did. After one of those visits, my mother quipped that she may have heard more truly contrite confessions in the bar than I ever would in church.
• Sometimes a person needs a story more than food … [Bill] “Remember only this one thing,” said Badger… in Barry Lopez’ Crow and Weasel: “The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memory. This is how people care for themselves.”
•• Liturgical Welcome Posters … [Jenifer Gamber] Click here to find sets of Welcome Posters for about 100 church names, one poster for each liturgical season of the church year. Click on your church name to download a PDF file with all seven 11″ x 17″ posters. You can get posters printed on glossy card stock for about $1.50 apiece at your local printer.
• Centering Questions … [Bill] A practice that has served me well (when I am faithful to it) is to face the day with a centering question, such as “God is always in my life. Where will I recognize God today?” or “Why was I in that place at that time?” or “Was that a coincidence?” You probably have questions more relevant to your life. I have a list. Whenever I’m intentional about this practice, it does center me. It helps to write a "centering question" during the day – perhaps in a computer file so named – based on some experience of the day, and refer to it the next morning.
• From hands to heads to hearts … [Thomas L. Friedman, NYTimes, Jan. 4, h/t Elizabeth House] Our highest self-conception needs to be redefined from “I think, therefore I am” to “I care, therefore I am; I hope, therefore I am; I imagine, therefore I am. I am ethical, therefore I am. I have a purpose, therefore I am. I pause and reflect, therefore I am.” Machines can be programmed to do the next thing right. But only humans can do the next right thing. Read on.
•• Awesomeness is Everything … [The Atlantic] Research on awe (an emotion related to Edmund Burke’s notion of the sublime, Sigmund Freud’s oceanic feelings, and Abraham Maslow’s peak experiences) reveals both its triggers and its far-out effects. and may even adjust our worldview to accommodate it. Psychologists have described awe as the experience of encountering something so vast—in size, skill, beauty, intensity, etc.—that we struggle to comprehend it. A waterfall might inspire awe; so could childbirth, or a scene of devastation. Read on.
• The greatest challenge your priest/pastor could face in 2017 … [Baptist News Global, Jan. 9] Pastors across America will face a common challenge in 2017, and it could be you. Not that you’re a bad person or mean. But the greatest challenge for your pastor in this new year could be you — if you listen only for what you are afraid your pastor might say to offend you or your political ideology. Read on.
• The Lords of Lambeau … [Harper's] As the Green Bay Packers take a winning streak into the playoffs, a timely rumination on their mystique from a writer who grew up with them. Like many football fans, he struggles to reconcile his passion for the team with the sport’s controversies over brain damage, domestic violence and scandal. Read on.
DioBeth [• New item •• Repeat]
•• Homeless ministry in the Lehigh Valley … [T Scott Allen] The Bethlehem Area Homeless Hospitality ministry which will extend until the last night of March began on Dec. 1. It is a ministry of the congregations of the Lehigh Valley who open their doors every evening of the week to shelter those without a roof from the cold and snow. The Cathedral Church of the Nativity opened their doors to our homeless brothers and sisters. On Dec. 2, St. Andrew's took in homeless men. Many sites provide soup, a hot supper, companionship until bed time and a hot breakfast in the morning before they depart. It will involve thousands of hours of volunteer time and is a huge undertaking – all done by unpaid members of faith communities who see this work as honoring their baptismal vows to be the Body of Christ in the world.
•• Room at the Inn Shelter … [Nativity Cathedral] The Room at the Inn Shelter is one of the largest ministries the Cathedral supports. Every Thursday night in Winter, the Cathedral provides a safe, warm place for the homeless men of Bethlehem to sleep and break bread. Last year, the Cathedral sheltered more than 140 different men during the shelter season, with an average of over 40 men per night. This task is only made possible by the work of many volunteers from the Parish, who help in many ways, from preparing Sayre Hall for the guests, welcoming the guests, providing food, cleaning up after and sheltering overnight with them. Read on.
Episcopal/Anglican [• New item •• Repeat]
• Going gentle into that good night … [NPR, All Things Considered, Jan 4] Archbishop Desmond Tutu joins advocates to call for right to assisted death. Euthanasia is illegal in South Africa, but the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has spoken out recently in support of the option to choose. He has long lived with prostate cancer. Story with video. On the other hand … Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas. Here. On the other hand, do not go gentle: here and here.
• How the Church of England changed my life … [The Spectator, Anne Jolis, Jan. 14] Death, grief and love in a strange city. It was October 2010 the night the priest came to our door. The knock startled Tim’s dullard beagle into a howl just as Tim’s mother was serving up dinner. She and her husband had flown in from New York a few weeks earlier to care for their dying son. Read on.
•• House of Deputies Newsletter … December.
•• 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 on.
•• Evangelism resources … from the Episcopal Church. Here.
• Resources ... way below
In the Media [• New item •• Repeat]
TaleSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• When Tony Campolo's son stopped believing … [NYTimes Magazine] For most of his life, Bart Campolo had gone from success to success. His father, Tony, was one of the most important evangelical Christian preachers of the last 50 years, a prolific author and an erstwhile spiritual adviser to Bill Clinton. The younger Campolo had developed a reputation of his own, running successful inner-city missions in Philadelphia and Ohio and traveling widely as a guest preacher. An extreme extrovert, he was brilliant before a crowd and also at ease in private conversations, connecting with everyone from country-club suburbanites to the destitute souls he often fed in his own house. He was a role model for younger Christians looking to move beyond the culture wars over abortion or homosexuality and get back to Jesus’ original teachings. Now, lying in a hospital bed, he wasn’t sure what he believed any more. Read on.
• The Obama Era … [NYTimes, Parts 1-4 of six] 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 on.
• When you're the only one who shows up to church … [Press-Herald, Portland Maine, Jan. 2] All of Portland seemed to be in a bad mood that Sunday afternoon not too long ago. The sky was spitting rain in intermittent bursts, frustrating both the people who had gone through the trouble to bring an umbrella and the ones who hadn’t. Longfellow Square had become a knot of traffic; drivers honked at jaywalkers, who cursed back, as I rounded the corner on my way to St. Luke’s Cathedral.
I opened the church door. Inside, it was silent. Had I gotten the time wrong? I was new to Portland and I’d only been to St. Luke’s, the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, once before – and that was for the busy, colorful morning service. I felt a pang of dismay as I hovered on the threshold, deciding whether to investigate further or just go home. Through the open door, I could smell the distinct fragrance that seems to emanate from every old church: incense, candles, flowers. I stepped inside.
The wide, empty nave was dark except for the light coming in through the stained-glass windows. My footsteps had never sounded louder as I walked toward the little octagonal chapel at the back, where the Rev. Anne Fowler sat alone by the altar. “Oh,” she said. “I guess it’ll just be us tonight.” Read on.
• Jared Kushner – More like his father-in-law than anyone imagines … [New York Magazine] In this well-timed article — released just before Jared Kushner was named senior White House adviser — Andrew Rice explores what formed Mr. Kushner’s worldview, particularly his family’s Holocaust past and his father’s criminal conviction. Like Donald J. Trump, his father-in-law, Mr. Kushner bounced back from disastrous business dealings, though unlike Mr. Trump, he runs from the spotlight. “It is very helpful to him that he’s constantly underestimated,” said Ken Kurson, the editor of The New York Observer, Mr. Kushner’s newspaper. Read on.
•• What people talk about before they die … [CNN, Kerry Egan, Dec. 20] As a divinity school student, I had just started working as a student chaplain at a cancer hospital when my professor asked me about my work. I was 26 years old and still learning what a chaplain did. Read on.
• Mark Zuckerberg – no longer an atheist? … [WaPo, Dec. 30, Julie Zauzmar] He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have already met Pope Francis, with whom they discussed bringing comunication technology to the world’s poor. Read on.
Rest in Peace [• New item •• Repeat]
• Charles McRae Montgomery Sr … [Dean Tony Pompa] whom most of us knew as Dee, died peacefully last night, Jan. 11, surrounded in love and in prayer. Dee was a longtime member of this Cathedral, having given of his gifts and talents to many many ministries throughout his adult life. Confirmation mentor, Vestry person, Treasurer, Property Committee member, leadership roles in at least two capital campaigns, and Usher are just a few of the ministries in which Dee played leadership roles of service. Most of all Dee was a most faithful worshiper and disciple of our Lord and took seriously his relationship with Christ. He was a friend and a support to many. We will miss him. Please hold tight in your prayers his wife Jean, daughter Ruth, sons Chip and John and their families. A Celebration of Life and service of Christian Burial will take place on Saturday, February 4th at 1 p.m. in the Cathedral. Your prayers and presence are most welcomed.
• Peggy Kavounas, 67 … onetime administrative assistant at Diocesan House, Bethlehem, died Dec. 31. A memorial service for Peggy will take place at the Cathedral on Saturday Jan 21 at 1 p.m. Obituary.
• Antoinette Merlo, 89… mother of Canon Michelle Moyer, died Jan 5. Obituary.
• Joan Maloney 85 … widow of the Rev. Joe Maloney, former rector of Trinity, Carbondale and Christ Church, Forest City. died Jan 3. Obituary.
• Eileen O'Neil, 91 … died Dec. 22. She was a member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Reading, where she served as a lector, chalicer and a
member of the vestry. Obituary.
• Jean … mother of the Rev. Twila Smith, priest at Mediator and Grace Allentown.
• Helen M. Hallock, 97 … died Dec. 21. A member of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator, she served on the Vestry and the Altar Guild. Obituary.
• Marion Pritchard. 96 … a Dutch woman who helped save the lives of many Jews during the Holocaust, died Dec. 11. With the help of some friends, she was able to get false identity papers and find hiding places to help Jewish people escape arrest. Obituary.
Eileen was a member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Reading, where she served as a lector, chalicer and a
member of the vestry.- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/readingeagle/obituary.aspx?n=eileen-oneil&pid=183204096&fhid=29095&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.EXoPv2ak.dpuf
• Huston Smith, 97 … renowned scholar of religion and author of ‘The World’s Religions,’ died December 30. He pursued his own enlightenment in Methodist churches, Zen monasteries and even Timothy Leary’s living room. More here.
• Carrie Fisher, 60 … [NYTimes] died Dec. 27. She was an actress, author and screenwriter who brought a rare combination of nerve, grit and hopefulness to her most indelible role, as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movie franchise phenomenon. Read on.
• Debbie Reynolds, 84 … died Dec. 28, a day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Read on.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., daughter of the late Arthur and Marie Rippert Harman, she was a member of St. James and St. George Episcopal Church, Jermyn. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thetimes-tribune/obituary.aspx?n=lorraine-j-kenny&pid=181391765&fhid=30655&eid=sp_ommatch#sthash.MLwAYyTs.dpuf
Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not [• New item •• Repeat]
•• The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18-25 … [Maria Tjeltveit] 2017's theme is "Reconciliation--the Love of Christ Compels Us." Here's a link to resources from the World Conference of Churches and the Graymoor Institute. Read on.
• $60 million Bible Center planned for Independence Mall … [RNS, Jan. 12] The Philadelphia-based American Bible Society will build a $60 million center devoted to the importance and influence of the Bible in American life across from Independence Mall. Read on.
• The life and death of Evangelicalism's little magazine … For over two decades, Books & Culture has served as the house organ of the evangelical intelligentsia. On October 11, long-time editor John Wilson announced the magazine would close at the end of 2016. Since then many have responded to Wilson's terrible news, using words like grieving, loss, and lament. Where will the evangelical life of the mind find a home after Books & Culture? Read on.