Pentecost 12/C by Archdeacon Stringfellow
Diocesan Life September 2010 issue

newSpin 100816

Episcopal clergy 'very stressed,' but 'very happy' ... [By Herb Gunn, Episcopal News Service] In early August, New York Times religion writer Paul Vitello touched an ecclesial nerve when he launched a story, "Taking a Break From the Lord's Work," and raised a range of important questions on clergy wellness. His reporting, based on studies of clergy health, cut across the interfaith spectrum and resonates with lay professionals in the church, as well. It concluded that self-care, sabbatical rest and time for re-creation help church leaders lean into rising levels of stress, depression and fatigue. Read more.

The Pressures Faced by Today’s Clergy ... [NYTimes, Letters to the Editor] The letter of House of Deputies president Bonnie Anderson is the fourth listed. Read it here.

Spinning ... [Bill Lewellis] (1) Quite coincidentally, I've had two opportunities over the past few days to share my understanding of how Roman Catholicism is a culture . Then, just yesterday, I came across the item directly below in The Episcopal New Yorker. One indication of the culture is the many RC couples who practice birth control, yet remain Roman Catholics and would applaud the pope in St. Peter's Square during their visit to Rome or during his visit to the U.S. A former RC and bishop of Bethlehem once said to me, "For many Roman Catholics, the pope has become like Queen Elizabeth. Great for a parade, but don't tell us what to do."    (2) We could do worse today than pray for healing for Christopher Hitchens. Arguably today's most famous atheist, he is undergoing aggressive treatment for cancer of the esophagus that seems also to have metastasized.    (3) Upon recently re-reading E.L.Doctorow's City of God, I decided to surf the Internet for Doctorow items. Here, from the 92nd Street Y, Doctorow tells a delightful story about a high school assignment he turned in, an interview with Karl, a German-Jewish refugee, the stage doorman at Carnegie Hall.    (4) Two moons on August 27? This urban legend has been circulating since 2003. How many times can a "once in a lifetime event" occur? If you get it from a friend, don't pass it on.

As cultural as it is religious ... [Shane Scott-Hamblen, The Episcopal New Yorker, Summer 2010] The bride is Roman Catholic and the groom is pretty sure he's Methodist. So they want to get married in an Episcopal parish. There's always the possibility that the request comes from a mature spiritual decision, but it's more likely that the RC priest already said 'no,' and now the bride is hoping that Grandma will get through the wedding without realizing she is not in a Roman Catholic parish. ... Roman Catholicism is almost as cultural as it is religious. Just as when people say they are Jewish they might mean race and not religion, so when the bride say she's Roman Catholic she may mean merely that her family is Italian or Irish. Read more. [Father Scott-Hamblen is rector of St. Mary-in-the-Highland, Cold Spring, NY]

Thistle Farms ... A remarkable program called Magdalene was started by a somewhat unconventional Episcopal priest, Becca Stevens—a free spirit who not only preaches barefoot at the Vanderbilt University chapel but who turned a vision into reality. What Stevens created was a nonprofit organization for female addicts and prostitutes, most who have been sexually abused, all who have been raped. By hand they create natural bath and beauty products—soaps, balms, candles—all made under the label Thistle Farms. ... Her ministry springs partly from sexual abuse she suffered from a deacon in her church when she was just six to eight years old. More here.

Making Toast ... After the sudden death of his 38-year-old daughter, Roger Rosenblatt and his wife Ginny moved in with their son-in-law to help raise their three young grandchildren. His recently-released book, Making Toast, details with humor and grace the daily challenges and joys of his family's reconfigured life. More here, including a PBS video interview.

PB seeks allies overseas ... [RNS on Huffington Post] Katharine Jefferts Schori recently wrapped up a whirlwind tour of six Anglican provinces –– all of them English-speaking –– where she defended her church's acceptance of gay bishops and same-sex unions, and its commitment to maintaining ties with other provinces. In June and July, Jefferts Schori traveled to Canada, Scotland, England, Australia, New Zealand and Wales, addressing synods, preaching at cathedrals, sitting on panels, talking with parishioners, and meeting with powerful archbishops. At almost every stop, the presiding bishop's message was subtle but clear: her church's embrace of gays and lesbians is grounded in the gospel, and the Anglican Communion has always allowed local autonomy in its provinces. Read more.

The Daily Office ... [By Patrick Malloy, published in The Episcopal New Yorker] For most of the history of the Episcopal Church, the principal Sunday service was not, as the 1979 Book of Common Prayer mandates, the Eucharist. Instead, it was Morning Prayer, usually with a sermon. ... This was not what the original English reformers intended. They, along with nearly all the other 16th-century reformers, including the Roman Catholic reformers, envisioned parishes celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday, with the reception of Communion being the norm, not the exception. In England, however, that was only part of the liturgical plan. More than in any in other nation or church, an equal emphasis was placed on the Daily Office, also called the Divine Office and the Liturgy of the Hours. These daily liturgies were intended to be the “bread and butter” of the reformed Church of England and, by extension, the Church in the United States after it separated from the mother country and its national church. The Preface of the first First Book of Common Prayer (1549), reproduced in the “Historical Documents” section of our book, focuses largely on the Daily Office and only indirectly on the Eucharist. The ideal pattern envisioned by the English reformers, then, would have been a public celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer every day and, on Sunday, the Eucharist. Their vision failed, however, principally because most worshippers did not feel worthy to receive Holy Communion every week. [Father Malloy is Professor of Liturgics at General Seminary, NYC, and rector of Grace Allentown.] Read more.

In Defense of Marriage ... [NYTimes Editorial, Aug. 13] On Wednesday, unless there is an order from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, gay and lesbian couples in California once again will be able to marry. Like other couples around the world, they will be able to pledge to support each other, buy some dishes, raise families, argue about the bills, maybe sit on a park bench years from now and chuckle at the hysterical old claims that their lives together would destroy the institution of marriage. Read more

Who redefined marriage? ... [Cathy Lynn Grossman's blog, Faith and Reason, USA Today] Judge's ruling very clearly reflects how marriage has already been redefined -- by heterosexuals, some experts say. Read more. [H/T to Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]

Sermon at Good Shepherd Scranton by Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow, August 15. Read it here.

Ironies, Paradoxes and Balance ... [Lynne M. Baab, The Alban Insttitute] All systems that rely on the labor of individuals, if left to themselves, will encourage burnout. The workplace, nonprofit organizations, and congregations all have a tendency to push workers towards burnout because these systems have goals and leaders dedicated to meeting those goals. Read more.

David Feyrer, onetime Diocese of Bethlehem priest, to retire. More here.

Dear Mr. President ... [Ebony Magazine] A tongue-in-cheek invitation to attend the Episcopal Church. " Wherever you go is going to be tough on the pastor and the congregation ... You don't need that kind of hassle ... May I suggest a lovely solution? The Episcopal Church. ... It's been the default solution for 'quietly political' Black folk for nearly two centuries now. The list of powerful and influential Episcopalians is miles long. You won't have to worry about militants, that just wouldn't be polite. Episcopalians don't agitate, they negotiate. ... It's press-friendly. Juan Williams. Bernie Shaw. Clarence Page. Jack White. Carol Randolph. William Raspberry - and that s just at one church in DC. ... Here are a few more reasons ... Read more. [H/T to Andrew Gerns]

Sorry, but I don't prefer to hug ... [Guest View, Pasadena Star-News] What is this thing about hugging? All of a sudden I notice that during every hello, goodbye and "how are you?" I am expected to participate in a bone-crushing bear hug from the greeter, whether friend, new acquaintance, or complete stranger. More here.

Fast Facts about the Episcopal Church ... here.

Feeling superior? ... check it out.

Navigating the land of grief since my son's death ... [CNN's Belief Blog] Nearly 11 years ago, Joe Sterling and his wife entered the world of grief when they lost their teenage son. This week, they will again confront the never-ending anguish and heartache of his death by dutifully participating in Jewish rites of mourning. And they will spend yet another year grappling with the sorrow. This flurry of activity might give the impression that he and his wife are devout Jews, but they're not, Sterling writes at CNN's Belief blog. "We've never been regular synagogue-goers. But the reaction to the horror helped us gain a profound respect for organized religious life."  Read more. [H/T to Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]

Jesus at the hospital ... [Associated Baptist Press] Every time the Rev. Amy Butler goes to the hospital to visit someone, there's grace. Not absence of pain or tears or even death, but grace. Read more. [H/T to Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]

Church versus strippers ... [Andrew Gerns, Episcopal Cafe] Christians from an Ohio church picketed a local strip club. The owner of the club returned the favor when the dancers picketed the congregation during Sunday services. Read more.

My Favorite August ... [NYTimes, op-ed by Gail Collins] The story in American history I most like to tell is the one about how women got the right to vote 90 years ago this month. It has everything. Adventure! Suspense! Treachery! Drunken legislators! But, first, there was a 70-year slog. Which is really the important part. We always need to remember that behind almost every great moment in history, there are heroic people doing really boring and frustrating things for a prolonged period of time. ... The great, thundering roadblock to progress was — wait for the surprise — the U.S. Senate. All through the last part of the 19th century and into the 20th, attempts to amend the U.S. Constitution ran up against a wall of conservative Southern senators. Read more.

The perils of 'wannabe cool' Christianity ... [Brett McCracken, WSJournal] If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it's easy or trendy or popular. It's because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It's because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It's not because we want more of the same. Read more. [H/T to Deacon Larry Holman]

Renegade RC priest leads a split St. Louis parish ... [NYTimes] Some say he is on a mission from God. Others say he is the devil. But no matter whom you ask in this city’s tight-knit community of Polish Catholics, the name of Marek Bozek is seldom met with a shrug. To supporters he is a holy man who has risked his soul’s damnation to rescue St. Stanislaus Kostka church during a long-running dispute over financial control with the Archdiocese of St. Louis. To detractors he is a charlatan — a disgraced priest who has wrested command of the parish and ushered in a vision of Roman Catholicism so progressive as to be unrecognizable to the faithful. But one thing is clear: Last Sunday, parishioners rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended a lawsuit brought by the archdiocese and returned them to the archbishop’s good graces. Instead, they opted to yoke their church’s fate to the portly priest with thinning hair and a fashionable patch of whiskers just beneath his lower lip. Read more.

Vatican tells archbishop not to criticize peers for covering up abuse. [Andrew Gerns at Episcopal Cafe] More here.

Crystal Cathedral's Schullers take 50 percent pay cut ... [Orange County Register] Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller, his wife Arvella, and their five children and respective spouses will all take a voluntary 50 percent pay cut for the next four pay periods, according to an e-mail from Sheila Schuller Coleman to all cathedral employees. Coleman, who is now officially heading the ministry, stated in an Aug. 5 e-mail that the pay cut for Schuller family members as well as for other employees for the next two months, was done to meet the demand of vendors to whom the megachurch collectively owes millions. The Schullers' salaries are not available. Read more.

Calendar of Parish and Diocesan Events ... Updated August 11. Download it here in Word format.

'Day by Day' turns 75 ... [Episcopal News Service] The little booklets get tucked into purses, suit pockets and back pockets. They get taken out when their readers have a quiet moment to spend in prayer. For 75 years the Forward Day By Day booklets have been giving Episcopalians and others a page-a-day way to reflect on their faith. Read more.

Education for Ministry (EfM) is a four-year theology course designed for lay people that includes study of the Old Testament, New Testament, Church History and Theological Choices. Every baptized person is called to ministry. This program, through study, discussion, guided reflection, prayer, worship and fellowship, helps Christians to carry out that ministry. Participants register for one year at a time, meet weekly in groups of 6-12, and are led by a trained mentor. Day, evening and online groups are forming now. More info: Cathy Bailey, [email protected], 610-261-1106.

What is Ramadan? ... [Stephen Prothero, CNN's Belief Blog] In the religious literacy quiz I have given my Boston University students on the first day of the semester over the last few years, I always ask, “What is Ramadan?  And in what religion is it celebrated?” Of the students who took this quiz, 61 percent knew this holiday, which began yesterday for Sunnis and today for Shias, was Islamic, but only 38 percent knew it was a fast. Read more.

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About the newSpin newsletter ... Composed at least weekly (usually twice a week) by Bill Lewellis, the newSpin newsletter appears as a post within the newSpin blog, but newsletter and blog are not identical. The newsletter currently goes to some 1,000 email addresses on a separate list. The newsletter comes, of course, with some spin from the editor, but the views expressed, implied or inferred in items or links contained in the newsletter or the blog do not represent the official view of the Diocese of Bethlehem unless expressed by or forwarded from the Bishop or the Archdeacon as an official communication. Comments may be addressed to Bill.

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Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]


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