The newSpin newsletter, Oct. 21, 2010
Spinning .. (1) Donations to the country's biggest charities dropped 11% last year, the worst decline in two decades, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. (2) Crystal Cathedral Megachurch has filed for bankruptcy, NPR. More here. (3) The number of drivers over 70 – they include me, I'm 73 – will triple in the next 20 years. How will we stay safe and mobile? I drive a lot less. I drive infrequently at night? But I still drive in high-speed areas. (4) The pope has named 24 new cardinals, including two Americans. I have known six of the 18 American cardinals well; lived with three at the North American College in Rome for 3 to 4 years; worked with three others in the U.S. (5) Martin Luther King Jr.'s prayer life. (6) Women have been ordained as priests in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church, after the last holdout, Quincy, ordained its first woman last Saturday.
Diocesan Life ... Download the November issue here.
Diocesan Conventon ... Read Bishop Paul's address to the 2010 Diocesan Convention here. Read Bishop Paul's sermon at the 2010 Diocesan Convention eucharist here. Read Andrew Gerns' story on small groups highlighting the work of the Spirit at Convention here.
Bethlehem neighbors wary of homeless proposal ... [The Morning Call] New Bethany Ministries has a $17 million plan to move its soup kitchen, homeless services and new 50-unit affordable housing complex into the burgeoning Four Blocks International section of south Bethlehem. Even residents in that section of town say it's a commendable project — just not in their neighborhood. New Bethany is partnering with Lancaster-based Housing Development Corp to build affordable housing and larger quarters for the more than 150 people it feeds, shelters and counsels daily, at a new location at E. Fourth and Atlantic streets. ... New Bethany, Bethlehem's largest provider for the homeless and needy, gives out more than 36,000 meals and 3,100 bags of groceries a year at its complex at Fourth and Wyandotte streets. However, with more than 150 people a day showing up for breakfast and lunch, its 50-seat soup kitchen has become cramped, said New Bethany Executive Director Diane Elliott. New Bethany has been negotiating to buy the closed Our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church, at 826 E. Fourth St., to move ahead with a $3 million plan to move its soup kitchen, food pantry and recreation area to church quarters that could seat 150. Its single room and transitional housing would remain at the Wyandotte building. In addition, it has partnered with Housing Development Corp. which is proposing to build a 50-unit complex of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in the church parking lot. The $14 million apartment project would be aimed at families who could afford rents of perhaps $400 to $600 per month. ... Bethlehem City Council is due to vote in two weeks on the $2.3 million Community Development Block and Home grant programs that include the $300,000 for the project. Even if council approves the money, the project has many hurdles to clear. New Bethany has to close its deal with the Catholic Diocese of Allentown, and its controversial project will have to get approval from city zoning and planning boards. In addition, Housing Development Corp. has applied for federal tax credits to fund its part of the project, and it won't know if it is getting the money until June. That will keep any construction from happening until at least 2012. That gives Robert Wilkins, chair of New Bethany's board of trustees, more than a year to convince the Four Blocks International business owners that New Bethany can help it build the neighborhood, rather than hold it back. "When you provide for the homeless, not everyone is welcoming to you," Wilkins said. "We'll just have to win them over." More here.
How to change the world ... [NYTimes, Nicolas Kristof's blog] I have an essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about do-it-yourself foreign aid, but I know that it won’t fully answer the question that many readers will have: What can I do? Originally we had a sidebar addressing that question to go with the article, but it had to be cut for space reasons – and so I’ve found a home for it here on my blog. More here.
Dispute and Dialogue: The Impact of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Jewish-Christian Relations ... Thursday, October 28, 7:30 p.m., Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Seegers Union, 109-110. Free. Open to the public. Moderated by Canon Maria W. Tjeltveit, rector, Mediator, Allentown, and Ecumenical Officer for the Diocese of Bethlehem. The varied seasons of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have influenced Jewish-Christian relations in diverse ways. With peace negotiations – and their difficulties – again in the spotlight, three active leaders in interfaith encounter discuss together the impact of the conflict in the varied contexts of the three continents where they pursue their work. The conversational format of the evening will encourage discussion with the audience. More here.
Love Feast at Mediator ... [From Canon Maria Tjeltveit] I had a wonderful time on Saturday when The Rt. Rev. Blair Couch, bishop of the Moravian Church, and I did a Love Feast together at Mediator to start off a meeting of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Companions of the Holy Cross. Blair talked about the origins of the Love Feast and her personal perspective on full communion between our two Churches, during the service. The rest of the morning I did some teaching about full communion with the Moravian Church. There were about 25 Companions, including three members of Mediator (Patricia Gaukler, Carol Cottrell, and Bernadette Hartshorne), The Rev. Beth Haynes, The Rev. Canon Doris Bray, and two members of the Cathedral (Laura Drum and Jenifer Gamber), as well as Phoebe Griswold, the wife of our former Presiding Bishop. I am looking forward to the service to celebrate full communion, which will be at Central Moravian, on a still undetermined date.
Duo piano and organ recitals ... Read a note from Canon Mark Laubach here.
One Communiy/One Voice ... A national day of mourning and solidarity for the LGBT community. Come together on November 12 at 6:15 p.m. at St Mary's Church in Reading and walk down Windsor to Centre Ave and then down Centre Ave to Calvary UCC where All Souls Church is hosting a 7:00 p.m. service of remembrance. The walk is less than a mile. No banners. No music. No rainbows. No stereotypes. No shouting. As a show of unity, please wear all black clothing. Download poster here.
Sudan ... as the January 9 referendum approaches ... • [We can prevent the next Darfur ... Washington Post Op-Ed by George Clooney and John Prendergast] If you had had the opportunity three months ahead of time to prevent Darfur's genocide, what would you have done? The world faces such an opportunity today. On Jan. 9, just 84 days from now, the people of southern Sudan and of the disputed region of Abyei -- which straddles northern and southern Sudan -- will vote in referendums on self-determination. If held freely and fairly, these votes will result in an independent, oil-rich Southern Sudan. If not, the catastrophic war between the north and the south that ended in 2005, after 2.5 million deaths, could resume. More here. [H/T to Charlie Barebo] ... • [As Sudan prepares for secession vote ... PBS News Hour] Video and transcript here.
'Happiness is the purpose of life:' PB joins Dalai Lama and chief rabbi on interfaith panel ... [Episcopal News Service] Their religious traditions are different, but they all agree on one thing – true happiness is the purpose of life. "Happiness is about right relationships; with God, with the self, and with the other," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of four panelists, said Oct. 17 during an interfaith summit at Emory University in Atlanta. More here and here. [From Bishop Paul] This is an amazing corrective to the culture from BIshop Katharine, the Chief Rabbi, the Dali Lama and others. May I suggest that it is useful for confirmation and pre-marital instruction? Krista TIppett is off to a good start in her newly themed radio program.
Breaking through the stained glass ceiling ... [Huffington Post, Maureen Fiedler] As we scan the political, economic, judicial and academic landscape these days, women are ascending to leadership positions in unprecedented numbers. Think of it: the first woman Speaker of the House, three women serving as Secretary of State and the first credible woman candidate for President (Hillary Clinton). Even right-wing Republican women are running for the Senate -- without any discernable calls for them to go home, cook dinner and take care of the kids. One third of the Supreme Court is female. Women are rising as CEOs in the business world. And for the first time in American history, women earned more Ph.D.s than men in 2009. The trend is also true for women in the world of religion. More here.
Further adrift: The American RC Church's crisis of attrition ... [Commonweal Magazine, Peter Steinfels] It is not often that someone at a New York dinner party calls for a count of religious affiliations, and I cannot recall exactly what led to it. But one guest suddenly said he had the impression that many of those present were Catholics. “Can we have a show of hands?” he asked. Two of us raised our hands. A third person, who once wrote frequently in the Catholic press, said “no longer,” though as a conservative he continued to sympathize with the church. A fourth person, with whom my wife and I have sometimes worshiped on Easter, Christmas, and other occasions, chose not to make any declaration at all. Finally, the man who asked the question avowed that he had been raised Catholic, “and I hate everything about it.” Bottom line? Two-and-a-half out of five, perhaps. Par, you might say, for a bunch of overeducated writer-types. Not at all. That’s roughly the proportion you would find at working-class family gatherings or suburban cookouts. ... In American Grace, their new study of religious polarization and pluralism, Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell quote a member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Acton, Massachusetts, where it is estimated that former Catholics make up nearly half the congregation. “If it weren’t for people leaving the Catholic Church,” he said, “the Episcopal Church would have died a long time ago in America." ... These numbers are not only not trivial—they are not just numbers. They are our siblings, our cousins, nieces and nephews, our friends, neighbors, classmates, and students, our children and grandchildren, even in some cases our parents this pattern of loss may well be the wave of the future. ... What matters is merely some kind of acknowledgement from the hierarchy, or even leading individuals within the hierarchy, of the seriousness of the situation. What matters is a sign of determination to address these losses honestly and openly, to absorb the existing data, to gather more if necessary, and to entertain and evaluate a wide range of views about causes and remedies. Is it possible some bishop might mention this at their November meeting? More here.
It is no longer possible, it would seem, to leave the Catholic Church. Although the church in Ireland has been accepting applications to defect, many on foot of applications printed from the user-friendly CountMeOut website, it said on Tuesday that it would no longer process them. The website, which has helped disillusioned Catholics leave, has suspended offering the defection papers “until the situation has been clarified”. In a somewhat ambiguously worded statement the Dublin archdiocese set out the situation for all dioceses: “The Holy See confirmed at the end of August that it was introducing changes to canon law and as a result it will no longer be possible to formally defect from the Catholic Church.” But, it continued: “This will not alter the fact that many people can defect from the church and continue to do so, albeit not through a formal process. This is a change that will affect the church throughout the world.” It said the archdiocese planned to maintain a register “to note the expressed desire of those who wish to defect”. Last year, it said, 229 people had defected formally from the church through the archdiocese; the figure for this year so far is 312. More here.
Y U Luv Texts, H8 Calls ... [Katherine Rosman, WSJournal] For anyone who doubts that the texting revolution is upon us, consider this: The average 13- to 17-year-old sends and receives 3,339 texts a month -- more than 100 per day, according to the Nielsen Co. Adults are catching up. People from ages 45 to 54 sent and received 323 texts a month in the second quarter of 2010, up 75 percent from a year ago. Behind the texting explosion is a fundamental shift in how we view our mobile devices, the Wall Street Journal reports. That they are phones is increasingly beside the point.. More here. [H/T to Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]
Cartoon: The Parish Computer ... David Walker describes it. [H/T to Canon Andrew Gerns]
Morals Without God? ... [Frans De Waal, NYTimes Op-Ed] How primate behavior sheds light on the origins of our sense of right and wrong. "Not that religion is irrelevant, but it is an add-on rather than the wellspring of morality." Read it here.
How real is America's faith? ... [Stanley Hauerwas, The Guardian, UK] Americans do not have to believe in God, because they believe that it is a good thing simply to believe: all they need is a general belief in belief. That is why we have never been able to produce interesting atheists in the US. The god most Americans say they believe in is not interesting enough to deny, because it is only the god that has given them a country that ensures that they have the right to choose to believe in the god of their choosing, Accordingly, the only kind of atheism that counts in the US is that which calls into question the proposition that everyone has a right to life, liberty, and happiness. More here.
Fox News watchers more likely to believe NYC Mosque rumors ... [EthicsDaily, RNS] Fox News watchers are more likely than other Americans to believe dubious claims about the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, according to a new study. "The results are very clear: the more people use Fox News, the more rumors they have heard and believe,” said researchers at Ohio State University’s School of Communications in a nine-page report released Oct. 14. More here.
Walking away from church ... [Los Angeles Times, Organized religion's increasing identification with conservative politics is a turnoff to more and more young adults, say authors of American Grace.] The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it. As recently as 1990, all but 7% of Americans claimed a religious affiliation, a figure that had held constant for decades. Today, 17% of Americans say they have no religion, and these new "nones" are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation. So, why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these new "nones" actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics. More here. [H/T to Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]
Walking six to nine miles a week may help save memory ... Brain's gray matter doesn't seem to shrink with this amount of exercise. More here. [H/T to Diana Marshall]
Little value in new Harris book ... Poor scholarship, ad hominem attacks and an obsession with religion are not the hallmarks of a solid argument. More here.
For a child, God's back story ... [Bruce Feiler, NYTimes, How do you talk to kids about God in the Age of Doubt?] When it comes to talking to children, fundamentalists (believers and nonbelievers alike) have it easy, I have observed. They can simply express their convictions. But what about the rest of us? Are we supposed to share our uncertainties with our children or pretend we know all the answers and let them discover their own ambiguities in due time? More here.
ECF Vital Practices, a new free website from the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), offers vestry members and other people of faith resources and tools to respond to the changing needs of the Church. Building upon the spiritually grounded, practical Vestry Papers articles that have inspired and informed vestry members since 1995, Vital Practices uses the Internet to both expand its offering and its audience. Vital Practices explores new ways of supporting congregations by building online communities of Episcopalians who share their stories, experiences, and best practices, who learn from one another, and who discover support to help sustain their leadership and their ministries. It includes articles by experts and peers, blogs for sharing ideas about faith and leadership, stories about real life lessons of change and leadership, tools for stewardship, communications, and opportunities for you to share your stories and examples. In recognition that fall is stewardship season for many congregations, the site launched with three features on stewardship, Visit www.ecfvp.org and sign up.
Calendar of Events ... [Kat Lehman] Here is the latest calendar of events in and around the diocese. If you want your event posted, please email Kat Lehman who will gladly add your event to the list. This calendar is updated monthly. The format is in Word .doc if you want to cut and paste into your own calendars. Download 101001calendarofevents.doc
News/Info/Commentary from The Diocese of Bethlehem ... •The newSpin blog •The Diobeth website. Enter your name and email address in the "Get Connected" box on the right hand side. You will find quite a few public news and info lists there. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of them. "Bakery" is the diocesan interactive list. •Twitter
ENS Weekly bulletin inserts ... For October 24: [Episcopal News Service] Nuevo Amanecer, a biennial conference co-sponsored by the Episcopal Church's Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries, will be held Nov. 14 – 17 at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. ENS Weekly bulletin inserts for Oct. 24 outline the conference schedule and its keynote speakers, the Rev. Alberto Cutié and the Rev. Miguelina Espinal. For October 31: [Episcopal News Service] New commemorations on the Episcopal Church calendar for the months of November and December from Holy Women, Holy Men are the topic of Oct. 31 bulletin inserts from Episcopal News Service. The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is conducting a year-long open forum on Holy Women, Holy Men, the first complete revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 40 years, and invites participation from all church members through its website or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the insert may be found here.
Acolyte Festival, Christ Church Reading to the National Cathedral ... Story by David Feick, with two pics, here.
HealthCare.gov is a web site where you can learn about the new healthcare law, find insurance options, learn about disease prevention and so much more. The “Understand the New Law” section includes a timeline of when new provisions become effective, how the law applies to specific classifications of people, etc. If you would like a “tour” of the site, join the webinar which will be offered again on Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET. You must register in advance. Register here. I find the site fairly user-friendly—maybe you’ll just enjoy checking it out on your own. The section that compares insurance plans is rather amazing. [Diana Marshall]
The real reason for RC Church polarization ... [Richard McBrien, National Catholic Reporter] If there is any single reason why polarization exists in the Catholic Church today it is because of the type of bishops whom John Paul II appointed and promoted within the hierarchy over the course of his 26 and a half years in office. More here.
It might be ... Leaders who limit solutions to those that are provable are unlikely to come up with great answers, says Roger Martin. To encourage the “vital elusive spark of creativity,” leaders need to support design thinking, going beyond the limits of inductive and deductive logic to access the blended wisdom of abductive logic, where knowledge is derived from mystery. More here. [H/T to Leadershi Education at Duke Divinity]
Send this to friends you think may be interested ... newSpin is an electronic newsletter that includes news, information and commentary related to the Diocese of Bethlehem, the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion and the world of religion ... with some spin, of course, from the editor. It is edited by retired communication minister Bill Lewellis and ordinarily published twice weekly, on Monday and Thursday. The newSpin newsletter is currently received by some 1,200 people, many of whom forward it to hundreds of others. To have it emailed directly to you, you may subscribe at the "Get Connected" box on the right column of www.diobeth.org. Select newSpin under the groups. You may find samples of the newSpin newsletter on the left column of the newSpin blog, www.diobeth.typepad.com.
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 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.