The newSpin newsletter, Dec. 13, 2010
By Bill Lewellis
Published Mondays and Thursdays
Diocese of Bethlehem
• Bruce Baker ... [Face of Faith in The Reading Eagle] Here.
• Tune up your church's web presence before Christmas eve ... [Torey Lightcap, Episcopal Café, Here] The launch in mid-October of Vital Practices has yielded plenty of usable ideas. Case in point: a brief consideration of how parish web sites can welcome visitors on Christmas Eve with greater hospitality and more usable information.
• December/January Diocesan Life ... Download it here.
• Bishop's Day/Night pilgrimage with youth ... With Bishop Paul, January 21-22, St. John the Divine NYC. More here. Register here. Questions? Contact Kim Rowles, Youth Missioner, at 610-751-3931 or at email@example.com
• Calendar of Events ... in and around the Diocese of Bethlehem, updated Dec. 1.
• Vocare ... A retreat for young adults, 19 to 30. Jan. 7-9 at St. Francis Retreat Center, Bethlehem. More info and registration here. Contact Sarah Tax, firstname.lastname@example.org or the Rev. Hillary Raining, email@example.com.
• A Women's Retreat ... hosted by the Cathedral at Villa of Our Lady Retreat House, Mt. Pocono, to which all women of the Diocese are welcome, will take place March 11-13. More here.
R20 – Risk to Opportunities
• Renewal Assembly, Feb. 19, 9:00 to 1:00 ... Registration is now available for the Renewal Assembly, “The Call to Prayer and Discernment.” The Assembly will be held in six locations: Christ Church Towanda, Trinity Carbondale;,Trinity West Pittston, Trinity Pottsville, St. Anne’s Trexlertown and the Cathedral Church of the Nativity Bethlehem. Lunch will be provided.Registrants will be assigned to the most appropriate site. More here.
• Top Ten Ways congregations shape and are shaped by society ... [Loren Mead, Alban Institute] Here.
• Why people don't go to church ... and why they should. A must-watch short video. [You Tube, H/T Peter Carey at Episcopal Café]
• Conference at Kanuga, Jan. 7-9, to help vestries grow thriving congregations amid challenge, change. Info here.
• Keep checking for news/info/prayers regarding Sudan/Kajo Keji at the newSpin blog.
• African poverty is falling ... much faster than you think. More here. [VoxEU, H/T John B. Chilton at Episcopal Café]
• Trinity Wall Street Choir Concert: Messiah ... Tonight, Monday, Dec. 13 | 7:30pm | Trinity Church. The perennial favorite that always sells out, this incredibly rich oratorio features an elaborate mix of chorus, soloists, and orchestra that must be heard live and what better place than Trinity Church where it received its New World premiere in 1770. Conductor: Julian Wachner. With the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Robert Mealy, concertmaster. Watch the webcast live or on-demand here.
• Advent resources ... Here.
• Alternative Prayers of the People ... If you want updated prayers delivered to your mailbox weekly, subscribe at the "Get Connected" box on the diocesan website.
• The situation in Haiti ... is getting (as hard as it is to imagine) even more dire. The cholera epidemic is spreading, violence is spiraling and the fear of unrestrained mob violence is growing. More here.
• Tis the Season–To Slow Down ... A video interview with Barbara Crafton from Trinity Wall Street. View here.
• On what the Bible says about homosexuality ... [Washington Post, On Faith, Bishop Gene Robinson] The first (Texts of Terror) second (Homosexuality in Leviticus) third (Homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah) fourth (What did Jesus say about homosexuality) and fifth (Homosexuality in 1Corinthians and 1Timothy) in a series of articles examining the Biblical texts traditionally used to address the issue of homosexuality from a religious (Jewish and Christian) perspective.
• Natwivity (Don't correct the spelling) ... The story of the Nativity unfolds on Twitter. More here. [Andrew Gerns, reporting at Episcopal Café]
Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion
• ENS Weekly bulletin inserts ... New ... Full text of inserts may be found and downloaded here.
• Jay Leno has some fun with Washington National Cathedral ... [Jim Naughton, Episcopal Café] CNN did an excellent little story on Joe Alonso, head stone mason at Washington National Cathedral. Have a look. Then take a look at what Jay Leno did with it. More here.
• 'Twas the Night ... Wynton Marsalis will be the celebrity "reader" of 'Twas the Night before Christmas at The Church of the Intercession in Manhattan. Nearly a hundred years ago a tradition started of having children gather in the building, hear the story and then form a procession to visit the grave of the poem's author Clement Clarke Moore, who was a professor at the General Theological Seminary in New York City long ago. [H/T Nicholas Knisely, Episcopal Café] See also Wikipedia.
The Roman Catholic Church
• A Memo to the Bishops ... [Vincent Miller, America Magazine] Every Catholic and every American citizen knows the church’s teaching on abortion and marriage. The same cannot be said for the rest of Catholic social teaching. This has consequences for both American public life and for the church. More here.
• Not His House: Archbishop Oversteps, Opposes Repeal of DADT ... [Religion Dispatches, Eugene McMullen] On December 1, Catholic Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio contributed an essay to the Washington Post's "On Faith" opposing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Clinton-era policy that prevents LGBT persons from serving openly in the military. He quotes at length from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, compares homosexuality to alcoholism, and makes the unconvincing, dishonest claim that lifting the ban would infringe upon the religious liberty of Catholic chaplains by forcing them to bless same-gender marriages. But the military is not the Catholic Church. More here.
• The Vatican and Wikileaks ... [John Allen, National Catholic Reporter] Here.
Beyond the Bounds
• Cyberbullying ... [Ann Fontaine, Episcopal Café] Mark Reford, head of St. Luke's Episcopal School, San Antonio, TX, writes on what can be done about cyber-bullying and how churches, parents, and schools can play a role. The New York Times covers this subject in As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up. Reasons for continued cyber bullying are the gap between computer knowledge of parents and their kids, parents unwillingness to see their children's bullying as anything other than a joke, teens and parents unwillingness to confront the behavior for fear of more bullying, and authorities - school and police - unwillingness to act. And another article from the NYTimes on how the anonymity of the web breeds contempt. Additionaly, Jenifer Gamber suggests resources from the NAECED (National Association for Episcopal Christian Educators) listserve. Curriculum: Burst: Bullies and Mean Girls (Abingdon); Bullied (Free, with study guide at www.teachingtolerance.org/bullied; Stop Bullying (Paraclete Press $35.95); The Real Consequences of Bullying (Free, The Thoughtful Christian, www.thethoughtfulchristian.com and Websites: stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids; www.thetrevorproject.org (specifically for LGBTQ); goldenrulepledge.com/grresources (lists resources for church youth groups).
• Homophobic violence ramps up in Africa ... [Torey Lightcap, Episcopal Café] Violence about and toward gays in some quarters of Africa appears to be one of the ticking bombs of that continent's present reality. More here.
• Who speaks for the Christian Right? ... Newsweek profiles eleven leaders of the new evangelical right. Kevin Eckstrom of Religion News Service says someone ought to tell Jim Wallis, because he made it.
• The Christian Right in Context ... [The Huffington Post, Richard T. Hughes, Author of Christian America and the Kingdom of God] Part 1: The Long View; Part 2: Building a Christian America; Part 3: Politics over Persuasion; Part 4: The Obama Years.
• The practice of asking questions ... True intellectual leaders don’t limit their imaginations to their own specialties. They also wonder about the insights, practices and questions of other disciplines, says L. Gregory Jones. More here.
• Gay Bashing at the Smithsonian ... [Frank Rich, NYTimes] "Each Aug. 4, my wife Alex and I visit a church to light candles for two people we loved who both died tragically on that day two years apart — my mother, killed at 64 in a car crash, and Alex’s closest friend from graduate school, killed by AIDS at half that age. My mother was Jewish but loved the meditative serenity of vast cathedrals. Alex’s friend, John, was a Roman Catholic conflicted by a religion that demonized his sexuality. Our favorite pilgrimage is to an Episcopal church, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, not as some sectarian compromise but because of it AIDS chapel, a haunting reminder of the plague that ravaged that city’s population, especially its gay men, some time ago. ... 'Think anti-gay bullying is just for kids? Ask the Smithsonian,' wrote The Los Angeles Times's art critic, Christopher Knight, last week. One might add: Think anti-gay bullying is just for small-town America? Look at the nation's capital." More here. [BTW, Keith Haring, mentioned in Rich's column as a "New York artist," was born in Reading and raised in Kutztown.]
• Just one cigarette harms you ... says the Surgeon General. More here. [H/T The Daily Beast]
• Visualizing mortality history ...[Freakonomics] Here. [H/T John B. Chilton at Episcopal Café]
• The Top Ten Religion Stories of 2010 ... [A. James Rudin, Religion News Service] Here.
• True Grit ... A family film by the Coen brothers? Well, PG13. More here. Also here.
• Wojnarowicz's Ant-covered Jesus: Blasphemy or Religious Art? ... [Religion Dispatches, S. Brent Plate] It doesn't take much to realize the main theme of A Fire in my Belly is death. More specifically, it is the vulnerability, penetrability, and perpetually possible disintegration of the human body. This fleshly mortality became especially real to Wojnarowicz in the still emerging AIDS crisis of the time. Thus, by necessity it is a deeply human and deeply religious artwork. Which does not mean these images are pleasant and easy to look at. No warm and fuzzy pop spirituality this. More here.
• On Thinking Outside of the Brain ... [The Atlantic Wire] How often do we think without our brains? According The New York Times' Andy Clark, the brain is not the only tool active in one's thought process. Clark proposes the idea that everyday technological tools used to gather information, such as iPhones, Blackberries, and laptops, are becoming extensions of our brains. Clark argues that we use more than just our brains in order to think. Some people, he points out, use their hands, not to create emphasis, but to enable their thought process. He compares such gadgets to prosthetic limbs which, after a while, can become almost a natural extension of the body. "As our information-processing technologies improve and become better and better adapted to fit the niche provided by the biological brain, they become more like cognitive prosthetics: non-biological circuits that come to function as parts of the material underpinnings of minds like ours," he explains. More here.
Additional sources of news/info/commentary
• Diocese of Bethlehem
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(1) Weekly roundup of Anglican News ... Nov. 27 to Dec. 3.
(2) News & Notices
(4) Episcopal News Service
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(9) The Lead, Episcopal Cafe
(10) Daily Episcopalian, Episcopal Cafe
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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 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.