The newSpin newsletter, Dec. 16, 2010
By Bill Lewellis
Published Mondays and Thursdays
Diocese of Bethlehem
• Gas rush reshapes Towanda ... [Wall Street Journal] Drill rigs sprouting up on dairy farms are transforming this once-quiet community and dividing residents who welcome the economic boost from those who worry about the effects of development. Energy companies are investing billions of dollars drilling for natural gas in the huge Marcellus Shale, a 400-million-year-old shale deposit stretching beneath parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. Places like Towanda are especially attractive because they are close to gas users in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and have high-producing wells. ... Some people believe the Marcellus Shale will transform the entire economy of the state. ... This year, 286 Marcellus wells have been drilled in Bradford County, the most in the state. More here. [H/T Deacon Larry Holman]
• Trinity Bethlehem Soup Kitchen traditionally gives gifts to their poor and homeless guests at Christmas time. This year, many beautiful hand-knit scarves and hats have been received from local knitters, but they have no gloves or mittens to give. Here's how you can help.
• Bishop's School ... 2011 Spring Semester. Here.
• 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. 50 seats already filled. More 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.
• College students, young adults and those who minister to them ... Vocare is a retreat for young adults, 19 to 30. Jan. 7-9 at St. Francis Retreat Center, Bethlehem. More info here.
• 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.
• Winter Wonderland lyrics penned by Honesdale native in 1934 ... [Times-Tribune, Scranton] 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]
• Keep checking for news/info/prayers regarding Sudan/Kajo Keji at the newSpin blog.
• Act now to prevent war in Sudan ... [CNN, George Clooney and John Prendergast] Here.
• Dreams of life in Southern Sudan clash with reality ... [NPR] Here.
• Quiet Christmas at Moravian Seminary ... Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7:00 p.m. More here.
• Alternative Prayers of the People ... Advent 4A here. If you want updated prayers delivered to your mailbox weekly, subscribe at the "Get Connected" box on the diocesan website.
• Favorite carols and sounds of the season ... by the Boy Choristers of Saint Thomas Church Choir, NYC.
• Pray for our young men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for their families ... Names here.
• Alcoholics Anonymous as a spiritual experience ... [CNN Health] Study finds not only that Alcoholics Anonymous increases spirituality, but that spirituality may actually play a role in successful recovery from alcoholism. Here.
• Joseph and Mary's Advent vision ... [John Dear, S.J., Nat'l Cath Reporter] A few years ago, Bob Dylan was asked about his plans. “I’m looking forward to some dreams,” he answered. “Excuse me?” the befuddled interviewer replied. “It says right there in the Bible,” Dylan explained, “‘Your young men and women will see visions, and your older men and women will dream dreams.’ I’m ready for my dreams.” More 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.
Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion
• People Magazine profiles Rowan Williams ... [Peter Carey, Episcopal Café] Here.
• Market bumps raise concerns about church pensions ... [Religion News Service] Here.
• ENS Weekly bulletin inserts ... For December 19: Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message. Full text of inserts may be found and downloaded here.
• Input sought on possible Hymnal revision ... [Episcopal News Service] Here.
• The Anglican Alliance: Development, Relief and Advocacy ... A new cross-Communion Alliance set up to connect and strengthen the development, relief and advocacy activities of the Anglican Communion. More here.
• Presiding Bishop's Christmas Message ... Here.
• Seeing the Face of God in Each Other ... The Antiracism Training Manual of The Episcopal Church Episcopal Church provides guidelines, format, suggestions for diocesan training. Here.
• General Seminary holds open house to discuss sale ... [Chelsea Now] Here.
• Diocese of PA Standing Committee meets with PB to discuss the situation of the Bishop of Pennsylvania. More here.
• Nominations accepted for committees, positions for election at Episcopal Church General Convention 2012.
The Roman Catholic Church
• RC Bishop of Phoenix threatens hospital's Catholic ties over abortion 'scandal' ... [USA Today, Arizona Republic] Here.
• Pope's condom remarks leave much unsaid ... [Nat'l Cath Reporter, Bill Tammeus] All the excitement over this is tied into the Vatican’s apparent difficulty doing these two things at once: holding fast to essential doctrine while acknowledging (if not embracing) the reality of modernity and now the vicissitudes of post-modernity. More here.
• The Vatican and Wikileaks ... [John Allen, National Catholic Reporter] Here.
• Holy See urges prudence in reading Vatican-related cables ... Here.
• Way beyond Atheism: God does not (not) exist ... [Paul Wallace, Religion Dispatches] Why Richard Dawkins is a fundamentalist, and why most atheists reject far too little. They only have to be one kind of atheist: The atheist who stands against some kind of ridiculous super-object in the sky, who stands against a child's theology. More here.
• What did Einstein believe about God ... [Michael Shermer] Albert Einstein famously opined, “God is cunning but He is not malicious.” And: “God does not play dice.” When asked his motivation for doing physics, Einstein replied: “I want to know how God created the world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.” In the final weeks of his life, when Einstein learned of the death of his old physicist friend Michele Besso, he wrote the Besso family: “He has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubborn illusion.” What did Einstein mean by “God” playing dice, or “us believing physicists”? Was he speaking literally or metaphorically? Did he mean belief in the models of theoretical physics that make no distinction between past, present, and future? Did he mean belief in some impersonal force that exists above such time constraints? Was he just being polite and consoling to Besso’s family? Such is the enigma of the most well-known scientist in history whose fame was such that nearly everything he wrote or said was scrutinized for its meaning and import; thus, it is easy to yank such quotes out of context and spin them in any direction one desires. More here.
• Can the existence of God ever be proven ... [Rabbi Alan Lurie, Huffington Post] Here.
• A Meditation on shopping and desire ... [Religion Dispatches, Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado] Shopping is an ethical act. Today we live in a culture of cheap. We have an unprecedented access to cheap goods, yet we must recognize that cheap goods are cheaply made. I am not speaking of quality, I am speaking of cheap labor. We must recognize that through the act of shopping, whether it is for an article of clothing, a toy, a pint of strawberries, or even our morning cup of coffee, we participate in a global economy that values profit over people. Disposable goods are made by disposable people, faceless individuals whose backbreaking and unjustly paid labor produce the goods we consume. What we buy and where we buy it is a political act. It is also, I argue, a religious act. More here.
Beyond the Bounds
• Who was neighbor to the man? ... [Ann Fontaine, Episcopal Café] Mr. Narayanan Krishnan, a Brahmin Hindu searches out the homeless and feeds, clothes, bathes, shaves and loves them. More here.
• Africa's gays said to face increasing persecution ... [San Francisco Chronicle] Persecution of gays is intensifying across Africa, fueled by fundamentalist preachers, intolerant governments and homophobic politicians. Gay people have been denied access to health care, detained, tortured and even killed, human rights activists and witnesses say. The growing tide of homophobia comes at a time when gays in Africa are expressing themselves more openly, prompting greater media attention and debates about homosexuality. The rapid growth of Islam and evangelical forms of Christianity, each espousing conservative views on family values and marriage, have convinced many Africans that homosexuality should not be tolerated in their societies. More here. [H/T Bishop Paul] See also here.
• Win a trip with Nicholas Kristof ... Announcing the 5th annual "Win-A-Trip With Nick" contest. For the fifth anniversary, Nick is going to take not only a university student, but also someone over 60. The application deadline is on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at midnight E.S.T. The winner will be chosen by February and then travel later in the year. You can apply either with an essay of up to 700 words, or a video of up to three minutes, or both. Send the essay to firstname.lastname@example.org or post the video on Nick's YouTube channel, next to his video invitation for applications. In either case, explain why Nick should pick you. Enter now.
• 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.
• Opposition to Health Law is steeped in tradition ... [NYTimes] “We are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program,” said one prominent critic of the new health care law. It is socialized medicine, he argued. If it stands, he said, “one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.” The health care law in question was Medicare, and the critic was Ronald Reagan. He made the leap from actor to political activist, almost 50 years ago, in part by opposing government-run health insurance for the elderly. More here.
• Clergy shortage affecting all denominations in Canada ... [The Globe and Mail, Toronto] As the head of human resources for the United Church of Canada, Rev. Alan Hall understands the contemporary struggle to identify and nurture the next generation of religious leadership. At a cocktail party recently, he met a young woman and introduced himself as a minister. "Federal or provincial," she asked. He explained that he worked in the church, not government. “Oh, church,” the woman said. “My grandfather went to church.” More here.
• Extended Mind Redux: A Response ... [Andy Clark, NYTimes] Answering readers' questions about why locating the mind might be like locating the adorableness of a kitten and other cognitive matters. Here.
• What Ike got right ... [NYTimes op-ed, James Ledbetter] His warning against the “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex” is as urgent today as ever. More here.
• No act of rebellion is wasted ... [Chris Hedges, Truthdig] Here.
• Beating the Holiday Blues ... [PsychCentral, H/T to Diana Marshall] Here.
• Healthy You eNewsletter Tips ... from the Lehigh Valley Health Network. Here.
• 30 Deadliest Meals of 2010 ... Here.
• Health Care Reform ... [Senator Robert Casey] There are many improvements to our Nation’s health system underway, and I would like to highlight three new initiatives that you, your family and friends should know about. The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit: This tax credit is available to an estimated 179,000 small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations in Pennsylvania that provide health insurance for their employees. For more information about the tax credit, including who qualifies and how to file, please visit the IRS website. A Health Insurance Program for Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions: PA Fair Care is a new insurance program provides affordable coverage for individuals who have been denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition and who have been uninsured for six months. More than 1,600 Pennsylvanians have signed up for this plan since it launched in September. To learn more or enroll, please visit PA Fair Care. Medicare Annual Wellness Visits: Beginning in January, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get an annual wellness visit that includes a comprehensive health risk assessment and a 5-10 year personalized prevention plan. This will help beneficiaries stay healthy and be able to work with their doctor to create a plan that meets their current health needs. To learn more about the new benefits under Medicare, please visit the Medicare Website. These changes represent just a handful of the important protections for consumers included in the Affordable Care Act. For more information, I invite you to visit my website, where you can find a comprehensive guide for individuals, families and businesses on the new health care law. I also encourage you to visit The Department of Health and Human Services’ new website, HealthCare.gov, which provides powerful new consumer information, tools and resources. [H/T Diana Marshall]
• 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.
• WikiRebels – The documentary ... [Reader Supported News] This is a 57:25 video.
Additional sources of news/info/commentary
• Diocese of Bethlehem
(1) The newSpin blog
(2) The DioBeth website
(4) Twitter.Kat Lehman
(5) Public news and info lists: At the Diobeth website, enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box on the right hand side. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.
(1) Weekly roundup of Anglican News ... Nov. 27 to Dec. 3.
(2) News & Notices
(4) Episcopal News Service
(5) Episcopal Church website
(9) The Lead, Episcopal Cafe
(10) Daily Episcopalian, Episcopal Cafe
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"You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." Richard Holbrooke's last words. More here
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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.