The newSpin newsletter, Dec. 20, 2010
By Bill Lewellis
Published Mondays and Thursdays
Diocese of Bethlehem
• Temporary shelter for the homeless in Bethlehem churches ... A few years ago, Bethlehem area churches took on a mission, to provide temporary shelter for the homeless during the winter months. This year will be no exception. This system began again on December 15 and will continue until March 31. More here, including background on the origin of this ministry.
• Enjoy a short stack for a tall cause ... A Flapjack Breakfast Fundraiser for the Prennsylvania Avenue Interfaith Food Pantry. At Applebee's, Saturday, Januay 8, from 8 to 10 a.m. View and download a poster here.
• Janet Shadle ... [From Bishop Paul] Father Ed Erb has passed the following word of Sue's mother's death Saturday evening after a very long illness.
I am sue that Sue would be glad to hear from you. "May her heart and soul now ring out in joy to thee." [From Ed Erb] Sue's mother, Janet Shadle, passed into God's glory this evening at 7:00. It has been a long and tiring process for Sue. Though she is dealing well with both boys being here tonight, when they leave tomorrow it will hit. The funeral will be Wednesday morning in Chambersburg, where Sue's family originates. Your prayers of thanksgiving for the end of suffering and a peaceful death are appreciated.
• 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.
• Let's be careful out there ... [Canon Andrew Gerns] On Thursday, Dec. 16, someone hijacked my e-mail account and then notified the entire universe that I was stranded in London without credit cards or passport and asking people to wire money to get me home. Of course, it was a scam. More here.
• Bishop's School ... 2011 Spring Semester. Here.
• Nativity Week Notes ... Here is a sample of the weekly notes sent to parishioners by the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, created with ChurchPost.
• December/January Diocesan Life ... Download it here. Episcopal Journal begins publication in February as an insert to Diocesan Life. More 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
• 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.
• Some of us may remember Frank Wismer, onetime rector of St. Alban's Sinking Spring. This brief article appeared in the Stamford magazine.
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. [Updated Dec. 17]
• A new animated video detailing the situation in Sudan and the critical nature of the upcoming referendum is available here, from the Episcopal Church Office of Communication.
• Messiah: A Trinity Holiday Tradition that continues to impress ... In a review of this year's Trinity Choir performance of Handel's Messiah, the New York Times called the Trinity Choir "superb," and noted that the Trinity Baroque Orchestra "performed commandingly." Click here to read more and watch the concert on-demand.
• Quiet Christmas at Moravian Seminary ... Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7:00 p.m. More here.
• Alternative Prayers of the People ... For Christmas. If you want updated prayers delivered to your mailbox weekly, subscribe at the "Get Connected" box on the diocesan website.
• Jesus had two daddies ... Children tell the Christmas story. Here.
• The Gifts of Hope ... [Nicholas Kristof, NYTimes] So what would your aunt prefer as a holiday gift — another Mariah Carey CD, or the knowledge that she’s sending a little girl in Haiti to school for a year? ... One of the paradoxes of living in a wealthy country is that we accumulate tremendous purchasing power, yet it’s harder and harder for us to give friends and family presents that are meaningful. In this holiday season, sometimes a scarf from a prostituted Cambodian girl, or a scholarship for a Zambian child, is the most heartwarming gift of all. More here.
The Roman Catholic Church
• On the crisis, does the Pope have it right? ... Pope Benedict XVI’s blunt language on the sexual abuse crisis in his annual address to the Roman Curia this morning is generating headlines around the world, especially the pontiff’s unflinching insistence that the church must examine “what went wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen.” What Benedict said about the importance of better priestly formation, and the valuable role played by those who work to help victims, also will likely garner largely positive notice. Yet there’s also an insider’s subtext to Benedict’s reflections this morning, one which suggests that while the pope may well “get it” in terms of the magnitude of the crisis, both his diagnosis of what went wrong and his implied cure remain open to debate. At heart of that subtext is a $5 word in Catholic moral theology: “Proportionalism.” More here.
• On Wikileaks, face time with the Pope, and Dolan ... [Nat'l Cath Reporter, John Allen, Dec. 17] Here.
• The mess in Phoenix ... [Nat'l Cath Reporter, Michael Sean Winters] What is going on in Phoenix? Bishop Thomas Olmsted earlier this year pronounced the excommunication of Mercy Sr. Margaret McBride because she concurred in the decision, made by a pregnant woman whose life was threatened if her pregnancy continued. What did the patient and doctors decide? More 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
• 10th Annual Year in Ideas ... [NYTimes] Here. And the 9th.
• Church removes racial references in Book of Mormon headings ... [The Salt Lake Tribune] The words “skin of blackness” were removed from the introductory italicized summary in 2 Nephi, Chapter 5, in describing the “curse” God put on disbelieving Lamanites. Deeper into the volume, in Mormon, Chapter 5, the heading changes from calling Lamanites “a dark, filthy, and loathsome people” to “because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them.” In both cases, the text itself remains unchanged. More here.
• 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 goodness of gifts ... [NYTimes Magazine] At least in theory, receiving gifts prompts gratitude and a recognition of all the things in life that come as a gift, not because of hard work or because we deserve it, but simply because we are loved. More here.
• Ross Douthat on Christmas and Christianity ... [The Atlantic Wire] It wouldn't seem like it, writes the New York Times columnist, but it's tough being a Christian at Christmastime. Along with the incursion of "materialist ticky tack" into a religious holiday, culture warriors on the right and left have taken to exploiting the season for "cynical purposes." For truly pious Christians in America, the season offers a reminder of just how many Christians in this country treat "religion as just another form of midwinter entertainment." Instead of getting angry about America's declining religiosity, Douthat believes Christians must adapt their faith to these new surroundings. "Or to put it another way," he writes, "Christians need to find a way to thrive in a society that looks less and less like any sort of Christendom--and more and more like the diverse and complicated Roman Empire where their religion had its beginning, 2,000 years ago this week." [Comment from Andrew Gerns] One of the things I draw from Ross Douthat's op-ed in today's NYTimes, is that Christianity is the most vibrant, has the most to say to the culture, has real good news to real people, when we are no longer defending or proclaiming what we used to call "Christendom." The pinch comes when we associate evangelism with keep our institutions open while at the same time practicing a kind of cultural nostalgia. How is Jesus born where people live today?
• There goes the sun ... [NYTimes op-ed, Richard Cohen] What is the winter solstice, and why bother to celebrate it, as so many people around the world will tomorrow? The word “solstice” derives from the Latin sol (meaning sun) and statum (stand still), and reflects what we see on the first days of summer and winter when, at dawn for two or three days, the sun seems to linger for several minutes in its passage across the sky, before beginning to double back. More here.
• No act of rebellion is wasted ... [Chris Hedges, Truthdig] Here.
• Beating the Holiday Blues ... [PsychCentral, H/T to Diana Marshall] 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.
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
• Find earlier issues of the newSpin newsletter here and recent ones in the left column here.
Newly expanded community listing in The Morning Call, in print Monday through Saurday, online 24/7. More here.
You may post a comment below on any of the items above, or with your suggestions to improve newSpin. Comments will be visible to anyone who reads this newsletter.
Send info about newSpin 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 many others. To have it emailed directly to you, 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.