The real ecumenical/interfaith opportunity
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newSpin 110627


The newSpin newsletter, June 27 2011
By Bill Lewellis

Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday

• Workers of the world, incorporate! ... [Brian Pavlac, Citizens Voice, Wilkes-Barre] Unions are dying in America. Their percentage of the workforce has declined from about 32 percent 60 years ago to under 12 percent today. Many of those that remain are under assault, especially since new Republican governors have targeted public employee unions. Some of the death of unions results from many people seeing unions as unnecessary. In the last half of the 20th century, governments have indeed spread some of the benefits of unionization to the public by legislating protections of paid holidays and vacation, minimum wages and overtime, safe workplace conditions, etc. Increasingly, though, unions are not naturally declining, but being murdered. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, corporate executives, and their political allies who have never liked the power assembled in union activity are more motivated than ever to finish them off. Many conservatives hated the recent successful bailout of GM and Chrysler because it allowed the auto unions to survive. Businesses have also deliberately moved factories and offices to states and countries whose laws and customs limit unionization. More here.
• Cuomo signs same-sex marriage bill into law ... [Episcopal Café] Late Friday night New York's new governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill allowing legal same-sex marriage in the state passed hours earlier into law. Governor Cuomo had made the passage of such legislation one of the key pieces of his campaign platform. More here. And [Frank Bruni, NYTimes Op-Ed] To know us is to let us love. Here. [NYTimes Editorial] Here. And [Spiritual Politics] don't miss "The Bishops Lose a Big One."
• Task Force releases report on Anglican Covenant ... [Episcopal News Service] An Executive Council task force has released a report it received from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons outlining the changes that would be needed if the General Convention decides to sign onto the Anglican Covenant. Here.

• Nevada priest resigns amid sexual abuse lawsuit ... [Episcopal Café] The Kansas City Star reports that a former Benedictine monk and Catholic priest who is now an Episcopal priest has resigned his position and has begun the process of renouncing his orders after admitting to committing sexual abuse against boys while serving as music director at a Roman Catholic monastery. Bede Parry, 69, served All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas since 2000 and was received in 2004. More here. Comments under the Episcopal Café story by Andrew Gerns include one by Bishop Paul.

• IRS Mileage Rates ... [Bruce Reiner] The IRS has announced a change in the mileage rates starting July 1 to the end of 2011. Business: 55.5 (up from 51). Medical: 23.5 (up from 19). Charitable: 14 (same).
• Grants for creative ministry approaches in rural settings ... [ENS] For the training of town and country clergy and rural Christian workers of the Episcopal Church. Here.
• Vincent J. Julian, Jr., 59, died June 23. He was a volunteer organist, senior and junior warden and served on the buildings and grounds committee at St. Brigid's Nazareth. Services on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Obituary here.

• Bruce P. Bengtson will play his last official service as organist of Christ Church Reading on Sunday, July 31. Hear Bruce. "When to his organ, vocal breath was giv'n, An angel heard, and straight appear'd, Mistaking earth for Heaven." (John Dryden)
• Diocesan Life, June ... Read or download it here .
• Episcopal News Weekly bulletin inserts ... Download inserts here .
• DioBeth Website and newSpin Blog
• 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.

• The real ecumenical/interfaith opportunity ... [Bishop Paul Marshall]  If this survey is true, the conservatives are losing members faster than the mainline! I wouldn't do the Schadenfreude polka just yet, but the numbers suggest that the propaganda that our church is shrinking because of its positions on various matters needs careful examination. Perhaps the real ecumenical/interfaith opportunity is to find ways to communicate to our culture the importance of religious belief, period. More here.
• It's Your Church ... [Alban Institute, Landon Whitsitt] Although the question the search committee asked was, "What is your church growth plan?" what they were after was something much deeper. Something was amiss, and they knew it. More here.
• Church growth and evangelism challenge: Ten tests ... [Anglican Communion News Service] The English Diocese of Liverpool has set ten 'tests' for any proposed initiatives to help churches avoid doing anything that might hinder the work of God's mission. The diocese, which has 250 churches in both rural and urban settings in the north of the country, is said to be working towards "a sustainable, led and transforming Christian presence in every community in the diocese to enable all to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God." Liverpool’s Church Growth Team Leader Linda Jones explained that as part of this its synod agreed that Ten Tests should be set and used to measure the worth of any proposed initiatives. More here.

• Energy Hogs: atop TV sets, a power drain runs nonstop ... [NYTimes] Those little boxes that usher cable signals and digital recording capacity into televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes, with some typical home entertainment configurations eating more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems. These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. Cable boxes are not designed to be turned completely off, and even when in deep sleep mode, it takes time to reconnect and “talk” with their cable or satellite network, though that time is highly variable depending on the technology. Those devices may cause an increase of as little as a few dollars a month or well over $10 for a home with many devices. The biggest challenge in reducing energy use is maintaining the rapid response time now expected of home entertainment systems. People are used to the idea that computers take some time to boot up, but they expect the TV to turn on instantly. More here.
• Face to face with a mother's pain  ... [Nicholas Kristoff, NYTimes] A chance encounter in a village here between an American medical student traveling with me and a starving African mother was almost too wrenching to handle. We came across a young mother who was quietly starving beside her thatch-roof hut, along with her two surviving children (two others had already died). She told us she was eight months pregnant and had nothing at all to eat in the house. She and her children had last eaten a day earlier, when neighbors — themselves impossibly poor — shared some of their food. She was also afflicted with a leg infection that looked gangrenous. If she didn’t starve, she might soon lose her leg — or, more realistically in a village with no medical clinic, simply die of the infection. Her two small children, ages 5 and 2, would then be at great risk of dying without their mother to look after them. The father is blind, from a disease called river blindness, which is transmitted by black flies, and cannot cultivate the fields. It was at that point in the conversation that the medical student choked and teared up. “Is there anything we can do?” she asked. More here.
• An unfair burden ... [NYTimes Editorial]
 For all of the economic hardship of the last several years, there was reason to hope that the nation could avoid a crushing increase in the number of Americans living in poverty. That hope is fading fast. Much of the real money for deficit reduction will inevitably have to come from popular programs, like reducing payments to Medicare providers, and reining in defense spending. And it must come from tax increases, no matter how much Republicans may wish it otherwise. Making the poor carry a heavy part of the deficit burden is intolerable. More here. And [at Episcopal Café, Nick Knisely] The idea that upperclass tax cuts need to be preserved and the poor's benefits reduced to keep the rich as rich as they are, pretty much flies in the face of all that Our Lord and the Prophets teach. Good thing the New York Times is calling folks out. Are we in the Church making enough noise?
• The ways of silencing ... [NYTimes, Opinionator] We might wish politicians and pundits from opposing parties to engage in reasoned debate about the truth, but as we know, this is not the reality of our political discourse. Instead we often encounter bizarre and improbable claims about public figures. Words are misappropriated and meanings twisted. I believe that these tactics are not really about making substantive claims, but rather play the role of silencing. They are, if you will, linguistic strategies for stealing the voices of others. These strategies have always been part of the arsenal of politics. But since they are so widely used today, it is worth examining their underlying mechanisms, to make apparent their special dangers. More here.

• Diocese of Bethlehem ... Updated monthly, June 2. Download here . Find weekly updates on the DioBeth Facebook page . Also here .
• Episcopal Church ... Here .
• Lectionary ... Here and Here .

• The Diocese of Bethlehem on Twitter ...!/Diobeth
• The Diocese of Bethlehem on Facebook ...
• Kat Lehman on Twitter ...!/KatLehman
• Episcopal News Service on Twitter ...!/episcopal_news

 • July 9, to Called to be Heroes ... Bishop's Day for Kids , grades 1-5, at Church of the Good Shepherd in Scranton. Children in grades 1-5 are invited to spend the day with Bishop Paul, 9:30 to 2:30, and meet some no-so-well-known heroes in the Bible. Discover your own super powers, and enjoy being together. Storytelling, games, Eucharist and more. Also here .

• Paying attention to the presence of God ... [Episcpal Café] Prayer means paying attention to the presence of God. It means listening for God and responding to God, by our words, deeds, and silence. Prayer means giving thanks for God's many gifts, taking refuge in God's promises, and adoring God's goodness. It means seeking God's will and offering ourselves up for God's purposes. Petition and intercession are but one dimension of a relationship with God that is much broader and deeper--and far more meaningful. More here.
• The Daily Office ... with the Mission St. Clare .
• With The Book of Common Prayer ... Here .
• For our young men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for their families. Check the newSpin blog for an update.

• Day1 Sermon.God will provide ... [Charles K. Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop] I hate to admit this up front, but the fact is that I have never, ever liked that passage about Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. When I was a child and heard this passage read in church, I wanted to cry out, "Run, Isaac, run! Don't let him get you!" I even found myself getting angry with the boy. I mean, how dense can he be? He's carrying the wood to the sacrifice. "Wake up, kid! You're the sacrifice!" Years later, when I became a parent myself, I found myself even more disturbed by the story. After all, what kind of father would entertain such a proposition? As Bob Dylan once sang, "God said to Abraham, 'Kill me a son.' Abe said to God, 'You must be puttin' me on!'" More here.
• Does anything matter? ... [Peter Singer, professor of bioethics, Princeton] Can moral judgments be true or false? Or is ethics, at bottom, a purely subjective matter, for individuals to choose, or perhaps relative to the culture of the society in which one lives? More here .
• Bobby McFerrin ... [American Public Media] On Being with Krista Tippett. Here .
• The first couple in story and film ... [NCR] Adam and Eve in popular culture .

Be Well
• Good Sleep Raises Quality of Life, Lowers Depression ... [MedlinePlus]Sleeping too little or too much can have adverse effects, study finds. More here. [h/t Diana S. Marshall]

• Christ Church Lexington names first woman as dean and rector ... [Lexington Herald-Leader] Carol Wade was precentor at National Cathedral. Here. Also [Episcopal Cafe] here.
 • Whitemarsh Episcopal church's bible challenge gives readers something to talk about ... [Philadelphia Inquirer, David O'Reilly]  When the rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Whitemarsh invited his congregants in January to join him in reading the Bible cover to cover in a year, the response surprised him. More here.
• Did the Bard smoke pot? ... [The Atlantic Wire] Anthropologist Francis Thackeray, director of the Institute for Human Evolution in Johannesburg, South Africa has said he formally asked the Church of England to green light his exhumation of the Bard, Fox News reports. In part, Thackeray wants to determine the cause of Shakespeare's death. But that's not all -- him and his team are looking to resolve his own suggestion of over a decade ago that Shakespeare was an avid marijuana smoker. Thackeray had uncovered "suggestive evidence of cannabis" and "signs of what looks like cocaine" on clay pipes found in the garden of Shakespeare’s old house. His allegations of Shakespeare as a drug addict gave rise to "disbelief and anger" among Shakespeare's fans, and this could put the speculation to rest. "If we find grooves between the canine and the incisor, that will tell us if he was chewing on a pipe as well as smoking,” Thackeray said. More here.
• Episcopal Church Women eCommuniqué, Pentecost 2011.
• Episcopal Church Website and News Service.
• Follow the Episcopal News Service on Twitter.

• Anglican Communion News Service ... on Facebook. And weekly review, posted June 25.

• Moravian Church in North America website
• Moravian Church Northern Province website
• Moravian Theological Seminary website 

Evangelical Lutheran 
• NEPA Synod website ... Here
• Synod E-News ... June 24. Sign up to receive the weekly newsletter by email here.
• ELCA website ... Here
• ELCA News Service ... Here
• ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."

United Methodist  
• UMC website ... Here.
• UMC News Service ... Here
• UMC Communication ... The United Methodist Church has long been a leader in providing useful resources for church communicators. Start here.
• Communication newsletter ... Here.
• Eastern PA Conference of the UMC website ... Here.
• Facebook ... Here.
• Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog ... Here.

Roman Catholic
• School's out, forever ... [NYTimes] Just don’t cry. That has been Sister Nora McArt’s mantra. She has been unflappable in her 42 years at St. Martin of Tours Elementary School in the Bronx, braving the gang fights, racial unrest and crack wars that were waged outside the school and convent in the Crotona neighborhood. No matter the mayhem, she had to be calm for the children. Until now ... In 1961, the Archdiocese of New York had 212,781 students in 414 elementary and high schools. This year, including the schools that are closing, there were 79,782 children at 274 schools. More here.
• Vatican to unveil Internet news portal ... [Associated Press and Vatican Information Service] The Vatican, whose communication problems are no secret, is taking a leap into the world of new media with the launch on Wednesday of a news information portal,, that Pope Benedict XVI himself may put online with a papal click. It will for the first time aggregate information from the Vatican’s various print, online, radio and television media in a one-stop-shop for Holy See news. Also here. Sneak preview here.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here.

• Diocese of Scranton ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here.
• Catholic News Service ... Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican Internet News Portal ... Here.

Additional sources of news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Faith in Public Life ... here.
• Diocese of Bethlehem
(1) The DioBeth newSpin blog
(2) The DioBeth website
(3) Twitter.DioBeth
(4) Twitter.Kat Lehman
(5) Facebook.DioBeth
(6) 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.
• Episcopal/Anglican
(1) NewsLine
(2) News & Notices
(3) Infoline
(4) Episcopal News Service
(5) Episcopal Church website
(6) Twitter
(7) Facebook
(8) YouTube
(9) The Lead, Episcopal Cafe
(10) Daily Episcopalian, Episcopal Cafe
(11) AngicansOnline.
(12) AnglicansOnline News Centre.
(13) Anglican Communion website.
(14) Anglican Communion News Service.

• Find earlier issues of the newSpin newsletter here and recent ones in the left column here.


Composed at least weekly (usually on Monday and occasionally on Thursday) by Bill Lewellis, the newSpin newsletter appears as a post within the newSpin blog. Newsletter and blog are not identical. This notice that a new newsletter has been published currently goes to some 1,200 email addresses on a separate list. Many recipients forward it to many more. 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.

Bill Lewellis, Diocese of Bethlehem, retired
Communication Minister/Editor (1986-2010), Canon Theologian (1998)
Blog , Email (c)610-393-1833
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]


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