The Man on the Park Bench
Diocesan Life for July/August 2011

newSpin 110704

The newSpin newsletter, July 4, 2011
By Bill Lewellis

Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are."  Romans 12:15-16

• The perception of liberty, as opposed to mere freedom ... [BIshop Paul] Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of the this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace. What I like about this prayer it that it assumes that the perception of liberty (as opposed to mere freedom) is an evolving concept, and one that needs diligent preservation as it develops and spreads. Democrat or Republican, the last two administrations and five congresses  have trod heavily on our liberties and need a bit of patriotic smacking down. (I imagine a sherry- not a tea-party here.) Politics is about the acquisition of power; democracy is about its dispersal, and there is no middle ground. I predict that my grandchildren will live under a kind of plutocratic fascism (with small hints of socialism as a sop to the masses) unless our citizens have a spiritual and social revival. The Koch brothers and the tax-and-spend people all need to be controlled. The legislature needs to reign in a rogue Supreme Court. A thoughtful church could lead such a movement toward self-control. Read "Star-Spangled" here.
• Running against the wind ... [Leslie Griffith, Reader Supported News] Independence in 1776 meant rebellion against paying taxes to Britain - taxes that did not enhance America, but filled the coffers of the monarchy. Does this sound familiar? On this Independence Day weekend, true independence once again means "running against the wind." It means demanding health, education and housing for everyone who works hard. If not, those who are swept along in the red, white and blue euphoria this weekend, determined to be oh so "happy, happy," will, as Carl Sandburg cautioned, "eventually, bust hard." More here.
• Elected officials' Catholic dilemma on same-sex marriage
... [Washington Post] There are in fact two very different Catholic voices that elected officials in New York and elsewhere around the country have to navigate: the big “C” voice of the Catholic bishops who are adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage, and the little “c” voices of Catholics in the pews who are largely supportive. In fact, rank-and-file Catholics are generally more supportive of legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than Americans overall. More here. • The man on the park bench ... [Bill McGinty, Milford] There is a man sitting on the park bench, I think he has been there all night. He smells awfully like the storm drain and his face is masked in pain. The children say that he is crazy, they want to stop to call him names. They don’t know that he was famous once or the source of his fame. There is not a waterfall, a single lake or stream that does not have a picture painted by his hand. He has recorded Pike County with all its color and beauty and dressed in every season and for all time. You cannot name a building with any historic significance that has not been detailed in all its complexity in the town of Milford by so fine an artist. His paintings number in the thousands, illustrations in so many publications, but there were no shows or exhibitions. This was a journeyman artist, grinding out a living with his raw talent. Famed at West Point where his oil paintings were purchased by Colonels and Generals and traveled to the furthest corners of the land. Read it all here.

• REACH – a hand up no more ... [The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre] The program, based in downtown Wilkes-Barre, provided services to the area’s homeless. Read it here.
• Cell phone tower, anyone? ... For the fall issue of Vestry Papers, Nancy Davide of the Episcopal Church Foundation is looking for someone to write about a congregation that receives incme from having a cell phone tower on their property. Email Nancy at to discuss it. I think she has a budget to pay for the article.
• Can you provide a mission opportunity? ... [Scott Allen] The Episcopal Church of St. Mary, Hampton Bays, NY (Diocese of L.I.) is looking into possible projects for summer of 2012. They would like to be within a day's drive of eastern L.I. and want to hear of the opportunities in the Diocese of Bethlehem.  If any of you can offer a mission activity for them, please send email to Diane Sherwood at St. Mary's, with cc to Gordon Brewer, executive coordinator of Episcopal Appalachian Ministries and Scott Allen, Bethlehem rep on the EAM board of governors. EAM runs a few work camps in the southern Appalachians but would like to get something going on a consistent basis in the northern tier.
• KJV and our Convention ... [Bishop Paul] At our convention in October we will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. I ask two things as we prepare.I would love to receive suggestions about the most strikingly beautiful passages in the KJV. Those of you who teach in the humanities are especially invited to reply to me at Then, I would ask clergy who are aware of especially talented readers of all ages who can manage this prose to send me their names.
• Ordination of Eddie Lopez to the Diaconate ... Sermon by Daniel Gunn. Here.
• Summer services at Stevensville begin July 9. Here.
• St. James Dundaff ... [The Times leader, Wilkes-Barre] Thanks to a Congregational Development Grant from the Diocese of Bethlehem, the first Saturday of July, August, and September, St. James in Dundaff on Route 247, will offer a “Blue Grass Mass” at 6:30 p.m., and the entire offering will be donated to the local food bank. The “Sale of All Things” will be July 16, and an outdoor fellowship and worship will be held Aug. 20 at Merli-Sarnoski Park. Local blue grass musicians are needed for the Saturday evening services, as well as a keyboardist or organist for the Sunday services. Call Reverend Lou Divis, 570.878.4670 for more information.
• A Festival of Patriotic Songs ... At Trinity Easton, Sunday, July 10, 2:00 p.m. More here.
• Library displays artist's work ... [Pocono Record, Stroudsburg] Peter Slamon paints the world around him, at home and on the road. A graduate of Middlebury College and Harvard University, Salmon studied art at the Brooklyn Museum and Boston University. Salmon has served in many capacities at Trinty Episcopal Church in Mount Pocono, currently singing in the choir, directing the search committee for an new rector, and preaching the occasional lay sermon. He and colleague Kathy Ritter have also directed the Arts on the Mountain program there, which they began 22 years ago. More here.

• A new blog by Elizabeth Geitz
... here.
• 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.

• Bruce P. Bengtson will play his last official service as organist of Christ Church Reading on Sunday, July 31. Hear Bruce play the organ. "When to his organ, vocal breath was giv'n, An angel heard, and straight appear'd, Mistaking earth for Heaven." (John Dryden)
• 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.

• Ayn Rand led me to Christ  ... [Bishop Edward Little, Christianity Today]  "Rand changed my life," writes a conservative Episcopal bishop. "When I embraced her philosophy, Objectivism, the conversion was far more dramatic than my decision, several years later, to follow Jesus Christ—more dramatic, but in the end transitory. Yet Rand, the novelist, philosopher, and uncompromising atheist, inadvertently opened a door for the gospel. I don't believe dead people spin in their graves, but if they did and she could read these words, I imagine Rand would be twirling violently." Read it here.
• Yet again in Sudan ... [NYTimes, Nicholas Kristof] The world capital for crimes against humanity this month probably isn’t in Libya or Syria. Instead, it’s arguably the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where we’re getting accounts of what appears to be a particularly vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing, murder and rape. More here. BBC Update and much more at Rival Sudan forces to quit border ahead of independence."
• Pray the gay away ... [HuffPost Religion] For the past fifty years or so, homosexuals have had a choice: you can be a devout Christian or you can be gay, but you cannot be both (before that, being openly gay wasn't much of an option). Some churches have overturned this ideology. Ben and I are fortunate members of the Episcopal Church, which does permit open homosexuality, even for clergy. But Catholic and Evangelical churches continue to profess that homosexuality is a choice. Believe it or not, some homosexual members of these churches feel a stronger tie to their religion than their sexual orientation and aren't willing to change to a more liberal church. (The New York Times wrote an article about this conundrum called "Living the Good Lie"). More here.
• 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.
• Congregations and Caregivers: Serving those who serve ... [Congregational Resource Guide] CRG advisor G. Jeffrey MacDonald asks, Are congregations equipped to support those who quietly spend many hours each week caring for a dependent spouse, parent, or child? These caregivers are turning to congregations, looking for encouragement, help, and a listening ear, as they struggle to care for those who cannot care for themselves. The question remains: who is caring for the carers? 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.
• Why do we give? ... [Alban Weekly, Adapted from Preaching and Stewardship:Proclaiming God's Invitation to Grow by Craig Satterlee] “Why do we give money to the church?” a child asks her mother, who is filling Sunday’s offering envelope. How will the mother answer her daughter’s question? How do we answer this question for our children? How does the preacher answer this question for us? More here.

• A biological ritual, experienced through different cultures ... [NYTimes, Sauma Dave, a medical student with Nicholas Kristof] Despite its universality, menstruation can be a taboo topic. When I brought this point up to Nick, he noted that the same could be said about sex. Both are rooted in biology, present in all human beings, yet distinctly influenced and shaped by culture. More here.
• The intellectual forerunner for Fox News ... [Reader Supported News] Republican media strategist Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel in 1996, ostensibly as a "fair and balanced" counterpoint to what he regarded as the liberal establishment media. But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the "prejudices of network news" and deliver "pro-administration" stories to heartland television viewers. The memo—called, simply enough, "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News"— is included in a 318-page cache of documents detailing Ailes' work for both the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations that we obtained from the Nixon and Bush presidential libraries. More here.

• Ten rules to reverse the email spiral
We're drowning in email. And the many hours we spend on it are generating ever more work for our friends and colleagues. We can reverse this spiral only by mutual agreement. Hence this Charter.
• Fixing email ... [David Pogue, NYTimes] Chris Anderson, who runs the high-profile TED conferences, recently came up with 10 principles for easing the problems of e-mail. Here are five more.
• It doesn't sing
... [Commonweal] The trouble with the New Roman Missal. Here.

• A maddening system, from courtrooms to shelters  ... [NCR, Tom Roberts] The polarities in the immigration issue are many; few areas of consensus exist among those who view the issue differently other than that the system is obviously broken. Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas has the difficult job of representing the position of the Catholic church, which has long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform and justice for migrants, in a region of the country that is arguably the most divided at the moment by the heated immigration debate. In an April interview with NCR, Kicanas said he thinks that Catholics in the Tucson area represent the same spectrum of opinion as the wider public -- some deeply involved in the social justice concerns of the immigration issue, others minimally concerned with it, and yet others deeply opposed to the church’s position. Kicanas said he gets “some letters and phone calls” canceling pledges for financial support because people don’t want the church involved in political issues. “The need is to help show people why the church is involved, that the issue has moral dimensions to it, there are ethical dimensions involved. So the church is involved not as a political partisan -- we’re not a group of politicians trying to get something passed -- but from a religious perspective and from the perspective of our own faith. One of the greatest messages as a church is the need for the respect and dignity to all human life. And one of those pieces is the question of how one treats the migrants.” More here. Also "I didn't have to be afraid of the border anymore" here.
• Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me ... [NYTimes] Test your knowledge of recent events. Here.
• 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 Calendar ... Updated monthly, June 2. Download here. Find weekly updates on the DioBeth Facebook page. Also here.
• Ordination of Deacons ... Nov. 1, at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre.
• Diocesan Training Day is Saturday, March 24, 2012, at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre.
• St. Matthew's Society reception ... Sunday, May 20, 2012, Lehigh Country Club, 3:00 p.m.
• Episcopal Church Calendar ... Here.

• The Daily Office from MissionStClare.
• The Lectionary Page ...  Here. This is a new URL. Update your bookmarks or favorites.

• The Lectionary ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Vanderbilt.

• 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.

• Constantine's Sword ... an historical documentyary film by Oren Jacoby, based on the book by James Carroll, concludes with panoramas of military cemeteries as Aaron Neville sings Bob Dylan's "With God On Our Side." Though the film itself received excellent reviews, these last few minutes are worth the rent or buy.
• St. Jude's in Wantagh NY
... [ON Today] Founded in 1956, the Episcopal Church of St. Jude in Wantagh, N.Y. has morphed from a small group of worshippers ---who met in a local bar as they sought to establish an Episcopalian presence in town -- to a full-fledged parish. More than five decades later, St. Jude has continued to transform itself as the demographics of the area have changed; it has always prided itself on inclusiveness. Watch a nine-minute video here.

• Reading Recommendations ... [Congregational Resource Guide] The folks at the Congregational Resource Guide have chosen their "top picks" for this season, "some of the best sources of learning and growth in leadership, congregational life, public life, and spirituality." Here. While at this site, you might consider subscribing (free) to the Conregational Resourcre Guide Newsletter.
• How to survive the age of distraction ... [The London Independent] Don't misunderstand journalist Johann Hari. He adores the web, and says "they will have to wrench my Twitter feed from my cold dead hands." But in the age of the internet, books --physical paper books -- are a technology we need more. Though books don't beep or flash or link or let you watch a thousand videos all at once, they can do for you what nothing else will: Give you the capacity for deep, linear concentration. [h/t Leadership Education at Duke Divinity]
• Lisa Miller will write weekly religion column for WaPo ... [Washington Post] Renowned religion writer Lisa Miller will write a column on faith for The Post. It began this past Saturday and will run weekly in print and online. Miller’s column, which will appear in “On Faith,” The Post’s religion section featuring news and opinion, will be reported analysis and opinion on religion, politics and culture. It will cover the religious dimensions of the upcoming presidential race, the intersections between faith and personal values, international religious conflict, and culture-wars issues in the political sphere. The column will also take an unbiased approach to cover spirituality, belief and believers. More here.
• Articles on Religion and Belief ... [NYTimes] From 1980 to the present] Here.

Be Well
• Being assertive: Reduce stress, communicate better ... [Mayo Clinic Staff]  Assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills. Recognize and learn assertive behavior and communication. Here. [h/t Diana S. Marshall]
• Summer travel ... [National Institute of Health] Plan ahead to stay healthy. Here. [h/t Diana S. Marshall]

• Anglican Communion News Weekly Review ... [ACNS] Jun
• Did the Bard smoke pot? ... [The Atlantic Wire] Anthropol
• Episcopal Church Women eCommuniqué, Pentecost 2011.
• Episcopal Church Website and News Service.
• Follow Episcopal News Service on Twitter.
• Anglican Communion News Service ... on Facebook. And weekly review, posted July 1.

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

Evangelical Lutheran 
• NEPA Synod website ... Here
• Synod E-News ... July 1. 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
• Civil unions in Rhode Island ... [Reuters] Same-sex couples in Rhode Island -- the nation's most Catholic state -- will soon be able to enter into civil unions.
• Vatican unveils Internet news portal ... Here.
• It doesn't sing ... [Commonweal] The trouble with the New Roman Missal. Here.
• A maddening system, from courtrooms to shelters  ... [NCR, Tom Roberts] See above, under TailSpin.
• 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 News/Info 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]


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)