The newSpin newsletter, August 1, 2011
By Bill Lewellis
Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday
If I feed the poor, they call me a Saint. If I ask why some are poor and hungry, they call me a Communist. -Dom Helder Camara
[Bill] This newsletter has been sent from the Church of the Redeemer, Longport NJ, where I can be reached as usual, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Do you speak Christian ... [CNN Belief Blog] This is very good. Be sure to view video and read text. They're not the same. Here. [h/t Torey Lightcap, Episcopal Café]
• When you want to communicate with your elected officials ... USA.gov can help.
• RC Bishops reject House GOP budget approach ... See below, under Commentary.
• A coarsening of attitudes toward the young, the old and the poor ... America magazine editorial. See below, under Commentary.
• The average temperature in Washington DC during July was 94.
• In that event, I think St. Paul was wrong ... See below, under TailSpin.
• Conversation at a clam bar ... See below, under TaleSpin.
• Opening doors through faith ... A GoLackawanna feature on Peter D'Angio. See below, under DioBethSpin.
• Easton churches will help alleviate Safe Harbor cuts ... [EastonPatch, an online newspaper] With the cutbacks at Safe Harbor, the shelter and drop-in center for homeless men and women on Bushkill Drive in Easton, local churches are prepared to help out where necessary despite their own staff and budget reductions. ... Trinity Church currently provides a Saturday noon meal to 55-80 members of the community. Although they have not seen an influx of people arising from cuts at Safe Harbor, they are prepared to do more if needed. "It's almost too early to tell, but we would feed more on Saturday if we had to,” said Jan Charney, outreach liaison for the church and coordinator of the ARK soup kitchen. More here.
• Beyond the confines of human language ... [Elizabeth Geitz, Mother Bear spirituality] Bishop Paul’s reflection which followed the readings was right on target and balm for my soul. Just as the service ended, the man to my left poked me in the elbow and said, “This is a cathedral. A cathedral of pines. Look up.” And I did. The pine trees all around us soared high into the heavens, reaching up to the God who was with us all in that sacred space. The Rev. Peter D’Angio serves as an openly gay rector of the 140-year-old church. More here.
• Opening doors through faith ... [Go Lackawanna, a community publication of the Times Leader] With a church on almost every corner in the city, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Scranton may seem like any other house of worship. One distinct difference, however, rings of a timely debate in religious communities across the country. Rev. Peter D’Angio serves as an openly gay rector of the 140-year-old church. ... While he has never felt directly discriminated against because of his sexual identity since coming to Scranton, the now 52-year-old pastor has met other gay and lesbian residents who have had a difficult time finding their place in the community. “It has been my experience that people here struggle, and they struggle in isolation because there’s not a good network of gay and lesbian people. There is no community center,” he said. “I have people come to me and almost give confessions because they have nobody else to talk to about this. They don’t feel hopeless, but they feel frustrated and they often feel trapped.” More here.
• Christmas at Sea ... [Canon Jane Teter] While you are enjoying the summer heat (outside or in the air conditioning!!) don't forget the mariners on the high seas at Christmas - away from family and friends. Knit a hat and/or scarf, a vest or a pair of socks. Items may be dropped off at Diocesan House at anytime or brought to Diocesan Convention in October. Patterns may be found at seamenschurch.org/christmasatsea.
• Douglassville seeks part-time organist/choir director ... More here.
• Diocesan Life ... Read or download the July/August issue 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.
• Pay it forward ... [Joe Jackloski] My son reads a newsblog called Reddit. Recently he has become interested in bicycling, so he dug out my old all terrain bike and began refurbishing it. Since my knowledge of the "hot setup" in bikes ended over 30 years ago, I was limited to helping him make it roadworthy (no greasemonkey like an old greasemonkey). In order to learn about bicycles he went to a Reddit bike forum, where he asked questions about how to turn this bike into a road warrior. All kinds of advice was given, most of it useful. But there was one unbelievable act of kindness by a person whom my son has never met. They were discussing what sort to of tires would be appropriate for the bike, when Brian said: "Pick out a pair tires, so long as they are less than fifty dollars each, I'll buy them for you." My son, a cynic like his old man said "Yeah, what's the catch?" Brian said: "You have to pay it forward. If you meet a person who needs help, figure out how you can help, and do so, no strings attached. as I said, pay it forward." Well, my son, being a little more trusting than I, said: I'll bite, tell me what you want to me do. Brian said "Pick out tires, less than $50.00 each, and give me your address. And remember, pay it forward. Well a UPS package arrived today from Bike Tires Direct, Portland Oregon, and inside were two Michelin City tires, and two Continental tubes worth $74.00, with shipping the bill was $86.00, and it was absolutely free. I was stunned!
• Conversation at a clam bar ... [Bill Lewellis] Last night, beyond trying to ignore a toothache, I drove from Longport NJ to a Somers Point Rite Aid for some OraGel. In Somers Point, even with this ache, I could not pass by Smitty's Clam Bar for some absolutely wonderful TopNecks on the half shell and clam chowder. My favorite comfort food. The best I've ever had. Seating is scarce at Smitty's during most of the evening, especially Sunday. If you're alone, you might get lucky at the outside bar if you don't mind rubbing elbows with strangers. I got lucky. After several elbow bumps, one has to get into superficial conversation. The great clams. The hot weather. One's favorite NJ shore vacation spot. I can usually move the conversation deeper by telling my elbowmate I'm an Episcopal priest and onetime RC priest. (My sons have told me that their best pickup line was to say that their father was once an RC priest.) My left elbowmate, John, began to tell the most odd RC priest story he knew. I held my first Topneck, politely, between thumb and finger about a foot from my mouth for at least three minutes. Then John introduced me to Mary, his wife whose eyes sparkled when she talked. Both seemed well into their 60s. As they were leaving, John told me almost as an afterthought that he and Mary were married for 25 years before separating for seven years. He came back to care for Mary when she had a liver transplant. No more. Goodbye. Nice talking with you. "You can't leave after telling me that," I wanted to say. Mary stood behind him, looking at me with eyes sparkling as though to say, "Yes, it's true."
• Speaking Christian: An interview with Marcus Borg on his new book ... [Patheos] David: "Sometimes words in the Bible are wrong." That's a dangerous thing for clergy to stand up and say in American churches, yet that's one of the main messages of your work. Marcus: I would love it if every clergyperson would stand up and say to their congregations: "Sometimes the Bible is wrong." There is a taken-for-grantedness in conservative American Christian culture—and it's true, I think, in much of mainline Christianity today as well—that understanding the Bible is simple. And, if the Bible says something is wrong, then that pretty much settles it. There are very few Christians who are willing to stand up and say, "Sometimes the Bible is wrong." Yet, I think that's really important for Christians to say occasionally. More here. [h/t Nicholas Knisely, at Episcopal Café]
• In that instance, I think St. Paul was wrong ... [Bill Lewellis] In the fall of 2003 I produced a video for diocesan and national distribution. It was Bishop Paul giving a talk on How do we read the Bible today. It was relevant for Episcopalians because, just a few months earlier, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church stepped into a kind of hornet’s nest by consenting to the Diocese of New Hampshire’s ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the Episcopal Church. Emphasis on "openly." “Nobody on this planet simply follows the Bible,” Bishop Paul Marshall said on the video. “Everybody has a way of interpreting, of appropriating, of using what the Bible has to tell us … There has never been one way Christians read the Bible.” We advertised the live-on-tape presentation in Bethlehem as open to the public, suspecting that some visitors might come toting their weapon of choice, the Bible. And so it happened. During the question period, one person stood and read from St. Paul. The bishop let him finish, then said simply, “In that instance, I think Paul was wrong.” That short and surprising reply preempted a battle of bibles.
• The Rapture Profiteers ... [Business Week] Is the debt ceiling crisis resurrecting the apocalypse industry? Many Rapture enthusiasts believe that even if the world does not end on Aug. 2 or Oct. 21, then 2012 is definitely the year to end all years. And this is good news for Harold Camping’s own professional resurrection. A year off the Rapture circuit could do wonders. Failed prophets looking to reenter the market need only come up with some rationale why you swore what was the case was not the case. Then you just have to hold your head up high and keep walking, and hope that if you sold enough memorabilia that’ll ease the pain. Dr. William H. Sledge, a Yale University professor of psychiatry, says believers in the Rapture tend to be either psychotic or very “suggestible.” In other words, if the world continues after the fall, they may be willing to give Camping a sixth chance. And a seventh. 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.
• The New 'Americanism'/A coarsening of attitudes toward the young, the old and the poor ... [Editorial, America Magazine] Worst of all has been a noticeable coarsening of attitudes among some Catholics toward those who have come to rely on government aid to sustain themselves in these difficult times. This emerging resentment forgets that the nation’s modest social services are directed primarily at supporting children, the elderly, the disabled and those hurt by the recent recession. It is not surprising that the most powerful currents of a cultural mainstream should influence the course of its tributaries. In 1997 then Archbishop Francis George remarked that U.S. citizens “are culturally Calvinist, even those who profess the Catholic faith.” Over time many U.S. Catholics have internalized some unacceptable American conceits, like the primacy of the individual and the free market and the inherent inefficiency of government. They have come to view with suspicion mediating structures, like unions and advocacy groups, that challenge America’s understanding of itself or its role in the world. Some Catholics make an idol out of ideology or a fierce faith out of nationalism, elevating personal responsibility while diminishing communal obligations. Their “Americanism” pretends that personal charity can adequately replace the need for social justice and distorts the meaning of subsidiarity into nearly unrecognizable form. More here.
• God is watching ... [Jim Wallis, Huffington Post] The markets are watching, the Republicans are watching, the Democrats are watching, the media are watching, the pollsters and pundits are watching. The public is watching and is disgusted with Washington, D.C. When it comes to the bitter and ultra-partisan battles over the budget, the deficit, and the fast-approaching deadline for America to avoid defaulting on its financial commitments, the whole nation and even the world is watching. But God is watching too. More here.
• RC Bishops reject House GOP budget approach ... [David Gibson, Commonweal] Leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops today released a letter that has been sent to all members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in the name of the USCCB. The two-page letter clearly rejects the all-cuts-and-nothing-but-the-cuts approach of the House GOP, which is led by prominent Catholics like Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan. More here.
• The 14 Biggest Ideas of the Year ... [The Atlantic] A guide to the intellectual trends that, for better or worse, are shaping America right now. (Plus a bunch of other ideas, insights, hypotheses, and provocations.) Here.
• Episcopal evangelist, biblical scholar John Stott dies at 90 ... [Episcopal News Service] Anglican evangelist, author and biblical scholar John Stott died July 27 in England. Stott, 90, retired from public ministry in 2007. New York Times columnist David Brooks once wrote (quoting Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center) that if evangelicals chose a pope, they would likely select John Stott. ENS story here. NYTimes obit here.
• Questions/Answers ... [John Stott] The answers we get depend on the questions we ask ... reading the bible in new contexts and new cultures should always challenge us to ask new questions and find new fresh answers from the bible.
• Episcopal Church Website and News Service.
• Follow Episcopal News Service on Twitter.
• Anglican Communion News Service ... on Facebook. And weekly review, posted July 1.
• Communication Strategy slide deck ... [Kat Lehman] Mike Reiss,Executive Director of the Interprovincial Board of Communications for the Moravian Church in North America, shared his slide deck from the recent Moravian Eastern District Training Workshops held last weekend. It's great primary information. If you decide to share, just let him know. His contact information is on the last page. Here.
• Fall Continuing Education offerings at Moravian Theological Seminary ... Here.
• Crossroads Lay Courses at Moravian Theological Seminary ... Here.
• Moravian Church in North America website
• Moravian Church Northern Province website
• Moravian Theological Seminary website
• NEPA Synod website ... Here.
• Synod E-News ... July 22. 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."
• 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.
• Not authentic ... [York Daily Record/Sunday News] An independent Catholic chapel has opened in Lower Windsor Township (York County) under the leadership of a felon barred from public ministry by the Roman Catholic Church. The congregation is not recognized by the Catholic Church. Six years ago, the Diocese of Scranton placed Virgil Bradley Tetherow, known as Father Gabriel, on leave after allegations involving the downloading of child pornography onto a rectory computer. In 2005, police in Monroe County charged Tetherow with 10 counts of possessing child pornography and 10 counts of criminal use of a communication facility, according to court records. Tetherow later pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal use of a communication facility -- a felony. The District Attorney's Office dropped the other charges, and a judge sentenced Tetherow to two years' probation. Roman Catholic officials decided Tetherow must remove himself from public ministry as a priest pending a final disciplinary ruling by the Vatican. The Scranton diocese is still waiting for a decision on Tetherow's case from Rome. More 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.
• Diocese of Bethlehem Events Calendar ... Updated monthly, July 12. 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 ... http://twitter.com/#!/Diobeth
• The Diocese of Bethlehem on Facebook ... https://www.facebook.com/DioceseOfBethlehem
• Kat Lehman on Twitter ... http://twitter.com/#!/KatLehman
• Episcopal News Service on Twitter ... http://twitter.com/#!/episcopal_news
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
(4) Twitter.Kat Lehman
(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.
(2) News & Notices
(4) Episcopal News Service
(5) Episcopal Church website
(9) The Lead, Episcopal Cafe
(10) Daily Episcopalian, Episcopal Cafe
(12) AnglicansOnline News Centre.
(13) Anglican Communion website.
(14) Anglican Communion News Service.
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]