The newSpin newsletter, October 10, 2011
By Bill Lewellis
Published Monday, occasionally also on Thursday
"The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God." ––Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus, 1989
• Diocesan Convention Address ... [Bishop Paul] I have concern about the extent to which some people seem to feel overall discouragement, a lack of energy or enthusiasm for even free gifts, a disinclination to joy. Even more troubling, I regularly see fear. Fear of being an unemployable elderly person living and dying in poverty. Fear of having nothing left to pass on to descendants. Fear of letting go when it is time for others to be in charge. Fear that one’s life has been or may be ruined, or far worse, that one’s life has been meaningless. That kind of fear leads to moral and personal paralysis or unattractive behavior. If it is all meaningless, we might feel why bother, why behave? Our church ignores those fears at our peril. Our pastoral duty to our members and to those whom our message reaches is to acknowledge that some people are feeling very bad right now, and that many if not most people feel uncertainty and may have low expectations for life. One of the most important things preachers and all those who bear Christ into the world can do is listen to the distress around them, and give a clear signal that it has been heard. This is especially hard to do when fearful people act out, individually or corporately, but it is essential that we try. ... My message to the convention this year is quite simple: (1) These are demanding times and we must continue to care for each other in every way we can, patiently, letting our gentleness show. (2) The times also give us the opportunity to clarify or perhaps discover our deepest values and then be sure those values are what we pursue. (3) The times give us the ultimate gift of reminding us that we can do all things, all things, through Christ who strengthens us. Read it all here.
• Flooding in northeastern PA ... [Episcopal NewsService] In what is becoming a consistent pattern across the nation during times of disaster, Episcopalians in the Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, are stepping forth to help their neighbors even as flood waters devastate some of their own homes and churches. A long series of storms and hurricanes, beginning with Hurricane Irene in early September, and continuing during the first weekend in October, has saturated communities along the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County, causing the worst flooding ever recorded in those areas. Communities and parishes across the diocese were recovering from the effects of Irene-- electricity, telephone and cable service were restored, and basements were pumped out -- when Tropical Storm Lee arrived, pouring more than nine inches of rain on top of the already soaked area. Lesser storms have continued to dump more water on the area. The levee system protected larger cities, such as Wilkes-Barre and Kingston, although some 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes. ... Smaller towns, such as West Pittston, Duryea, Athens, Exeter Township and Plains, suffered significant damage. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 2,000 homes and 100 businesses throughout the county were destroyed, including food stores on which many residents depend. More here,
• As they work toward restoring their homes ... [Father John Major, rector, Trinity West Pittston and Prince of Peace Dallas] As we reach the one-month mark after the Susquehanna River poured into more than 2,000 homes and nearly 110 businesses in Luzerne County—including about 900 in West Pittston and nearly 600 in the nearby towns of Duryea, Jenkins Township and Harding combined—affected residents are in various stages of getting their homes and lives back in order. As they work toward restoring their homes, most of those affected are stretching their usual incomes to cover a wide range of additional costs such as gas for generators and travel to and from their flooded homes, as well as cleaning supplies, construction materials and convenience foods that can be prepared without utilities. The greatest need right now, then, is to offset some of these unexpected expenses with cash donations or particularly gift cards for places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart,Target, or auto gas companies, bringing a little peace of mind to those affected. Thank you and God bless you for your expressions of concern.
• Diocesan resonse to flooding ... [An excerpt from Bishop Paul's Convention Address] As you know, there have been devastating floods in our northern tier very recently, and sadly there are weather people who say that major floods may be coming more than once a decade in the near future. Diocesan House responded to the flooding in our northern tier before the waters crested, both with immediate help and calls for your support. I am grateful for the other responses that came from so many parishes and individuals throughout the diocese, but I am, and hope you are, particularly grateful for the leadership the clergy in the north have generally taken in getting aid and comfort to those whose lives have been seriously disrupted. Perhaps the area hardest hit was West Pittston, and both Trinity Church and Fr. John Major have displayed deep Christian compassion to their neighbors in an outstanding way. I am also grateful on your behalf to the Rev. Maureen Hipple and Canon Charles Cesaretti, who are coordinating our relief efforts in the north, and to Father Daniel Gunn and others who brokered a hotel full of furniture for those restarting their homes. The names I mentioned are those I recall, and I know there are many others. You have the opportunity further to support our relief efforts through the collection tomorrow, and also by responding to the spontaneous call that arose among convention delegates to bring gift cards that can aid people buying home supplies or just having a little time away from the sludge and mold. Either act of kindness can be done in the future too, as this will be a long process. The threat of annual flooding, as I said, now exists. Our corporate effort to be prepared is being led by Canon Andrew Gerns. We are going to have coordinated disaster response plans in place and ready to go before the end of the year. Additionally, I have asked for and received a $25,000 grant from New Hope to be in place for immediate response to traumatic need; that will be a front-money fund we can draw from at the very moment it is needed and then replace as donations arrive. Finally, two representatives of the Diocese are in conversation with Episcopal Relief and Development seeking funds to aid those whose lives need to be rebuilt. The response from New York has been positive so far.
• Occupy Wall Street looks like church to me ... [CNN Belief Blog, Marisa Egerstrom, an Episcopalian member of Protest Chaplains] In the movement that's making campgrounds out of city squares across America, it might seem there's little religion happening. But Occupy Wall Street, and its local offshoots springing up everywhere from Boston to L.A., has described itself more clearly in the language of “soul” than in the language of federal financial regulation policy. That’s because, at its heart, the Occupy movement is about creating a democratic society in which everyone matters, there is dignity in working together across differences, and there is enough for everyone. More here. [h/t Scott Allen] • Occupy Wall Street protests have a spiritual side ... [Cathy Lynn Grossman,USA Today Faith & Reason] Religion journal writers are theorizing on the spiritual side of the movement. Here. [h/t John Adamson] • Panic of the Plutocrats ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, Paul Krugman] See below, under Opinion/Reflection.
• Flood Relief ... Here. Lead story in October Diocesan Life is the flood. Flooding update, with pics, here. Right now,monetary donations are the best method of helping so that gift cards can be purchased for food and household goods. You may send checks payable to The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, memo line: Flood Relief. 333 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem, PA 18015. More above, under TopSpin.
• Diocesan Life, October ... available here. Lead story is the flood. See flooding update, with pics, here.
• Flooding in northeastern PA ... [Episcopal News Service] See above, under TopSpin. Here.
• Renewal Assembly III: Finding Your Voice ... will take place in eight locations on Nov. 12. The format will be the same as the previous two with a video, prayer, discussion and lunch and will be over by 1:00 p.m. Registration (and more information) is now open online. Download the brochure here.
• Episcopal News Weekly bulletin inserts ... Download inserts here.
• DioBeth Website ... newSpin Blog ... Re:Create blog – for youth and young adults ... Twitter.DioBeth ... Twitter.Kat Lehman ... Facebook.DioBeth ... Flickr, search under dio_beth
• 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.
• With time running short, Steve Jobs managed his farewells ... [NYTimes, Oct. 6] Over the last few months, a steady stream of visitors to Palo Alto CA called an old friend’s home number and asked if he was well enough to entertain visitors, perhaps for the last time. In February, Steven P. Jobs had learned that, after years of fighting cancer, his time was becoming shorter. He quietly told a few acquaintances, and they, in turn, whispered to others. And so a pilgrimage began. Here. • Apples's visionary redefined digital age ... [NYTimes, Oct. 5] Here. • Steve Jobs ... [NYTimes, Times Topics] Here. • Steven Paul Jobs ... [NYTimes, Editorial] Here. • The theology of Steve Jobs: the byte out of the Apple ... [Susan Brooks Thistlelthwaite] Here.
• How do you pronounce apartheid? ... [Sherman Frederick, Las Vegas Review-Journal] Desmond Tutu spoke at Christ Church Episcopal in Las Vegas in the late '70s. Somebody called the [newspaper] office and said he'd be a great interview because "he's gonna be somebody." At the time Tutu was in the eye of the storm over apartheid laws in South Africa, a subject for which I knew very little. I began the interview with him with this all-time dumb question: "How do you pronounce 'apartheid'?" He (graciously, I might add) took the time to explain things and said "apartheid" sounds like two English words: " 'apart' and 'hate'." That, of course, became the lead to the story. Here.
• The Daily Office ... with the Mission St. Clare. Now available for iPhone and iPad.
• 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. Better still, at the "Get Connected" box on the right side of our diocesan website, fill in your name and email address, and click on "My Groups." In the next window, check "Pray for." Then, you will receive the weekly update by email.
• Sign on to letter to Senator Toomey urging protection of vulnerable persons ... [PA Council of Churches] Here. [h/t Diana Marshall, Diocese of Bethlehem liaison to the PA Council of Churches Ministry of Public Witness]
• News and Action Summary, Sept. 30 ... [PA Council of Churches] Choose the issues that are most important to you and take action. Here. [h/t Diana Marshall, Diocese of Bethlehem liaison to the PA Council of Churches Ministry of Public Witness]
• Panic of the Plutocrats ... Wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is. ... Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens. Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families. This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren. So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth. More here. More on Occupy Wall Street above, under TopSpin.
• Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio? ... [NYTimes Op-Ed, Thomas L. Friedman] The melancholy over Steve Jobs’s passing is not just about the loss of the inventor of so many products we enjoy. It is also about the loss of someone who personified so many of the leadership traits we know are missing from our national politics. Those traits jump out of every Jobs obituary: He was someone who did not read the polls but changed the polls by giving people what he was certain they wanted and needed before they knew it; he was someone who was ready to pursue his vision in the face of long odds over multiple years; and, most of all, he was someone who earned the respect of his colleagues, not by going easy on them but by constantly pushing them out of their comfort zones and, in the process, inspiring ordinary people to do extraordinary things. More here. [h/t Deacon Larry Holman]
• The Universe, Dark Energy and Us ... [NYTimes Op-Ed] Scientists now widely accept that dark matter and dark energy make up much of the universe while ordinary matter comprises just 5 percent of everything. "If this is right, the things we observe in the universe are not the important things," writes Harvard astronomer Robert Kirshner in The New York Times. "In the cosmic setting, the fate of the universe depends on a tug of war between dark matter, which is trying to slow down the expansion of the universe, and dark energy, which is trying to speed things up." Two teams of physicists won the Nobel Prize this week for discovering that the universe's expansion is accelerating, i.e. that the dark energy is winning the tug-of-war. Neither team really believed their findings at first. "The energy needed to drive this acceleration seemed too crazy." Yet we now accept their findings as fact, "not by persuasive argument, but by evidence. They realized that if we looked far back enough, we should find a transition from negative acceleration to positive, and the data from the Hubble telescope backed up this theory. Now, Kirshner suggests, we should seek to better understand the nature of dark energy. Often, investment in science is justified only when it leads to technological advance or medical breakthroughs. "But even in stringent times, it seems like a good idea to do some science to find out what the world is made of and how it works." [h/t/ The Atlantic Wire]
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... Canon Anne Kitch's October newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources for the Diocese of Bethlehem. Here.
• The Steward's Well ... [The Office of Stewardship, The Episcopal Church] In this issue, contributing writers explore the practice of giving as a path to investing in and participating in God’s reign. Emily Mellot explores The Offertory—the act of bring gifts to the table—as placing ourselves on the altar. Money represents the labor and substance of our lives, it is an embodied sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. In addition, six contributing writers of the Feasting on Gratitude series, explores stewardship, giving, gratitude and generosity in connection with the lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mathew each Sunday beginning October 2 through November 6th, All Saints Sunday. And, The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) will explore giving and gratitude with a robust offering of resources via a newly launched website at www.tens.org. More here.
• It's that time again ... [Episcopal News Service, Dan Webster] Get ready for the fund-raising season at your local congregation. Oh, you may hear it called a "stewardship" campaign. In reality most churches are trying to raise money to cover next year's budget. Very few congregations, in my experience, practice true stewardship. Many practice fundraising but call it stewardship, wrote the Rev. Dan Matthews, former rector of Trinity Church, Wall Street, who also identified four ways of giving: charity, philanthropy, fundraising and stewardship. What makes stewardship different, wrote Matthews in "Trinity News," is that it's "giving with no strings attached. It is related to creation and my place in it." Read it all.
• How do Anglicans read the Bible? ... [Episcopal Café] One of the take-aways from controversies within the Anglican Communion is the recognition that there is no agreed upon Anglican method of "reading" Holy Scripture. That lack has frequently stymied attempts to get disagreeing bodies within the Communion to speak with each other about what the Bible is saying to the Church today. Here.
• Anglican Communion weekly review ... September 24-30. Here.
• Episcopal Church website ... Episcopal Church on Twitter ... Episcopal News Service ... ENS on Twitter ... NewsLine ... News & Notices ... Infoline ... Episcopal Church on Facebook ... Episcopal Church on YouTube ... Anglican Communion website ... Anglican Communion News Service. ... Anglican Communion News Service on Facebook.
• NEPA Synod E-News ... Oct. 7. Here. NEPA Synod website ... Here. ELCA website ... Here. ELCA News Service ... Here. ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• UMC website Here. News Service Here. Communication Resources Start here. Communication newsletter (tips and tools) Here. Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• Don't cherry-pick from church teachings to justify your political preferences ... [RNA via WaPo] With the 2012 camp
• 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.
• The Daily Office from MissionStClare. Now available for iPhone and iPad.
• 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.
• Oct. 18 ... Souper Day for New Bethany at Candlelight Inn, Bethlehem, Noon.
• Oct. 22 ... J2A Training , 8:30 - 3:00, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.
• Oct. 22 ... Daughters of the King Assembly, St.Luke's, Scranton 9:30 to 3:00
• Nov. 1 ... Deacon Ordination, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 7:00 p.m.
• Nov. 6 ... Joint Episcopal and Methodist Service, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem 4:00 p.m.
• Nov. 11-13 ... Happening Retreat by Youth for Youth, grades 9-12, at Kirby House.
• Nov. 12 ... Renewal Assembly III, at eight locations, 9 to 1:30.
• Jan. 6 ... Ordination, St. Stephen's, Wilkes-Barre 7:00 p.m.
• Jan. 21 ... Bishop's Day with Youth, grades 6-12.
• March 24 ... Diocesan Training Day, St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre 9:00 to 3:00.
• March 29 ... Chrism Mass, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem 11:00 a.m.
• April 20-22 ... Christophany Retreat, grades 6-12, at Pocono Plateau Retreat, Cresco.
• May 16 ... Episcopal Church Women Annual Meeting, Kirby House 9:00 to 2:30.
• May 20 ... St. Matthew's Society Gathering, Lehigh Country Club, Allentown 3:00 p.m.
• June 1-3 ... Vocare Retreat for Young Adults, Kirkridge.
• June 30 ... Bishop's Day with Kids
• July 5-12 ... 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Indianapolis.
• July 28 ... Bishop's Day with Kids
• Summer ... Senior High Mission Trip. Dates and destination TBA.
• The Diocese of Bethlehem on Twitter and Facebook ... http://twitter.com/#!/Diobeth ... 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.
(1) The Lead, Episcopal Cafe
(2) Daily Episcopalian, Episcopal Cafe
(4) AnglicansOnline News Centre.
You are reading the newSpin newsletter. The newSpin blog, which includes the newsletter and other items, is available here. When the newsletter is completed on Mondays and occasionally, more often than not, on Thursdays as well, it is published immediately to the blog and on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,000 addresses. Many recipients forward it to many more. Bakery and the blog are interactive. The ChurchPost list is not. The newsletter comes, of course, with some spin from the editor. 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. If you're wondering why you haven't seen something related to your parish or agency here, it's probably because no one has sent relevant info. Regarding items about your parish or agency as well as feedback on any other items ... send email 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]