newSpin 131126
Four sermons by Bishop Paul (AAM, July 2012)

newSpin 131203

newSpin, the newsletter
December 3, 2013
Bill Lewellis
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday

• Pope ramps up charity office ... [USA Today] When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known to sneak out at night and break bread with the homeless, sit with them literally on the street and eat with them, as part of his aim to share the plight of the poor and let them know someone cared. That's not so easy to do now that he's pope. But Francis is still providing one-on-one doses of emergency assistance to the poor, sick and aged through a trusted archbishop. Konrad Krajewski is the Vatican Almoner, a centuries-old job of handing out alms — and Francis has ramped up the job to make it a hands-on extension of his own personal charity. ... "The Holy Father told me at the beginning: 'You can sell your desk. You don't need it. You need to get out of the Vatican. Don't wait for people to come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor,'" Krajewski said. ... "This is the concept: Be with people and share their lives, even for 15, 30 minutes, an hour," Krajewski said. The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio "would go out at night in Buenos Aires, not just to find people, talk with them, or buy them something to eat ... He would eat with them. He would sit with them and eat with them on the street. This is what he wants from me."  Read on. [h/t Linda Henry. Thanks, Linda. This is a wonderful story.]

• Nativity Cathedral's Emergency Shelter ... opens Thursday, Dec. 6. Would you like to volunteer. Info here.

• Don't fall for Charity Scams following disasters ... [IRS] Here.

• 12 Days of Christmas in Kajo Keji ... Here.

• RC Church reform at all levels ... [NCR, Commentary by Hans Kung] Church reform is forging ahead. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis not only intensifies his criticism of capitalism and the fact that money rules the world, but speaks out clearly in favor of church reform "at all levels." He specifically advocates structural reforms -- namely, decentralization toward local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favor of a more effective presence of women in the church, above all in the decision-making bodies. And he comes out equally clearly in favor of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, especially with Judaism and Islam.
   All this will meet with wide approval far beyond the Catholic church. His undifferentiated rejection of abortion and women's ordination will, however, probably provoke criticism. This is where the dogmatic limits of this pope become apparent. Or is he perhaps under pressure from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and its Prefect, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller? 
   In a long guest contribution in Osservatore Romano (Oct. 23), Müller demonstrated his ultra-conservative stance by corroborating the exclusion of remarried divorcees from the sacraments who, unless they live together as brother and sister (!), are ostensibly in a state of mortal sin on account of the sexual character of their relationship. Read on.

Is the tax-free clergy housing allowance unconstitutional?  A federal judge ruled on Nov. 22 that the clergy exemption from paying taxes on a housing allowance is not constitutional. If the ruling stands, an estimated 4,000 ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and other clergy could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay. Richard Evans remarked on Bakert that this is just in one district and will likely be appealed. Even if this case is upheld, it may be years before the change would affect our clergy. Still, this is serious and bears watching.

Religion News Service introduces a new blog, On Freedom, written by Brian Pellot, which will explore religious liberty in the U.S. and around the world. - See more at:

• Expectant in Bethlehem ... Daily Advent meditations by Canon Anne Kitch. Get them at Anne's blog, Stumbling into the Sacred. To receive them by email, subscribe at the "Get Connected" box on the DioBeth website. Enter your name and email address, click on "submit" and select Expectant in Bethlehem.

• Blue Christmas ... [Anne Kitch] Many people struggle with the holidays, and for some, the Good News comes amidst loss and grief. I offer the following resources, posted by Christian Formation Specialist Sharon Pearson on her blog, Building Faith: A Blue Christmas service, Blue Christmas, Feeling blue during Christmas.

• Service of Solace ... [Kim Reinholz] In recognition that not everything is brightness and light for all of us during the season of Advent, and the Holiday season can be difficult especially for those who mourn, the Cathedral Church of the Nativity will be hosting a service of healing and Holy Eucharist at 6 pm on Wednesday December 18th. The Service is a Service of Solace and is building out of the relatively new practice of a “Longest Night” or a “Blue Christmas” evening of prayer and worship.If you’d like to participate all you need to do is show up. The service will be held in Sayre Chapel (the side chapel in the main sanctuary). If you’d like more information about the liturgy please contact The Reverend Kimberly Reinholz- Associate of Faith and Formation Ministry. Mother Kim can be reached via email at

• Advent Resources
... [Anne Kitch] One of my favorite Advent resources is now available as an App. "Slow Down. Quiet, It's Advent!" with artwork by Jay Sidebotham and simple meditations suitable for all ages, can be downloaded from iTunes. I just downloaded it and am enjoying it already. Other great Advent resources can be found on the Diocesan Website.

• Advent devotions from St. John Divine NYC
... Here.

• Digital Advent Calendar from SSJE ... Here.

• Free Advent/Christmas series with Barbara Crafton
... [Herb Gunn, CPG Education and Wellness] CREDO is launching a really nice Advent and Christmas series with Barbara Crafton, open to everyone. The series is a collection of short, daily audio reflections presented by Barbara from her book, "Let Every Heart Prepare: Meditations for Advent and Christmas." It will also be released as an iTunes podcast, and follows the book. On the six Sundays, Barbara's presentation is in video form--with the idea that church folks can plan a six-week Advent/Christmas series as an Adult Forum on Sundays. We also have a Series Facilitator's Guide, with sample exercises or discussion questions from which to choose. Take a look. See if this is something you would consider linking to. There is a sign-up page for the series here.

• Resources for Advent and Christmas from Faith & Leadership ... These sermons, essays and stories invite you into the wonder, challenge and messiness of first a season of waiting and then a season of light and joy. Read on.

• SoulSpin Resources
... Below, near the bottom.

• Celebration for Bishop Paul ... [Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow] Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, Bishop Paul will enter retirement on January 1, 2014, and we are grateful to him for his leadership and pastoral care to the Diocese. On the Third Sunday of Advent, December 15, 2013, we give thanks to God for his Episcopacy at a Festal Eucharist to be held at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre at 3 pm and at a reception following it. The reception will be at the Westmoreland Club beginning at 5 pm. The Westmoreland Club is two doors to the right as you exit the Pro-Cathedral. We are inviting members of the Diocese to attend both of these events. The Clergy of the Diocese are asked to vest and to process at this service. The liturgical color is Purple. I would be grateful if the clergy in each parish would send to me an approximate number of those in your parish who plan to attend. The Diocesan Community will present the Bishop and Diana with a gift in appreciation for their ministry among us. We know that many of you will want to share generously in these gifts. Please send your gifts to me at Diocesan House, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015. Checks should be made payable to the Diocese of Bethlehem and marked accordingly. You may also contribute on-line at (Click on "Make a Gift" at the bottom of the page.) I look forward to your presence on December 15 and thank you in advance for your generosity and for your gifts. We give thanks to God for the many blessings we have received through their ministrations. Please hold both Bishop Paul and Diana in your prayers as they begin a new life, and also pray for the Diocese of Bethlehem as we celebrate their ministry amongst us.

• Youth invited to sing at the celebration for Bishop Paul ... Read on.

• Jubilate for December 1 through March 2 ... [Kat Lehman] I've posted the newest Jubilate, hymnody for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany to the DioBeth website. This is graciously provided by Canon Cliff Carr and we are grateful for his work and selections. If you wish to receive this via email, please use our Get Connected box on the righthand side of our home page and sign-up for Jubilate. I send them quarterly (or when Cliff sends me a new file) in both Word and .pdf formats direct to your inbox. You can find the latest Jubilate here, under Diocesan Resources. You might want to bookmark this for later retrieval. The .pdf version is uploaded online and you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it or some other .pdf reader software.

• Help that's helpful ... [John Major] We once again found ourselves overwhelmed with reports of devastation, destruction and loss as a huge storm system attacked a large swath of the United States. More than 60 reported tornadoes touched down in 10 Midwestern states and piles of rubble are all that remain of untold numbers of homes and businesses. We see this, our hearts break and we all want to do something to help. Please take a moment to read this article, "Help that's helpful," from a woman affected by the 2012 Oklahoma tornadoes.  It explains the best, most practical ways to help in the aftermath of a disaster.  Though our good-hearted inclination is to empty our closets and cupboards and send clothing, food and household goods, the author notes that sending such "stuff" isn't really as helpful as we might think. Our own experience in the floods of 2011 bear out this article's recommendation that contributions of cash and gift cards are far more helpful because they are easier to collect and distribute and allow those we desire to help to get what they need the most. Read on.

• New Bethany Ministries ... Newsletter.

• Communication opportunities in the Diocese of Bethlehem ... [Archdeacon Stringfellow] Parishes have until December 31 to take advantage of the web site offer of Post Communications. To learn more go to the Diocesan website and click on What's Happening, then Communication Resources, and then Diocesan Resources. The only thing a parish has to pay for is a domain name. This is a custom WordPress site, and all hosting, design, maintenance, and training is covered by contract with the Diocese.  Estimated savings to each parish is $750 for design and $120 for hosting. Here.  John Major sends along a sample electronic bulletin of weekly Trinity Chimes that has been sent for over a year on weekly basis to all parishioners and friends who give us e-mail. "This has been a gift to us from the diocese," John says

• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... [Canon Anne Kitch] Monthly newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources. December here.

• DioBeth on Facebook ... Diobeth Facebook page.

• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development ...  [John Major] A shield in the midst of life's storms. November 18.

• DioLight ... Vol. 1, Issue 19: Celebrate and Give Thanks by Andrew Gerns; What is your hope by Andrew Reinholz; Upcoming Events, compiled by Adam Bond.  Here.

• Keep up with Diocese of Bethlehem news, info ... DioBeth website, newSpin blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn,

• What's Happening? ... Diocesan level events. Here.

• Public news and info lists ... At the Diobeth website, enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.

• Shifts you should know about ... [Alban, Sarai Rice] What are some of the emerging trends that you see in congregations as they adapt to a changing environment?This is a question I’m asked frequently, either by curious participants at a workshop or by members of a struggling congregation who want to know if other congregations are struggling with the same thing. As a result, I’ve started compiling a list of what seem to me to be changes that are adding up to a significant re-imagining of what it means to be “church.” Read on.

• Yuletide Revels at Trinity Bethlehem ... [Mother Laura Howell] You are herewith, and with great pomp and circumstance, summoned to attend the annual yuletide Revels, held at 5:00 on Saturday, December 7, at Trinity Episcopal Church, in the Christmas City of Bethlehem. Famed early music duo Flute and Lute (Mindy Rosenfeld and Ronn Mcfarlane)  will perform a lively concert of seasonal early music. The evening concludes with a magnificent Boar's Head Procession, this year with Dancing Bear (no Boars or Bears will be hurt, or even annoyed). A reception of Dickensian proportions featuring Yuletide goodies such as wassail, nog, and flaming Christmas Pudding follows. This seasonal jollity is co-sponsored by the Moravian College Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Suggested donation $15 at the door; under 12 free.; 610-867-4741 X304.

• Christian Formation's 'dirty little secret'
... [Tim Schenck] There’s nothing more disheartening than putting a tremendous amount of effort into an adult education program only to have a handful of people show up. This happens more than you’d think in parishes of all types, denominations, and sizes but no one wants to talk about it. Clergy don’t — because it looks like failure on their part. And lay people don’t — because they’d have to admit they weren’t interested enough to show up. Read on.

• Music from St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre ... Here.  [Mark Laubach] The St. Stephen’s Choir will present its annual Festival Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent, led by Canon Mark Laubach, Organist and Choirmaster, and guest conductor Dr. Rick Hoffenberg.  A free-will offering will be received in support of the choir’s August 2015 residency at Winchester Cathedral, England.  Those attending the service are also encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food items and canned goods to help stock St. Stephen's Food Pantry for those in need in our community.  A reception will follow in the Auditorium.

• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.

• Gil Rendle's PowerPoint Presentations at the 2013 Lutheran Bishop's Conference ... [NEPA Lutheran Synod] on Conversations That Matter: Honest Talk about Discipleship and Change may be downloaded here: Presentation 1 (PowerPoint); Presentation 2 (PowerPoint); Presentation 3 (PowerPoint).

• Communication tips and tools ... [United Methodist Communiction] Here.

Rest in Peace
• Alec Reid, 82 ... [NYTimes] an unassuming Roman Catholic priest who played a quiet but crucial role in clandestine negotiations that led to the historic Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland in 1998, died there on Friday.

• Bishop David Thompson, 90 ... [MyrtleBeachOnline] Retired RC Bishop of South Carolina (1989-99), longtime vicar general of the Allentown Diocese, Father Thompson was the founding principal of Notre Dame High School in Easton, Pa., on July 15, 1957. He served in that position for four years. Responding to students' requests for a social outlet similar to "American Bandstand," the priest started Notre Dame "Bandstand" on a Saturday in November 1957. When his first emcee transferred out of the area, he hired Gene Kaye, a disc jockey at an Allentown radio station. Kaye helped propel the record hop to national prominence and dubbed the priest-principal "Father Bandstand." Among the teen idols that appeared on Notre Dame's stage were Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Connie Francis, Fabian, The Four Aces, Annette Funicello, Herman's Hermits, Brenda Lee and Bobby Rydell. When Paul Anka performed in the summer of 1960, more than 2,300 teenagers were on hand to hear him. Read on Obituary. [Bill] Dave became a good friend to me when, as a young priest, I began serving on the bishop's staff of the Diocese of Allentown. He was good, kind and compassionate to everyone he knew. See The Morning Call for a poignant story about Dave.

• Elmer Lokkins. 94 ... [NYTimes/The Globe and Mail] symbol of enduring love and same-sex marriage cause. Elmer Lokkins and Gustavo Archilla kept their relationship private for nearly 60 years. Some knew; some just wondered. Most did not discuss the situation. Uncle Gus and Uncle Elmer, their family called them. Read on.

• Paul F. Crouch, 79 ... [NYTimes] founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network. Crouch and his wife were the faces of one of the largest Christian television empires, drawing tens of millions of dollars in donations annually. Hefaced criticism over lavish spending of the donations collected through the network. Last year, his granddaughter accused the network of financial improprieties, and her father, Paul Crouch Jr., was forced off the staff.
The network runs sermons from prominent preachers like Joel Osteen and owns the Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando, Fla. Some Christian leaders have criticized the Crouches for preaching the "prosperity gospel.". In 2010, donations to TBN totaled $93 million. The Crouches had multiple homes, including his-and-hers mansions in Newport Beach, Calif., and used corporate jets valued at $8 million and $49 million each. In 2010, Mr. Crouch’s salary as president of Trinity Broadcasting was $400,000; Mrs. Crouch’s as first vice president was $365,000. Read on. Associated Press Obituary.

• Our young men and women who died recently in Afghanistan and for their families ... Here ... Pray also for the fallen heroes also of our coalition partners, and for the citizens of Afghanistan who have died, unnamed and unknown to us, and for those who mourn ... and for the end to this endless war.

Episcopal/Anglican (beyond DioBeth)
• Pittsburgh clergy can exercise a "local option" on same-sex blessings ... Here.

• New York bishop officiates at same-sex wedding ... [NYTimes] Thomas Merrick Reefer, 61, and the Rev. John Gregory Morgan, 70, were married Nov. 29 at Christ and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New York, where Mr. Morgan, a priest, is the assistant to the rector. Bishop Andrew M. L. Dietsche of the Episcopal Diocese of New York officiated. Read on.

• State of Racism ... [ENS] Coverage of the gathering’s opening session on Nov. 15 is here. An ENS series of video reflections from the conference are here. The Nov. 15 webcast, which included a keynote address by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and two panel discussions, is available for on-demand viewing here. A discussion guide developed for the forum is available. Read on.

Two dead in Ocean City MD church fire
Instead of celebrating a Thanksgiving Eve Eucharist on the morning of Nov. 27, the members of St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church remained stunned after a fire at the church the morning before killed two people, including their rector. The Rev. David Dingwall, who would have turned 51 on Dec. 26, died hours after the fire occurred in the office area of the church at 3rd Street and Baltimore Avenue in Ocean City, Maryland. The fire began when a person on fire entered the church’s Shepherd’s Crook ministry offices, located in the 1923 rectory building that is part of the church’s property. Shepherd’s Crook provides food and clothing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Read on.

American priest elected bishop for New Westminster diocese
 ... [ENS] An American priest who describes herself as a “Canadian enthusiast” has been elected the first woman bishop in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster and the first woman diocesan bishop in the ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and the Yukon. Read on.

• Presiding Bishop's Advent Message ... Here.

• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here

Employment Opportunities
• Episcopal Church position on Office of Government Relations ... Here.

• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.

• Expert advice on how to research family history ... [NYTimes] Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four.

• Horseshoe Crabs, Birds, Blood
... [NYTimes]
Horseshoe Crabs have been around for 475 million years, making them among earth’s oldest animals. They emerge from waters along the Eastern Seaboard during the high tides of full and new moons each May and June to spawn and lay their eggs on sandy beaches. The world’s largest population is concentrated in the Delaware Bay off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware. Arriving not far behind the crabs are thousands of small russet-colored shorebirds, known as red knots. They show up just in time to feast on the abundance of crab eggs before resuming their 9,300-mile journey from Tierra del Fuego to the Canadian Arctic. More than half of the red knots along the Western Atlantic flyway converge at this crucial springtime refueling stop, our own avian Serengeti. 
   But the number of horseshoe crabs has declined over the years. We’d been catching too many to use as bait to snag other sea creatures. That has meant trouble not only for red knots, whose numbers in the Delaware Bay have plummeted by 70 percent since the early 1980s, but for us.
   Just as the red knots depend on crabs for food, we depend on them for their blood, which is exquisitely sensitive to bacterial toxins that can cause illness or death in humans. This has made a creature that survived the dinosaurs vital to modern medicine. The biomedical industry uses crab blood to create a clotting agent to test for bacterial contamination in an array of drugs and medical devices — from vaccines to intravenous medicines, heart stents and artificial hips. Read on.

• State of Racism ... [ENS] Coverage of the gathering’s opening session on Nov. 15 is here. An ENS series of video reflections from the conference are here. The Nov. 15 webcast, which included a keynote address by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and two panel discussions, is available for on-demand viewing here. A discussion guide developed for the forum is available. Read on.

• National poll finds discrimination prevalent in the United States ... [ENS] A new national poll commissioned by the Episcopal Church has found that nearly all Americans (98 percent) feel that there is at least some discrimination in the United States today. Read on.

• "It is not the privileged and the fortunate ...
who took in the Jews in France. it was the marginal and the damaged, which should remind us that there are real limits to what evil and misfortune can accomplish. If you take away the gift of reading, you create the gift of listening…You see the giant and the Shepherd…and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we ever imagine.” [Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants]

• Mormon Bishop poses as homeless man to teach church about compassion ... [Raw Story] A bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disguised himself as a homeless man to gauge his church’s compassion, so convincingly that some church members asked him to leave before he revealed himself. “The main thing I was trying to get across was we don’t need to be so quick to judge,” Bishop David Musselman told KUTV-TV regarding his lesson preceding his Nov. 24 sermon at the Taylorsville Fourth Ward church in Salt Lake City. Read on. Also see RNS column by Jana Reiss.
he BBC’s head of religion and ethics said that modern audiences probably wouldn’t get the Bible jokes in Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian” because Brits are basically illiterate when it comes to religion. - See more at:

• The bread line: It’s coming soon to a workplace near you ... [NYDaily News] Growing numbers of working people are turning to soup kitchens and food pantries, social service providers say, and their reliance is placing a greater strain on relief networks that were already overtaxed. “I wouldn’t be able to afford my rent if it wasn’t for this meal,” said Henry Harris Jr., 40, who works full-time as an institutional aid at a hospital and grabs a bite to eat every morning at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Chelsea. Holy Apostles does not ask the 1,200 patrons it serves every day to show identification, but kitchen managers say the working poor have added to its traffic. Read on.

• Dilbert on Death and Dying ... Dilbert creator Scott Adams is a prolific blogger as well as popular cartoonist and his post the other day – as his aged father lay dying – railing against opponents of assisted-suicide was an emotional smack in the face. “If you’re a politician who has ever voted against doctor-assisted suicide, or you would vote against it in the future, I hate your f—ing guts and I would like you to die a long, horrible death.” At Real Clear Religion, Debra Saunders didn’t just blast Adams for views she abhors – she called him up, and they had an actual conversation. Check it out. And check out Cathy Grossman’s reports last week on the latest polling on this tough topic. [h/t Religion News Roundup]

Evangelical Lutheran
• NEPA Synod website ... Here
• ELCA website
... Here.  The new website will be launched on Monday morning, Nov. 18. The launch is the culmination of extensive planning and implementation, during which the ELCA gathered input from a wide range and number of colleagues, constituents and end users from across this church. The result of their collective work is now ready to be published online. Check it out!
• ELCA News Service
... Here
• ELCA's blogs
may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."

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

United Methodist
• Communication tips and tools ... Here.
• UMC website Here.
• News Service Here.
• Communication Resources ... Start here.
• Eastern PA Conference website  Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.

Roman Catholic
• Sex and the single priest ... [Bill Keller, NYTimes] Not many years after I left St. Matthew’s, I left the church. Leaving your church is not so much like quitting a club as emigrating from the country where you grew up. You forfeit citizenship and no longer consider yourself subject to its laws, but you follow the news from the Old Country and wish its people well, because they are still in some sense your people. And if you write for a living you may sometimes write about that world, from a distance. Read on.

• Bishops Sued Over Policies on Abortion at Hospitals ... [NYTimes] The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of a Michigan woman, is suing Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion guidelines to affiliated hospitals are leading to medical negligence. Read on.

Whoops! After years of debate, Catholic bishops in France decided that the version of the Lord’s Prayer their congregants recite could be considered blasphemous. Apparently French people…can’t read French? The official translation has been changed from “Do not submit us to temptation” to “Let us not enter into temptation,” absolving God of any perceived meddling. - See more at:
Whoops! After years of debate, Catholic bishops in France decided that the version of the Lord’s Prayer their congregants recite could be considered blasphemous. Apparently French people…can’t read French? The official translation has been changed from “Do not submit us to temptation” to “Let us not enter into temptation,” absolving God of any perceived meddling. - See more at:

• Diocese of Allentown ... Here.
• Diocese of Scranton ... Here
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here
• Catholic News Service ... Here.  

The Vatican
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.

• Francis and a church that breathes with both lungs
... [NCR, John Allen]
There's no mistaking the fact that Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation, "Joy of the Gospel," released Tuesday by the Vatican, amounts to a call for fairly sweeping change on multiple fronts. At the big-picture level, Francis says he wants a more missionary and more merciful church, one less afraid of change than of "remaining shut up with structures which give us a false sense of security," "rules which make us harsh judges," and "habits which make us feel safe." At the level of detail, Francis hints at reform in numerous arenas, including a blunt call for a "conversion of the papacy" toward a "sound decentralization." That includes at least one seemingly clear reversal of previous policy: assigning teaching authority to bishops' conferences, as opposed to a 1998 ruling under John Paul II denying them precisely that role. ... The deepest ambition of "Joy of the Gospel" lies in Francis' dream of a church that breathes with both lungs regarding mission and justice, uniting its concern for poverty of both the spiritual and the flesh-and-blood sort. The drama of his papacy, in a sense, lies in how well he may be able to pull it off. Read on.

• 'Evangelii Gaudium' amounts to Francis' 'I Have a Dream' speech ... [NCR, John Allen, Analysis] Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action. That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis' bold new apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel." In effect, the 224-page document, titled in Latin Evangelii Gaudium and released by the Vatican Tuesday, is a vision statement about the kind of community Francis wants Catholicism to be: more missionary, more merciful, and with the courage to change.
   Francis opens with a dream. "I dream of a 'missionary option,' " Francis writes, "that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today's world, rather than for her self-preservation." In particular, Francis calls for a church marked by a special passion for the poor and for peace.
   The theme of change permeates the document. The pope says rather than being afraid of "going astray," what the church ought to fear instead is "remaining shut up within structures that give us a false sense of security, within rules that make us harsh judges" and "within habits that make us feel safe." Though Francis released an encyclical letter titled Lumen Fidei in June, that text was based largely on a draft prepared by Benedict XVI. "The Joy of the Gospel," designed as a reflection on the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, thus represents the new pope's real debut as an author. Early reaction suggests it's a tour de force. Read on
   Also, "No more business as usual" by Daniel Burke at CNN Belief Blog
   A new vision for the church
 ... [America] In all his years as a Catholic, James Martin, SJ, cannot remember a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating.

• Vatican website
... Here
• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here
• Vatican News/Info Portal
... Here.

• Minimize holiday stress ... [Orthopedic Associates of Allentown] Here. [h/t Diana Marshall]

• As Hospital Prices Soar, a Single Stitch Tops $500 ... [NYTimes, Elisabeth Rosenthal] Hospital pricing is often convoluted, and hospital charges represent about a third of the total United States health care bill.  The main reason for high hospital costs in the United States, economists say, is fiscal, not medical: Hospitals are the most powerful players in a health care system that has little or no price regulation in the private market. ... Once perennial money pits, emergency rooms have become big moneymakers for most hospitals in the last decade, experts say, as they raised their fees and “managed” their patient mix. Read on.

• Statins by the numbers ... [NYTimes Op-Ed] Medicine is having its Moneyball moment.
In his book “Moneyball,” Michael Lewis chronicled how the Oakland A’s, in order to identify the best predictors of a winning baseball team, used a highly formulaic, statistics-driven approach in place of the traditional assessments of coaches and managers. This month, in a similar spirit, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued new, numerically driven guidelines for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
   These guidelines recommend that doctors no longer use a patient’s LDL cholesterol level to decide whether to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering statin, and instead rely on the results of a web-based “risk calculator” — the Omnibus Risk Estimator — that determines a person’s chances of suffering atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in 10 years. Into the Omnibus Risk Estimator you enter nine variables, including age, sex, total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and the estimator returns your 10-year and lifetime risks of stroke, heart attack or death from cardiovascular disease. With these data, you and your doctor decide whether to invest in a lifetime of daily therapy with a statin pill.
This is a revolutionary shift. Read on.

• Flu shots, 'tis the season ... is the official government website where you can enter your zip code to find out where you can get a flu shot, get advice for who is most at risk, and learn how you can help care for loved ones who get the flu. Flu shots at pharmacies and supermarkets are not free, but Medicare and most health insurance plans cover the cost. Check with your insurance provider. Under the Affordable Care Act, many insurers are required to cover certain preventive services, like the flu vaccine, at no cost to you. If you do not have insurance or if yours does not cover vaccines, help is available. Free flu-shot clinics are or will be available in many areas. To find where you can get free flu shots, search on your browser for "free flu" plus your county. Even though it’s been a few years since the H1N1 pandemic flu was national news, it is another strand of the flu to always be mindful of. The 2013-2014 flu shots cover this strain of the flu, plus others. Learn more about this year’s flu season and shots from the CDC.

• Cold or Flu? ... The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers tips on the differences between a cold and flu, how you can prevent both, what to do if you’re already sick, and advice on over the counter medicines. You can get it all online or even order a hard copy publication sent to your house.

• Resources for caregivers ... Here
• Medline Plus ... Here.  
• WebMD ... Here.
• ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.

• A forced adoption, a lifetime quest and a longing that never waned ... [NYTimes] Philomena Lee is 80 now, and she has made peace with many things. Yet her voice still catches when she describes her last glimpse of her firstborn child as he was being taken away to be adopted by an American family. Ms. Lee desperately wanted to keep the boy, Anthony, who was then 3 years old. But it was 1955. Locked in a Roman Catholic home for unwed mothers on the grounds of a country convent in Roscrea, Ireland, she had signed her rights away at the nuns’ insistence. She never even got a chance to say goodbye. Read on. [NYTimes Review] In “Philomena,” Judi Dench’s portrayal of a stubborn, kindhearted Irish Catholic trying to discover what became of the toddler she was forced to give up as a teenager is so quietly moving that it feels lit from within. A major theme of this film from Stephen Frears is forgiveness. Ms. Dench’s Philomena Lee glows with the radiance of someone serene in her faith despite inhumane treatment by the church. That she makes you believe her character has the capacity to forgive provides the movie with a solid moral center. Read on. Another review here, Lessons Worthy of the Gospel.

• The Gospel according to William Stringfellow

 ... [Episcopal Café, Andrew Gerns] The writing of Episcopal lay theologian and activist William Stringfellow is featured in a new collection published this week as the latest installment in Orbis Books' Modern Spiritual Masters Series, William Stringfellow: Essential Writings. More here. Also at National Catholic Reporter.

• Father to a Nation and to a Family ... [NYTimes] "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," based on Nelson Mandela's memoir, presents him as an inspiring leader with complexities. Read on.

• Hollywood rediscovers the Bible ... [NYTimes] Studios and filmmakers are rediscovering the Bible as source material for upcoming mainstream films. Read on.

• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... December.

• Many Congregational Resources ... The "Using Resources" series of publications by the Center for Congregations is designed to help congregations make the most effective use of capital funds, consultants, architects, contractors, books, congregation management software, and more.
• Church locators
... Here.
• Insights into Religion
... Here.
• Forward Movement
... Here.

• The Alban Institute ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here
The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.

Religious Freedom Recap, our weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. - See more at:

Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Religious Freedom Blog ... a weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. Here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
• Episcopal/Anglican
 (1) The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
 (2) Episcopal Café
 (3) AngicansOnline website and news centre.
 (4) The Living Church
 (5) The Anglican Communion website and news service.

SoulSpin Resources
• The Book of Common Prayer
... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP
... Here.
• The Daily Office
... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• Holy Women, Holy Men
... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Sou
l ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.

• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.

Bible&Worship Resources
• Lectionary ... A collection of Lectionary resources for the Episcopal Church, updated Sunday night. Here.
• Lectionary Page ... A liturgical calendar for upcoming weeks, with links to readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), as adapted for use in Episcopal worship. Here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.


Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there on the title of the current newsletter. Comment below. As soon as the newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the blog and posted on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,200 addresses. Many recipients often forward it to others. 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. If you think something about your parish or agency merits inclusion, 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]



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