newSpin, the newsletter
March 11, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• Like a prolonged Lent of six years ... [A personal story by Richard Evans] I found the Episcopal Church about 15 years ago in Florida in an attempt to break away from the walk in the desert that comes after a divorce -- and what an oasis it has been! Read on. Rich Evans is a former Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant. He is a member of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Mountain Top where he serves on the vestry and finance committee. He is also a member of the Diocesan Council and the Incorporated Trustees. His ministry is helping parishes with their audits.
• Two stories from the director of REACH in Wilkes-Barre ... Stories heard frequently by Debra Kellerman who is already tired of Lent and its desert. Read on.
• Episcopal Church to keep The Falls Church ... [RNS] After years of wrangling between the Episcopal Church and a large, conservative congregation that left it over theological differences, the Supreme Court let stand a Virginia court ruling that allows the denomination to keep the congregation’s property.
• Pope Francis has changed American Catholics' attitudes, but not their behavior ... [NYTimes, Laurie Goodstein, Mar. 6] One year into the era of Pope Francis, a new poll has found that a broad majority of American Catholics say he represents a major change in direction for the church, and a change for the better. But his popularity has not inspired more Americans to attend Mass, go to confession or identify as Catholic — a finding that suggests that so far, the much-vaunted “Francis effect” is influencing attitudes, but not behavior. Read on.
• Four women who are revolutionizing organized religion ... [BuzzFeed] The first publicly ordained Orthodox Jewish female rabbi; an attorney leading the campaign to ordain Mormon women; a nun whose career was threatened for daring to question the Virgin Mary as a symbol of subservience; a Muslim journalist whose organization is re-translating the Qur’an’s most controversial verse. Bringing change to institutions entrenched in centuries of tradition takes a very specific kind of fighting spirit. In one sense, Sara Hurwitz, Kate Kelly, Elizabeth Johnson, and Zainah Anwar have nothing in common. They’re members of totally different, mutually exclusive religions. They pray in different houses of worship. They study different holy books. And yet in another sense, they have everything in common. They are each attempting to inspire feminist change from within four religions that — to various extremes — pointedly seek to repress them, and to even be part of the establishments that encourage this repression. Read on.
• An uneven landscape ... [RNS] UMC ministers who officiate against church law at same-sex marriages find that the church is sparing some clergy who dare break the rules, but punishing others. “Increasingly, those differences are geographic.”
• More Catholic than the pope? ... [RNS] New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan says the pope’s remarks last week about the Roman Catholic Church possibly recognizing civil unions don’t mean that Francis has said anything about actual marriage. But David Gibson writes, Dolan acknowledged that he himself would feel “uncomfortable” if the church were to embrace that position.
• The gift of thirst ... [From Anne Kitch's daily Wilderness Yearning] One of the gifts of the desert is thirst. The reminder that we need to partake of life-giving water in order to live. One of the gifts of the wilderness journey is thirst. Can I still my mind and body and soul long enough to become aware of my need for the living water that is Christ? Read on.
• Like a prolonged Lent of six years ... [A personal story by Richard Evans] Above, under "TopSpin."
• Two stories from the director of REACH in Wilkes-Barre ... Above, under "TopSpin."
• What it means to be Catholic now ... [Peter Manseau, NYTimes Op-Ed] One year into his astonishingly popular papacy, Pope Francis has become the perfect divining rod for uncovering assumptions about the future of the Catholic Church. After an interview last week, during which he responded to a question about civil unions with a discussion of how “secular states” used them “to regulate different situations of cohabitation,” some mainstream media outlets reported that he had signaled a new openness to same-sex unions. More cautious analysts countered that he had done nothing of the kind. Wishful thinking is rampant where Francis is concerned, perhaps especially among those born into the faith who have grown distant from it. While a recent Pew poll suggests that church attendance in America has not risen with the pope’s steady stream of positive press, the image he projects of a kinder, gentler Catholicism has inspired many of the lapsed, the recovering, the former and the fallen to reconsider the possibilities of being Catholic without qualification. Yet even as the pope appears to be opening a big tent, others in the church hierarchy ensure that it will not expand too far. Read on.
• Hollywood's real problem with religion isn't a dearth of religiously themed movies ... [The Week] Hollywood produces relatively few films about religious subjects and themes. But that might not be a bad thing for religion. Religion is a serious subject, and Hollywood doesn't do well with serious subjects — because Hollywood's goal is to make money, not art. If the major studios started producing more big-budget movies on religious topics, all we'd end up with are more dumbed-down portrayals of religion. Don't believe me? Consider the record. Hollywood doesn't have a religion problem. It has a quality problem.
• Lenten resources and devotional materials ... A fine selection of Lenten devotional materials and online resources for people of all ages can be found on our Diocesan Website on the Christian Formation page (see Seasonal Resources). Read on. Resources listed by Episcopal News Service ... Here. Maggie Dawn, associate dean of Marquand Chapel and associate professor of theology and literature at Yale Divinity School, suggests 40 ways to keep a joyful, thankful, holy Lent. Read on. For the 40 days of Lent, parishioners and clergy from Trinity Bethlehem will be posting Lenten meditations daily. To read the blog subscribe to Lights in the Darkness. If you prefer, you may also receive the reflections in your email. Send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also in the March In-Formation in Bethlehem.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• SpiritSpin Resources ... Below, near the bottom.
• Death, Dying and Loss ... [Jane Williams] I teach a Death, Dying and Loss class at Moravian Theological Seminary. I think such classes are major aids especially to clergy and counselors whose roles will have near constant involvement with the issues of death, dying, chronic illness, and the multitude of losses (relationships, jobs, etc. -- not just loss from death) that all of us experience in our lifetimes. Read on.
• The Faith-Based Big Tent ... [Bishop Gene Robinson, The Daily Beast, March 9] Today, I begin a regular column (appearing most every weekend) for The Daily Beast on the topic of religion and its effects on our understanding of ourselves, our laws, and the issues that face us as a nation. Much of what we face as a nation involves religion—either overtly or as a none-too-subtle subtext: abortion, contraception, the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, the mandate to care for society’s most vulnerable, welcoming (or not) the stranger/immigrant among us, the growing rift between rich and poor, and countless other issues. All of them involve how we see ourselves as a people and how our religious/spiritual views shape that self-understanding. ... Much of what you will read here will be critical of organized religion, since along with Chesterton, I believe in Christianity but seldom see it put into practice. Read on.
• How to make the NYTimes best-seller list ... World magazine reports that Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s pastor, and his wife, Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list. Essentially, the marketing company buys books under a dummy account to look like individual sales from a range of retailers.
• Deconstructing God ... [NYTimes, Gary Gutting] This is the third in a series of interviews about religion that Gary Gutting, professor of philosophy at Notre Dame University, is conducting for The Stone. The interviewee for this installment is John D. Caputo, a professor of religion and humanities at Syracuse University and the author of “The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida: Religion Without Religion.” Read on.
• Sometimes a statistic is worth a thousand words ... Eighty-two percent of white evangelicals believe God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people, compared with 40 percent of American Jews who believe the same. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• The Answer to Bad Religion ... [PCUSA] In The Answer to Bad Religion Is Not No Religion (Westminster John Knox Press), Martin Thielen explains that there is an alternative to abandoning religion: good religion. In his introduction, Thielen writes, “A growing number of Americans are starving for an alternative to negative, closed-minded, judgmental, partisan, antiwomen, antiscience religion. Instead, they are searching for a positive, grace-filled, open-minded, gender-equal faith option.” Read on.
• Crimea 101 ... [Chicago Sun-Times] A primer on why the Ukraine region is at the center of Russia-US tension. Here. [Last week's link was incorrect.]
• The 160-year Christian history behind what's happening in Ukraine
... [Christianity Today] The Crimean War was significant for more than the beginning of modern nursing through the work of Florence Nightingale. It represented a pivotal moment in European religious affairs, writes Philip Jenkins. Read on.
• New Jersey archbishop under fire for pricey retirement home plans ... [Morning Call, Jonathan Allen of Reuters] The Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, is facing mounting criticism over his plan to spend $500,000, mostly from the sale of church assets, on a extension to a countryside house where he will soon spend his retirement. Some local Catholics are refusing to contribute to church collections in protest at Archbishop John Myers' planned 3,000-square-foot (280-square-meter) extension, saying he is failing to follow the austerity of both Pope Francis and Jesus Christ. Read on.
• John "Jack" Docker ... recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood by the late Bishop Frederick Warnecke. He served at St. Mary's, Wind Gap; St. Joseph's West Bangor; Church of the Nativity, Newport; Christ Church, Rochester; on the staff of the Diocese of Bethlehem and the National Episcopal Church; and at St. Paul's on the Hill, Ossining. He and his wife, Georgie, now live in Dunnville, Ontario. I understand that when he was rector in the Slate Belt, he was a good friend to Father Joe Dickert, the RC pastor nearby. They used to lead occasional programs on ecumnism referred to – you may see this coming – as Dickert and Docker.
• Diocese of Bethlehem elects Sean Rowe as provisional bishop ... [ENS, Canticle Communications] A special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem on March 1 elected the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe as the provisional bishop of Bethlehem. ... “My style is a collaborative one in which we will work together — bishop, clergy and lay leaders,” said Rowe in an address to the convention following his election. “I hope you will find yourself welcome to a table large enough to hear your voice. Collaboration requires relationships of substance, and I want to spent time getting to know you, hear your stories, and learn to care about those ministries for which you have great passion and excitement.” All of 64 of the clergy present and 99 of the 100 laypeople voted in favor of Rowe’s election, which required a two-thirds vote. ... “Today you did not elect the smartest or the most spiritual bishop ever. The fact is, there are people here who have been praying twice as long as I’ve been alive,” said Rowe, who is 39. “What you’ll get is one who is faithful to God, at least most of the time, and one who stands firmly on the promises of Jesus Christ. I am your servant.” Read on. More here.
• Jubilate ... [Diocese of Bethlehem] Hymnody for Lent and Easter is published by the Diocese of Bethlehem for our diocesan community and for free distribution to the world. It is a service of our Liturgy and Music Commission, specifically Canon Cliff Carr who has been doing this for more than 30 years. Find it here.
• Trip to Diocese of Kajo Keji ... [Charlie Barebo] Report on the January 2014 trip of Charlie Barebo, diocesan Missioner for Development, and Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow to the Diocese of Kajo Keji, South Sudan. Here.
• New Hope in Pictures/UIpdated ... Archdeacon Stringfellow is blogging “New Hope in Pictures” chronicling our shared mission with the South Sudanese.
•• The DioLight ... Feb. 12, Vol. 2, Iss. 2. Here.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... [Canon Anne Kitch] A newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources. March.
• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development ... [John Major] A shield...in the midst of life's storms, March 5.
• Diocesan Training Day For Ministry ... April 5 at St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral Wilkes-Barre. Register online and find more information at www.diobeth.org - Diocesan Events.
• Chrism Mass ... at Cathedral Church of the Nativity, April 10, 11:00 a.m.
• Christophany for Middle and High School Youth ... Here. Registration open at www.diobeth.org - Diocesan Events.
• DioBeth news, info ... DioBeth website, newSpin blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn,
• 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.
• Christophany ... April 25-27 at Bear Creek Camp, Wilkes-Barre. Registration now open. Here.
• EYE: The 2014 Episcopal Youth Event ... will take place at Villanova University, July 9-13. Read on.
• At Trinity Bethlehem ... [Mother Laura Howell] Bach will be 329 years old in late March. Celebrate his glorious contributions by attending an all-Bach concert on March 16 at 3:00 p.m. Co-sponsored by the Lehigh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, the concert will be given by Aram Basmadjian, Trinity's Artist-in-Residence. Trinity is located at 44 E. Market Street in Bethlehem. For more information contact email@example.com or call 610-867-4741 X306.
• At St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre ... Organ recitals and Lenten ecumenical services. Here.
• IRS VITA ... The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. To find a VITA tax preparation site in your area, go to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Find-a-Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep and enter your zip code.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• United Methodist website ... Here.
• The Moravian Church in North America website ... Here.
• The Moravian Church Northern Province website ... Here.
• The Presbyterian Church USA website ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website ... Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• The Episcopal Church website ... Here.
• Competing to be the real thing ... [The Economist] Perhaps it's surprising that the worlds of faith and advertising don't clash even more frequently. At a deep level, both activities are competing for the same space in people's conscious and sub-conscious minds. Read on.
Helping religious leaders become theologically savvy about technology
Founded in 2010, the New Media Project aims to help religious leaders think theologically about digital technology. We think leaders need more than primers in building websites and using social media tools. We believe that leaders of faith communities also need a larger interpretive framework for recognizing and evaluating what’s happening in communication today. Even though the major shift in patterns and tools of communication brought about by digital technology will have a lasting effect on the church, compelling theological interpretations of the shift have not yet been adequately developed. Nor do sufficient strategic frameworks yet exist to help faith communities move forward using technology in theologically responsible ways.
We aim to change that.
• Communication tips and tools ... Here. (March) In this issue: Is your Facebook page reaching fewer people? Tips for getting people to open (and read) your email. [Video] 5 social media guidelines for churches. Online security for churches. What can Twitter teach the church?
Rest in Peace
• Gordon Bartlett, 78 ... died on March 7. He was the husband of retired priest Mother Lois Bsrtlett. More here.
• Sherwin Nuland, 83 ... Dr. Sherwin Nuland died recently at the age of 83. He became well-known for his first book, How We Die, which won the National Book Award in 1994. For him, pondering death was a way of wondering at life — and the infinite variety of processes that maintain human life moment to moment. He reflects on the meaning of life by way of scrupulous and elegant detail about human physiology: “Wonder is something I share with people of deep faith. They wonder at the universe that God has created, and I wonder at the universe that nature has created. This is a sense of awe that motivates the faithful, motivates me. And when I say motivates, it provides an energy for seeking. Just as the faithful will always say, 'We are seeking,' I am seeking." On Being with Krista Tippett here. Obituary here.
• House of Deputies ... newsletter.
• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
• They have a lot to say and are not going away ... Older Americans are one of the fastest growing demographics in our country. Yet, it's easy to underestimate this demographic because they are so often invisible. As Pacific Standard reports, the elderly have a lot to say, and they're not going away any time soon.
• Did Francis drop the F-bomb? ... [Bill] Pope Francis may not be infallible. He misspoke during his recent Sunday address, accidentally dropping the F-bomb or using a vulgar Italian word for a male body part, cazzo, when he meant to say caso (“case or example”). He quickly corrected himself and moved on without missing a beat. The video has gone viral. I noticed that most news and web sites reported this gaffe by saying that Francis dropped the F-bomb. Of course.
• What does it sound like when you change your mind? ... [Seth Godin] Nineteen years ago, shortly after I hired Mark Hurst to join the team at my internet startup Yoyodyne, I turned to him and said, "I don't think the web makes sense." This was the most expensive mistake I ever made. Read on.
• PowerPointless ... [Slate] Digital slideshows are the scourge of higher education. Slate shows us why -- with a PowerPoint presentation.
• NEPA Synod website ... Here.
• ELCA website ... Here.
• ELCA News Service ... Here.
• ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• Communication tips and tools ... Here. (March) See above, under "Evangelism/Stewardship."
• UMC website Here.
• News Service Here.
• Communication Resources ... Start here.
• Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• If you’re old enough to remember Archbishop Fulton Sheen ... the telegenic Catholic evangelist from the 1930s to the 1960s, you may be interested that a Vatican panel of medical experts has OK’d a miracle that could inch Sheen along the path to sainthood. A family prayed to Sheen for help after their son was born and his heart didn’t start beating until an hour later. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Chapel sold ... [Pottsville RepublicanHerald] The former RC chapel in Middleport (between Pottsville and Tamaqua on Route 209] was sold to Christopher F. Minchhoff and Robert J. Hinkle Jr., Tamaqua, for $22,500. It will be used as a residence. Read on.
• National Catholic Reporter ... Here.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here.
• Diocese of Scranton ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here.
• Catholic News Service ... Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
• Alzheimer's may be bigger killer than we realize ... [TIME] Research found that medical staff often lists people's immediate cause of death, such as pneumonia, on death certificates, when Alzheimer's was the underlying cause. If properly accounted for, Alzheimer's could rival heart disease and cancer as a leading cause of death. Read on.
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... 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.
• Reading Reimagined ... [Chicago Tribune] Spritz is a new reading technology that will make its debut on the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone and the Gear 2 smartwatch. The technology makes it possible for users to easily read as many as 1,000 words per minute. Read on.
• Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg ... Here. • Free Audiobooks from LibriVox ... Here. • Free Audiobooks and eBooks ... Here and Here.
• Google Books ... Millions of books you can preview or read free. Here. • The Online Books Page ... from UPenn. Here.
• More free eBooks and Audiobooks ... [Techlicious] Here.
• Religion Research Hub ... ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, an especially useful site.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... February.
• 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.
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.
(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.
• The Book of Common Prayer ... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• Daily Prayer ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Soul ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.
• The 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.
• The Liturgical Calendar ... BCP, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, HWHM ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.
As soon as the newSpin newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the newSpin 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 Standing Committee 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. Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there in the right hand column on the title of the current newsletter. Then, make your comment below.
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]