newSpin 140806
The mystery of Mithril 1.0

newSpin 140812

The newSpin newsletter
August 12, 2014
Bill Lewellis

Published weekly, usually by Tuesday

• South Korea's growing Christian population ... [Pew Research] Before Pope Francis visits South Korea later this week, a Fact Tank post highlights six facts about that country's growing Christian population. Also, [NCR] Divided South Korean Church awaits Pope Francis. "There are actually two churches here," said Columban Fr. Pat Cunningham, "the church of the bishops and the church of the progressive minority." At the center of this division is how Korean Catholics should engage society and how Catholics should respond to the needs of the poor and the marginalized, especially those displaced by the rapid social and economic change that has occurred here in the past two decades.

• Christ Cathedral to host Catholic TV giant EWTN  ... [Orange County Register] Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove CA will be the site of the first West Coast broadcast studio for the largest religious media network in the world, with construction underway in the iconic Tower of Hope for the Eternal World Television Network. Headquartered in Alabama and now in its 33rd year, EWTN has three other studios: Washington, D.C., Rome and Cologne, Germany. Read on. [Bill] Christ Cathedral is the former Crystal Cathedral of Robert Schuller's empire and Hour of Power programmming. Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and sold the building and its adjacent campus in 2012 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. For me, however, the real significance of this story is how the founder of the ultra-conservative EWTN, Mother Angelica, prevailed over those bishops who had contested her "orthodoxy" and is now the main source globally from which Roman Catholics learn about the teaching of the church, ala Mother Angelica, and news about the Catholic Church and the latest issues in Catholicism.

• The Surrogacy Debate on the Christian Right ... [Slate, Mark Joseph Stern] Surrogacy has always seemed to me to be perfectly compatible with conservative values. It involves a carefully planned pregnancy designed to deliver a baby to two loving parents. There is very little chance the fetus will be aborted. Its soon-to-be parents are almost certain to be well off and won’t need to lean on the welfare state while raising their child. Surrogacy is, in other words, the least risky way to approach the inherently risky endeavor of reproduction.
   But a cri de coeur published in the National Review on Monday reminds me exactly how wrong my assumptions are. For a certain subset of conservatives—most of them orthodox Catholics—surrogacy is achief evil of modern sexual liberty, lagging behind abortion but keeping pace with gay marriage. Intriguingly, principled opposition to surrogacy isn’t even about homosexuality—though those who oppose surrogacy generally oppose gay parenthood as well. It’s about fidelity to relatively esoteric Catholic notions of natural law. And the larger question of surrogacy is poised to cause a catastrophic rift within the conservative movement as a whole. Read on.

• Rely on living models ... [Richard Rohr] "Recent Christianity has relied far, far too much on ideas instead of living models. Sincere Christians can smell holiness, even when the words might seem unorthodox. They can also smell unholiness even from people who do it all perfectly." [Bill] In our diocese, I think of Eric Snyder, Dolores Caskey, and Don Knapp ... to name just a few living models ... and the late John Harvard, Gene Patton, Marie Elizabeth Dyer and now Marius Bressoud, to name a few saints in heaven. And, oh, there are so many more in our diocese and among our families. I think of my late father-in-law, Steve Rajnic, father of eight and Coaldale borough tax collector for some 35 years. He confided to me once that he paid taxes from his own pocket for poor people who were not able to pay their own. And, I repeat, there are so many more. We are fortunate in that regard.

• New Tracts for Our Times ...
[Michael Curry, Ellen Davis] Dr. Ellen Davis speaks about the importance of scripture for the life of Episcopalians. Bishop Michael Curry speaks about the unity and beauty of the Eucharist, beginning with a stunning story. Each YouTube video is about eight minutes. Here.

• Overplaying the Jesus card? ... [Bill] This is from Richard Rohr's recent book, Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation, which I have been reading. The excerpt is something I have often thought about, especially in light of our liturgical form wherein we pray to the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. [Rohr's quote] We Christians overplayed the Jesus card. We pulled Jesus out of this dynamic union of the Trinity, and then we pushed Jesus, for all practical purposes into the God role, when his role was much different – it was to put God and humanity into one. We did not know how to put it together in him and the sad result was that we had no model or suggestion that we could also put the two together in ourselves. [End of quote from Rohr.]
   When I taught the theology course in Bishop's School, I used to recommend Anthony Robinson’s book, What’s Theology got to do with it? precisely because there is a section, The Trinity as Resource for Healthy Congregations, in which he refers to the doctrine of the Trinity as “a kind of theological system of checks and balances … an attempt to guard against various ‘unitarianisms.’” He wrote several insightful pages on how parishes tend to be unitarians of the Creator, unitarians of Jesus, or unitarians of the Spirit. You will like it, I'm sure, if you can get your hands on it. Very inexpensive used at Amazon. Also, free to read at

• Celtic Spirituality Initiative at Bethlehem Cathedral
... [Melinda Rizzo] Nativity’s dean Tony Pompa said his hope is for the monthly Thursday evenings, the fourth Thursday, 7:00 p.m., to become a touchstone for anyone interested in seeking a new way to approach spirituality and make a deeper connection with the sacred.  All are welcome to the Thursday evening Celtic spirituality offerings, regardless of their denomination, or faith affiliation. The sessions are informal, and invite participants to enter the Cathedral for meditation, silent prayer, personal reflection time, to light candles, privately ask for healing prayers, and simply enjoy brief theme appropriate meditative readings and poems spoken, all supported by quietly played Celtic Music by guest musicians, well known and versed in Celtic themed music. “We offer a variety of opportunities for sacred connections in about 40 minutes, and the sessions hold a peace-filled and paced economy of time; the Celtic music played by our gifted guest musicians throughout the majority of the evening invites transformation, it’s a recipe of sacred mystery," Pompa explained. Read on.

• Would you throw or shoot a bullet?
  ... [RootedRadical] Q: Is there a difference between preaching the Gospel adequately — where the content of the Gospel is preached — and preaching the Gospel effectively, preaching it well? A: Yes. It is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing a bullet. Here.

RNS: The “Left Behind” books series has sold more than 60 million copies. What do you think when you hear that so many have been influenced by that brand of eschatological thought? 

SH: My reaction to the “Left Behind” series is one of amusement and pathos. Pathos because so many people have misunderstood Christian eschatological convictions and turned them into speculative accounts of the so-called “rapture.” I take it to be a judgment against the church that that kind of speculation has gained a foothold.

- See more at:

• Resources
 ... Here.

After the Cincinnati Roman Catholic Archdiocese ...  withdrew a $1,000 donation to a homeless shelter run by a renegade woman priest, the house received an unexpected windfall, $9,500 in donations. [h/t Religion News Daily]

• New Hope is a new Girls' Dormitory ... [New Hope in Pictures, Archdeacon Stringfellow, July 13] The thirty-third New Hope building in Kajo Keji, a girls
 dormitory, is almost ready for occupancy. Yes, 33. An amazing accomplishment. Read on.

• Bishop's School ... Fall, 2014.

• Listening, Prayer and Discernment ... [News release from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem] Two Episcopal Moment consultants, the Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Johnson, Jr., D.Min, and the Rev. Dr. Robert K. Myers, PhD, both priests based in the Chicago area, will facilitate a series of listening opportunities, to be held across the diocese beginning in fall, at which everyone will be invited to discuss the challenges facing the Episcopal Church in northeastern Pennsylvania, how the diocese has responded to these challenges, and where the Holy Spirit might be leading this diocesan community. The goal is for everyone who wishes to participate in this process to have a chance to be heard. Read on.

• Resources
 ... Here.

• At St. Paul's Montrose ... Celebration of New Ministry, The Rev. Paul Towers, Aug 24 at 9:00 a.m.

• At Redeemer Sayre ... Celebration of New Ministry, The Rev. Glenn Mahaaffey, Aug. 24 at 4:00 p.m.

• Resources
 ... Here.

People from our diocese and parishes in the media
• Nothing to report

• Resources
 ... Here.

Evangelism/Stewardship/Worship/Church Growth
• New Church Planting ... [Daily Episcopalian, George Clifford] Part 1, Why doesn't TEC plant more churches? Part 2, TEC should adapt an idea from Harvard professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, who suggests that persons needing to downsize envision the change as a generative opportunity.

• Resources

 ... Here.

Rest in Peace

• Marius Bressoud, 91 ... [Bill] a parishioner at Trinity Bethlehem, died on Saturday (Aug. 9) near midnight. Trinity rector Laura Howell wrote, " Among other things he was one of the folks who started cursillo for the Episcopal Church. De colores, all! And he was an amazing artist. We are all sorrowing tonight, but I hope we will take up the (considerable) challenge of continuing his witness and work, and the witness and work of so many of his generation."
   I respected Marius. I admired Marius. I was inspired by Marius for many years. Because he was an excellent and insightful writer who wrote and spoke with authority, i.e., with integrity and authenticity, I invited Marius, beginning more than 20 years ago, to write occasional reflections for our onetime newspaper, Diocesan Life. You will want to read something Marius wrote for Diocesan Life in 1994. I brought it out for a curtain call in the May 2008 edition.
   Here's an excerpt from Were They Pieces of a Prayer Book? "The doctor cleaned bits of cloth and other material out of the entry wound – perhaps also pieces of a prayer book? I regretted that I had not taken my Book of Common Prayer out of my pack which had been left on the battlefield. I’d heard of pocket bibles stopping bullets and thought it might be fun to have an Episcopal prayer book with a hole through it that did not. It would have been a fitting symbol of the God I know and worship, one who sustains and strengthens me rather than a magician who shelters me from my own follies and those of others."
Please find Were They Pieces of a Prayer Book? on pages 1 and 3:

• Robin Williams, 63 ... [WaPo] the Juilliard-trained actor and uncontainably exhibitionist comic who became one of the most dazzling all-around talents in show business, winning an Academy Award for a dramatic role in “Good Will Hunting” and Emmys for his stand-up work, was found dead Aug. 11 at his home in Tiburon, Calif. Read on.  Also, RNS, The Death of Our Captain. Finally, one of Lauren Markoe's (RNS) favorite Robin Williams’ lines:  “See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.” And, finally finally, Robin Williams' Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian, including "No matter what you believe, there's bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you." And ten more.
Episcopal/Anglican (beyond DioBeth)
• Resources
 ... Here.

Employment Opportunities
• Tunkhannock seek Organist/musician ... [Lou Divis] We would like to expand our music to include ideas outside of the box. Please email cover letter and resume to:

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

Evangelical Lutheran Church
• Resources
 ... Here.

Moravian Church
• Resources ... Here.

United Methodist Church
• Resources
 ... Here.

Presbyterian Church USA
• Resources
 ... Here.

On Meet the Press earlier this month, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, claimed that the Catholic Church is not anti-gay. “We’re pro marriage, we’re pro traditional marriage, we’re not anti anybody. We’ve been out-marketed, we’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay,” he explained to the show’s host, David Gregory. Dolan’s right. The Catholic Church isn’t anti-gay, but evidence suggests its bishops certainly are. - 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:
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:

Roman Catholic
• U.S. Roman Catholic Nuns ... [Pew Research] With the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) set to hold its assembly this week, a Fact Tank post looks at U.S. nuns' shrinking numbers and recent tensions with the Vatican.

• Resources

... Here.

The Vatican
• Resources
 ... Here.

• Resources
 ... Here

• Resources
 ... 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 Bishop, 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]






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