newSpin, the newsletter
May 31, 2018 – Bill Lewellis
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Royal Wedding
1. The Sermon … Watch it. Read it.
2. Wholly Un-British, Amazing and Necessary … [Esquire] "We really did not expect to get inspired by a Royal Wedding, but there you are. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to join the Episcopal Church." Read on.
3. 'Almost a Sermon' … A few hours after the royal wedding, BBC repeated Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's sermon followed by this bit of curious commentary. "A pretty lively, a pretty forceful and uplifting address, almost a sermon by Bishop Michael. Maybe it’s fair to say it’s an address the likes of which hasn’t been heard at a royal wedding for quite some time, if at all, in recent years. Because he really had a message to deliver and he really did deliver it with some energy and some vigor, all about the power of Love..."
4. A Black Bishop Brings a Political Message to the Royal Wedding … [The Atlantic, Emma Green, May 21] Poverty, hunger, justice, and care for the earth aren’t typical themes for a wedding sermon. But they’re typical for Curry, who has called for a transformative “Jesus movement” and has an unapologetically fierce preaching style. He was installed as the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal church in 2015, bringing a new voice of leadership to an extremely homogenous denomination: The Episcopal Church is 90 percent white in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center. Read on.
5. Global Praise For Presiding Bishop's Royal Wedding Sermon … [Episcopal News Service, David Paulsen] “There are some things you come to expect from royal weddings,” the Washington Post said. “One thing you don’t expect: That sermon.” The Post called Curry’s 14-minute sermon a “barnstorming address.” Canada’s CBC called it the “highlight” of the royal wedding. Vox said Curry “stole the show,” adding that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were “all but upstaged” by Curry’s “fiery sermon.” And the U.K. Guardian commentary asserted that Curry’s “royal wedding sermon will go down in history as a moment when the enduring seat of colonialism was brought before the Lord, and questioned in its own house.” Read on.
6. On the Morning Shows … [EpiscopalCafé] Watch Bishop Curry on Good Morning America, Today and The View. Here.
7. The Royal Wedding made Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry a superstar. Can the religious left translate that into political change? … [WaPo] The 65-year-old priest is now the repository of hope for progressive Christians who want to reclaim their faith from conservative evangelicals. Read on.
• Michael Curry takes his message to the White House … [WaPo video, 2:41] Here.
• Puerto Rico: A Real Catastrophe … [David Leonhardt, NYTimes] When President Trump traveled to Puerto Rico last October after Hurricane Maria, he touted the storm’s low death toll as proof that his administration had done its job well. “Every death is a horror,” he said. “But if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina … what is your death count, as of this moment? 17?” He was very wrong.
The true death toll could exceed 4,600, according to a study published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine that appears to be the most rigorous count yet. Many of the victims likely died from delayed medical care, which is something that a competent government response could have avoided. Puerto Rico’s fatality count is now more than twice as high as the Katrina count that Trump called a “real catastrophe.” Read on.
• Stealth Reform in the Roman Catholic Church … [TheWeek, May 23] Pope Francis' stealth reform of the Roman Catholic Church shows no sign of slowing down — and may even be accelerating. Stealth is key here. If the pope had declared earlier this month that henceforth the Roman Catholic Church would authoritatively teach that homosexuals should be happy being gay, that God made them homosexual, and that God himself (along with the pope) loves them just the way they are, it would have been a massive story in the history of Catholicism — and one that quite likely would have precipitated a major schism, with conservative bishops and priests (mainly in North America and Africa) formally breaking from Rome.
But because word of the pope saying these things comes to us second hand, in a report of a private conversation between Francis and a gay man named Juan Carlos Cruz who is also a victim of the clerical sex abuse crisis in Chile, the utterance will go down as just the latest example of the pope making unorthodox statements in settings in which he has plausible deniability and in which he can claim he was speaking as a pastor rather than as an expositor of the church's official dogmas and doctrines. Read on. Also, 'God made you this way," here.
• The Pope Opens His Eyes to Abuse … [NYTimes Editorial Board] The abuse of minors by pedophile priests has been among the most painful sagas of our time, the horror compounded by the knowledge that hierarchs could have stopped the predators if only they had not chosen for so long to cover up their actions. Now, at long last, Pope Francis seems to have glimpsed the depth of the global crisis.The catalyst was a scandal in Chile, one of Latin America’s most staunchly Catholic countries, where for years the church establishment failed to act on multiple complaints of sexual abuse against an influential priest, Fernando Karadima. On a trip to Chile in January, the pope condemned Father Karadima’s actions but then refused to meet with his victims and dismissed allegations of inaction by bishops as “slander.”
In the outrage that followed, the pope appointed two investigators who produced a damning report confirming systematic efforts by the Chilean Catholic hierarchy to conceal clerical sexual abuse. That led to an apology by Pope Francis for the “grave errors” in Chile and an emergency meeting earlier this month with Chile’s bishops at which all 34 submitted their resignations and asked forgiveness for the “pain they caused the victims, the pope, the people of God and our country.” Read on. Also at Crux.
• A 'Heretic' in the Vatican … [Politico, May 28] “They call me a heretic.” Not the words you’d expect to hear from the head of the Roman Catholic Church. But that’s what Pope Francis told a group of fellow Jesuits in Chile earlier this year, acknowledging the fierce pushback from arch-conservatives in the Vatican. Celebrated by progressives around the world for his push to update and liberalize aspects of church doctrine, Francis is facing fierce blowback from traditionalists who take issue with his openness to Muslim migrants, his concern for the environment and his softer tone on divorce, cohabitation and homosexuality. Opposition has become so heated that some advisers are warning him to tread carefully to avoid a “schism” in the church. Read on.
• A short but moving video … Church leaders drafted this statement because the soul of the nation is at stake. Here.
• Reclaiming Jesus … Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners have issued the following letter to church leaders about the Reclaiming Jesus Declaration. Read the letter here.
• Challenging Trump's Christian Apologists … E.J. Dionne Jr. discusses the declaration, Reclaiming Jesus, written in part by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. The document posits six theological truths and explains their political implications. Though it never mentions Donald Trump’s name, the document’s vision is an implicit rebuke to “Christians who are invoking religious arguments in apologetics for a president whose actions and policies seem antithetical to almost everything Jesus taught.” Read on.
• Ireland votes to repeal abortion ban … [David Leonhardt, NYTimes] It was one of the world’s more restrictive abortion bans, the prime minister said. The vote swept aside generations of conservative patriarchy and dealing the latest in a series of stinging rebukes to the Roman Catholic Church. The surprising landslide cemented the nation’s liberal shift at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise in Europe and the Trump administration is imposing curbs on abortion rights in the United States. Read on.
• Somehow weak in compassion … [The Guardian, UK] Eamon Martin, the archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland, said in a homily that many people see the church as "somehow weak in compassion." Being pro-life means being alongside those whose lives are threatened by violence, and who cannot live life to the full because of economic deprivation, homelessness and marginalization, he said. Read on. Also at RNS.
• Eight million Jehovah's Witnesses don't salute the flag. 200,000 Amish don't stand for the national anthem. One Black Man kneels respectfully, and all hell breaks loose. Now you know why he's kneeling. And here and here and here.
• DioBeth General News, May 24 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, May 17 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, May 10 … Here.
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Intersection: Religion, Culture, Politics.
• McCain's Final Message … [The Week] [John McCain still has something to say, even if a White House press aide doesn't think a dying man's thoughts matter. "I don't remember another time in my life when so many Americans considered someone's partisan affiliation a test of whether that person is entitled to respect," the Arizona senator writes in a new book. Read on.
• Trump Immigration Policy Veers from Abhorrent to Evil … [NYTimes, Nicholas Kristof, May 30] We as a nation have crossed so many ugly lines recently, yet one new policy of President Trump’s particularly haunts me. I’m speaking of the administration’s tactic of seizing children from desperate refugees at the border. “I was given only five minutes to say goodbye,” a Salvadoran woman wrote in a declaration in an A.C.L.U. lawsuit against the government, after her 4- and 10-year-old sons were taken from her. “My babies started crying when they found out we were going to be separated.”
This mother, who for her protection is identified only by her initials, J.I.L., said that while in El Salvador she was severely beaten in front of her family by a gang, and she then fled the country to save the lives of her children. Who among us would not do the same? We as a nation should protect our borders. We must even more assiduously protect our soul. Read on.
• Immigration Changes Could Lead to Dropped Children's Health Coverage … [NCR] As many as 2 million U.S. citizen children could drop health coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), despite remaining eligible, if proposed changes to immigration policy go into effect. "When kids don't have access to health care they are not getting the preventative services that they need. When they are sick they're not going to the doctor, so you have an increase of emergency room visits," said Laura Peralta-Schulte, senior government relations advocate for Network, the Catholic social justice lobby. "There's just a myriad of problems presented when people can't access health."
Since the first draft was leaked in February of new Department of Homeland Security guidelines to determine if immigrants in the U.S. seeking permanent residence could become a "public charge," advocates have worried that the changes could lead immigrants and their family members to drop out of public benefits programs in order to increase their chances of gaining a green card. Read on.
• Donald Trump's Guide to Presidential Etiquette … [NYTimes Editorial Board, May 25] For the fourth time in a year, we’ve compiled a list of Mr. Trump’s more egregious transgressions. These items don’t represent disputes about policy, over which reasonable people may disagree. They simply serve to catalog what Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and all the other Trump-supporting Republicans in Congress and across America, through their silence, have now blessed as behavior befitting a president of the United States.
We find this guide a helpful way to avoid growing numb to what is so abnormal about this presidency, and to remind ourselves that a day may yet come when dignity and decency will matter again, even, perhaps, to Mr. McConnell and his fellow hypocrites. Read on.
• Nixon had his 'Enemies List' – If Trump has one, Amazon might be near the top … [WaPo] President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars. [Some reading here may know that Postmaster General Brennan is from Pottsville, Schuylkill County]
Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.
Few U.S. companies have drawn Trump’s ire as much as Amazon, which has rapidly grown to be the second-largest U.S. company in terms of market capitalization. For more than three years, Trump has fumed publicly and privately about the giant commerce and services company and its founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post. Read on.
• Because He Says So … [NYTimes] As a candidate, Donald J. Trump claimed that the United States government had known in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks. He hinted that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who died in his sleep two years ago, had been murdered. And for years, Mr. Trump pushed the notion that President Barack Obama had been born in Kenya rather than Honolulu, making him ineligible for the presidency. None of that was true.
Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a “criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win — a scheme he branded “Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.
Now that he is president, Mr. Trump’s baseless stories of secret plots by powerful interests appear to be having a distinct effect. Among critics, they have fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media that mirror his own.
“The effect on the life of the nation of a president inventing conspiracy theories in order to distract attention from legitimate investigations or other things he dislikes is corrosive,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and biographer. “The diabolical brilliance of the Trump strategy of disinformation is that many people are simply going to hear the charges and countercharges, and decide that there must be something to them because the president of the United States is saying them.” Read on.
• "He has sold us a whole way of accepting a narrative that has so many layers of unaccountable, unsubstantiated content that you can't possibly peel it all back." [Gwenda Blair, a Trump biographer, on the president's fixation on conspiracy theories.]
• No Blocking … [NYTimes, May 23] President Trump’s practice of blocking Twitter users who are critical of him from seeing his posts on the social media platform violates the First Amendment, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled. The ruling came in a case brought by seven Twitter users who had been blocked by the @realDonaldTrump account after they criticized the president. Read on.
• Would that be political or biblical? … [An op-ed by Bill Lewellis, published in The Morning Call, Sunday, May 27] There is power in love," Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached at the recent royal wedding. He was quoting Martin Luther King Jr. "If humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire," he continued, quoting French Jesuit Teillard de Chardin. Think about an American Episcopal bishop quoting a Baptist minister and a Roman Catholic theologian at an Anglican royal wedding. I owe that quip to Wilkes-Barre City Council President Tony Brooks.
"There are some things you come to expect from royal weddings," the Washington Post said. "One thing you don't expect: That sermon." Commentary in the U.K. Guardian asserted that Curry's 14-minute "royal wedding sermon will go down in history as a moment when the enduring seat of colonialism was brought before the Lord, and questioned in its own house." Some would criticize that sermon as political. Read on.
• Less Clouded By Irrelevance … [Bill Lewellis, The Morning Call, May 20] A spiritual journey is a relationship. It’s a metaphor. No two journeys are the same. No authentic journey begins before God somehow speaks. "In the beginning was the Word..." (John 1:1). Read on.
• Oscar Romero … [Except for four new paragraphs at the beginning, this is a slightly revised excerpt from a sermon preached by Bill Lewellis in 2010] Almost a year before I left the Roman Catholic Church, Oscar Romero became one of my heroes. Onetime Archbishop of El Salvador, he was assassinated at the altar on March 24, 1980. Read on. An interview with Noam Chomsky, here.
• A Clear Turnabout … [NCR] After a 38-year-wait, it is now official. Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered in 1980 for speaking out against military oppression, will be made a saint. His canonization while expected in recent months, nonetheless represents the culmination of one of the clearest turnabouts of Francis' nearly five-year papacy. The cause for Romero had languished for decades under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who expressed unease with his connection to liberation theology and his vocal denunciations of government killings and kidnappings. Read on.
• Trinity – A Glimpse into the Mystery of God … [A slightly revised excerpt from a 2001 sermon preached by Bill Lewellis on Trinity Sunday] Religion is about relationship because that is what God is about. God is three-in-one, being-in-relationship, being-in-community. That is what we celebrate on Trinity Sunday. Read on. Find another Trinity Sunday sermon, At the Heart of Reality, here.
• Spirituality & Film ... Here.
• Spirituality on DVD ... Here.
• The Daily Examen … [IgnatianSpirituality] is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience. The method presented here is adapted from a technique described by Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius thought that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible. One of the few rules of prayer that Ignatius made for the Jesuit order was the requirement that Jesuits practice the Examen twice daily—at noon and at the end of the day. It’s a habit that Jesuits, and many other Christians, practice to this day.
[Bill] When I was in college seminary in Philadelphia, those responsible for mentoring our spirituality put this into our nighttime community prayer as an examination of conscience (recalling our sins of the day) rather than an examination of consciousness (discerning God's presence in our day). What an awful misunderstanding of the Daily Examen! Worse yet, it may have been intentional in the RC seminary culture of those days. Read on.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• The Daily Office ... from the Diocese of Indianapolis. Here.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons and reflections. Here.
Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin
• Jubilate for Pentecost B … is now available at the Trinity Bethlehem website. Also, Prayers of the People may be found there. Jubilate is a resource for hymn selection. Weekly Prayers of the People may be used in place of the forms found in the Book of Common Prayer. Both are prepared by Canon Cliff Carr, priest associate. They are available in both Word (.doc) and .pdf formats. Find both here.
• Diocese of Bethlehem elects Canon Kevin D. Nichols, 56, as its next bishop … Nichols, who is currently, chief operating officer and canon for mission resources in the Diocese of New Hampshire, was elected on the first ballot by the clergy of the diocese and elected lay representatives during a meeting in the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
"I am thrilled to be joining with the people of the Diocese of Bethlehem to bear witness to the power of the Resurrection in their communities," Nichols said. "The momentum there is unmistakable and I can't wait to see what God has in store for us together.
"I see this as a moment for us as a church to recover our purpose for why we are here, to reconcile and to offer God's love and healing where there has been painful damage. The Diocese of Bethlehem in its diverse landscapes is rich and fertile ground for God's planting and pruning."
Nichols was formerly president of the Diocese of New Hampshire's Standing Committee and a member of the churchwide Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church.
A former Roman Catholic priest who received his master of divinity degree from St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, he was received into the Episcopal priesthood in 1999 and has served as rector of St. Stephen's in Pittsfield, New Hampshire and St. Andrew's in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.
While serving small parishes, Nichols also worked as an account manager and management trainer for Sealed Air Corporation, a packaging company. Read on,
• On preserving favorable tax treatment of clergy housing allowances … [Forbes, May 6] The big trouble makers in this are are the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its officers. They think that allowing "ministers of the gospel" to receive cash housing allowances tax free is a violation of the Establishment Clause. Read on.
• Ties with Royalty in Jim Thorpe … [WFMZ-TV] While the world was focused on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the focus of Jim Thorpe's Mary Shorten was aimed at the scene directly in front of the couple. "I was concentrating more on the reredos trying to see theirs. My personal thought was ours is nicer," said Shorten, a sexton of St. Mark's Episcopal Church. The sculpture behind the altar at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Jim Thorpe is a replica of the one in Saint George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. "It's pretty cool. I think ours stands out more because the way our wall is versus the way the wall was at St. George," she added. In 1880 Queen Victoria gave the church the green light to make it. So how does one get an in with the Queen of England? Read on.
• DioBeth General News, May 24 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, May 17 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, May 10 … Here.
• House of Bishops' pastoral response to #MeToo will focus on listening, liturgy and steps for healing … [The Episcopal Church, Public Affairs Office] In an open letter to the Episcopal Church, an invitation is extended to share reflections on sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation. A selection of the reflections will be read at a special listening session during General Convention 2018. The House of Bishop’s Pastoral Response will be a sacred space for listening and further reconciliation on Wednesday, July 4, 5:15 pm to 7 pm Central (6:15 pm Eastern/4:15 pm Mountain/3:15 pm Pacific). Those at General Convention 2018 in Austin, TX, are welcome to attend; those not in Austin will be able to participate remotely via a live webcast. Read on.
• The Episcopal Asset Map … unveils redesigned site, invites full participation across church. It's an online platform showing the location and ministries of Episcopal churches, schools and other communities. It has been revamped and refreshed with more-detailed information, easier access and ease of navigation. If your congregation or appropriate info about your congregation is not included, that means info has not been supplied. Read on.
• Alexa, when did the Church of England become so tech savvy? … [The Guardian UK, Andrew Brown] Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer was well ahead of its time when in 1549 it addressed “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be opened, all desires known, and no secrets hid” – but it would take nearly five centuries for the church to turn this vision into technology. For now there is a Church of England “skill” – a set of canned responses – on Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant which can give its answer to 30 religious questions. It doesn’t answer the interesting ones though. “Alexa, ask the Church of England how can I be saved?” produces a silence easily interpreted as baffled, and I don’t think this is because the Church of England long ago decided that I couldn’t be. Read on.
• House of Deputies … May newsletter.
• Overview … July 2 - 13 – The General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church that meets every three years. It is a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, composed of deputies and bishops from each diocese. During its triennial meeting deputies and bishops consider a wide range of important matters facing the Church. In the interim between triennial meetings, various committees, commissions, agencies, boards and task forces created by the General Convention meet to implement the decisions and carry on the work of the General Convention. More info.
• Episcopal Migration Ministries … Here.
• Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) … Here.
• Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) … Here.
• Episcopal Asset Map … Here.
• The Complicated Task of Covering John McCain's Final Days … [Columbia Journalism Review, May 21] As a war hero, former presidential candidate, influential voice in the Senate, and ready quote, John McCain has been a constant presence in the public eye for decades. His final book, The Restless Wave, is out today. McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis provides the opportunity for a slow motion, living eulogy, and the press has responded with a steady drumbeat of coverage. Read on.
• Australian Archbishop Convicted of Covering Up Child Sex Abuse … [IAP] An Australian archbishop on Tuesday became the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the world convicted of covering up child sex abuse and faces a potential two years in prison when he is sentenced next month. Read on.
• The 10-Point … The Wall Street Journal will send you any of many newsletters and alerts, even if you are not a subscriber. I have found Gerard Baker's "The 10-Point: My Guide to the Day's Top News" (in the Journal) to be useful. If you are not a subscriber, of course, links will not take you to the full story, but the summaries are usually helpful. Here.
• Migrant in Paris Scales Building to Save Child … [NYTimes] Even by the The 4-year-old boy seemed to be suspended from a balcony. An adult standing on a nearby balcony seemed powerless to help. Disaster seemed the only possible outcome. Read on.
Requiescant in pace
• Hildegarde Mahala Singles Buratti 96, retired executive director of the Bethlehem YWCA, died on May 27. Hildegarde and her husband Ralph (deceased) were longtime members of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. She was regular in worship until age and illness prevented her. Obituary.
• June D. (Beckman) Hayes, 93 … died May 25. Born in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, she and her family moved to Dallas in 1956. City girl turned country, she learned to love the area and its people; especially her neighbors and friends, who were many. She loved her position at the Dallas Dry Cleaners. which gave her the opportunity to meet people and make many new friends. She was very proud of the years she spent as a Dallas Borough election officer; one of only three people registered as a Democrat in the borough in those days. She was a member of the Prince of Peace Episcopal Church. She loved all creatures great and small.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make generosity a way of life through every day simple actions — thought, word and deed; kindness, take some time to visit neighbors, volunteer, help a stranger, forgive, make a charitable donation. Let us know what you are doing by posting your kind deeds on June Hayes Sr. Facebook page, or write us a note. Obituary.
• Ralph E. Trumbower, 95 … died May 24. He was the husband of Charlotte M. (Schlicher) Trumbower for 52 years. He served with the US Marine Corps. in the Central Pacific during WWII. Ralph was a member of Grace Episcopal Church, Allentown. He retired as a conductor for Conrail and the former Bethlehem Steel PBNE railroad, and retired as a courier for the Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network. Obituary
• Winifred D. Swick, 96 … died May 23. Winifred was a registered nurse. She attended Temple University and graduated from the School of Nursing of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She had also been a volunteer at Warren Hospital for 40 years. She was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton and a former choir member. She was a member and past president of the Rotary Ann Club of Phillipsburg. In 2006 she was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club. Obituary.
• Richard K. Kulasinsky, 61 … died May 23. He was a very devoted member of Christ Episcopal Church, Forest City, where he was a member of the vestry and an active volunteer. Obituary.
• George Councell, 68 … 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, died May 21. He retired as bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey in the fall of 2013, five years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After his diagnosis, he was determined not to let the disease hold him back, and he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2008. Read on.
• Philip Roth, 85 … One of the most prolific and celebrated writers of his generation, Philip Roth died May 22. Between his first collection of stories, Goodbye, Columbus (1959), and his final novel, 2010's Nemesis, Roth won two National Book Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the Man Booker International Prize, two National Book Critics Circle awards, and three PEN/Faulkner Awards. He is best known for 1969's Portnoy's Complaint, and his literary explorations of sex and life as an American, a Jew, and a man. Many of his protagonists were thinly veiled versions of himself — Nathan Zuckerman, Alexander Portnoy, David Kepesh — and his work explored and blurred the lines between truth and fiction. Read on.
Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
• Employees quit American Bible Society over sex and marriage rules … [RNS] One of the oldest nonprofit organizations dedicated to distributing Bibles around the world will soon require all employees to adhere to orthodox Christian beliefs and heed a conservative code of sexual ethics. Employees are resigning in protest of the new policy, which will effectively prohibit sexually active LGBT people and couples in cohabitating relationships from working for the American Bible Society. But the organization stands by it as a measure intended to bring “unity and clarity.” Read on.
Evangelical Lutheran Church
• ELCA Website … Here.
• ELCA News Service … Here.
• ELCA Blogs … Here.
• As Fear Permeates Immigrant Communities, U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops' Responses Vary … [NCR, Peter Feuerherd] Many immigrants are Catholic, but many white Catholics voted for Trump and his anti-immigrant platform. And in the middle of the immigration crisis stand more than 400 American Catholic bishops. While they stand together, bishops retain their individuality. They differ on strategies, approaches and how much of a priority they put on the issue of immigration. Read on.
• Diocese of Scranton ... Here.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here.
• Catholic News Service ... Here.
• Crux Now ... Here.
• Francis names 14 cardinals … [NCR, Joshua J. McElwee] Pope Francis named fourteen new Catholic cardinals May 20, again diversifying representation in the most elite body of church prelates with selections from places as far-flung as Iraq, Pakistan and Japan and solidifying his influence on the group that will one day elect his successor. Read on.
• Stealth Reform in the Roman Catholic Church … See above, under TopSpin.
• The Pope Opens His Eyes to Abuse … See above, under TopSpin.
• A 'Heretic' in the Vatican … See above, under TopSpin.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
Health and Wellness
• The NYTimes Magazine Health Issue … Here.
• How to Age Well and Stay in Your Home … [Jane E. Brody, NYTimes, May 21] What will it take to age well in place, in the surroundings we’ve long cherished that bring us physical, social and emotional comfort? What adaptations are needed to assure our safety and comfort and relieve our children’s legitimate concerns for our welfare?
For those of you with concerns about aging family members and friends, I recommend a very helpful, comprehensive yet not overwhelming book, “Age in Place: A Guide to Modifying, Organizing, and Decluttering Mom and Dad’s Home,” by Lynda G. Shrager, an occupational therapist for the last 37 years who has worked with seniors in their homes for more than 13 years. Ms. Shrager has good reasons to believe that addressing the challenges of independent living can help keep seniors safe and their kids sane.
“It’s cheaper to stay in your home, even if you have to make some renovations and get an aide a few days a week to help,” Ms. Shrager said in an interview. “It’s money well spent and a lot cheaper than assisted living. But it’s important not to wait until there’s a crisis — a parent falls and breaks her hip.” Read on.
Film and TV
• Wild, Wild Country … [America] The Netflix documentary series “Wild Wild Country,” directed by brothers Chapman Way and Maclain Way,details Rajneeshpuram’s downward spiral; the scandals that plague the community include immigration fraud, biochemical attacks, arson, assassination attempts, the recruitment of homeless individuals to sway an election and the drugging of those same folks after their presence threatens the commune’s peace. The documentary features a wealth of archival footage, from the nascency of Rajneesh’s public life in India to the dissolution of the Oregon experiment. There are extensive interviews with key former members of Rajneeshpuram, including Sheela herself. The combination of intimate footage and candid confessions makes “Wild Wild Country” a worthwhile watch.
It also presents the opportunity for a worthwhile discussion. Sometimes the best way to understand a serious phenomenon is to look at its parody. In this case, the serious phenomenon is religion, and its parody, a modern attempt at inventing one. The incursion of the “orange people” into Wasco County ignited a religious freedom debate that spread across Oregon in a not-so-predictable fashion. Their presence presented the problem of relating to the “other,” whether that “other” was a retired rancher or a spiritualist in red. One could also ask how Rajneesh managed to exploit the logic of global capitalism along with a certain market for spirituality among Westerners. Read on.
• Unprediictability is a trait, not a strategy … [From Madeleine Albright's new book, Fascism: A Warning] The course I teach at Georgetown is about the tools of foreign policy and how to use them. From what I’ve seen, the president would have a hard time passing it. He considers himself a master at bluster and bluff, which can be an effective tactic, when applied sparingly. During the Cold War, Henry Kissinger tried to pry concessions out of the Soviets by suggesting that Nixon was a little crazy and that there was no telling what he might do if he didn’t get his way. Given Trump’s undisciplined style, a similar strategy now would certainly have the advantage of credibility. Trump can seem unhinged. But unpredictability is a trait, not a strategy. The question is whether the president’s penchant for insults and off-the-wall threats is linked to a plan for making progress toward specific national security objectives. Read on.
• The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, by Jon Meacham …I hear that Bishop Curry is reading this. He probably has a signed copy. Jon Meacham is an Episcopalian. Here. NYTimes review.
• Books for Spiritual Journeys ... Here.
• Audios for Spiritual Journeys ... Here.
• 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.
• The Episcopal Café … Here.
• AnglicansOnline … Here.
• Diocese of Bethlehem … Here.
• The Episcopal Church … Here.
• Episcopal News Service … Here.
• The Bible for Normal People … Hosted by Peter Enns and Jared Byas.
• The Daily … How the news should sound. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism.
• Invisibilia …Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia—Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.
• Today, Explained … Vox's daily explainer podcast — bringing you the biggest news every day with guests, context, radio drama, and more
• Radio Atlantic … Weekly conversations with leading journalists and thinkers to make sense of the history happening all around us.
• Stay Tuned with Preet … Join former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for a podcast about justice and fairness.
• The Axe Files with David Axelrod … Revealing interviews with key figures in the political world.
• Pod Save America … Four former aides to President Obama — Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor — are joined by journalists, politicians, comedians, and activists for a freewheeling conversation about politics, the press and the challenges posed by the Trump presidency.
• Trumpcast … A quasi-daily podcast from Slate chronicling Donald Trump's rise to the presidency and his current administration. With journalists, historians, psychiatrists, and other experts to help explain who this man is and why this is happening, right now, in the United States of America.
• Freakonomics Radio … Stephen Dubner has surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt.
• Things Not Seen … is an independent radio show and podcast that features in-depth interviews with nationally recognized guests. Each week, we welcome authors, musicians, politicians, filmmakers, and more. "We take faith seriously, and our guests do, too."
• The Francis Effect … is about the real world of politics and current events, seen through the lens of Catholic teaching and spirituality. Hosts, Fr. Dan Horan and David Dault, both have doctorates in theology. Dan is a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest. David is a radio producer and Catholic convert.
• Caliphate… is a new audio series following Rukmini Callimachi of the NYTimes as she reports on the Islamic State and the fall of Mosul.
Abbreviations of Sources
AM … America Magazine
AO … Anglicans Online
AP … Associated Press
BCP … Book of Common Prayer
CJR … Columbia Journalism Review
COM … Commonweal
CN… Crux Now
CNS … Catholic News Service
DoB… Diocese of Bethlehem
EC … Episcopal Café
ENS … Episcopal News Service
ERD … Episcopal Relief & Development
MC … Morning Call, Allentown
NCR … National Catholic Reporter
NYM … New York Magazine
NYT … New York Times
R&P … Religion&Politics
RNS … Religion News Service
TA … The Atlantic
TEC … The Episcopal Church
TLC … The Living Church
TNY … The New Yorker
WaPo … Washington Post
WSJ … Wall Street Journal
newSpin? … I decided years ago to call this newsletter and its related blog newSpin. The "S" in the middle suggests that some items are newS; others, Spin; others, both. Items I include as well as how and how often I present them are clues to my leanings. I think all of us spin. There's a lot more spin in the world of news than most editors own up to. Watch out for that upper case S in the middle. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul might be said to have spun "the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" [Mark 1:1]. We continue to spin that good news, as we experience and dance with the Risen Lord.
The newSpin newsletter is uploaded to the newSpin blog and posted on a newSpin list of some 2,000 addresses every other Thursday. Many recipients forward it to others. It 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, the Canon to the Ordinary or the Archdeacon as an official communication. Comments are welcome on Bethlehem Episcopalians (if you have joined that interactive FaceBook group).
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]
Selected Posts from Past newSpin Newsletters that may still be of interest
• For the Poor and the Neglected … [BCP] Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
• The Serenity Prayer … God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful worldas it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen. Read on.
• A prayer before anything … [Bill] Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible. Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. Let us pray: Guide us, gracious God. May we be … Attentive to our experience, to the voices and hearts of those around us, Intelligent in our interpretation of that to which we have been attentive. Reasonable in our judgments about what we have understood. Responsible in our decisions about how we will act on our judgments. And always open to inner conversion, to transformation in your truth and your love.
• A Man Called Mark … A new biography of Bishop Mark Dyer, will be published on July 17. Dyer was bishop of Bethlehem from 1982 to 1995. [Church Publishing and Leadership News] This official biography tells the compelling story of the Rt. Rev. Mark Dyer: Irish Catholic boy from New Hampshire, U.S. Navy vet, Roman Catholic then Episcopal priest, bishop, and seminary professor-and one of the most influential, beloved leaders of the American Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Following a dispute with ecclesiastical authorities, Dyer left the Roman Church for the Anglican Church of Canada. Later received as priest in the Episcopal Church, his gifts as teacher, preacher, and pastor were recognized with election as Bishop of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There, he established a new model of leadership, delegating administrative duties to concentrate on spiritual direction, pastoral care, and creating mission projects at every church in his diocese. Also renowned as a story-teller, many of his favorite stories appear here, told in his own voice. Read on.
• Reclaiming Jesus … is a confession of faith in a time of crisis signed on to by many faith leaders including Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. The following is an excerpt.
I. We believe each human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26).
Therefore, we reject the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We, as followers of Jesus, must clearly reject the use of racial bigotry for political gain that we have seen. In the face of such bigotry, silence is complicity.
II. We believe we are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class (Galatians 3:28).
Therefore, we reject misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God.
III. We believe how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself. (Matthew 25: 31-46)
Therefore, we reject the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the “strangers” among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34).
IV. We believe that truth is morally central to our personal and public lives.
Therefore, we reject the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life.
V. We believe that Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles (the world) lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26). Therefore, we reject any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good—and we will resist it.
VI. We believe Jesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples (Matthew 28:18).
Therefore, we reject “America first” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. Read all of this confession of faith.
• A new comprehensive Evangelism Toolkit … is available online for congregations, dioceses, groups, and individuals to explore Evangelism.
• Sermons that work … The Episcopal Church welcomes many different points of view, and sermons offered during an Episcopal service may vary greatly from congregation to congregation. Although there is no “typical” or on'e-size-fits-all sermon for Episcopal congregations, the sermons in this series are selected for their universal qualities so that they may be useful to a wide variety of small congregations without full-time priests on staff, where lay leaders often shoulder the responsibility of delivering the sermons on Sunday. To assist these small congregations, the Episcopal Church offers Sermons That Work, new sermons each week for Sundays and major feast days throughout the liturgical year. Here.
• Weekly bulletin inserts … provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Here. There's also an archive dating back to 2006.
• Vital Practices for leading congregations … This website of the Episcopal Church Foundation seems to me to be an especially useful tool for anyone active in parish life. It covers much more than parish finances. Read on.
• The Episcopal Church … is currently in full communion relationship with the following churches: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Moravian Church of the Northern and Southern Provinces, the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Philippine Independent Church, and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of India. Coordinating committees support the implementation of some of these relationships, which involve full mutual recognition of ministries and sacraments. Clergy of these churches may serve in Episcopal churches, and vice versa. We also have warm relationships with the Church of Sweden and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria.
The Episcopal Church is in active dialogue with three traditions: the Roman Catholic Church through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the United Methodist Church. Our dialogues meet regularly to discuss matters of common concern, doctrinal agreements and disagreements, and possibilities for the emergence of full communion relationships. Each diocese of The Episcopal Church has a designated officer responsible for promoting ecumenical and interreligious conversations on the local level. Canon Maria Tjeltveit of the Church of the Mediator in Allentown is the designated officer for the Diocese of Bethlehem. Read on.