newSpin 180322

newSpin, the newsletter
March 22
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis

TopSpin
• Nationa Geographic confesses its own sins [Poynter] “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It.” With that, National Geographic editor in chief Susan Goldberg announced the findings of a historian’s audit of the 130-year-old magazine’s archives. Until the 1970s, National Geographic rarely covered people of color in the United States. The magazine had used slavery-era slurs. It had portrayed “natives” elsewhere as “exotics, famously and frequently unclothed, happy hunters, noble savages,” Goldberg writes. “It hurts to share the appalling stories from the magazine’s past,” she said in an editor’s note. “But when we decided to devote our April magazine to the topic of race, we thought we should examine our own history before turning our reportorial gaze to others.” Read on.

• On Race[Poynter and NYT] The New York Times has an extensive write-up about a study of 20 million young Americans that reveals an uncomfortable truth: Systematic racism is making it hard for black boys to achieve what their white counterparts achieve. A quote from the story: “ ‘One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea,’ said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. ‘But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.’” The study was led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau. Read on.

• Face the Racist Nation … After you’ve read the NYTimes piece, it’s worth visiting this episode of WNYC’s “On the Media” titled “Face the Racist Nation.” It’s a deep dive into the media’s coverage of white supremacist groups and includes a thought-provoking observation in its final segment: Ignorant people aren’t the reason for racism; racism comes from the top. Here.
   [Stephen Lewellis] In the spirit of Maria Popova, pair this with Professor Kendi’s "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America." Here.

• The billionnaire who gave his $8 billion away[The Irish Times, March 3] Giving while living – It was the right thing to do, and it's a lot more fun. Read on.

• DioBeth Leadership News, March 15
Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, March 8
Here.
• DioBeth General News, March 1 Here.
• Bishop Search Committee websiteHere.

********  [A DioBeth newsletter (General or Leadership) or the unofficial newSpin newsletter is published online on Thursdays in the following rotation: (1) Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newslet
ter, (3) General News, (4) The newSpin newsletter. If you are not receiving these newsletters by email, be in touch with Paula Lapinski (610-691-5655, paula@diobeth.org). If you find something online or in print(or if you'd like to write something) that you think might warrant inclusion in the newSpin newsletter for the sake of many, please send the link or your text to bill.lewellis@gmail.com ********

Intersection: Religion, Culture, Politics.
• A firm with ties to the Trump campaign obtained 50 million Facebook users' data [NYT, March 18] Lawmakers in the United States and Britain demanded on Sunday that Facebook explain how a political data firm with links to President Trump’s 2016 campaign was able to harvest private data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without the social network alerting those whose information was taken.
  
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, went so far as to demand that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, appear before her panel to explain “what Facebook knew about misusing data from 50 million Americans in order to target political advertising and manipulate voters.”
  
The calls followed reports on Saturday in The New York Times and The Observer of London that Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, had used the Facebook data to develop methods that it claimed could identify the personalities of individual American voters and influence their behavior. Read on.

• We're not sure why McCabe was fired. But Trump's tweet suggests the worst … [WaPo Editorial Board, March 17] More than the details of the case, President Trump’s tweet early Saturday celebrating the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is what stands out: a marquee of bullying and unseemly behavior by a president. Mr. Trump acts like a nasty, small-minded despot, not the leader of a democracy more than two centuries old in which rule of law is a sturdy pillar. If there is doubt that the timing of Mr. McCabe’s dismissal was driven by political vengeance, Mr. Trump does everything he can to prove the worst with his own sordid words.  
This is the language of a banana republic. In nations without a strong democratic foundation, tyrants cling to power by belittling perceived enemies and insulting and coopting other institutions, such as a free press, law enforcement and the military, coercing them into subservience. Just look around the world at practices today in Azerbaijan, Cambodia and Turkey, to name a few. The banana republic playbook has no place in the United States, not in a town hall, not in a statehouse, least of all in the Oval Office. Read on.

• Trump's Bluster on the Opioid Epidemic
[NYT Editorial Board, March] In a speech this week, the president laid out a plan to address the crisis that was at turns thin on details and alarmng in content. Read on.

• President Trump's Lies, the Definitive List [NYT] Here.

SpiritSpin
• Forgiveness Sunday [America, March 15, Julie Schumacher Cohen, director of community and government relations at the University of Scranton]
On Forgiveness Sunday, we look for the best in the one we forgive and seek to give a charitable interpretation of the other’s intent—what Jesuits call the “plus sign,” in reference to Annotation 22 of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.

   In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the season of Lent begins with a “Forgiveness Vespers.” At the end of the service, each member of the community proceeds to the front of the church to exchange with the priest and fellow parishioners—the whole church—a plea of repentance.
  
One by one, you bow to the person before you and then, coming face to face, you say: “Forgive me!” The other person responds: “God forgives. I forgive.” You then extend your hand and the kiss of peace (or two or three, depending on the parish). And so it goes until each person has asked every other person for forgiveness, and the entire church is encircling the sanctuary. Read on.

   [Bill] It seems that when my disrespect for Donald Trump gets to the point that I could not imagine respecting him (and his office as long as he holds it) and forgiving him for daily lies and much else, I come across something like "Forgiveness Sunday" to reflect on. This morning, I've reflected on it. Though I could forgive him if what he has done affected only me. I think I don't have the right to forgive him for what he has done to so many, the US and the world. That's where I am. How can I be elsewhere? Can you help me?

• 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.

• When someone comes to you and tells you your own story … I don't remember where I found this story, decades ago, It's a bit longer than many stories, but I think you won't regret reading it to the end and considering it in an open-ended way. For example, a good friend once gave me a custom-made T-shirt with these words on the front: "My life is based on a true story." Since then, I have been aware that God comes to me occasionally to tell me my own story, Thanks. Bill

• Waiting for my spirit … In Africa, a tired old man was sitting on a roadside. A missionary asked if he wanted a ride. He declined the offer and said, "I walked a long way today. I'm sitting here waiting for my spirit to catch up with me."

• 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 ... 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
• John 3:16 needs 17 [From the March 11, Lent 4B, of Andrew Gerns at Trinity Easton]
3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son to the end that all that believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 3:16 is the slogan-passage for many Christians, describing for them the core of Christian faith. That’s the problem with simply reading the Bible by the numbers. Because that’s not how the book was first written and the numbers tempt us to forget about the rest of the passage and its context.
  
3:17 “Indeed, God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that it might be saved through him.” In other words, the whole point of the chapter in John describing Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus in the dead of night, is that God’s salvation is not about “me” but about “we.”

   Many Christians focus on the personal part of the passage: “…all that believeth in him…” part in verse 16 but the real story is at the start of the passage is that God loves the world, and in verse 17, that God’s chief goal is the reconciliation of the whole world. We have tended to reduce salvation, and everything that goes with it—sin, redemption, holiness of life—to a personal, once-and-done, relationship with God alone. But the point of salvation and the purpose of holiness is we followers of Jesus participate with God in the saving and healing of the whole world! Read on.

• We're in the midst of an Apocalypse, and that's a good thing[Wapo, Acts of Faith, Nadia Bolz-Weber, March 15] If, when you think of an apocalypse, you picture a scary, doom-filled, punishment-from-above type of thing, you are not alone. Originally, though, apocalyptic literature — the kind that was popular around the time of Jesus — existed not to scare the bejeezus out of children so they would be good boys and girls, but to proclaim a big, hope-filled idea: that dominant powers are not ultimate powers. Empires fall. Tyrants fade. Systems die. God is still around. An apocalypse is a good thing, and I’m delighted to welcome you to this one. Read on.

• A Parable of Self-Destruction [Nicholas Kristof, NYTimes Sunday Review, March 17] Easter Island — This remote speck in the South Pacific is famous for its colossal stone statues, nearly 1,000 of them towering over the landscape like guardians. Who built them? How did they get there? And who fitted some of them with giant red stone hats weighing up to 12 tons each? … “Easter Island’s isolation makes it the clearest example of a society that destroyed itself by over-exploiting its own resources,” Jared Diamond wrote in his 2005 book, “Collapse.” “The parallels between Easter Island and the whole modern world are chillingly obvious. Read on.

• Have guns beome our modern-day idols?[WaPo, Acts of Faith, Adapted from a sermon by Susan Flanders, an Episcopal priest at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in D.C. What appears immediately below is an excerpt.] Guns were so important at the time our Constitution was written. They allowed for hunting, a necessary activity for many to be able to feed their families. But beyond that, guns were important for self-defense, and sadly, for conquest of native populations as we gradually took over a new continent. And for the Founding Fathers, guns were deemed necessary to enable a militia to protect the citizens’ freedom against any who might try to reintroduce tyranny in their young democracy. Hence the Second Amendment to our Constitution protecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Guns started out as a kind of savior, a source of protection — like the bronze serpent.
  
But, like the bronze serpent, guns have become an idol for many, and the right to have guns — of any kind, in any amount has become a near article of worship for some. The NRA and gun makers can be seen as the priesthood — elevating our guns to sacred status, equating them with a power and potency that must be maintained.

   I’m hoping that perhaps now we are in a Hezekiah moment, a time like the one so long ago when the bronze serpent was destroyed. Can we begin to see guns for what they have become, far too prevalent, too high-powered, false saviors in, too often, the wrong hands? False saviors — not only with no power to save but with horrific power to destroy. Can we recognize the worship of assault weapons as the idolatry that it is, and can we stand up to those who continue to bow down at the shrine of unfettered access to murder weapons? Read on.

• When we're not ready [Slightly edited excerpt from a 2001 sermon by Bill Lewellis at Grace Allentown] God often meets us when we are not ready, when we have other matters on our minds: when we are busy living, working, resting, cooking, laughing, hurting… when we have not consciously invoked the divine presence. At some unlikely times and places, we find we are on holy ground.
   I heard former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold tell about rushing for a train after having given a talk to a group of clergy on the need for solitude and space in our lives (on his day off!). He took a flying leap onto the station platform and ruptured his Achilles’ Tendon. As he lay in a hospital bed awaiting surgery, he read Evening Prayer for that particular Tuesday.
  
In the appointed psalm (94), he came across the verse: “As often as I said, ‘My foot has slipped,’ your love, O Lord, upheld me.”

   “That,” he said, “became the word of God – or rather unleashed the word of God to me right then and there. I burst out laughing. The circumstances of my life, the scriptural word, the word within me all came together.”
   After relaying that story, Bishop Griswold proceeded to say that in order to stay open to God’s word, to God’s visitations, to God’s presence in his life, he relies upon three sentences that help him stay grounded amid daily complexities and contradictions.
   The first is from Teilhard de Chardin’s book, The Divine Milieu. “By means of all created things without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us.”
   The second comes from a Russian Orthodox monk who lived in the forests of Finland. When asked what he had learned from his many years of prayer and monastic life, he replied: “The very circumstances of your life will show you the way.”
   The third sentence comes from James Finley, a disciple of Thomas Merton: “A simple openness to the next human moment brings us into union with God in Christ.”
   “I am also aware,” Bishop Griswold said, “that God’s word does not present itself fully formed. It comes to us in various ways in the ebb and flow of our lives. It comes with scars.”
   We need to live the questions that life and God’s often unformed word present to us. God’s word often presents itself to us as a question rather than an answer, as something to live and struggle with.
   “Be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart,” Rainer Maria Rilke writes in his Letters to a Young Poet. “Try to love the questions themselves… Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
   By means of all created things without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. Some of those created things may be crosses.
   The very circumstances of your life will show you the way. Some of those circumstances may be crosses.
   A simple openness to the next human moment brings us into union with God in Christ. That moment may be a moment of conversion, transformation, resurrection.


DioBeth
• Two nominated for IX Bishop of Bethlehem
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem released the names of two priests who will stand for election for the ninth bishop of the diocese. They are the Rev. Canon Kevin D. Nichols, 56, chief operating officer and canon for mission resources in the Diocese of New Hampshire, and the Rev. Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, 55, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Colorado. The search committee had chosen three nominees, but one withdrew shortly before the slate was presented to the Standing Committee, which oversees the election. More info and photos.

• Special Electing Convention and Diocesan Convention Updates
… A Special Electing Convention with the sole purpose of electing the IX Bishop of Bethlehem will take place April 28 at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity. The new bishop will be ordained and consecrated on September 15 at The First Presbyterian Church, Allentown.
   The Diocesan Convention, including the seating of the new bishop, will take place October 12 and 13 at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Allentown Bethlehem Center Valley. Eucharist and the seating will be held at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity. Please note the change of dates and location. The seating will be held during diocesan convention rather than the Sunday morning after the ordination and consecration so that everyone in the diocese has the opportunity to attend.
   Certificates of Election of Lay Delegates, who will serve at both the Special Electing Convention and at the Diocesan Convention, were due February 28. Certificates must be completed and sent to the diocesan office through mail, fax or to office@diobeth.org.
   Download the Certificate of Election of Lay Delegates (fillable PDF).

• St. Stephen's W-B Says Embezzlement Could Top $10,000 … [Times Leader W-B and Citizens Voice W-B, March 13] St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral is missing $10,000, and the priest in charge said an investigation is trying to determine if the amount could be even higher. In a statement, the Rev. Brian Pavlac said the South Franklin Street church discovered that a member of the parish “had systematically misappropriated pledge payments and other donations made in our offering plates.” Pavlac said the individual has admitted to embezzling $10,000 in 2017, and the church is investigating if the amount is higher and whether the embezzlement began earlier. “He (the parishioner) did admit it,” Pavlac said. “We know of $10,000 being missing. We are investigating to determine if more has been taken. We really don’t know how large the amount is.”
   Pavlac said the church’s vestry board voted to report the suspected embezzlement to Wilkes-Barre City Police, and did so on Thursday, March 8. “We believe this was a necessary step, not only to insure the proper investigation of our own case, but to alert other members of the community who may have found themselves in similar situation,” Pavlac said in the release. Pavlac identified the parishioner. The Times Leader has chosen not to identify the individual, as no charges have been filed to date.
   “We’re a church that does a lot of good work in the community,” Pavlac said in a telephone interview. “I do not know the status of the police investigation. Any further criminal charges are up to law enforcement.” He did say the individual has been offered religious support. “Despite our dismay at this situation, we will continue to pray that (the parishioner) may seek amendment of life and God’s peace, and that those who love him may be comforted. A diocesan priest is providing him with pastoral care,” Pavlac said.
   St. Stephen’s has about 200 members, said Pavlac, who has been the priest in charge since the summer of 2015. Here and Here.

• DioBeth Leadership News, March 15 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, March 8 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, March 1 … Here.
• Bishop Search Committee website … Here.


Episcopal/Anglican


Evangelism
• Highlights (4 minutes) of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's sermon at the Opening Eucharist of Evangelism Matters
[March 15] View here.


Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD
• Episcopal Migration Ministries … Here
.
• Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) … Here.
• Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) … Here.
• Episcopal Asset Map … Here.


People

In the Media


TaleSpin
• Telling the good news in the media
[Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson] ROME — If the media isn’t telling the stories you want told about your congregation, it is possible (we say very gently) that those stories aren’t interesting or significant enough to warrant coverage. Or, it is possible that you are not presenting them to the media in a way that catches their attention. Or perhaps you have not presented stories to the media at all. It isn’t easy to get your congregation, diocese, conference, or other sort of Christian organization into the newspaper or in online media outlets unless something has gone significantly wrong. It is even harder to get it on television or the radio. But it is possible if you absorb these 10 simple tips. Read on.

• No deathbed conversion for atheist Stephen Hawking[RNS, Kimberly Winston, March 20]  It happens a lot after famous nonbelievers die: People claim the nonbeliever had a deathbed conversion to Christianity.And it happened again after the death last week of physicist Stephen Hawking, who, by his own account, did not believe in God … But that did not stop a Facebook page called Catholics Online from claiming that Hawking uttered “I believe” in his mechanical voice after a meeting with Pope Francis just before his death. Trouble is, it isn’t true. The investigative site Snopes called the claim and its source “disreputable” before slapping the story with its bright red “FALSE” sticker. Read on.

Christianity as default is gone: the rise of a non-Christian Europe … [The Guardian, London] Europe's march towards a post-Christian society has been starkly illustrated by research showing a majority of young people in a dozen countries do not follow a religion. Read on.

Of course, you are right … A rabbi was approached by two feuding members of a congregation and asked to mediate the dispute. He met with the first member and listened carefully. At the end he nodded and said gently, "And of course you are right."

   The other disputant came over and laid out his side of the argument and again the rabbi listened carefully and at the conclusion said, "And of course, you are right."
   His wife who had heard both conversations came up to him after the second poerson had left and said "I do not understnad. You told the first one he was right and you told the second he was right. They can't both be right!" He said gently, "And of course, you are right." [Rabbi David Wolper, Chicago Tribune]


Requiescant in pace
• Edna M. Bell, 92 … died March 14. She lived in Center Valley since 2004, at Cedarbrook/Fountain Hill, these last 3 years. She was a member of St Paul’s Episcopal in Clinton NC ere she taught Sunday school and later, Grace Episcopal Allentown. Obituary.

• Nadina P. Mattes, 90 … died March 8, a week after turning 90. She was a member of the Church of the Epiphany, Glenburn, where she was a Sunday school teacher, an acolyte leader and on the altar guild. She was also a lay minister, in addition to serving on many committees and church projects. She also volunteered for numerous charitable causes. After her retirement, Nadina fulfilled a lifelong ambition of becoming a missionary for the Episcopal Church in Haiti and 10 years later in the Dominican Republic. Obituary.

• Stephen Hawking, 76 … [CNN March 14] may have been our era's greatest scientist, but he became something of a pop star, too. The British theoretical physicist died at the age of 76. His life was, quite simply, remarkable. He overcame the debilitating disease ALS to publish a series of popular books probing the universe's mysteries. He went on to become something of a cultural icon as well, with appearances on everything from "The Simpsons" to "The Big Bang Theory." Read on,

• T. Berry Brazelton, 99 … [NYT, March 14] died March 13. He was America’s most celebrated baby doctor since Benjamin Spock and the pediatrician who revolutionized our understanding of how children develop psychologically. Read on.

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
• Reassessing Religion [The Atlantic Daily March 12] People’s connections to their religions have changed greatly over the years, but recently the spotlight has turned on evangelicals, a segment of Christians undergoing a form of identity crisis in America. In our April cover story, Michael Gerson examines the group’s relationship to Trump, a president who seemingly lives beyond many traditionally Christian principles. And a new book looks at similar themes, including how leaders in the evangelical world grapple with the different perceptions people have of their faith. Read on.


Evangelical Lutheran Church
• ELCA WebsiteHere.

• ELCA News ServiceHere.
• ELCA BlogsHere.
 

Moravian Church
• Moravian Church in North America  Website.  

• Moravian Church Northern Province Website
• Moravian Theological Seminary Website.

United Methodist Church
News Service Here.
Communication Resources ... Start here.
Eastern PA Conference website Here.
Facebook Here.
Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.

Presbyterian Church USA
• Website
... Here
• News & Announcements ... Here.

Roman Catholic
• Ross Douthat's Francis book is poorly sourced, inadequate journalism[NCR, Michael Sean Winters]  You would think that someone who works for a newspaper would be able to distinguish fact from fancy, to feel some sense of authorly responsibility for getting the story correct, have a nose for propaganda and insanity. In the case of Douthat's book, these attributes are missing. As I read my review copy, a paperback with no footnotes, I kept noting in the margins, "Source?" and "How would he know this?" and "That is not how bishops talk about one another." When the hardback arrived with the footnotes, I realized in the first instance that the sources were few, or a paragraph full of assertions would have a footnote that only referenced the last of those assertions. And among the sources were Life Site News, and Catholic World Report, an essay by John Zmirak and articles mostly from Edward Pentin, Sandro Magister and John Allen. If you are unfamiliar with these "sources," check them out. The first three are lunatic fringe, and the latter three display varying degrees of anti-Francis bias …
   I cannot recommend that anyone buy this book, but if you do and you retrieve it from the non-fiction section of the bookstore, you can ask for your money back. Douthat should go write novels. The editors at The New York Times should ask why they would continue to give a man capable of such dishonest prose some of their prime real estate. Let him go be among his friends at Life Site News and Catholic World Report where this kind of nonsense is standard fare. Maybe he could be the next editor of The Wanderer. He has done a disservice not only to those who seek to understand the Catholic Church but also to those of us work hard to get the true story, who base our analysis on facts not fictions, and who grow suspicious when our theses are unbalanced, in short, a disservice to journalism. This book is a disgrace. Read on.

Diocese of Scranton ... Here.

Diocese of Allentown ... Here.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here
Catholic News Service ... Here.
Crux Now ... Here.
 

The Vatican
• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here.

• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.


Health and Wellness



Film and TV

• Spirituality & Film ... Here.
• Spirituality on DVD ... Here.
• Communicate … Your Ministry, including Bill's Communication Biases and Communication-Evangelism. Here.


Media, Print, Music, Tech
• 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.


Websites
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere.


Podcasts
• The Bible for Normal People
… Hosted by Peter Enns and Jared Byas. I especially jliked Episode 4 with Richard Rohr
• 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, ExplainedVox'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. 


Varia
• You probably eat more sugar than is good for you. Here's a handy guide to cutting back without sacrificing the pleasures of eating … [NYT, David Leonhardt, March 18] Here.


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.

• The Toolkit … of the Public Affairs Office is located on the Public Affairs pages of The Episcopal Church website here. Among the items are: Topics – topics of interest and dates of importance. Catalog – a list of important topics along with actions taken by The Episcopal Church and General Convention. Getting started - an easy how-to for getting started in preparing materials, media releases, op-eds, etc. For more information contact Neva Rae Fox, Public Affairs Officer, publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org, 212-716-6080.

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.

• The Episcopal Churchis 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.

 

 


newSpin 150917

newSpin, the newsletter
September 17, 2015
Bill Lewellis


[This strange word
… Years ago, when I decided to call this newsletter and its related blog newSpin, I had a few thoughts in mind. The "S" in the middle suggests that some items in newSpin are newS; others, Spin; others, both. Which items the editor includes as well as how and how often he presents them are a clue to his 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. 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, according to how we have experienced and danced with the Risen Lord. Thanks, Bill]

TopSpin  [• New item  •• Repeat]
• 2015 Convention of the Diocese of Bethlehem … October 2-3. Read on. The convention will include Eucharist (Friday, 5:15 at the Cathedral) and a banquet (Friday, 7:00 p.m. at the Best Western) in remembrance of the ministry of the late Bishop Mark Dyer in the Diocese of Bethlehem (1982-1995). Archdeacon Rick Cluett will preach at Eucharist. Both events are open to anyone. You can register here.


• Pope Francis to arrive in the U.S. on Tuesday for a five-day visit
[Rolling Stone] Taking on climate change, poverty and conservative U.S. clerics. Read on.  [The Nation] How he came to embrace not just climate justice but liberation theology …  Here[RNS, David Gibson] What some papal pundits get wrong about the polls — and why … Francis recently told an interviewer: “Jesus also, for a certain time, was very popular, and look at how that turned out.”  Read on[Crux, Michael O'Loughlin] The ability to capture hearts and minds makes this papacy novel … Here
[New York Magazine, Paul Vallely] The wily political strategy of Pope Francis. Counterbalancing his meetings with world leaders is a classic Francis move and a potent embodiment of his global agenda … Read on[RNS] The quotable Pope Francis. He has a way with words. Here.  [RNS] Look for a 'Francis effect' at the voting booth, not in the pews. After any pope visits the U.S., pollsters try to measure his impact by tracking Catholic Mass attendance.
That may be the wrong place to look. Instead,  the voting booth may indicate a “Francis effect” — signs Catholics are considering the pope in their political decisions, according to a new survey from Faith in Public Life released Wednesday (Sept. 16). Read on.  [RNS] Pope Francis' rapturous welcome belies a historic anti-Catholic past. Through most of U.S. history, native-born white Protestants nursed an intense distrust for Catholics, who tended to be of immigrant stock. Along with the stubborn conviction that a succession of popes planned to topple the American experiment in self-government and impose the Catholic faith upon the entire population, this ethnic distrust formed the core of anti-Catholicism. For example: In Philadelphia, where upward of a million people are expected to fill the streets for an open-air Mass that Francis will celebrate, the story line was quite different in the 19th century. Back then, nativists burned Catholic churches and urged mobs to defend themselves from “the bloody hand of the pope.” Read on[Patheos] Implications, Collaborations, ChallengesHere.

• Anglican Communion to discuss looser global ties … [Reuters] (Reuters) The Archbishop of Canterbury has called a January meeting of leading bishops to discuss loosening the Anglican Church’s global structure due to growing differences over homosexuality and female bishops.
The Anglican Communion, the world’s third largest Christian body with 80 million members, has been split between the more liberal churches of North America and Britain, where women are now allowed to become bishops and same sex couples can marry, and their more conservative counterparts in Africa.Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is spiritual leader of the Communion, will propose to the 38 national church heads that communion be reorganized as a group of churches all formally linked to Canterbury but no longer necessarily to each other. In a more decentralized Communion, different congregations around the world would be able to hold different views without any common Anglican doctrine. Read on. There's a better story by Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle Boorstein at WaPo. Also, "Dissolving the Communion to save it," at The Atlantic.

• Presiding Bishop’s statement on refugees; congregational and individual response suggestionsHere.

• Pope calls on Europe's Catholics to take in refugees[WaPo, Anthony Faiola and Michael Birnbaum] Issuing a broad appeal to Europe’s Catholics, Pope Francis on called on “every” parish, religious community, monastery and sanctuary to take in one refugee family — an appeal that, if honored, would offer shelter to tens of thousands. Francis delivered his call as thousands of asylum-seekers detained for days in Hungary streamed into Germany and Austria, and as a small but rising number of volunteers were offering to take some in. But although the pope’s appeal was greeted with applause in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, some Germans were asking how far their country could go in receiving more refugees.
   The pope, who has thrust himself into polarizing debates over climate change and free-market economics, has again entered the fray, this time over how Europe should handle its largest wave of refugees since the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The majority of those coming are Muslims from Syria, Iraq and other nations, and Francis weighed in as anti-migrant politicians, including senior European leaders, were wielding religion as a weapon. Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, where Roman Catholicism is the largest religion, last week proclaimed that what he called Europe’s Christian identity is under threat because “those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture.”
Read on.

• Pope bluntly warns religious orders: Take in refugees or pay property taxes[Crux, John Allen] On the eve of a trip to the United States, Pope Francis has called himself a “son of immigrants” and confirmed the point by issuing a blunt warning to any religious orders in Europe that spurn his recent call to open their doors to refugees because they want to make money off their properties instead. Go ahead, the pope said, but be ready to pay taxes just like everybody else. …
   Reprising a familiar theme, Francis talked about his preference for a “bruised” Church to a “stale” one. “If somebody has a room in his house which is closed for long periods, it develops humidity, and a bad smell. If a church, a parish, a diocese, or an institute lives closed in on itself, it grows ill and we are left with a scrawny Church, with strict rules, no creativity,” he said. “On the contrary – if it goes forth – if a church and a parish go out into the world, then once outside they might suffer the same fate as anybody else who goes out: have an accident. Well in that case, between a sick and a bruised Church, I prefer the bruised, because at least it went into the street.” Read on.

• The EU migrant and refugee  crisis … [theSkimm]  is still a crisis. Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees are fleeing places like the Mideast and Africa in search of better lives in the EU. Problem is, a lot of EU countries don’t have the resources to be good hosts. Which might be why Hungary’s been building a fence to keep people out. And yesterday (Sept 15), it detained dozens of migrants trying to enter from neighbor Serbia. Meanwhile, the EU’s proposed a plan that would redistribute migrants across its member countries. But it’s tough to get everyone to vote ‘yay’ on it. Next week, leaders are having an SOS meeting to talk options.

• Americans & the Needs of Strangers[Commonweal, E.J. Dionne Jr.] Why should the United States take in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees? There's a simple answer: it's in keeping with who we are, and because we remain a nation that can afford it. Read on.

• Geography of Poverty: A journey through forgotten America[MSNBC] Poverty manifests itself in many ways — poor health care, substandard education, rugged housing, bad diet. But one of its often overlooked consequences is the harsh toll on the body exacted by the geopolitics of poverty, the lucrative energy industry and environmental hazards. As Trymaine Lee examines in this striking piece, the wheezing, coughing, burning eyes and early deaths in Louisiana’s so-called Cancer Alley are a direct result of the legacy of institutional, inescapable poverty that dates to the Antebellum South.This is SOUTHEAST, part two of MSNBC‘s four-part series, Geography of Poverty. INTRODUCTION. SOUTHWEST. NORTHEAST. NORTHWEST.

DioBeth [• New item  •• Repeat] 
•• ECW Project 2015 …The Diocesan Episcopal Church Women (ECW) presents a new fund raising project for parishes to participate in prior to Diocesan Convention in October.  The Diocesan ECW will raise money for scholarships for girls in primary schools and young women in secondary school in our partner Diocese of Kajo Keji.

   The scholarships are: $30/girl/year and $325/young woman/year.Any amount will be welcome.  Checks should be made out to the Diocese of Bethlehem and mailed to:  Diocesan House, 333 Wyandotte St,  Bethlehem PA  18015, Attention:  Deacon Charlie Barebo. Designation for the disbursement of money should be written in the memo line.  Questions may be directed to Diocesan ECW President Dorothy Shaw at (570) 836-2049.  

• Spiritual Writing Class for Spiritual Growth[Scott Allen]  At St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Allentown/Bethlehem. Fall 2015 (Monday Evenings 7-9 PM, Oct 5, 19, Nov 2, 16, Fellowship Hall) Writing can be a tool for spiritual growth. In this four-session class, participants will be writing spontaneously using ‘writing prompts, ’ such as answering questions, finishing a sentence, or responding to Scripture and evocative quotations from spiritual poets and writers. In the first class, we’ll be ‘mining our treasure,’ to see what our life may be saying to us beneath its busyness, struggle and change. In the second and third sessions, we’ll respond to the spiritual prose, poetry and writings of contemporary spiritual writers for insights into our own lives. In the final gathering, we’ll write pieces of our own stories. Sharing what you’ve written by reading it aloud will be optional. Confidentiality shall be respected. Paper will be provided, or bring your own favorite writing pad. Please contact Jo-Ellen Darling to register at mysticpizza4@hotmail.com

• DioBeth Leadership News, August 27,
including a letter from the audit committee, diocesan convention news, complying with the new PA child protection laws, Christian formation consultations, resources and reminders … Here

• Diocesan e-Newsletter, Sept. 10,
including Diocesan Convention info, Diocesan Convention nominations and resolutions, Hugh O'Doherty who will speak at Diocesan Convention, Leadership Training for Ministry Days, resources and reminders … Here

• Look online … for the Diocese of Bethlehem Facebook Page, Facebook Group (Bethlehem Episcopalians) and Twitter feed.

• Bethlehem Episcopalians … is a Facebook group for conversations about mission, spirituality, Christian formation, and more that has replaced the old Bakery email list. Bethlehem Episcopalians is an open group. Anyone can join and items that you post can be shared by group members on their own Facebook pages. This offers each of us the opportunity to reach a larger audience with news and conversations about what God is doing in our diocese." Join the Facebook group, which, as of September 3, includes 322 members.

• Every Thursday: Look online for a Diocese of Bethlehem newsletter
[Bill] One or another newsletter is published every Thursday in the following order: (1) The Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) The Diocesan e-Newsletter, (4) The newSpin newsletter.

   The Leadership News and the Diocesan e-Newsletter are official publications of the Diocese of Bethlehem. They include news, info, features and events relating to our diocese and parishes. Find the most recent Diocesan e-Newsletter, August 13, here. Find the most recent Leadership News, August 27, here.
   The newSpin newsletter you are now reading is not an official publication – and will usually not duplicate news, info and features relating to our diocese and parishes found in the official newsletters. It is a relatively lengthy eclectic sampling of items related to religion – at times not, at times not so clearly – that the editor thinks readers might find to be of interest. It has been a kind of hobby of a onetime communication minister, the work of a volunteer who in retirement enjoys and dedicates time to do the research required. I always post the newSpin newsletter on the newSpin blog. If you wish to receive it by email, please send a note to Jo Trepagnier, jo@diobeth.org.

Episcopal/Anglican [• New item  •• Repeat] 
• Former Episcopal bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook … pleaded guilty September 8 to automobile manslaughter, DWI, leaving scene and texting while driving related to the December drunken-driving death of a bicyclist in North Baltimore. Read on here and here.

•• General Convention 2015 summary of actionsHere.

• Resources … way below.

SpiritSpin  [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Colbert and Biden: Faith sees best in the dark[Sarah Condon, Mlckingbird] As a kid I always had a hard time understanding why we went to church. I didn’t grow up in the classic Mississippi religious household. There was no family Bible that got cracked open for weekly devotional time. My parents didn’t quote scripture as a means of parenting us. And I never saw a single cross hung on a wall. By all accounts, we looked fairly agnostic.But we went to church at 8am every single Sunday morning. I remember being around my friend’s mothers who would talk about salvation or the virtue of growing into Godly womanhood and it felt like I was talking to aliens. So one day I asked my Mom why I had to be pushed out of bed Sunday after Sunday into a quiet Episcopal church. And she said simply: Because we want you to have something to fall back on when life gets hard.
  
At the time, I thought that was the lamest excuse ever for church attendance. It sounded needy. Wasn’t I going to church because it made God happy? Wasn’t this all about me learning not to sleep around/use drugs/talk back? Weren’t we going to church so we could tell people who didn’t that they were bound to end up in hell? Besides, how did she know my life was going to be hard?I thought of this short but powerful conversation when I saw the interview Stephen Colbert did with Vice President Joe Biden. Whatever your politics may be, there is something incredibly moving about these two men, who have experienced such profound personal tragedy, softly speaking to one another about how faith has carried them through suffering. Read on and View.


• What really matters at the end of life[TED]
At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it’s simply comfort, respect, love. BJ Miller is a palliative care physician at Zen Hospice Project who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients. View.  Also, The four stories we tell ourselves about death … [TED] Philosopher Stephen Cave begins with a dark but compelling question: When did you first realize you were going to die? And even more interesting: Why do we humans so often resist the inevitability of death? Cave explores four narratives — common across civilizations — that we tell ourselves "in order to help us manage the terror of death." ViewAnd then: I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord. Whoever has faith in me shall have life, even though he die. And everyone who has life, and has committed himself to me in faith, shall not die for ever. And then: Give rest, O Christ, to your servants with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

• Spirit Resources
 ... way below.

Columns, Sermons, Reflections and other Spin  [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Texting can help families talk[WSJournal, "The Ten Point" by Gerard Baker] Teens’ texting habits have often been blamed for interfering with family life, but some experts say text messages can make it more peaceful. Our Work & Family columnist Sue Shellenbarger looks at how texting can help parents communicate with their children. One expert points out that the playful nature of texting makes it a good channel for parental warmth and encouragement. Texts can also help teens gain the self-control they need to express themselves, especially while conveying bad news. It is important, however, not to miss out on what a teen’s body language and expressions can communicate. And keep in mind that messages can be forwarded by friends or read by anyone.


By Amy Butler

Church leadership experts offer plenty of recommendations for those of us crazy enough to take on the challenge of trying to help churches move into the future. I sit in these conference meetings and listen. I read the books they recommend. I know the concepts they propose, but do I act them out in real life?

Not so much.

Change is hard, friends. And as much as I’d like to say I regularly employ these strategies, I recently realized how far from their regular use I am.

- See more at: https://baptistnews.com/opinion/columns/item/30360-choosing-adaptive-change#sthash.3BDI4Xqs.dpuf
Nothing says, “I have no idea what I’m talking about” like a pastor, blogger, or social media troll complaining about “journalistic integrity.” Those who use this phrase are typically not saying anything about journalism; they just don’t like what the writer has to say. How do I know this? Because I’ve met more than my share of them and, when pressed, they cannot even define the word “journalism.”

Upon receiving this criticism, I usually respond with twin questions:

  1. How do you define “journalism?”
  2. What are the standards of “journalism” that you think are required for it to have integrity?

With rare exception, the critic has no answer—not even a bad one—to either question. Instead of doing the hard work of defining terms they seek to use, the individual has mindlessly commandeered a phrase that they’ve heard someone somewhere (probably on a cable news network) use and invoked it to hopefully cast doubt on the writer’s credibility.

- See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2015/07/28/brothers-and-sisters-you-are-not-professional-journalists/#sthash.CBfnwTO4.dpuf

Where Religion, Culture and Politics Might Intersect  [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Public schools shouldn't preach – but they should teach kids about religion … [WaPo] If we want kids to understand their world, they need to know the basics about different faith traditions, Linda K. Wertheimer says. Read on

• Joe Biden bares his soul to Stephen Colbert[The Daily Beast] It was less a news-making interview with a prominent public official than a display of the sort of easy authenticity that at least one of Biden’s potential rivals finds it exceedingly difficult to master. Read on.

Evangelism/Stewardship/Worship/Church Growth  [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Excellence in opera or saving a life? Your choice
… [WaPo, In Theory, Peter Singer of Princeton] Many Americans give to charity, but few do any research on the charities to which they give. Much of that is what psychologists call “warm glow” giving — when people who are comfortably off give $10 or $20 to a charity, it’s more likely because it makes them feel better than because they are serious about helping the charity’s cause.Meeting social expectations drives another segment of giving. We respond to what our church, mosque or synagogue expects from us, or to what our college friends tell us they are giving to the alma mater. If someone we love died from breast cancer, most people will nod approvingly if we buy a pink ribbon. Few will ask how much money is already going to breast cancer research or whether our donation would be more worthwhile if directed elsewhere.
  
Today, effective altruists are asking these tough questions. We should, they say, give to the charity that will do the most good with our dollars. But some people balk at that idea. With so many different causes, how can we say which does the most good? Is it even possible to compare the different benefits we might bring about, when our donations could go to charities with objectives as varied as preventing diseases such as malaria that sicken and kill millions of children in developing countries, reducing the suffering of animals, helping the homeless in our local communities or building a new opera house?Many people think that we can’t argue about our fundamental values. In the language of the day, it just depends on your “passion.” But passion is a poor guide. Anti-vaccinators can be just as passionate as people working for human rights. Read on.

• Resources
 ... way below

In the Media  [• New item  •• Repeat]

Rest in Peace   [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Henry Acres, 89 … onetime senior warden at the Allentown Church of the Mediator. Obituary here.


TaleSpin [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Cult: An organized group of people, religious or not, with whom you disagree[Pacific Standard, Ted Scheinman] "Cult" is a dangerous word. It is volatile and subjective and does not admit easy distinctions. Given its connotative breadth, it may be the most ambivalent monosyllable in the language, compassing the followers of such eschatological icons as Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Jim Jones—but also Beliebers, devotees of the Tower of Power, and most people who do CrossFit. “But”—you're asking—“do I belong to a cult?” To which American media says, probably, yes …
  
Everyone partakes in some manner of formalized enthusiasm and is equally zealous in deriding whatever collective enthusiasms he does not share. Or: Man's capacity for credence is exceeded only by his disdain for the creeds of others. Hugh Rawson captures this irony in his 1995 Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk: Being a Compilation of Linguistic Fig Leaves and Verbal Flourishes for Artful Users of the English Language: “Cult. An organized group of people, religious or not, with whom you disagree.” …
  
In the most serious sense of the word, cults can beget rape, slavery, and mass murder. In the most frivolous sense, cults are everywhere, and we all belong to one. This series of essays investigates cultish notions, from the terrifying to the trivial—the possibilities of collaborative worship, and the perils of blind enthusiasm. Read on.

BackSpin – Do you remember? [• New item  •• Repeat]

Employment Opportunities [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Episcopal Positions beyond DioBeth ... Here.

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Resources … way below.

Evangelical Lutheran Church
• Syrian refugees will find homes in Lehigh Valley[The Morning Call] Allentown’s Lutheran Children and Family Service program helps 39, will welcome more. Read on.

ELCA website ... Here.

ELCA News Service ... Here
ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
Spirit Spinning ... for those who hunger and thirst for a deeper connection with God ... Here.

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

United Methodist Church
News Service Here.
Communication Resources ... Start here.
Eastern PA Conference website  Here.
Facebook Here.
Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.

Presbyterian Church USA
Website ... Here.
News & Announcements ... Here.

Roman Catholic [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here.

• Diocese of Scranton ... Here.
•• A diminishing number of active priests[Times-Tribune, Scranton] to minister to the spiritual needs of the nearly 280,000 Roman Catholics in Northeast Pennsylvania in the coming years will require the Diocese of Scranton to embrace other forms of pastoral leadership.As the diocese takes this next step in its evolution, with deacons, other religious or laypeople filling non-sacramental roles previously filled almost solely by priests, there will be implications for how the local church engages the laity and how parishioners approach and live out their faith … A decade ago, the Diocese of Scranton had 228 priests in active ministry across its 11 counties. Today, there are 137. At the same time, the number of parishes without a priest in residence has grown from five in 2005 to 14 in 2015 even as mergers have trimmed the overall number of parishes from 189 to 120, diocesan figures show. In another 10 years, perhaps sooner, the diocese anticipates retirements, illness and other circumstances will thin the pastoral ranks by about 40 active priests, leaving fewer than 100. Read on. See also AP story here.

• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here
• Catholic News Service ... Here.

 

The Vatican [• New item  •• Repeat]
• What is driving Pope Francis’ canonization of Junípero Serra? … [NCR, Jamie Manson] Here.

• How tarnished is Serra's halo? … [NCR, Vinnie Rotondaro]
Saint-making normally isn't the backdrop for deep cultural battles. Disagreements over the official distribution of halos rarely rise to the level of wide popular interest, and the ceremonies themselves are often celebrations largely for those who have advocated and financed the new saint's cause. Junípero Serra, the 18th-century Franciscan friar who came from Spain to California to evangelize its indigenous population, is another case entirely. It is likely that the adjective "controversial" will long accompany any mention of his canonization, which will occur Sept. 23 at a ceremony celebrated by Pope Francis in Washington, D.C. Strong disagreement exists between those who promote his sainthood and those who oppose it. Read on.

• Vatican website ... Here
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium] ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
A readers’ guide to “Laudato Si”[NCR, Thomas Reese, June 26] Chapter-by-chapter guidance with study questions to help in reading Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change. Intended for book clubs, classes and small discussion groups. Read on.

Health and Wellness [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Resources
… below


Media/Print/Films/TV/Music/Tech [• New item  •• Repeat]
• The New Yorker minute … I stumbled upon a weekly newsletter (free, but you must subscribe) for New Yorker fans. The author described it as "your secret weapon against the Three-Foot-Tall Stack Of Unread New Yorkers Sitting In Your Apartment. We tell you what to read each week; you safely recycle the rest without guilt. Goes out Wednesdays. Subscribe here. You do not have to subscribe to the New Yorker to take advantage of this. Here's a note from the most recent minute:
Filter Fish, the last byline Oliver Sacks will ever have in the New Yorker. Oliver Sacks is a global treasure and you should not turn down an opportunity to read him. But if you only have time for one piece, read one of the features from the archive.

• Small Mercies: A Novel
[Commonweal, Tom Deignan] Eddie Joyce's Small Mercies traces the effects that the 9/11 attacks had on the families of workers from Staten Island, the "servants quarters of New York"—where roughly 10 percent of the victims lived. Read on.

• Resources
… below.

VariaSpin [• New item  •• Repeat]
• Nomophobia[theSkimm] What happens when you break out in a cold sweat at your desk after realizing you’ve left your phone at home. It’s called smartphone separation anxiety. And you need help.

******************
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 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-)
Blhog , Email (c)610-393-1833
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]


Resources

DioBeth
• Every Thursday: Look for a Diocese of Bethlehem newsletter … One or another newsletter is published every Thursday in the following order: (1) The Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) The Diocesan e-Newsletter, (4) The newSpin newsletter. The Leadership News and the Diocesan e-Newsletter are official publications of the Diocese of Bethlehem. They include news, info, features and events relating to our diocese and parishes. The newSpin newsletter is not an official publication – and will usually not duplicate news, info and features relating to our diocese and parishes found in the official newsletters. It is a relatively lengthy eclectic sampling of items related to religion – at times not, at times not so clearly – that the editor thinks readers might find to be of interest. It has been a kind of hobby of a onetime communication minister, the work of a volunteer who in retirement enjoys and dedicates time to do the research required. The newSpin newsletter is posted on the newSpin blog. If you wish to receive it by email, please send a note to Jo Trepagnier, jo@diobeth.org.

• Look online … for the Diocese of Bethlehem Facebook Page, Facebook Group (Bethlehem Episcopalians) and Twitter feed.

• Bethlehem Episcopalians … is a new Facebook group for conversations about about what God is doing in our diocese. It was launched a few months, replacing the Bakery email list which has been taken down. Join the Facebook group.

DioBeth website
Stumbling into the Sacred ... [Reflections on seeing God in the everyday by Canon Anne E. Kitch]
newSpin blog ... including the newSpin weekly by Bill Lewellis.
Facebook Page 
Facebook Group … Bethlehem Episcopalians
Twitter
Flickr
YouTube
Vimeo
LinkedIn

Center for Congregations ... 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.
Congregational Consulting ...  More information on how to contact the consultants can be found here and at http://www.congregationalconsulting.org/ .
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The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
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• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.

Episcopal/Anglican
• TREC [TaskForce for Reimagining the Episcopal Church] … website.
• TREC … Video Q&A with TREC panel at Oct. 2, 2014 TREC Churchwide Meeting at the Washington National Cathedral
• The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
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• The Anglican Communion website and news service.
• The Daily Scan: Contact publicaffairs@episcopalchurch.org to add subscribers for news releases, notices, statements, or Daily Scan.
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Ecumenical/Interfaith Relations

Franklin Graham had a revelation. On Friday, Graham said it has “dawned” on him on how to “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community.”

His solution: stop doing business with LGBT-friendly companies.

- See more at: http://elielcruz.religionnews.com/2015/06/07/franklin-graham-calls-on-christians-to-blacklist-lgbt-friendly-companies/?email=blewellis%40diobeth.org#sthash.WI32aUeD.dpuf

SpiritSpin
• 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.
• The Daily Office ... from the Diocese of Indianapolis. Here.
• 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.

Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth
• Telling the good news, in the media ... [Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson] If the media isn’t telling the stories you want told it is possible (we say very gently) that those stories aren’t interesting or significant enough to warrant coverage. Or, it is possible that you are not presenting them to the media in a way that catches their attention. Or perhaps you have not presented stories to the media at all. It isn’t easy to get your congregation, diocese, conference, or other sort of Christian organization into the newspaper or in online media outlets unless something has gone significantly wrong. It is even harder to get it on television or the radio. But it is possible if you absorb these 10 simple tips. Read on.

• EpiscopalShare ... Here.

Bible&Worship
• 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.
• Celebrating the Eucharist, by Patrick Malloy. Google Book
• Enriching our Worship, 1 to 5 ... Free download here.
• The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant: Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships [Extracted from Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing] Here.
• Collection of worship resources at Diobeth.org ... Including Diocesan Cycles of Prayer for weekly worship, Holy Women Holy Men, and The Text This Week. Here.

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• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here
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• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Center for Disease Control - Healthy Living
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Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH
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NEHM Wellness Resource Page 
Let's Move

News/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project: Daily Religion Headlines ... 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.
• BBC News Online ... here.
• BBC Religion & Ethics ... here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here.
• Religion Research Hub ... ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, an especially useful site.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.

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• Spirituality & Film ... Here.
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• Books for Spiritual Journeys ... Here.
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• Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg  ... Here
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• 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.
• Telling the good news, in the media ... [Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson] If the media isn’t telling the stories you want told about your congregation, it is possible (we say very gently) that those stories aren’t interesting or significant enough to warrant coverage. Or, it is possible that you are not presenting them to the media in a way that catches their attention. Or perhaps you have not presented stories to the media at all. It isn’t easy to get your congregation, diocese, conference, or other sort of Christian organization into the newspaper or in online media outlets unless something has gone significantly wrong. It is even harder to get it on television or the radio. But it is possible if you absorb these 10 simple tips. Read on.
• Communicate … Your Ministry, including Bill's Communication Biases and Communication-Evangelism. Here.

Varia
• Insights into Religion ... Here.
• The Alban Institute ... Here.

Religious Freedom Recap, our weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. - See more at: http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/09/16/burkini-compromise-pope-hearts-atheists-dozen-muslim-march-religious-freedom-recap-sept-9-sept-16/#sthash.nA6J6Y1Y.dpuf

 

 

 

 

 

 


Riots, vines, branches and abiding

Sermon by Andrew Reinholz
Vicar, St. Margaret's Emmaus
May 3, 2015

Chicago 1919
Harlem 1935
Philadelphia 1964
Washington D.C. 1968
Los Angeles 1992
Ferguson 2014
Baltimore 2015

The sad truth is, riots are a part of American history. The sad fact is, riots are probably going to be a part of America’s future.

As we watched and read about the events that unfolded in Baltimore this week, a lot of things were said.

Many condemned the police for their treatment of minorities. Many condemned the rioters for their use of violence.

Debates raged about failed economic policies, and unjust civil structures. About the negative consequence of violent protest over nonviolent demonstration.

People from across the political spectrum weighed in. People of all races, and economic status, commented.

Some applauded, while others condemned. Some demanded progressive change in our society, others called for a return to conservative values.

Police from neighboring cities and states came to the aid of the city of Baltimore. Maryland sent in the national guard. Religious leaders and community organizers gathered and marched.

Night after night, this country watched with a collectively held breath, waiting to see if one of our cities, would erupt into more violence, and more flames.

The discussions surrounding the Baltimore riots are hard ones to have. But, they are important. We need to, as a society, talk about what has happened, and what caused these events. We need to openly talk about them, so that we cannot just move on from this, but work to see that it does not happen again.

A danger in these discussions, is to break down, and condense things into statistics and figures. Names and faces become meaningless. People no longer are people, but they become numbers. They lose their shape and being.

Numbers upon numbers, that competing sides crunch and compile.

Numbers upon numbers, that competing sides quote to build and construct their own preferred narrative.

To do this keeps us from going deeper into the problems and issues. To do this keeps us separated from the real dilemma. It keeps us separated from one another.

Our readings for today help to point us to the deeper issues at work here. Points us to a deeper truth we need to see.

Jesus is the one true vine. And we are the branches of that vine. A branch separated from that vine, does not and can not bear fruit. A branch separated from the vine withers and dies.

Last week we heard this same message, with different imagery. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. There is one shepherd for one flock. Without that shepherd, the sheep are snatched up, and scattered.

Vine and branches, flock and shepherd.

Jesus is our source. Jesus is our foundation. It is by Jesus that we are created. It is by Jesus that we are sustained. It is by Jesus that we are redeemed.

If we do not abide in him, and he in us, we are nothing. We are dried up branches. We are scattered and lost sheep. If we do not abide in Jesus and he in us, we lack the very essence of our being. We have no foundation.

Without Jesus, we lack that thing which lifts us up and redeems us. Without him, we fall into sin and death. Darkness and despair. We lack the light of Christ, which illuminates, and lifts up all of humanity.

We need to stop seeing others as statistics and demographics or figures from failed urban and civic policies. When we reduce them down we take away their humanity. When we have taken away their humanity, we have severed our connection with them.

We begin to sever the branches from the vine. We scatter the sheep from the flock. Sheep separated from the flock cannot survive. Branches separated from the vine cannot thrive. They cannot grow. They wither up and die.

By abiding in Jesus we abide in his divine and eternal love. And that love teaches us that we are all children of God.

That love placed Jesus on the cross for us all. That love raised Jesus from the dead. That love lifted him into eternal life. That is the love we are called to abide in. A love that changes us to our very core. A love that completes our very being. A love that illuminates humanity, and lifts it up.

Jesus calls us to go deeper in our relationships with each other. If we do not do that, we dehumanize one another.

We categorize and stereotype.

They become criminals and thugs.

They become abuser and oppressors.

They stop being people. They stop being human beings with a heart and a soul and a mind.

They become that which we fear. That which we hate.

They become the reason for our problems, instead of the reason for solving them.

They stop being children of God in our eyes. And we cannot see, that just as Christ suffered and died for us, so too did Christ suffer and die for them. Just as Jesus calls us to live in his risen life, so to does he call them. Just as Jesus calls us to abide in his love, so too does he call them to abide.

God calls us as Christians, to love our enemy as ourselves. To abide in his love. To grow and be nourished from his vine.

Is this easy? No, no it is not.

It takes courage.

It takes strength.

It takes faith.

But we have to be willing to put aside our fears. To put aside out hate. To put aside out dehumanizing ways that separate us, and divide us.

It is clear, it is so painfully clear, that we do not yet fully abide in the love of Jesus Christ. It is clear, so painfully clear, that the kingdom of God which we are called to build, still has much work to be done.

Too many from our flock have been snatched away. We have been scattered and flung so far apart. Too many branches have been cut from the vine. We are slowly drying up and being consumed by flames of our own making.

We will continue to face this problem until people on both sides are able to see, that its not just fellow Americans standing across from them, not just fellow human beings standing across from them, but fellow Children of God standing across from them.

We must abide in the love of Jesus Christ. For without it we are nothing.

With it, humanity is illuminated, and humanity is lifted up.

AMEN


TREC

TASK FORCE for
REIMAGINING the
EPISCOPAL
CHURCH [structures, governance, administration]

As many of you may know, our bishop provisional, Sean Rowe, is a member of TREC, the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church. Their work focusses specifically on the structure, administration, and governance of our communion.

Recently, I shared news of last night’s Churchwide Meeting of TREC at Washington National Cathedral. Bishop Sean was present at that meeting and remains in Washington on TREC business through Saturday. He alerted me to the fact that the webcast last night attracted viewers in the thousands from across the entire church.

I hope that some of you, many of you, were able to watch the webcast of that exciting meeting in part or in full. If not, a recording of the webcast can be found here and here. If nothing else, I commend to you the inspiring address given ten minutes into the webcast by the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry. I hope that some of you also considered submitting questions by email or on Twitter and if you did, consider sharing them with us here. 

Twitter was alive with activity, as well, much of which can be seen under the hashtag #reimaginetec. The conversation is still hot, so I imagine people will continue tweeting about the meeting for at least a few days. If you’re a Twitter user, consider saving the hashtag, which remains the best way to follow Twitter conversations about TREC.

I’d also like to add, that just now, the Episcopal News Service published the story “Reimagining task force hears from the church,” it gives a fine overview of TREC and yesterday’s meeting.

If you feel like you know very little about the nature and progress of the work being done by TREC, I invite you to visit their website reimaginetec.org. I would specifically like to point out the 77th General Convention resolution which ordered the organization of this task force, found here. There are also a series of study papers and statements from the task force which might help you understand their work better.

This is an exciting time in our church as we revisit and reimagine the ways we live out our call to proclaim the gospel to all nations, learning how best we can organize ourselves to accomplish this in community for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

I invite all of you to consider more closely this work and to use this space to discuss your questions, hopes, concerns about TREC, its work, and the future of our church.

Yours,

Adam Bond
Missioner for Communication
610-703-3374
abond@diobeth.org

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” — Blaise Pascal


Little children belong in church

Two reflections. The first, by Adam Bond, diobeth missioner for communication, parishioner at Church of the Mediator in Allentown. The second, by Canon Laura Howell, rector of Trinity Bethlehem. Both were posted by the writers on Tuesday, August 19 on our diocesan interactive list, Bakery.

By Adam Bond
As a father of a three-and-half year old and an eighteen month old, I’ve noticed a few things. Now, let it be known, that my wife, Jennifer, and I tend toward more traditional forms of worship — I don’t think we have ever attended the contemporary family service offered once a month at our parish. It is of especial note that both of my sons felt and heard the organ every Sunday in utero and responded to it prepartum and postpartum, calming down and even falling asleep to what is not necessarily the most tranquility-inducing instrument in creation… I can imagine less intense music. ;-)

Regardless, as both infants and toddlers they have responded to the best in our art, architecture, music, and prosodic traditions in a seemingly unnaturally positive way. Both Charles and Oliver are entranced by our Episcopal hymnody. When Clint Miller plays the often elaborate postlude on Sunday’s, I have never seen anyone so rapt as Ollie, who stares him down like he wants to sell him Watkin’s products out of a briefcase. Charlie recognizes church architecture on the street, he recognizes persons of the cloth, religious symbols and artl and even certain sounds spark his imagination, such as when we heard bells ringing the other day and he asked whether we would go see Jesus at the church. Sunday morning’s he is wholly aware that we should be in church and especially reminds us when we are slogging along and taking to long to leave.

Perhaps, I have taken an unorthodox approach to exposing my children to the church… I have tried to allow for immersion, even when people scowl and glare and hush my admittedly rambunctious children, rather than gradual introduction and otherwise deliberate segregation. I have many times worried that Charlie’s tendency to compete with the homily or loudly, openly disagree with a particular theological point in said homily would set a priest on edge.

When we attended the “Of Heaven and Earth” exhibit at the Allentown Art Museum — I recommend it, it runs until early September, and the museum is free every day for the rest of summer, Charles was pointing out Jesus in all of the pictures. At one medieval madonna and child he said, “Look, Mama, it’s a baby Jesus… Him’s so cute. Him’s loves his mama, right, Mama?” These things yield to children in ways that our jaded, jaundiced senses can no longer experience without a concerted effort and it is a grave injustice, in my opinion, to try and condescendingly tailor things to children in ways that disrespect their native openness to all of the wonder and complexity of creation, just because it hardly impresses our tired, world-weary sensibilities. I am always surprised for some reason when Charlie repeats back to me some complicated prayer or theological idea, because I have refused to dumb these things down and speak of them as if I respect him enough to understand it in his own time.

If I regret anything in how I have handled my children’s experience of church, it was unwisely taking advantage of the nursery program at our new parish when we transitioned from one parish to another. From the time that they were born, they sat through the entire sung service with us, but for whatever reason, we thought that they might enjoy the nursery during the lessons and then we bring them up during the offertory. I wish we hadn’t done this and we are now trying to transition them back upstairs, because immersion in the mysteries of god seems tantamount to my only real responsibility as a parent.

By Mother Laura Howell
I am not a birth-parent.  Instead, I'm one of those priests that Adam worries about disturbing.  

My extremely strong feeling (rabid, passionate, uncontrolled, you might even say) is that kids belong in church. That is where our whole family in Christ gathers.  

Nursery definitely has its place on the cranky days or the sleeping days or the parents-at-wits'-end days (and a smart parish will have the equivalent of nursery for adults, too, like coffee and tea in the parish hall well before coffee hour).  Kids squirm.  Kids respond to rhetorical questions (adults, too).  Kids yell out.  And sing out (some of them in tune, too).  So?  

My experience is that when kids say something during a sermon, it's often a great underliner of a point, or allows the crafty preacher to add an informal comment.  If they are not part of church when they are small, why would we think they would enjoy the music, liturgy, beauty when they get older?  And, we find, that kids seeing other kids carrying the torches or reading or crucifering often want to do it themselves.

If someone (child or adult--not joking--it happens) is shrieking and having a meltdown, then a timeout is a great idea. But they shouldn't be kept out of church because they *might* bother someone.  Where would this end?  X should not be in church because they talk to themselves.  Y shouldn't be in church because they have allergies and sneeze.  Z shouldn't be in church because they cry at the beautiful music.  I could paraphrase a quote from Kazantsakis: "Life is unexpected and messy, only death is not."

My opinion. YMMV, of course.