Celebrate Life

[A slightly edited 1987 column by Bill Lewellis, published in a daily newspaper]

Our spiritual journey is a relationship. No two are the same. Still, a reasonable construct which draws on the experiences of many, including St. Paul and St. John, suggests God is not only the end of the journey but also its beginning.

The journey begins when God speaks. "In the beginning was the Word..." (John 1: 1).

God speaks first. Theologians call this revelation. It has to do with God introducing Godself by way of the created world, the prophets of old and new, our experiences, the Jewish and Christian scriptures, our families and friends, the wisdom of the ages, our critical faculties and our desires, the Word made flesh, our church communities, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

"In times past," the Letter to the Hebrews begins, "God spoke in fragmentary and varied ways to our fathers through the prophets; in this, the final age, he has spoken to us through his Son...the reflection of the Father's glory, the exact representation of the Father's being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word."

Through so many ways and people -- most of all in Jesus -- we continually discover who God is, who we are, and how we are related to God and with one another.

Through the questions we ask and the evidence we interpret, we experience a few insights. We sometimes see the light. We have visions. We make judgments. We discover meaning.

Our pilgrimage with God began because God spoke, gave us a mind to wonder, put a yearning in our hearts, sent his Word to lead us on and light our way.

Lacking our appropriate response, the journey stalls. Response equals lifestyle, conduct, relationships with our sisters and brothers. Does our lifestyle celebrate the incredible revelation that God loves us? By our lifestyle, do we give thanks for who we are as a result of God's reaching out to us?

Over and over again, in a variety of ways, St. Paul tells us to conduct ourselves in certain ways not because law hangs over us but because life dwells within us.

You are a new creation in Christ, Paul says. Celebrate the gift. Celebrate life. You won't find precisely those words in any one verse of Paul's letters. In many verses and many chapters, however, you will find the thought.

Biblical scholars have called it the Pauline "Indicative-Imperative." The indicative is the statement of fact, i.e., "You are a new creation in Christ." The statement of fact is followed by a moral command, the imperative, i.e., "Therefore, be... (Live accordingly)." The imperative's authority is not law above but life within, life worth celebrating.

I wish I understood decades ago what I think I understand about the spiritual journey now. It would not have made the journey more focused, less clouded by irrelevance.


It's about the music

By Bill Lewellis

In April 1999, Bishop Paul preached to the deacons and priests of the Diocese of Bethlehem at the Chrism Mass, the Eucharist wherein Holy Oils are blessed and ordination vows renewed. He spoke about how ordained ministry is so much more than role and function. “When I took organ lessons,” he said, “I was a bit too concerned at one point with technique and with hitting the right notes. My teacher said, ‘Paul, I could get a monkey to play the right notes. What I want to hear from you is music.’"

In 1981, after 18 years as a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Allentown, most of those on the bishop's staff as his liaison with seminarians and with the media,I resigned. Monica and I married, and I soon began working as a special agent for Prudential and volunteering as a member of the diocesan communication committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem. Late in 1984, I applied for and was accepted as diocesan communication minister on the bishop's staff.

Bishop Mark Dyer kindly offered several times to receive my orders, so to receive me as an Episcopal priest. I replied, tongue somewhat in cheek, that after working for some 15 years on the staff of an RC bishop with a dominant personality, I wasn't going to let even a nice guy like him do that to me again. Through those years, 1985 to 95, and Bishop Mark's repeated offers, I said something like: "Why? After becoming an Episcopal priest, I would be doing the same thing on his staff as a priest as I had been doing as a lay person. Yes, I loved preaching and preparing sermons, but I could get an invitation to preach somewhere in the diocese as a lay person on any given Sunday."

Time passed. Bishop Paul Marshall was elected to be our next bishop. He kept me on staff and he too asked several times if I'd like to have my orders received. I gave a similar reply. Basically, why? What would I be doing differently?

Finally, in the fall of 1999, Bishop Paul said this was the last time he was going to ask. My reply was the same. He said something like, "Being a priest is not about what one does but who one is. You know that, but haven't been thinking about it. Think about it and let me know."

It was about the music. Not the notes. Not what one does.

On Nov. 1, 1999, after serving 14 years on diocesan staff as a lay person, I was received as a priest of the Episcopal Church.


At the Heart of Reality

[Sermon by Bill Lewellis, Trinity Sunday, 2004

Clues to the most profound mysteries of life – who we are, why we are, where we are going, how we are meant to live – may be embedded in our DNA… that double-helix spiral staircase that has inspired scientists and artists and theologians over the past half century.

Two children were playing at the beach. At water’s edge, they were building a sand castle with gates and tower and moat. When they had nearly finished, a wave came along and knocked it down.

One might have expected the children to cry. Instead, they ran up the shore away from the water. They laughed and held hands. They sat down once again on the sand, to build another castle.

Every-thing we create in this world is built on sand. Sooner or later, the wave comes. Only relationships endure, relationships we nurture and give our heart to. Perhaps not all relationships – but still we can say that only relationships, as opposed to things, endure. Children somehow know this… until they are taught, here and there, all that other stuff about things?

My money is on this: the most profound mystery embedded in our DNA, the most profound clue to the heart of life, is that we are created to be in relationship.

The most introverted persons among us yearn deeply for shared intimacy – even if that yearning is not acknowledged until after breakfast. We need others. We need others to affirm us in the mystery of our persons. We need others to reach our potential. We need others because we need to give and to receive, to share, to shore up and to be supported, to love. If we ignore this most profound mystery, we may walk this life among the living dead.

That we are created for life together, for intimacy, for giving, for loving, has its basis in the divine mystery we call Trinity: the shared, giving, loving life together of God whom we name Father/Mother, Son and Holy Spirit. The sacred mystery of community really does trickle down.

Religion is about relationship. Relationship is at the heart of all reality. We are created to be in relationship with God and with one another. It’s part of being human. It’s in the DNA.

That is what we commemorate this Trinity Sunday. God’s “is” is being-in-relationship, being-in-community.


newSpin 180419

newSpin, the newsletter
April 19
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis

TopSpin

• A Man Called MarkA 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.

• Bishop Election Walkabouts, Two to go
… 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 are the nominees for IX Bishop of Bethlehem. I
n April, both nominees will visit the diocese for visiting sessions called "walkabouts." During the walkabouts, the bishop nominees will make introductory remarks and hold small group question-and-answer sessions.

Thursday, April 19 from 7-9 p.m.
Friday, April 20 from 7-9 p.m.
Read more about the bishop nominees on the Bishop Search and Transition website.

• Bishop Sean's Farewell Event, May 12
Say thank you and farewell to Bishop Sean Rowe, and his family. This event includes Eucharist at St. Stephen’s Pro-Cathedral (12:30) followed by a light hors d’oeuvres reception at the Genetti Hotel & Conference Center, Wilkes-Barre. This is a free event, however registration is required by April 23:  REGISTER HERE In lieu of gifts for Bishop Sean, we will be collecting donations for Grace Montessori School. If you would like to make a donation in Bishop Sean’s honor, it can be sent to the Diocesan Office. Checks should be made payable to: The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem and mailed to:  333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem, PA  18015. Please be sure to include “Bishop Farewell Gift” in the memo line.

• First Female Rector at Jim Thorpe Church[WNEP/TV16] "It just feels normal to me," Rev. Rebecca Cancelliere said. "It surprises me when I think about that there's never been a woman who has  served here before because it just doesn't dawn on me that there would not have been."Mother Rebecca Cancelliere is the church's first female pastor in the nearly 200 years of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Jim Thorpe. She started at the beginning of the year. Bishop Sean Rowe will lead a special Celebration of New Ministry on Sunday, April 22. Read on.

• Creativity and the Cross[Hillary Raining interviews Charles "Ty" Welles] Charles “Ty” Welles is a fourth generation lawyer from Scranton, PA, with degrees from Yale and Harvard. He has served as the Chancellor of Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, and, perhaps surprisingly, a sculptor, who primarily carves marble. He has been carving for more than twenty-five years and has exhibited and studied throughout the northeastern United States as well as regionally. In this episode, Ty will talk about has his 13-piece installation of the Stations of the Cross as well as his creative process. This is a discussion (Season 1, Episode 5) about the power of creativity and spirituality in every lfe. Listen.
   This podcast appears on The Hive, a website created by Hillary Raining, rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Gladwyne and known to many in the Diocese of Bethlehem where she was ordained. "Based on a model of community and support found in the hive of the honey bee," Hillary writes, "this wellness and spirituality website is for you in your quest to change the world." Here

• DioBeth Leadership News, April 12
Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, April 5
Here.
• DioBeth General News, March 29 Here

********  [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.
• Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency[The New Yorker, Adam Davidson, April 14] In Iraq and with the financial crisis, it was helpful, as a reporter, to be able to divide the world into those who actually understand what was happening and those who said hopeful nonsense. The path of both crises turned out to be far worse than I had imagined. I thought of those earlier experiences this week as I began to feel a familiar clarity about what will unfold next in the Trump Presidency. There are lots of details and surprises to come, but the endgame of this Presidency seems as clear now as those of Iraq and the financial crisis did months before they unfolded. Read on

• Six whoppers a day … As of April 13, President Trump had made 2,436 false or misleading claims in 406 days — a rate of exactly six whoppers a day. The new normal?
Read on,

• Madeleine Albright is worried, we should be, too[NYTimes, Michelle Goldberg, April 13]
Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, was born into a totalitarian age. She was only a toddler when she and her parents, who were of Jewish descent but later converted to Catholicism, fled Czechoslovakia after Hitler’s invasion in 1939. They returned following the war, but fled again in the wake of the Communist coup in 1948. Her father, the diplomat Josef Korbel, sought asylum for the family in the United States, writing in a letter to an American official that if they returned home he’d be arrested “for my faithful adherence to the ideals of democracy.” America took them in as refugees. Korbel became an eminent foreign policy scholar, and in 1997 Bill Clinton made Albright the country’s chief diplomat, the first woman to hold that position. Read on. Also here and here.

• James Comey has a story to tell. It's very persuasive [NYTimes, April 12, Book review by Michiko Kakutani] The central themes that Comey returns to throughout this impassioned book are the toxic consequences of lying; and the corrosive effects of choosing loyalty to an individual over truth and the rule of law. Dishonesty, he writes, was central “to the entire enterprise of organized crime on both sides of the Atlantic,” and so, too, were bullying, peer pressure and groupthink — repellent traits shared by Trump and company, he suggests, and now infecting our culture. Read on,

SpiritSpin
• See the Face, Hear the Voice[This is a slightly edited version of a sermon Bill Lewellis preached at Grace Allentown, April 17, 2005, John 10: 1-18]
Amid the many wonderful images and stories the media featured after the April 2005 death of Pope John Paul II, there was also a painful progression of silly questions on just about anything that seemed religious. Silly answers, too. My favorite silly question, as I remember it, came from CNN’s Larry King. He asked Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, "Jim, do you think the Pope is face to face with Jesus now? We only have 30 seconds." Read on.


• Pope Francis wants you to be holy online. Here's howAccording to Francis, constant distraction because of too much screentime is making us unable to reflect seriously on choices we have to make in life. And this leads to the pope’s advice about silence. Francis does not endorse silence full stop. He thinks it is sometimes an excuse to flee “interaction with others, to want peace and quiet while avoiding activity, to seek prayer while disdaining service.” But, he said, people should not ignore “the need for moments of quiet solitude and silence before God.” Which, he writes, is in short supply thanks to the “presence of constantly new gadgets, the excitement of travel and an endless array of consumer goods” that “at times leave no room for God’s voice to be heard.” “We are overwhelmed by words,” he writes, “by superficial pleasures and by an increasing din, filled not by joy but rather by the discontent of those whose lives have lost meaning.” Read on.

• The Lord is Risen. No Bingo) … [RenewalWorks, Monday Matters, Jay Sidebotham, April 9] My decades-old hobby has been collecting photos of church signs. The sign that triggered this hobby was perched on a small trailer, in front of a country church. It read: “The Lord is Risen. No Bingo.” As a preacher who unceasingly grazes for sermon material, I used this sign to make the homiletic point that the news of Easter brings transformation. It’s meant to change things. It’s meant to change us. Read on.

• Setting the Table[Diana Butler Bass] While writing Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, I reread Luke's account of Zacchaeus. Like many Christians, I knew the story from Sunday school -- the "wee little man" who climbed a tree to see Jesus. I thought of it as a charming tale that taught us to go to any length to catch a vision of God. But researching Grateful convinced me that gratitude was at the center of an important political tension in the Roman world regarding debts and obligation. The story of Zacchaeus transformed from a children's story to a powerful encounter between Jesus and an unjust system of quid pro quo. Corrupted gratitude can snare us, or, as Jesus taught, a renewed vision of gratefulness can liberate us. The Zacchaeus story shows us how.  Read on.

• 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


DioBeth
• 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 dio
erticese has the opportunity to attend.

• DioBeth Leadership News, April 12 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, April 5 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, March 29 … Here


Episcopal/Anglican
• Interview with Justin Welby[The Guardian, Rachel Cooke, April 1] The archbishop of Canterbury was raised by an alcoholic and answered God’s call ‘kicking and screaming’. Now, his unorthodox views are at odds with many in his church. Here he talks about his demons and his mission. Read on,

Beyoncé Mass offers religion with a pop beat at Grace Cathedral … [San Francisco Chronicle] San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral has announced that it will host a special mass devoted to Queen Bey’s music and accomplishments on Wednesday, April 25. Hosted by the Vine, a weekly contemporary worship service espousing progressive theology set to a pop beat, the Beyoncé Mass will give parishioners a chance to sing along with their favorite songs and discover how the 36-year-old star’s art “opens a window into the lives of the marginalized and forgotten — particularly black females.” Read on.


Evangelism
• A new comprehensive Evangelism Toolkit … is available online for congregations, dioceses, groups, and individuals to explore Evangelism.


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


TaleSpin
How Liberty University built a billion-dollar empire online
[NYT] With a hard sell to prospective students and huge amounts in taxpayer funding, Jerry Falwell Jr. transformed the evangelical institution into a behemoth. Read on.

Why some Christians don't trust their devices … [RNS] Who is Jesus? If viral videos are to be believed, some Christians aren’t happy with the answers they’ve gotten from their smart speakers, including Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Read on.

• Why America's black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis … [NYTimes Magazine, April 11] In 1850, when the death of a baby was simply a fact of life, and babies died so often that parents avoided naming their children before their first birthdays, the United States began keeping records of infant mortality by race. That year, the reported black infant-mortality rate was 340 per 1,000; the white rate was 217 per 1,000. This black-white divide in infant mortality has been a source of both concern and debate for over a century.
   Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. Read on.

• 'Boy Who Came Back from Heaven' sues book's Christian publisher [The Guardian, UK] Alex Malarkey claims he has been financially exploited over bestselling account of meeting Jesus "concocted" by his Christian therapist father.
Read on,

• Enter the School Bus Driver … A father is raising his 11-year-girl as best he can after his wife dies. But he can't braid hair. Enter the school bus driver. Read on.



Requiescant in pace
• Jean S. Montgomery, 90 … died April 9. She was an active member of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity since 1969, serving as a Sacristan, Choir Mother, Lay Eucharistic Minister, as well as a member of the Altar Guild committee. She was also a member of the Property Committee and acted as secretary for many years. Obituary.
  
[Dean Tony Pompa] Many know what an integral part of the faith life of this congregation Jean was until medical issues impeded her participation. Jean gave her heart, soul, time, talent, treasure and fierce spirit to her Lord through the mission of this Cathedral most of her adult life. She and her husband Dee, who preceded her in death, raised their family with great dedication to the ministries of formation and music. Jean volunteered in the office for many years, was a member of the Altar Guild, and the list can go on and on. Jean was firm in her faith and in the way she devoted herself to our Lord and to others. Well done faithful servant, rest now from your labors.

• Martha Rossnagle
… died April 7. She was an parishioner at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity.
   [Dean Tony Pompa] Martha was
a volunteer in the office of the Cathedral for a number of years and a faithful participant in the life of the parish until advancing age impeded. Until recent health issues moved her to Cedarbrook in Fountain Hill, she resided with her daughter Sarah King, husband Geoff, and granddaughter Amelia (Mimi), also members of our Cathedral community.  Please keep them in your prayers in these days. A private memorial and interment will take place at the Cathedral at the convenience of family. Your prayers and support of Sarah, Geoff, and Amelia are welcomed.

• Barbara Bush, 92 … the widely admired wife of one president and the fiercely loyal mother of another, died April 17. The Boston Globe’s Mark Feeney wrote that Bush, popular for her lack of vanity, “wore her wrinkles with pride, once joking after seeing herself on a pair of magazine covers that ‘it looks as though I had forgotten to iron my face.’” “While she was unpretentious, plainspoken and down-to-earth,” the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Bush was also a Northeastern blueblood who was strong-willed, politically shrewd, always blunt and occasionally caustic.” Read on.


Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not


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
Diocese of Scranton ... Here.

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

The Vatican
Francis puts 'exhort' back into exhortation
[NCR, Michael Sean Winters] Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate ("Rejoice and Be Glad"), released yesterday, puts the "exhort" back into exhortation. The document is one long, incisive effort to urge us Christians on. Not to be satisfied with mediocre spiritual lives, not to reduce the Gospel, not to despair of our own weakness, not to give up on God and the joy and gladness that He alone can bring into our lives and, through us, into the world.
  
Speaking of the "great cloud of witnesses" mentioned in St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews, Francis writes early in the document that the cloud "may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones" and that "their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord." Read on,

• The Gospel Isn't Single-Issue … In his new apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate, Pope Francis warns against elevating any issue, abortion in particular, over all others. Paul Moses writes in Commonweal that Pope Francis’s “early experience with ‘ideologies,’ with one-eyed activism, and with politicians’ murderous abuse of power” is obvious throughout Gaudete et exsultate, and so “he wants to prevent the faith from being shaped to suit political ideology.” In other words, the Gospel isn’t single-issue. Read on.

Pope admits he made 'grave errors' in Chile sex abuse case
[WaPo, April 11, Nicole Winfield and Eva Vergara] Pope Francis admitted he made “grave errors” in judgment in Chile’s sex abuse scandal and invited the victims he had discredited to Rome to beg their forgiveness. In an extraordinary public letter, Francis also summoned all of Chile’s bishops to the Vatican for an emergency meeting in the coming weeks to discuss repairing the damage from the scandal, which has badly tarnished his reputation and that of the Chilean church. Francis blamed a lack of “truthful and balanced information” for his missteps in judging the case of Bishop Juan Barros, a protege of Chile’s most notorious predator priest, the Rev. Fernando Karadima. Francis strongly defended the bishop during his January visit to Chile despite accusations by victims that Barros had witnessed and ignored their abuse. Read on,

• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here.

• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.


Health and Wellness


Film and TV
• Come Sunday – Now on Netflix – The Evangelical Bishop who Stopped Believing in Hell[NPR, Heard on All Things Considered, April 15] About 15 years ago, Carlton Pearson had what you might call a revelation. It occurred to him that ideas that had informed his entire adult life — about heaven and hell, and what it takes to avoid one and enter the other — were just not true. What was a big deal for his personal faith became a much bigger one in his professional life, because Carlton Pearson presided over one of the country's biggest Pentecostal congregations in Tulsa, Okla., and his rejection of that theology for what he calls the "gospel of inclusion" would cost him just about everything he had. His story is the subject of the new movie Come Sunday, now out via Netflix. Read on.

• PBS film explores how we go gently – or kicking and screaming – into the night
[RNS] Five weeks after she receives her terminal lung cancer diagnosis, Phyllis Tickle is sitting on her porch in Tennessee, talking about death. “I’ve reared my children. I’ve buried my husband. I’ve done the work I think I came to do,” the renowned religious historian says. Then she pauses. “Now I can go.”
  81-year-old Tickle’s body was laid to rest three months later — before her longtime friend Helen Whitney, a veteran filmmaker, could interview her a second time for a documentary project. The two-hour film “Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death,” which premieres March 26 on PBS, pushes viewers to confront their own mortality. In the film, Whitney asks nine men and women grappling with death to tell their stories. Read on,

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


Media, Print, Music, Tech
• From Now On
You may enjoy this uplifting behind-the-scenes performance, as I did. View.

• 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 Café
Here.

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.
• 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 Effectis 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.
• Caliphateis a new audio series following Rukmini Callimachi of the NYTimes as she reports on the Islamic State and the fall of Mosul.


Varia
• Yale is letting anyone take its most popular course ever for free … When Yale began offering a new course this semester, over 1,000 students jumped at the opportunity. It wasn't about business, technology or innovation. It's about how to be happy. Nearly a fourth of the undergraduate student body enrolled in Psyc 157: Psychology and the Good Life. It quickly became the university's most popular class in Yale's 316-year history. Psychology and cognitive science professor Laurie Santos teaches the course. In it, she covers the science behind positive psychology and behavioral change. According to Santos, antidepressants are prescribed at 400 times the rate they were 20 years ago. That's why Santos and Yale started offering an adapted version of the course for free via online learning platform Coursera. It's called The Science of Well-Being.  Read on.



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.

• Reclaiming Jesus is a confession of faith in a time of crisis signed on to by many faith leaders incuding 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.

• 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.  THERE'S A NEW TOOLKIT

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.

 

 

 


Setting the Table, by Diana Butler Bass

While writing Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks, I reread Luke's account of Zacchaeus. Like many Christians, I knew the story from Sunday school -- the "wee little man" who climbed a tree to see Jesus. I thought of it as a charming tale that taught us to go to any length to catch a vision of God. But researching Grateful convinced me that gratitude was at the center of an important political tension in the Roman world regarding debts and obligation. The story of Zacchaeus transformed from a children's story to a powerful encounter between Jesus and an unjust system of quid pro quo. Corrupted gratitude can snare us, or, as Jesus taught, a renewed vision of gratefulness can liberate us. The Zacchaeus story shows us how. 

Zacchaeus thought that gratitude was a political structure of benefactors and beneficiaries that he could manipulate for his own benefit. Then Jesus called him down from that tree and invited him to a table. “Stop climbing, Zacchaeus. Come and sit.” Whereas Rome practiced gratitude as a hierarchy of political and economic obligation, of debt and duty, Jesus envisioned gratitude as hospitality of mutuality and relationship, of gift and response. Jesus opened the door for Zacchaeus to “come down” from his old life, to stop participating in a corrupt system of gratitude that oppressed his own people. In a moment, Jesus turned his world upside down: Who was the guest and who was the host? The Roman structure of gratitude collapsed when assigned roles disappeared and the conventional gifts of hospitality could not be repaid. Instead, Jesus imagined a place where oppressed and oppressor leave their “stations” and meet as friends, where forgiveness is practiced and gratitude expresses itself not in debt payment but in passing on generous gifts to others.

At the end of the story, Jesus explains that he did this because “the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to deliver those ensnared in the punishment and privilege of gratitude and to set them free from quid pro quo patronage. In its place, he established a table of hospitality where all are guests and no one owes anything to anyone else. Around this table, gifts pass without regard to payback or debt. Everyone sits. Everyone eats. And, recognizing that everything is a gift, all are grateful. Tree or table? Climbing to get ahead or reclining with friends? Choose. What you choose results in either slavery or abundance.

This is the ancient wisdom of gratitude, told in a Jewish political context by early Christian writers. But we can see beyond its unique religious frame to the story’s larger relevance for today. Who wants to be part of a system of gratitude based on hierarchy?

To be obligated to repay every favor done? Who wants to perpetuate a system that rewards privilege and is held together by indebtedness? A structure where we are pretty sure that the people above us cheated us to get there? Think of how we depict Thanksgiving — people around a table eating a meal.

In the United States, it is the romanticized image of our most primal gratitude myth: Europeans and Natives sharing around a table. Of course, it did not happen that way. But that is what myths are — stories that express something we desire, what we hope will be, and how we dream of happiness and peace. There is something in our hearts that longs to banish quid pro quo to the pages of dusty history books forever and instead create a common table where we pass gifts to one another without regard for station or status, where boundaries dissolve around plenty. That is the way of salvation. We know this, and, like Zacchaeus, many of us long for it. We just do not know how to come down from the tree.

Diana Butler Bass is the author of eight books on American religion, including “Christianity After Religion," "Christianity for the Rest of Us,” and “A People's History of Christianity.” This is excerpted from "Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks." Copyright © 2018 by Diana Butler Bass. Published by HarperOne.


See the Face, Hear the Voice

Bill Lewellis
[This is a slightly edited version of a sermon I preached at Grace Allentown, April 17, 2005, John 10: 1-18]

Amid the many wonderful images and stories the media featured after the April 2005 death of Pope John Paul II, there was also a painful progression of silly questions on just about anything that seemed religious. Silly answers, too.

My favorite silly question, as I remember it, came from CNN’s Larry King. He asked Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, "Jim, do you think the Pope is face to face with Jesus now? We only have 30 seconds."

Face to face. A few months before, February 2005, the day before the Super Bowl, was the first time I saw the face of Oakes Fegley, only weeks old at the time… not long away from God.

The next day, the Eagles lost. That night, the face of Oakes saved me from Super Bowl depression. Every time I woke up, rather than replaying the game, I saw the face of Oakes – I kid you not – and fell back to sleep smiling. Dreams of an old man.

[You may know the face of Oakes Fegley. As a young boy, he has starred in several major motion pictures.]

That same year, March 27, Easter morning, about dawn, John Harvard died. He was an Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Bethlehem, 58 years old. John Harvard was a 1969 graduate of, would you believe… Harvard. He ministered as a priest in Peru, Morgantown, Douglassville, Longport NJ and the Hill School in Pottstown.

The last six months of John’s life were difficult. In conversation with John after his diagnosis, Bishop Paul Marshall said John talked about how he would walk toward God through the coming ordeal with the Spirit as companion.

“We get used to living without acknowledging our thirst for God,” the bishop said at John’s funeral. “John was both too smart and too plain for that. He knew he craved God, and wasn’t lazy about seeking God. Even in his last days, I never came away from a conversation with John without being enriched by what his mind and heart were doing in tandem. If ever there were a case of faith seeking understanding and relationship, it was his.

“If we are to memorialize John by any act or gift,” the bishop continued, “perhaps the best way to do so is to let go of whatever in us resists the beautiful madness of loving God with heart, soul and intellect. If you want to remember John, free yourself to know your hunger for God.”

To this day, I remember the face of John Harvard.

I remember also another face. On March 24, 1980, Oscar Romero was martyred in El Salvador.

He will soon be declared a saint. But Rome was not always proud of him,

Romero was a prominent, politically conservative South American priest during the 1960s and 1970s. He was named archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. After witnessing numerous violations of human rights, he heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and began to speak out on behalf of the poor and the victims of El Salvador's long and bloody civil war. This led to numerous conflicts, both with the government in El Salvador… and with the Vatican. I remember that well. It happened during my last few years as a Roman Catholic priest.

Romero had become a proponent of liberation theology, that the Christian Gospel demands that the church should be involved in the struggle for economic and political justice, especially in the Third World. That was what put him at odds with Rome. It made for high and dangerous drama during the late 1970s.

In a strange alliance, the U.S. administration of that time formed a united front with the Vatican against liberation theology. The pope fought the theology while the U.S. administration and its Latin American allies murdered the liberationists. The Pope did not recognize Romero nor affirm his pastoral leadership nor protect him in his hour of great need. It was clearly papal disregard… in order to make a point.

In 1980, after speaking out against U. S. military support for the government of El Salvador, and calling for soldiers to disobey orders that violated human rights, Archbishop Romero was shot to death while celebrating Mass at a small chapel near his San Salvador cathedral. One well-aimed shot, fired with professional precision. It is believed that his assassins were members of Salvadoran death squads, including two graduates of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The fourth Sunday of Easter has traditionally been called Good Shepherd Sunday. The gospel speaks to us next Sunday of pretenders, of hearing and knowing the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and of Jesus leading us to new ground, into new territory. I’ve extended the metaphor to include not only hearing the voice but also seeing the face of Jesus.

I think it has been built into our DNA to look for the face and listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd. We’re never too old for this. It’s never too late in life to live as God intended for us to live, to seek the kingdom of God.

Please consider two questions… and you have more than 30 seconds. You have all day, all year, the rest of your life.
Looking for the face and listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd… What is it that you look at in our image-saturated world? What do you listen to through the static?

Do you listen to those who say you’ve got to do it to them before they do it to you. Or do you listen to Jesus who says: But it cannot be like that with you…

Do you listen to those who tell you you’ve worked hard for what you’ve got, nobody did you any favors… let them do the same. Or do you listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd who says: But it cannot be like that with you…

Do you listen to the voice of Jesus telling you you must see the world differently and respond to its challenges with a very different set of values?

You say you never hear the voice of the Good Shepherd?

But you’ve heard those many strong verbs, those gospel imperatives: Repent, be, do, give, forgive, feed and clothe, go and sow, pray, judge not, fear not…

You never hear the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Heal the sick. Welcome the stranger. Visit the imprisoned. Raise the dead. Proclaim good news. Sell what you have and give the money to the poor. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Be reconciled. Take up your cross. Follow me. Find your life by losing it for my sake. Make disciples.

You’ve never heard the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers… Persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord… proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ… seek and serve Christ in all persons loving your neighbor as yourself… strive for justice and peace among all people… respect the dignity of every human being.”

Say no more that you have not seen the face or heard the voice of the Good Shepherd.

See the many faces of Jesus… in some of the faces you know and have known. Hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Look beneath the shallow and the superficial. Make room for awe… and wonder… Be eager to know God, to embrace repentance and to proclaim hope. See the faces: Oakes, John Harvard, Oscar Romero. Who else… for you? Hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. He calls us by name… and leads us out.

"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep."


See the Face, Hear the Voice

Bill Lewellis
[This is a slightly edited version of a sermon I preached at Grace Allentown, April 17, 2005, John 10: 1-18]

Amid the many wonderful images and stories the media featured after the April 2005 death of Pope John Paul II, there was also a painful progression of silly questions on just about anything that seemed religious. Silly answers, too.

My favorite silly question, as I remember it, came from CNN’s Larry King. He asked Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, "Jim, do you think the Pope is face to face with Jesus now? We only have 30 seconds."

Face to face. A few months before, February 2005, the day before the Super Bowl, was the first time I saw the face of Oakes Fegley, only weeks old at the time… not long away from God.

The next day, the Eagles lost. That night, the face of Oakes saved me from Super Bowl depression. Every time I woke up, rather than replaying the game, I saw the face of Oakes – I kid you not – and fell back to sleep smiling. Dreams of an old man.

[You may know the face of Oakes Fegley. As a young boy, he has starred in several major motion pictures.]

That same year, March 27, Easter morning, about dawn, John Harvard died. He was an Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Bethlehem, 58 years old. John Harvard was a 1969 graduate of, would you believe… Harvard. He ministered as a priest in Peru, Morgantown, Douglassville, Longport NJ and the Hill School in Pottstown.

The last six months of John’s life were difficult. In conversation with John after his diagnosis, Bishop Paul Marshall said John talked about how he would walk toward God through the coming ordeal with the Spirit as companion.

“We get used to living without acknowledging our thirst for God,” the bishop said at John’s funeral. “John was both too smart and too plain for that. He knew he craved God, and wasn’t lazy about seeking God. Even in his last days, I never came away from a conversation with John without being enriched by what his mind and heart were doing in tandem. If ever there were a case of faith seeking understanding and relationship, it was his.

“If we are to memorialize John by any act or gift,” the bishop continued, “perhaps the best way to do so is to let go of whatever in us resists the beautiful madness of loving God with heart, soul and intellect. If you want to remember John, free yourself to know your hunger for God.”

To this day, I remember the face of John Harvard.

I remember also another face. On March 24, 1980, Oscar Romero was martyred in El Salvador.

He will soon be declared a saint. But Rome was not always proud of him,

Romero was a prominent, politically conservative South American priest during the 1960s and 1970s. He was named archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. After witnessing numerous violations of human rights, he heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and began to speak out on behalf of the poor and the victims of El Salvador's long and bloody civil war. This led to numerous conflicts, both with the government in El Salvador… and with the Vatican. I remember that well. It happened during my last few years as a Roman Catholic priest.

Romero had become a proponent of liberation theology, that the Christian Gospel demands that the church should be involved in the struggle for economic and political justice, especially in the Third World. That was what put him at odds with Rome. It made for high and dangerous drama during the late 1970s.

In a strange alliance, the U.S. administration of that time formed a united front with the Vatican against liberation theology. The pope fought the theology while the U.S. administration and its Latin American allies murdered the liberationists. The Pope did not recognize Romero nor affirm his pastoral leadership nor protect him in his hour of great need. It was clearly papal disregard… in order to make a point.

In 1980, after speaking out against U. S. military support for the government of El Salvador, and calling for soldiers to disobey orders that violated human rights, Archbishop Romero was shot to death while celebrating Mass at a small chapel near his San Salvador cathedral. One well-aimed shot, fired with professional precision. It is believed that his assassins were members of Salvadoran death squads, including two graduates of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The fourth Sunday of Easter has traditionally been called Good Shepherd Sunday. The gospel speaks to us next Sunday of pretenders, of hearing and knowing the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and of Jesus leading us to new ground, into new territory. I’ve extended the metaphor to include not only hearing the voice but also seeing the face of Jesus.

I think it has been built into our DNA to look for the face and listen for the voice of the Good Shepherd. We’re never too old for this. It’s never too late in life to live as God intended for us to live, to seek the kingdom of God.

Please consider two questions… and you have more than 30 seconds. You have all day, all year, the rest of your life.
Looking for the face and listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd… What is it that you look at in our image-saturated world? What do you listen to through the static?

Do you listen to those who say you’ve got to do it to them before they do it to you. Or do you listen to Jesus who says: But it cannot be like that with you…

Do you listen to those who tell you you’ve worked hard for what you’ve got, nobody did you any favors… let them do the same. Or do you listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd who says: But it cannot be like that with you…

Do you listen to the voice of Jesus telling you you must see the world differently and respond to its challenges with a very different set of values?

You say you never hear the voice of the Good Shepherd?

But you’ve heard those many strong verbs, those gospel imperatives: Repent, be, do, give, forgive, feed and clothe, go and sow, pray, judge not, fear not…

You never hear the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Heal the sick. Welcome the stranger. Visit the imprisoned. Raise the dead. Proclaim good news. Sell what you have and give the money to the poor. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Be reconciled. Take up your cross. Follow me. Find your life by losing it for my sake. Make disciples.

You’ve never heard the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers… Persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord… proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ… seek and serve Christ in all persons loving your neighbor as yourself… strive for justice and peace among all people… respect the dignity of every human being.”

Say no more that you have not seen the face or heard the voice of the Good Shepherd.

See the many faces of Jesus… in some of the faces you know and have known. Hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Look beneath the shallow and the superficial. Make room for awe… and wonder… Be eager to know God, to embrace repentance and to proclaim hope. See the faces: Oakes, John Harvard, Oscar Romero. Who else… for you? Hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. He calls us by name… and leads us out.

"I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep."


newSpin 180405

newSpin, the newsletter
April 5
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis

TopSpin
• Bishop Election Walkabouts, April 17-20 … 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 are the nominees for IX Bishop of Bethlehem. In April, both nominees will visit the diocese for visiting sessions called "walkabouts." During the walkabouts, the bishop nominees will make introductory remarks and hold small group question-and-answer sessions. Members of the diocese are invited to attend any walkabout sessions, and may submit questions for the bishop nominees in advance via email to bishoptransitiondiobeth@gmail.com. Questioners should indicate which walkabout session they plan to attend:

Tuesday, April 17 from 7-9 p.m.

Wednesday, April 18 from 7-9 p.
St. Alban's, Sinking Spring

Thursday, April 19 from 7-9 p.m.
Friday, April 20 from 7-9 p.m.
Read more about the bishop nominees on the Bishop Search and Transition website.

• Reclaiming Jesus
is as confession of faith in a time of crsis signed on to by many faith leaders incuding 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.

• How Dr.  King lived is why he died
[Jesse Jackson, NYTimes, April 3] He mobilized mass action to win a public accommodations bill and the right to vote. He led the Montgomery bus boycott and navigated police terror in Birmingham. He got us over the bloodstained bridge in Selma and survived the rocks and bottles and hatred in Chicago. He globalized our struggle to end the war in Vietnam. How he lived is why he died. Read on. Also, The Atlantic and RNS.

• DioBeth Leadership News, March 15
Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, March 22
Here.
• DioBeth General News, March 29 Here

********  [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.
• Mike Pompeo's evangelical zeal could complicate his new diplomatic life[The Economist, Erasmus March 20] The diplomacy practiced by a global power has to engage with the world’s messy realities. That means that it cannot pretend religion does not matter, nor can it usefully subordinate its own interests to any particular religious agenda. Expediency tends to prevail. Still, even in a Washington, DC, that is used to rude shocks, news of the president’s choice to succeed Mr. Tillerson was met with some alarm. Mike Pompeo, who has hitherto been serving the president as head of the CIA, is a zealous, evangelical Christian accused of Islamophobia.

• MLK's last Sunday sermon is as relevant today as it was in 1968 … “On some positions, cowardice asks the question: Is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question: Is it politic? Vanity asks the question: Is it popular? Conscience asks the question: Is it right?” King said. “There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”
  
As Christians
,, wrote the author of this commentary, we follow a man, Jesus, who never took the easy way out. Jesus did not censor himself for fear of retribution. He challenged the institutional oppression of his day, and calls us to confront the injustices of our own time. Read on.
   [Bill] Dr. King delivered his last sermon at the National Cathedral. I don't doubt that some – perhaps many – considered it too political.

• The Second-Most Dangerous American[George Will] Because John Bolton is five things President Trump is not — intelligent, educated, principled, articulate and experienced — and because of Bolton’s West Wing proximity to a president responsive to the most recent thought he has heard emanating from cable television or an employee, Bolton will soon be the second-most dangerous American. On April 9, he will be the first national security adviser who, upon taking up residence down the hall from the Oval Office, will be suggesting that the United States should seriously consider embarking on war crimes. Read on

• Yes John Bolton really is that dangerous [NYTimes Editorial Board, March 23] The good thing about John Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, is that he says what he thinks. The bad thing is he says what he thinks. There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war. His selection is a decision that is as alarming as any Mr. Trump has made. His selection, along with the nomination of the hard-line C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, as secretary of state, shows the degree to which Mr. Trump is indulging his worst nationalistic instincts.

• Leaked EPA memo: How to downplay climate change …  The Environmental Protection Agency recently sent employees a list of eight approved talking points on climate change from its Office of Public Affairs ― guidelines that promote a message of uncertainty about climate science and gloss over proposed cuts to key adaptation programs.

• Can churches speak?
[Andrew Jungclaus, March 20] A short history of religion, philanthropy, tax law, and political speech in the US. Here. Also, Johnson Amendment remains intact in omnibus spending bill. Here.

• Not enough deep but respectful disagreement in political debate today[David Leonhardt, NYT, and National Review] The recent discussion between Jamie Weinstein and Ta-Nehisi Coates is a welcome exception. Read on,

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.


• 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.

• Choose to be kind over being right … and you'll be right every time,

• Messiah is among youA famous monastery had fallen on hard times. Its buildings, once filled with young monks and the singing of the chant, were deserted. People no longer came to be nourished by prayer. A handful of old monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised God with heavy hearts.
   On the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi had built a little hut. He came there from time to time to fast and pray. No one ever spoke with him, but whenever he appeared the word was passed from monk to monk: “The rabbi walks in the woods.” And, for as long as he was there, the monks felt sustained by his prayerful presence.
  
One day the abbot decided to visit the rabbi and open his heart to him. The rabbi's arms were outstretched in welcome as though he had been waiting for some time.

   In the middle of the hut was a wooden table with the Scriptures open on it. The rabbi and abbot sat there for a moment, in the presence of the Book. Then the rabbi began to cry. The abbot began to cry too. For the first time in his life, the abbot cried his heart out.
   After the tears had ceased to flow and all was quiet again, the rabbi lifted his head. “You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts,” he said. “You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you a teaching, but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must ever say it aloud again.”
   The rabbi looked straight at the abbot and said, “Messiah is among you.” For a while, all was silent. Then the rabbi said, “Now you must go.” The abbot left without a word and without ever looking back. The next morning, he called his monks together. He told them he had received a   teaching from “the rabbi who walks in the woods” and that this teaching was never again to be spoken aloud. Then he looked at each of his brothers and said, “The rabbi said that one of us is the Messiah.” The monks were startled by this saying. “What could it mean?” they asked themselves. “Is Brother John the Messiah? Or Father Matthew? Or Brother Thomas? Am I the Messiah? What could this mean?” There were all deeply puzzled by the rabbi's teaching. But no one ever mentioned it again.
  
In those days, the rabbi no longer walked in the woods. His hut had fallen into ruins. But, somehow or other, the old monks who had taken his teaching to heart still felt sustained by his prayerful presence.

• Bidden or unbidden, God is present (Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit) … Commonly attributed to Carl Gustav Jung. My understanding, however, is that Jung discovered it among the Latin writings of Desiderius Erasmus, who declared the statement had been an ancient Spartan proverb. Jung popularized it by having it inscribed over the doorway of his house and upon his tomb.

• A Failure of EmpathyThis Twitter thread may make you feel differently about your day. On the way to the gym today, novelist Celeste Ng drove past an elderly lady sitting on the sidewalk. "It's 40 today and it seemed like a weird place to sit," she thought. "I told myself she was probably fine, but I also felt uneasy. So I went back."

• NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar … NBC’s live production of Jesus Christ Superstar was pitched to audiences as a “Live in Concert” version, which led some to expect a straightforward performance of the songs. It turned out to be an inventively staged production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock-and-roll gospel, so passionately imagined that it set a new standard for this type of event. Reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz said it "was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in the 20-plus years I’ve been writing about TV." Read on.

• 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
• The Resurrection isn't an argument – It's the Christian word for defiance [The Guardian, Giles Fraser, March 31, 2016]
The Easter story is who we are, and allows us to push back against the darkness. I know the Church of England is supposed to be dying. And there are those who want to save it with cod management theory and evangelical up-speak. But if we as a church really believe in death and resurrection, then we don’t really need any of that secular sorcery. There has been a priest in my parish continuously since the reign of King John in the early 13th century. Politicians call it resilience. I call it resurrection. Read on.

• God and her (female) clergy [Nicholas Kristof, NYTimes, March 31]
Ever since Eve bit into an apple in the Garden of Eden, God has been rough on women. Or, more precisely, the men who claim to speak on behalf of God have routinely disparaged women or discriminated against them. Male religious leaders declared menstruation ritually unclean and advised in Deuteronomy that when a girl doesn’t bleed on her wedding night “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” Saint Paul orders women to “be in submission” and adds, “It is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (some scholars believe that Paul didn’t write that passage, and that it was added later). Over the centuries, it was fine for women to be martyred (or, at times, to be burned as witches), but they were denied the right to become priests, rabbis or ministers. Yet a revolution is unfolding across America and the world, and countless women will be presiding this weekend over Easter and Passover celebrations. In just a few decades, women have come to dominate many seminaries and rabbinical schools and are increasingly taking over the pulpit at congregations across the country. “What we’re seeing before our very eyes is a dramatic shift; in my mind it’s as big as the Protestant Reformation,” says the Rev. Serene Jones, the first woman president of New York City’s Union Theological Seminary — where almost 60 percent of the students are now female. Read on.


DioBeth

• 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).

• Trinity Bethlehem Artist-in-Residence teaches LCCC students to fly Aram Basmadjian, Artist-in-Residence at Trinity Bethlehem, was featured in an article in Aspire Magazine. In addition to amazing work which he does at Trinity as organist/choir director, he also serves as the Chief Flight Instructor at Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC). This is a quote from the article: “Aram Basmadjian clearly has one of the most experienced and qualified team of flight instructors that I have seen in 15 years of flying.

• DioBeth Leadership News, March 15 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, March 22 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, March 29 … Here


Episcopal/Anglican
• Interview with Justin Welby[The Guardian, Rachel Cooke, April 1] The archbishop of Canterbury was raised by an alcoholic and answered God’s call ‘kicking and screaming’. Now, his unorthodox views are at odds with many in his church. Here he talks about his demons and his mission. Read on,

• Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Easter Message[The Guardian, Rachel Cooke, April 1] It is easy to overlook, and sometimes convenient to forget, that Jesus was executed, Jesus was crucified by an unholy alliance of religion, politics, and economic self-interest … Hatred does not have the last word. Violence does not have the last word. Bigotry does not have the last word. Sin, evil do not have the last word. The last word is God, and God is love. View and/or read.


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

• A new comprehensive Evangelism Toolkit … is available online for congregations, dioceses, groups, and individuals to explore Evangelism.


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


TaleSpin
Jesus Died Only to Rise Again. Where Did the Concept of the Resurrection Come From?
[Jon Meacham, NYT, March 30] To many believers — and even to many nonbelievers — the story of Christianity seems monumental and unchanging, the stuff of oft-recited creeds and hymns. It’s essential to appreciate, however, that there was no pre-existing expectation of an atoning messianic human sacrifice in the complex Judaism of the first century. No one was looking for a savior who would suffer, die and rise again to offer redemption from sin and eternal life. On the contrary, the prevailing thought was that a militaristic Davidic figure would emerge to throw off Roman rule and inaugurate what was known as “the kingdom of God,” an era of justice marked by the defeat of evil, a general resurrection of the dead and the restoration of Israel. Before the formation of the Christian story, resurrection within Judaism was less about the rising from the dead of a specific person than about a glorified vision of a triumphant Israel. Read on.

How the world’s best basketball player became a political force for racial justice LeBron James is quite possibly the best basketball player who’s ever lived. He has compiled a résumé that rivals any player in the history of the NBA — up to and including Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest player in the sport’s history. But the 33-year-old James is much more than a living sports legend. He is an actor, a media mogul, and a cultural icon. He rose to the top of his sport at the same time that America was forced to confront its systematic violence against black people, especially young black men, and James has taken up that cause as one of the most famous young black men in the nation. He is perhaps the most socially and politically influential athlete since Muhammad Ali. Read on.

• Because our father does … As a Roman Catholic priest in Reading during the mid '60s, I visited a family a few blocks from the church. Mother and three children, about 5 to 15. Father wasn't home. After some introductory conversation, I mentioned that I've never seen them in church. I asked why they did not attend. "Because our father does," the 15-year-old boy said. I was silent. Then the mother said something like this. "My husband is not a good husband to me. He's not a good father to our children. But he goes to church every Sunday. You may have seen him." She asked the children to go into the adjoining room and went into sad detail. For some reason, that suddenly came to mind recently.

• Lehigh Valley agency throws Hail Mary pass to save homeless housing Probably because we made a 2017 contribution, significant for us, in response to a plea from the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley to help Puerto Ricans flooding the Lehigh Valley, fleeing the devastation of Hurricane Maria, we were on the mailing list for an unusual appeal from CACLV's executive director Alan Jennings.

   A uestionable change in HUD regs has put the existence of long-term transitional housing programs such as CACLV's Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown in jeopardy. Jennings' letter wasn't your ordinary "give what you can" approach. Rather, it was a "Hail Mary" pass (inside-baseball talk for football fans). "We need to find that rare person who would be able and willing to contribute a substantial amount of money in order to keep this project going," he said: they needed $60,000 this year, roughly $50,000 next year and $25,000 per year for two or three years after that. "Such a commitment would give us more time to find a more permanent solution," the letter read. I read the letter on Friday and discarded it with an "I wish."
   According to Bill White's Morning Call column online, Jennings got an email from a couple who said they were in for the 60 and 50 Then a call from another offering 50 and another offering 30. "It produced a miracle," Jennings told White. "It's the kind of thing that makes you feel good about your community … And it's a pleasure to thumb our noses at HUD once again." More here.

• The Last Frontier for Gay Rights [WaPo, Tiffany Stanley, April 2] A powerful liberal activist, a rural conservative town and a debate that won’t end.

• The President sang Amazing Grace [The Atlantic]
Joan Baez, the folk singer, remembers the first time she heard “The President Sang Amazing Grace.” At the time, she was driving: “I had to pull over to make sure I heard whose song it was, because I knew I had to sing it.” Watch a new animation of Baez’s rendition of the song.


Requiescant in pace
• Grover N. Keiper, 67 … died March 29. He was a member of St. Luke's Scranton. Obituary


• Sue P. Large,
95 … died Feb. 25. She was an active parishioner at St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem. Obituary.

• Robert Jackson, 75 … died March 24. He was an member of St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem. Obituary.

• Frances Arthofer, a former long time member of the Cathedral. She lived in a retirement care facility near Myerstown, Pennsylvania for many years. Fran was active at the Cathedral, a member of the Altar Guild and the Quilters group.

• Betty Miles, 67 … died March 26. She was an member of Trinity Easton. Obituary.

• Minnie E. White, 88 … died March 23. She was a member of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Emmaus, where she worked as the secretary from 1964 to 1973. Obituary.

• Mary Thiel … died March 5. [Dean Tony Pompa]
Mary was one of the longest living members of Nativity Cathedral who in her younger years was devoted to the mission, ministry, and life of this congregation. A true matriarch of love and faithfulness who embodied grace.

• Annamae VanDoren, 99 … died March 17. She was at one time a longtime member of Nativity Cathdral Bethlehem. Obituary.

• Linda J. Ellis, 78 … died on March 6. She was a member of St. Brigid's Nazareth. Obituary.

• P.L. Thibaut Brian, 87 … died April 2. He attended the Church of the Mediator in Allentown and the Church of the Annunciation in Bradenton, FL. Obituary.

• Stephen Hawking, 76[CNN March 14] may have been our era's greatest scientist. Read on. To be interred at Westminster Abbey.

• Linda Brown, 75 … died March 25. Remember Brown v. Board of Education? Read on.

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
• The Church of Scientology has launched a TV channel. It's weirdly familiar. [Vox] Scientology channel's vague "self-help" platitudes and stock-footage-laden graphics tie neatly into the intersection of capitalism and spirituality that has come to define the American religious landscape. 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
Cute mascot? Beloved grandmother? Sister Jean reveals deeper stereotypes about nuns[WaPo, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, March 31] In movies such as “The Sound of Music,” “Sister Act,” “Dead Man Walking” and “Doubt,” Hollywood has cycled through different portrayals of the religious figures, such as singing nuns, sexy nuns, serious nuns and lovable nuns. But even fun stereotypes are dangerous, Sullivan said, because they can diminish the many accomplishments of these women. “They’re not adorable mascots,” she said. “They’re women of experience and passion who have fought through some serious battles and emerged stronger than ever.” 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
• Lost in Transition
… [Commonweal, Massimo Faggioli, April 3] Communication problems are usually not just communication problems: this is as true at the Vatican as it is anywhere else. The fiasco surrounding Benedict XVI’s letter declining an invitation to write the introduction for a series of volumes on Pope Francis’s theology was more than a PR snafu. It reveals deeper issues in the ongoing transition from the pontificate of Benedict XVI to the pontificate of Francis. Read on.

• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here.

• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.


Health and Wellness
• Health and Salvation: A Parish Nurse in the basement of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Allentown [March 20, “The Patient Body” is a monthly column by Ann Neumann about issues at the intersection of religion and medicine. This month: Parish Nursing] Deb Gilbert sits at the head of a diagonally placed folding table in a small room. She is surrounded by black garbage bags overflowing with winter coats of every color and style. Gilbert both blends in—she’s wearing head to toe purple—and stands out—she is clean, orderly and perfectly manicured. From each of her earlobes dangles a tiny snowman earring. Outside the door, about 60 homeless men and women mill about in a loose queue, waiting for lunch to be served. The basement smells like winter air, like stale alcohol, like food prepared in large quantities. And like bodies that haven’t been washed today, but maybe yesterday or the day before.
   Gilbert is a registered nurse and director of the Parish Nursing/Community Outreach Department of Sacred Heart Health Services, a Catholic hospital founded in 1912 by a monsignor and the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart. Gilbert meets with patients in this coat-filled basement room every week to practice her version of holistic medicine, which is part first aid, part prayer, and part close listening. She is not Catholic, she tells me, so she is able to refer patients to whatever denominational services they desire. “The first question I ask,” Gilbert says of her approach to patients, “is ‘Tell me about your spiritual journey.’” Read on

• The facts about farmed salmon
… [NYT] S
almon passed tuna as the most popular fish in the United States. Our doctors have told us to eat more of it; our fitness and diet regimens have put it in heavy menu rotation. The problem is not all salmon is created equal. More than 90 percent of the fresh salmon eaten in this country comes from giant fish farms, and those farms have problems. Big ones. Here are the facts about America’s favorite fish that you should know but perhaps wish you didn’t. Read on.

• Five susrprising reasons to eat more garlic … It helps control blood pressure. It eases inflammation. It makes cold season less miserable. It's good for your joints. It may help you lose weight. Read on.


Film and TV
• PBS film explores how we go gently – or kicking and screaming – into the night … [RNS] Five weeks after she receives her terminal lung cancer diagnosis, Phyllis Tickle is sitting on her porch in Tennessee, talking about death. “I’ve reared my children. I’ve buried my husband. I’ve done the work I think I came to do,” the renowned religious historian says. Then she pauses. “Now I can go.”
  
81-year-old Tickle’s body was laid to rest three months later — before her longtime friend Helen Whitney, a veteran filmmaker, could interview her a second time for a documentary project. The two-hour film “Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death,” which premieres March 26 on PBS, pushes viewers to confront their own mortality. In the film, Whitney asks nine men and women grappling with death to tell their stories. Read on,

• 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 Hive … is a website created by Hillary Raining, rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Gladwyne and known to many in the Diocese of Bethlehem where she was ordained. "Based on a model of community and support found in the hive of the honey bee," Hillary writes, "this wellness and spirituality website is for you in your quest to change the world." Here.

The Episcopal Café
Here.

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.
• 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 Effectis 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.


Varia



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.  THERE'S A NEW TOOLKIT

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 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.

 

 


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. Bil]

Just before the Baal Shem Tov died, he gave his disciples various tasks to carry on his mission. To the last disciple he gave the work of going all over Europe to retell the stories he remembered from the Master. Because this seemed hardly a prestigious job, the disciple was disappointed. But the Baal Shem Tov told him he would not have to do it forever; he would receive a sign when he should stop and then he could live out the rest of his life in ease.

After many years of telling the stories, he heard of a nobleman in Italy who would pay a gold ducat for each new story told of the Baal Shem Tov. But upon arriving at the nobleman's castle, the disciple couldn't remember a single story. He was mortified.

The nobleman urged him to stay a few days, hoping he would eventually remember something. On the third day the disciple protested, out of sheer embarrassment, that he must go. As he was about to leave, he remembered this one story.

Once the disciple went with the Baal Shem Tov to Turkey where the streets were decorated for the Christian's Easter festival. The disciple was upset, for Jews were not safe during the Christian Holy Week and Easter. They were fair game for the Christians shouting God-Killer! In fact, it was the custom during the Easter festival to kill one Jew in reparation.

Still, they went. They went into the Jewish quarter of the city where the Jews were huddled behind their shutters out of fear. Imagine how startled and surprised they were when the Baal Shem Tov stood up and opened all the windows and stood there in full view!

Seeing the bishop leading the procession, the Baal Shem Tov told his disciple, “Go tell the bishop I want to see him.” Was he out of his mind? Did he want to die?

When given the message, the bishop seemed frightened and agitated. But he went. He went and was secluded for three hours with the Baal Shem Tov. Then the Master came out and without saying anything else, told his disciples that they were ready to go back home.

As the disciple was about to apologize to the nobleman for the insignificance of the story, he noticed the enormous impact it had on the man. The nobleman said through his tears, “Your story has saved my soul. You see, I was there that day. I was that bishop. I had descended from a long line of distinguished rabbis, but one day during great persecution I had abandoned the faith and converted to Christianity. In time, the Christians made me a bishop. I had accepted everything, and even went along with the killing of the Jews each year until that one year.

“The night before the festival I had a terrible dream of the Day of Judgment. So when you came the very next day with a message from the Baal Shem Tov, I knew I had to go with you.. For three hours he and I talked. He told me there still might be hope for my soul. He told me to sell my good and retire on what was left and live a life of good deeds and holiness. There might still be hope. And his last words to me were these: ‘When a man comes to you and tells you your own story, you will know that your sins are forgiven.’

“So I have been asking everyone I knew for stories from the Baal Shem Tov. And I recognized you immediately when you came and I was happy. But when I saw that all the stories had been taken from you, I recognized God's judgment. Yet now you have remembered one story, my story, and I know now that the Baal Shem Tov has interceded on my behalf and that God has forgiven me.”


newSpin 180308

newSpin, the newsletter
March 8
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis

TopSpin
• President Trump’s North Korea Gamble[Nicholas Kristof, NYT, March 8] This is stunning: President Trump has accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un for a summit. It’s also, I think, a dangerous gamble and a bad idea. I can’t believe I’m saying that. For many years, over several trips to North Korea, I’ve argued for direct talks between the United States and North Korea, and it’s certainly better to be engaging the North than bombing it. If the choice is talk versus missiles, I’ll go with the talk. But the proper way to hold a summit is with careful preparation to make sure that the meeting advances peace — and certainly that it serves some purpose higher than simply legitimizing Kim’s regime. Kim and Trump are both showmen with a flair for the dramatic and unexpected. That would make a summit thrilling — but creates great risks if everything turns out wrong. Read on.

•  A model settlement: The wise resolution of a church property dispute [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board, March 3] This week the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and nine churches that broke away from the diocese in 2008 finally settled their differences over property rights, and they did so in a refreshingly evenhanded way. Read on. Also here.

• Publishers rejected her, Christians attacked her: The deep faith of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ author Madeleine L’Engle[Washington Post, Sarah Pulliam Bailey March 8] Although L’Engle did not like denominational labels, she mostly attended Episcopal churches, serving for about four decades as a librarian and writer-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, an Episcopal church and one of the largest cathedrals in the world.
   “The themes that are important in Christianity permeate her writing: good and bad, light and darkness,” said the Rev. Patrick Malloy, subdean of the cathedral. “She was open to questions and to looking at new ways to say old things.”
  
In the 1990s, L’Engle began attending Sunday services at All Angels Church, an Episcopal church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side known for attracting artists. She wanted the smaller community of All Angels but still attended noon prayer and evensong services at St. John the Divine. Read on.

[Patrick Malloy, ID'd in the WaPo story as "subdean," is Canon for Liturgy and the Arts at St. John the Divine. He was rector of Grace Allentown for some ten years during the first decade of this century.]

• Madeleine L’Engle’s Christianity was vital to A Wrinkle in Time. The new Disney movie has excised L’Engle’s faith. … [Vox, Tara Isabella Burton, Mar 8] Here,

• An Ignatian guide to a 'A Wrinkle in Time'[America, Eric Sundrup, March 9]
I watched “A Wrinkle in Time” sitting next to a religious sister in full habit. I was disguised in civilian garb, so it was less obvious that I was a Jesuit priest. By the end of the film, I felt a tinge of guilt. I should have been in clerics—wearing all my commitments visibly—because this film was inviting all of us to wear our hearts on our sleeves, to be honest and unabashedly earnest, to hope. It is a demanding task for adults in the age of Trump, and much to their credit, I think the children will have an easier time of it. We need to pay attention to them. Read on.

• DioBeth General News, March 1Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Feb. 15
Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Feb. 22
Here.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 8
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 newsletter, (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.
• In blow to Trump, Supreme Court won't hear appeal of DACA ruling [NBC News, Pete Williams, Feb. 26] The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the Trump administration's appeal of a federal judge's ruling that requires the government to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program going. Under a lower court order that remains in effect, the Department of Homeland Security must continue to accept applications to renew DACA status from the roughly 700,000 young people, known as Dreamers, who are currently enrolled. The administration's deadline of March 5, when it intended to shut the program down, is now largely meaningless. Read on.

• I
s God in this Picture? [Editors of Commonweal, March 6] Right-wing Christians support Donald Trump in the hope that he’ll change the tide of the culture wars. Despite the president’s narcissistic and debaucherous private life and tendency toward “deception, fraud, and shameless bravado,” some Christians believe that “Trump is in the White House for a reason,” that God will use this flawed instrument to reverse what supporters insist is “the nation’s precipitous cultural decline.” But this stance “seems to confuse the political agenda of conservative Evangelical Christians with God’s will.” Contrary to what these Christians believe, “to the extent that conservative Christians bind themselves to this president, all of us will have a ‘front row seat’ on the further decline of Christian influence in America.” Read on.

• The Man behind the Trump Dossier[The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, March 12] How the ex-spy tried to warn the world about Trump’s ties to Russia. Read on.

 

SpiritSpin
• Lent – Time for a Cool Change … If there's one thing in my life that's missing, it's the time that I spend alone. Listen.


• 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

• We're already in the presence of God[Richard Rohr] What's absent is awareness.

• Nothing is more practical … than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.
   What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
  
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

   Fall in love, stay in love and it widecide everything.
[Origin uncertain: frequently attributed to Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (1907-1991) Superior General of the Society of Jesus 1961-1984.]

• Forgiving the others as well [I’ve long been challenged by this story.] The elect, some who were greatly discriminated against in life, gather outside the heavenly gates, confident that their good works have secured their reservations inside. Suddenly, they become aware of a rumor spreading among them. The rumor is this: “He’s going to forgive the others as well.” Many of them are beside themselves over all the trouble they went through to secure their reservations. They become part of a storm of indignant protest. They question God’s justice. They feel that God’s receiving the others as well somehow diminishes their own suffering and good works. They become furious. They curse God. At that instant, they judge themselves, damned to a world where you get only justice, no more. Final judgment. They refused to acknowledge love.

• Saved by Faith –– Created for Good Works[A slightly edited excerpt from a 2006 homily, Lent 4B, by Bill Lewellis, Eph. 2:4-10] There was a time I thought faith and belief were simply two words for the same reality. I no longer think that. I have come to experience faith as quite different from belief. Read on,

• How to talk about death[Commonweal, Feb. 17] Eternity is not to be confused with perpetuity. The central Christian event is not survival but resurrection—a radical transformation at odds with the consoling continuity of “living on.” Read on.

• A Man and his Dog … A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery. It suddenly occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the dog had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, the wall was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. He saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
  
He and the dog walked toward the gate. He saw someone, and called out, "Excuse me, where are we?" "This is heaven,” came the answer. "Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked. "Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."

   The gate began to open. "Can my friend come in, too?" the traveler asked. "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets." The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw someone inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
   "Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have any water?" "Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there. Come on in." "How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog. "There should be a bowl by the pump." They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.
   When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the one who was standing by the tree waiting for them. "What do you call this place?" the traveler asked. "This is heaven," was the answer. "Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "Down the road, they said that was heaven, too." "Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell." "Doesn't it make you mad that they use your name like that?" "No. I can see how you might think so, but we're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll leave their best friends behind".

• Saying a Prayer I Don't Believe In[NYT, Jay P. Lefkowitz, March 1] Like countless Jews before me, I am saying Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning. Three times a day, wherever I am in the world, I strive to find a minyan (quorum) so I can recite these ancient Aramaic verses as a last measure of devotion to my father.
   The Kaddish is probably the most famous of all Jewish prayers. Leonard Bernstein set it to music in his Third Symphony; Allen Ginsberg wrote a poem by the same name upon the passing of his mother. In Tony Kushner’s play “Angels in America,” two of the characters say the full Kaddish over Roy Cohn’s dead body. And it was chanted by Neil Diamond, playing a cantor, in “The Jazz Singer,” and by all of the workers in the factory in the last scene of “Schindler’s List.” Most improbably, it is even recited by Rocky Balboa when he mourns the passing of his beloved trainer, Mickey, in “Rocky III.”

   Yet, the Kaddish is an odd prayer to have become the centerpiece of mourning. Despite its association with death and dying, it does not mention the word death. Instead, it is an endlessly repetitive celebration of the glory of God.
   Whatever its origins, the text of the prayer leaves me cold. Each day as I say the Kaddish, I struggle with the fact that I am praising a God who, according to Jewish tradition, created the world “according to His Will.” Does God really will that the world endure the cruelty and suffering we see so often? And, on a more personal level, did God will that my father, an intellectual who suffered from dementia, would lose the ability to communicate and have the mental faculties of a 5-year-old
   The essential gift of the Kaddish is that it fosters community for a person who has just suffered a searing loss of a parent or sibling, spouse or child, even when we find ourselves far from home.
   Even if the words themselves offer little comfort, I take great satisfaction in this communal act of prayer; of hearing the voices of others respond to my own prayers; and of being welcomed and enveloped by a larger and transcendent community. And in that experience, I honor and reconnect with my father. Read on.

• 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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• Spirit Resources
 ... way below


Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin
• Francis invites change, but we are the change [Joan Chittister, NCR, March 10]
Five years ago, for instance, we moved from one style of church to another. It happened quietly but it landed in the middle of the faithful like the Book of Revelation. Gone were the images of finger-waving popes, stories of theological investigations, and the public scoldings and excommunications of people who dared to question the ongoing value of old ways. Read on

• A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches[NYT, Campbell Robertson, March 9] Megachurches around the country were trying to racially integrate and finding some success. Then came the 2016 election. Read on.



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).

Jubilate, Lent Year B 2018 (WORD)
Jubilate, Lent Year B 2018 (PDF)


• DioBeth General News, March 1 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Feb. 15 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Feb. 22 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 8 … Here.
• Bishop Search Committee website … Here


Episcopal/Anglican
GC Liturgy and Music committee offers church a plan to unscramble its calendar of saints
[Mary Frances Schjonberg, March 5] ‘Situation of great confusion’ was 10 years in the making, Read on,

Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD
Episcopal Migration MinistriesHere.
Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN)Here.
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)Here
• Episcopal Asset Map
Here.
• Additional Resources
 ... way below

People


In the Media


TaleSpin
• In Vatican magazine exposé, nuns reveal their ec
onomic exploitation … [NYTimes, March 1] ROME — Sister Marie told of nuns who worked long hours to cook and clean for cardinals and bishops, without being asked to break bread at the same table. Sister Paule pointed out that many nuns did not have registered contracts with the bishops, schools, parishes or congregations they worked for, “so they are paid little or not at all.” Sister Cécile said that “nuns are seen as volunteers to have available at one’s calling, which gives rise to abuse of power.”
   These stories — told by sisters using pseudonyms — were revealed Thursday in an exposé about how nuns are exploited by the leaders and institutions of the Roman Catholic Church. The article, by the French journalist Marie-Lucile Kubacki, was published in the March edition of Women Church World, the monthly magazine on women distributed alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. The stories amount to a distress signal about the unfair economic and social conditions many nuns experience, as well as the psychological and spiritual challenges that many face. Read on.
   [Bill] I witnessed – at times was the unwitting beneficiary of – this exploitation, both in the U.S. and in Rome.

• The Opioid Crisis is the worst Addiction Epidemic in American History[TIME Magazine, March 5, 2018] Drug overdoses kill more than 64,000 people per year — roughly as many as were lost in the entire Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined – and the nation’s life expectancy has fallen for two years in a row. Over the last year, photographer James Nachtwey set out to document the opioid crisis in America through the people on its front lines. Alongside TIME’s deputy director of photography, Paul Moakley, the pair traveled the country gathering stories from users, families, first responders and others at the heart of the epidemic.
  
Pharmaceutical companies helped spark this epidemic by aggressively marketing opioids as low-risk solutions for long-term chronic pain. We now know that they’re anything but ­low-risk—and yet drug­makers have continued to push opioids and reward doctors who prescribe them. Attempts to crack down on prescriptions have helped, but Americans are still prescribed far more opioids than anyone else in the world—enough for almost every adult in the country to have their own bottle of pills.
  
Political efforts in Washington have also been insufficient. In October, the White House declared a public-health emergency but did not grant any additional money for the crisis. The position of drug czar remains unfilled, and a limit on Medicaid reimbursements for large facilities remains in place, though the President’s own opioid commission suggested that lifting it would be “the single fastest way to increase treatment availability across the nation.”
   T
his issue of TIME, the first in our 95-year history devoted to the work of a single photographer, is an effort to go beyond charts and policy.
  
Prescriptions gave way to cheaper, stronger alternatives. Why scrounge for a $50 pill of Percocet when a tab of heroin can be had for $5? Synthetic opioids, which have flooded into the U.S. from high-volume labs in China and Mexico, are even more potent—and a potentially fatal dose costs less than a Big Mac.
  
The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who fatally overdosed after years of battling addiction, left behind a family. “When Phil died four years ago, I was so overwhelmed, vulnerable and cracked open that anger became my protective shield, the only thing between me and collapse,” wrote Hoffman’s wife Mimi O’Donnell, in an essay for this project. “I wondered if I had talked to more people, asked for more help—screamed louder—if it would have saved his life.”
  
In the absence of a major national initiative, people across the country have gone to extraordinary lengths to help where they can. They bring food, medical supplies and clean needles to kids living on the streets of San Francisco, in the shadow of the tech world’s billionaire dream factories. They work to steer people into treatment programs and out of the over­burdened and ill-equipped prison system. They adopt their own grandchildren—or foster kids whose own families can no longer care for them. They open their own homes to pregnant users, offering them a reason to believe that their life—and their child’s—can be different.
  
Finding a way out will not be easy, particularly at a time of partisan division when national will is so hard to muster. But the need to act is urgent, and the map is increasingly clear: first, we need to recognize that addiction is a disease. The opioid epidemic must be seen as a public-health crisis rather than a moral failure. That means expanding access to medically assisted treatment and counseling, which is widely considered to be the most effective method of getting people off of opioids for good, yet is available to far fewer people than all those who need it. We must enhance efforts to reduce the supply, through the work of law enforcement, by regulating lawful prescriptions and by encouraging other strategies for managing pain. And, finally, we need to confront problems such as the growing economic divide, unaffordable health care and the diminished employment opportunities for those without a college degree which are helping fuel demand in the first place.
  
An effort of this order will be a massive undertaking. It will require cooperation between the federal government, local officials, law enforcement and public-health leaders—and far more money than has been set aside so far. In early February, Congress allocated $6 billion to helpTi—experts in the field say the amount needs to be at least 25 times that to make a permanent dent.
  
To see the faces and hear the stories of those with the most at stake is to begin to reckon with the crisis. As Nachtwey once put it: “We must look at it. We’re required to look at it. We’re required to do what we can about it. If we don’t, who will?”

[Bill] As I paged through this issue of TIME, viewing and reading most of it, in hard copy and online, I felt that a significant step toward the solution of the opioid crisis was in my hands and on my screen. This issue of TIME presents an insightful draft for a middle and high-school curriculum on the crisis. If local school boards cannot finance this, perhaps a combination of federal and state funds along with contributions from foundations and people such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet might. In any event, we must be able to do better than the White House which in October declared a public-health emergency but did not grant any additional money for the crisis. Thanks. Page on.

How 'The Big Lebowski' Taught Judaism … [RNS, Jeffrey Salkin,  March 7] I know that you will kick yourself for not remembering, but March 6 marked the twentieth anniversary of one of the great cult films of our time, “The Big Lebowski.”
   “The Big Lebowski,” directed by the Coen brothers, is the ultimate stoner classic – the shaggy dog story of the Dude and his quest to seek revenge for a urinated-upon rug. It has a great cast: Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi (“Shut the f_____ up, Donny!”) Sam Elliott, Julianne Moore, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and John Turturro.
   But, Jews remember the film for yet another reason – and that would be the immortal performance of John Goodman as Walter. Read on.


Requiescant in pace
• Georgia Johnson Besecker, 88 … died February 3. She was a member of Prince of Peace Dallas. Obituary.

• Martha Grace Matos, 88 … died on February 27.
She was a member of Christ Church Forest City where she taught Sunday school. Obituary.

• Eleanor and John, 93, Deykes … John died on February 19. Eleanor died six days later. Married for 72 years, they were members of St. Mark's Moscow where Eleanor had served on the Altar Guild and John had been Treasurer. Obituaries.

• Kenneth E. Banzhof, 70 … died on February 24. He  was a member of Mediator Allentown. Obituary.

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not


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
• The Scandal of Firing LGBT Catholics[CommonweL, John Gehring, Feb. 16] Last week’s firing of a first-grade Catholic school teacher who married her same-sex partner again raises the question of whether Catholic institutions are selectively enforcing the church’s sexual ethics in ways that unfairly target gays and lesbians. As these firings become increasingly common, Catholic leaders must acknowledge the deep wounds they are causing to people who love and serve the church. A more prudent, and ultimately, more Christian, response is needed in these complex cases. 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
• Former president of Ireland tells pope to develop 'credible strategy' for women's inclusion … [NCR, Joshua McElwee, March 8] Vatican City –– Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, has called on Pope Francis to develop a "credible strategy" to include women at every level in the Catholic Church's global structure, saying their exclusion from decision-making roles "has left the church flapping about awkwardly on one wing." McAleese, speaking at the annual Voices of Faith event March 8, said the church "has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny." "Today, we challenge Pope Francis to develop a credible strategy for the inclusion of women as equals throughout the church's root and branch infrastructure, including its decision-making," she told a packed crowd in a small hall at the Jesuit order's Rome headquarters outside the Vatican's walls but on the city-state's territory. Read on.

• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here.

• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.


Health and Wellness



Film and TV
• New 'Pope' series on CNN[America, John Anderson, March 9] Quite a few readers of America will know more going in than they will get from “Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History.” But the intent isn’t to woo scholars and theologians but rather an audience less familiar with history’s 266 pontiffs, the scope of their power, their various peccadilloes and the peculiarities of papal history. What’s the problem? That the creators of the program didn’t think their utterly fascinating subject was going to be quite fascinating enough. Read on

Media, Print, Music, Tech


Websites
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere.


Podcasts
• The Bible for Normal People

• The Daily
• Invisibilia
• The Day Explained
• The Hive
• Radio Atlantic
• Stay Tuned with Preet
• The Axe Files with David Axelrodj
• Pod Save America


Varia
• 14 Ways to Eat Healthy on the Cheap [Web MD] Keep your pantry stocked with these inexpensive, nutrient-packed foods. Most cost less than 50 cents per serving. Read on,


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.

 

 


Saved by Faith –– Created for Good Works

[A slightly edited excerpt from a 2006 homily, Lent 4B, by Bill Lewellis, Eph. 2:4-10]

There was a time I thought faith and belief were simply two words for the same reality. I no longer think that. I have come to experience faith as quite different from belief.

Faith (belief in, trust) has to do with our relationship with a person. "Belief that" has to do only with intellectual assent. "Belief that" requires little more than a nod of the head and, perhaps, an occasional argument. Belief that God is Trinity, three persons in one divine nature, that God became incarnate as Jesus. that Jesus died on the cross, that God raised Jesus.

During the early 90s, our diocesan community invited Bishop William Frey, once bishop of the Diocese of Colorado, to spend a few days at various locations around our 14 counties in order to conduct an evangelism mission, a kind of diocesan renewal. One of the simple stories he told impressed me. He told it as a way to recognize the difference between believing in from believing that.

Imagine yourself in a crowd looking up at someone about to push a wheelbarrow along a tightrope stretched across two four-story buildings. “Believing that,” Bishop Frey said, is to wager $10 with someone near you that the man pushing the wheelbarrow will make it across the tightrope. "Believing in," on the other hand, is to put yourself in the wheelbarrow.

Faith includes believing in.

I believe in one God … And in one Lord Jesus Christ … And believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life.

Soon, in our service, we will pray the Creed. Creed, from the first word in the Latin version, Credo … “I believe.” If we go deeper into the Latin root on which the word is built, we discover the Latin word for heart, cor, readily seen in English words such as cardiac, cordial, courage and encourage.

With that in mind, think of what we are soon to say, I believe in God, as not so much a work of the mind as a matter of the heart. It helps me when I pray the Nicene Creed, when I say “I believe in God,” to think “I set my heart on God … I set my heart on Jesus Christ … I set my heart on the Holy Spirit.”

We may have long forgotten, I think, that the creed speaks to us of matters of the heart, not simply of matters of the mind and will. In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us of why.

The reading we heard today from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians includes words on which to set our hearts. Hear those words again: "By grace, you have been saved through faith, and this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast."

During this last quarter of my life, I’ve thought often that the hardest thing to accept about God’s relationship with you and me is not one or another of God’s marching orders to us, those strong verbs of God’s word such as “be, do, give, forgive, feed, clothe, go, sow, pray, judge not, fear not, love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemies, be reconciled, take up your cross, find your life by losing it for my sake…”

Those are not the hardest things. The hardest thing to accept about Gods relationship with us is that God loves us unconditionally, that we are saved by grace through faith, not by our own doing, by gift of God, not by our good works. That God loves us unconditionally is so hard to imagine. Can we trust God that much?

I wonder at times if I may not want unconditional love. The most secure grip the devil has on me has not to do with any doubts I may have about the Trinity or the Incarnation or the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit … nor with any sins I have committed through my refusal to allow gospel imperatives to direct my life. The devil’s last and best hope is my shred of pride that suggests I have done or can do something to earn God’s love … and so should others. Perhaps I don’t want God to love me unconditionally. For, if God does, then I know that is how I will need to relate to others … loving others as God has loved me.

I studied theology at a Jesuit university in Rome for four years during the early 1960s. The classrooms were large … more like lecture halls. One of the professors used to begin his course in this way. He paced back and forth on a raised platform. Behind the platform, a blackboard covered the entire wall. After a few trips back and forth, while studying the blank blackboard, he took a piece of chalk and, with one loud pound, made one white dot on the enormous blackboard. Turning, then, to the students, he said, “The white dot is what we know about God. The blackboard is what we don’t know about God. What we know about God is little. But the little we know about God is precious.”

With the passing of my years, I find that I focus more and more on the white dot. I tend to think of that as setting my heart on less, but more so. The less, however, is indeed precious. I set my heart on God who, in Jesus, became one of us. I set my heart on Jesus who is for me a window into the heart of God. I set my heart on the Holy Spirit who keeps me from turning that window into a mirror. I set my heart on God who has saved me as pure gift, not because of anything I have done. I set my heart on God who in Jesus has said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

It is not by good works that we are saved. God saved us before we did any good work. At the same time, however, St. Paul, in this same reading we heard today, reminds us that, though God’s gift of salvation is not the result of any of our good works, God has created us for good works … that good works might be our way of life … not in order to earn God’s love but in response to God’s love.


newSpin 180222

newSpin, the newsletter
February 22
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis


TopSpin
• Since Sandy Hook, more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings[NYTimes, Feb. 15] When a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults with an assault rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, it rattled Newtown, Conn., and reverberated across the world. Since then, there have been at least 239 school shootings nationwide. In those episodes, 438 people were shot, 138 of whom were killed. The data used here is from the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that began tracking school shootings in 2014. Read on.

• 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, are 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).

Jubilate, Lent Year B 2018 (WORD)
Jubilate, Lent Year B 2018 (PDF)


• DioBeth Leadership News, Feb. 15Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Feb. 8
Here.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 8
Here.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 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 newsletter, (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.
• Heavy on bluster, thin on facts [Commonweal, John Gehring, Commentary by Commonweal Editors] John Gehring comments on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s remarks that Dreamers are “too lazy” to register for protected status. Gehring points out that Kelly is “either oblivious to the irony of someone with his family’s background trafficking in pernicious stereotypes or knowingly tapping into the power of caricatures to dehumanize people.” It is “galling” that Kelly, Paul Ryan, and others enable such xenophobia when their own Irish Catholic ancestors faced similar nativism a century ago. But there is good news. “In the face of craven politicians who perpetuated fear and ugly stereotypes, those immigrants persevered and made America great.” Read on.

• "What terrifies religious extremists
like the Taliban are not American tanks or bombs or bullets, it’s a girl with a book.” –Malala Yousafzai

• The United States of Guns[Jason Kottke, Feb. 14]
Like many of you, I read the news of a single person killing at least 17 people in Parkland, Florida today. While this is an outrageous and horrifying event, it isn’t surprising or shocking in any way in a country where more than 33,000 people die from gun violence each year and guns that can fire dozens of rounds a minute are perfectly legal America is stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of gun violence. We’ll keep waking up, stuck in the same reality of oppression, carnage, and ruined lives until we can figure out how to effect meaningful change. I’ve collected some articles here about America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns, most of which I’ve shared before. Change is possible — there are good reasons to control the ownership of guns and control has a high likelihood of success — but how will our country find the political will to make it happen? Read on.

• Trump's 'best people' and their dubious ethics[NYTimes Editorial Board, Feb. 18] President Trump’s White House has been so scandal-plagued that controversies involving cabinet members and other high-level officials that would have been front-page news in any other administration have barely registered in the public consciousness. Where to begin? Trump officials have been accused of wasting taxpayer dollars when they travel for work — or, in the case of one cabinet secretary, when they travel for a work trip-cum-European vacation. Others have appeared to misuse their positions to benefit special interests and political allies. Then there are those who have conscripted family members to help them do their jobs, possibly under the mistaken belief that it takes a village of people with the same last name to run a government department.  
Perhaps we should not be surprised by these ethical lapses, given that the president himself has little interest in ethical niceties. He has refused to disclose his tax returns or divest businesses that may create conflicts of interest between Mr. Trump the executive and Mr. Trump the president. And he has given his daughter and son-in-law, who have no government experience, plum White House jobs. Here are some of the recent scandals in Trumpland that deserve greater public scrutiny, or even congressional hearings and investigations. Read on.

• Whatever Trump is hiding is hurting all of us[Thomas Friedman, NYT, Feb. 18] Our democracy is in serious danger. President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering
fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy. Read on.

• How the survivors of Parkland began the Never Again movement[TNY, Emily Witt, Feb. 19] By Sunday, only four days after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, the activist movement that emerged in its aftermath had a name (Never Again), a policy goal (stricter background checks for gun buyers), and a plan for a nationwide protest (a March for Our Lives, scheduled for March 24th). It also had a panel of luminary teens who were reminding America that the shooting was not a freak accident or a natural disaster but the result of actual human decisions. Read on.

• How banks could control gun sales if Washington won't[NYT, Feb. 19] Andrew Ross Sorkin proposes a way to bypass a dithering Congress to make AR-15 sales harder: Cut off the credit carT NYds. He notes that Apple Pay, Square and Pay Pal don’t allow gun purchases on their services. Extend that, he suggests, to Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase. Put it in the terms of service. Read on.

• Why the Second Amendment does not stymie gun control[The Economist, Feb. 20] the Second Amendment is not the primary obstacle to gun control. If legislators in the state capitols and Congress find the political will to clamp down on America’s millions of powerful and often loosely regulated weapons, it seems there is a constitutional way. Read on.

• Will America choose its children over guns?[NYT Editorial Board, Feb. 20] As surely as there are camels’ backs and straws to break them, moments arrive when citizens say they’ve had enough, when they rise up against political leaders who do not speak for them and whose moral fecklessness imperils lives. We may be witness to such a moment now with the protests by American teenagers sickened — and terrified — by the latest mass murder at the hands of someone with easy access to a weapon fit for a battlefield, not a school.

   These kids have had enough. They’ve had enough of empty expressions of sympathy in the wake of the sort of atrocities they’ve grown up with, like last week’s mass shooting that took 17 lives at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Enough of the ritualistic mouthing of thoughts and prayers for the victims. Enough of living in fear that they could be next in the cross hairs of a well-armed deranged killer, even with all the active shooter drills and lockdowns they’ve gone through. Enough of craven politicians who kneel before the National Rifle Association and its cynically fundamentalist approach to the Second Amendment. Read on

SpiritSpin
• Good Book Club among diverse Lenten tools offered by the Episcopal ChurchHere.

• Lent – Time for a Cool Change … If there's one thing in my life that's missing, it's the time that I spend alone. Listen.


• Recognizing God in the moments[Episcopal Café, Laurie Gudim, Feb. 15] Practicing the presence of God is a very simple devotion, but, especially to start with, it does take an almost continual shifting of awareness. We don’t often recognize that God is with us in each and every moment of our lives. Intellectually we might have come to that understanding, but actually talking to God, listening for God, and knowing God is present as we participate in meetings, write reports, prepare dinner, teach classes, talk to the kids and grandkids, and so forth, is a different matter. We have to keep drawing ourselves back from an illusion that we are alone. Read on.

• The clear relationship between spirituality and mission[Bill Lewellis] A committee planning a conference on "Spirituality and Mission" scheduled 12 workshops on spirituality for the morning, and a similar number on mission for the afternoon. More than three decades ago. Separating the workshops in this way was a logistical -- not a theological -- decision. We needed a way to pre-empt the message that spirituality and mission were separate-but-equal, and need not converge.
  
We discovered a story. A child wandered into a sculptor's studio and watched a master sculptor work with hammer and chisel on a large piece of marble. Marble chips flew in all directions. Months later he returned. To his surprise, where once stood only a large block of marble, there now stood a majestic and powerful Aslan-like lion. "How did you know," he asked the sculptor, "there was a lion in the marble?" "I knew," the sculptor replied, "because before I saw the lion in the marble, I saw him in my heart. The real secret, though, is that it was the lion in my heart who recognized the lion in the marble.
  
Henri Nouwen told this story of the Christ within who recognizes himself unformed in the disguises of the world to illustrate the relationship between contemplation and action. [Clowning in Rome, Image Books, 1979]. We used it to show how clearly related were spirituality and mission.
   The story suggests to me also, as one who has worked in church communication for some five decades, that, for each of us as Christian disciples, our basic ministry is communication. It's about God's word becoming flesh. Incarnation continues. Communication in the church is about proclaiming the gospel. It is your ministry. Communicate… Your Ministry. Live God's love: tell what you have seen and heard.

• Aging[Bill Lewellis] Monica's and my books inhabit two floors and a basement. On shelves. On tables. In piles on the floor. We need a library and a librarian. Were I younger, I might advocate for turning our old-style and unused parlor into a library, with bookshelves against every available wall. I frequently find a book I want to read again. But do not. Earlier this morning, Monica gave me a 1976 Doubleday Image Book with a $2.45 price tag: "Aging," by Henri Nouwen and Walter Gaffney. I began reading it immediately. But I can't read without sharing.  
   The introduction includes the following.  An old Balinese legend might help us to think more clearly about our own society and the way we relate to those we have labeled "the old" or "the elderly."  It is said that once upon a time the people of a remote mountain village used to sacrifice and eat their old men. A day came when there was not a single old man left, and the traditions were lost. They wanted to build a great house for the meetings of the assembly, but when they came to look at the tree-trunks that had been cut for that purpose no one could tell the top from the bottom: if the timber were placed the wrong way up, it would set off a series of disasters. A young man said that if they promised never to eat the old men anymore, he would be able to find a solution. They promised. He brought his grandfather, whom he had hidden; and the old man taught the community to tell top from bottom.

• Nine times Mr. Rogers said exactly the right thing[Vox, Feb. 19] For one, on where to turn during tragedy: When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." I remember a cousin telling me many years ago that when he came home from work somewhat stressed, he watched Mr. Rogers. He was then in his early 30s. Don't miss the video clips. Shout out to Bob House. Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian. Read on.


• 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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• Spirit Resources
 ... way below


Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin
• Everyone a changemaker [NYTimes, David Brooks, Feb. 8] Bill Drayton invented the term “social entrepreneur” and founded Ashoka, the organization that supports 3,500 of them in 93 countries. He’s a legend in the nonprofit world, so I went to him this week to see if he could offer some clarity and hope in discouraging times. He did not disappoint. Read on.

• Welcoming Dreamers, the obvious choice [Bishop Sean Rowe, The Morning Call, Jan. 29] The current political morass in Washington has thrown light on a deep and ugly divide in our country and in our faith communities on the issue of immigration. Read on.


DioBeth
• Two nominated for IX Bishop of BethlehemThe Standing Commit

• DioBeth General News, Feb. 8 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 1 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Jan. 25 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Jan. 18 … Here.
• Bishop Search Committee website … Here.



Episcopal/Anglican
With piety and steel, Justin Welby has the church in his firmest grip
[The Guardian, UK, Andrew Brown, Feb. 16] Last Saturday in central London, two archbishops joined a small group of people protesting about sexual abuse. Though you might expect – or at least hope – to find archbishops on the side of the angels, what was remarkable was that they were protesting against their own church. The building in question was Church House, in Westminster, where the Church of England’s General Synod was meeting, due later that day to discuss the problem of sexual abuse, with the church facing more than 3,000 historical claims. By standing with the protesters, the Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu were making a loud statement about where their sympathies lay. You had to listen very carefully under the noise to notice that the synod debate was in fact a presentation of a report and there were no survivors speaking in it. Read on.


Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD

Episcopal Migration MinistriesHere.?
Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN)Here.
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)Here
• Episcopal Asset Map
Here.
• Additional Resources

... way below


People

• DioBeth's COM Jane Williams has retired as chair of the Diocese of Bethlehem's Commission on Ministry. She will be succeeded by Tim Alleman, staff chaplain in the Geisinger Health System and rector of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre. Read on.


In the Media


TaleSpin
• Religious test for office holders? [Commonweal, Feb. 6]
When the drafters of the Constitution returned to their home states to defend their work, they faced complaints that the document was too secular. It made no mention of God, and when coupled with the ‘no religious test clause,’ many complained that the Constitution reflected political atheism. The Article VI ban, they argued, belittled the role that religion played in fostering a free and virtuous democratic society. Proponents of the ban framed Article VI as a promotion of religious liberty. Religious tests were the tools of tyrants, they insisted. But many Americans were still wary. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison lamented that one of the primary objections to the federal Constitution was that, “by prohibiting religious tests,” the founders had “opened a door for Jews, Turks, and infidels” to serve in public office. Americans wanted religious liberty, but many insisted that their public officials meet certain religious standards. Read on.


Requiescant in pace
• The Rev. Elizabeth Diely, 75 … died February 3. Betsy had been assisting priest at St. Margaret's Emmaus where she was also a member. Obituary.

• Billy Graham, 99, dies. He filled stadiums and counseled presidents [NYTimes, Laurie Goodstein, Feb. 21] The Rev. Billy Graham, a North Carolina farmer’s son who preached to millions in stadium events he called crusades, becoming a pastor to presidents and the nation’s best-known Christian evangelist for more than 60 years, died today, Feb. 21, at his home in Montreat, N.C. Read on. Also at AP.

• Justin David Skoniecki, 19 … died on February 16. He had been a memb of Grace Kingston where he served as an acolyte. He was a 2017 graduate of Greater Nanticoke Area High School. Obituary


• Denise E. Ruch, 63 … died on February 12. She was a member of St. Mark's/St. John's in Jim Thorpe. Obituary.

• Frances C. Malpas, 92 … died on February 13. She was a member of St. Alban's Sinking Spring. Obituary.

• Joseph Guzzi, 86 … died on February 15. He was a member of St. Luke's Scranton. Obituary.

 

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
How Protestants made the modern world  [Religion and Politics, Feb 20] The combination of free inquiry, democracy, and limited government is pretty much what makesup liberal, market democracies. It runs the modern world. And though it seems obvious to us that liberty and equality should go together, it is not at all an obvious combination. It is that distinct heritage of Protestantism in holding those models together that is its most significant contribution to the modern world. Read on.

A Catholic priest pens the Archbishop of Canterbury's prayer book for Lent[CruxNow]
For those who have followed the close collaboration and friendship between Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, it will come as no surprise that the spiritual head of the Church of England selected a Roman Catholic priest’s manuscript for his 2018 Lenten prayer book. Luigi Gioia, a Benedictine priest and academic scholar, has spent the past two decades bringing together ecumenical thought and spirituality in both the Church and the classroom. Gioia spoke with Crux about what monastics offer the modern age and how “the more we grow in authentic prayer, the greater our compassion grows.” How did a Catholic priest end up writing the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lenten prayer book? Read on.

• ‘Stations of the Cross’ art exhibition follows Jesus’ path to crucifixion across Manhattan … [ENS, David Paulsen] Although the subject matter is drawn from Christianity’s most solemn and foundational story, this “Stations of the Cross,” sponsored by Trinity Church Wall Street, is presented as an explicitly interfaith experience. 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
• Teacher marries her girlfriend, and then Catholic School fires her[NYT, Christina Caron, Feb. 7] Parents at a Catholic school in Miami said they were astounded that administrators had fired a first-grade teacher just days after she married her girlfriend, and now some of the teacher’s supporters on the faculty are scared that the school will retaliate against them as well. The teacher, Jocelyn Morffi, was by all accounts one of the most popular educators at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Miami, where she taught for nearly seven years. “I consider her the Mother Teresa of teachers,” Samantha Mills, a parent whose son was in Ms. Morffi’s class last year, said on Monday. But on Feb. 8, Ms. Mills and other parents at the school received an email from the principal saying that the school had made a “difficult and necessary decision,” and that Ms. Morffi would no longer be teaching at the school. The email was shared with The New York Times. She was fired just days after marrying her girlfriend of about two years. 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
• African cosmologies: spiritual reflections on the 'Black Panther' movie … [RNS, Yolanda Pierce, Feb. 19] Yes, Wakanda is a fictional place and Black Panther is just a film, but the spiritual imagination that undergirds the movie can be an opportunity for learning, and even a fostering of faith in the idea that we can build a better world, if we are willing. In a real world that has so maligned black peoples and the continent of Africa, and questioned if any good can ever come from this place, director Ryan Coogler reminds his viewers both of the beauty that already exists on the continent, and also what may yet be possible. Read on.

Media, Print, Music, Tech

• The Treble Choristers of the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys Will Perform at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem[Liza Holzinger] The world-renowned professional boys choir, the Treble Choristers of the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys (Fifth Avenue, NYC) led by Daniel Hyde, will perform a 90-minute concert in the Sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church, 2344 Center Street, as part of a concert tour in the Lehigh Valley. The world-famous choir will perform at the church on Friday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. The choir is the leading ensemble of its kind in the Anglican choral tradition in the United States. Full article here. Suggested donation is $12 at the door. More info: visit www.fpc-bethlehem.org. or phone 610-867-5865.


Websites
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere. Story here.

Podcasts and Blogs
• The most powerful religious denomination
[The Bible for Normal People] In a recent podcast, The Bible for Normal People, the hosts spoke with Brian McLaren about the dangers of a "weaponized Bible" and how our own bias and interpretation may cause us to reach some incomplete conclusions. At one point, McLaren said he thought the most powerful religious denomination in the U.S. was Fox News because it's on in many homes 24/7 and gives them a way of seeing the world: these are the good guys, these are the bad guys. And they tend to find a church that confirms that narrative. Listen.

• Making Obama[TNY, Sarah Larson,  Feb. 19] Our memories of the Obama Administration heighten the surreality of the Trump era: every Trumpian indignity seems to have a counterpoint—an Obama meme, a Pete Souza photograph. Last week alone gave us multiple occasions to marvel at the dissonance: the unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery of the Obamas’ official portraits, by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, reminded us of their thoughtful sophistication. A Valentine’s Day tweet from Barack to Michelle evoked their natural affection and mutual respect. And the Parkland, Florida, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reminded us of the empathy that Obama brought to national tragedies. The new podcast “Making Obama,” from WBEZ Chicago, hosted by Jenn White and produced by Colin McNulty, helps the Obama-nostalgic to push past wistfulness and despair by reacquainting us with who Obama was before he became mythologized—and to see what lessons we can glean from the making of political leaders. … The six-episode series traces Obama’s career from his arrival in Chicago to his keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention—at which point, White told me recently, “the story becomes more familiar to people. Then he’s this national figure.” Read the story. Listen to the podcast.


Varia


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 180208

newSpin, the newsletter
February 8
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis


TopSpin
• Two nominated for IX Bishop of BethlehemThe 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, are 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).

• Welcoming Dreamers, the obvious choice [Bishop Sean Rowe, The Morning Call, Jan. 29] The current political morass in Washington has thrown light on a deep and ugly divide in our country and in our faith communities on the issue of immigration. Read on.

Jubilate, Lent Year B 2018 (WORD)
Jubilate, Lent Year B 2018 (PDF)


• DioBeth General News, Feb. 8Here.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 1
Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Jan. 25 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Jan. 18Here.
• 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 newsletter, (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.
• Paul Ryan faces an urgent moral challenge [RNS, Paul Gehring, Feb 7]  A proud Catholic, Ryan speaks often about his Church, has traded letters with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and enjoys name-dropping Thomas Aquinas. But his policy priorities often clash with traditional Catholic social teaching. Ryan and President Trump are getting an earful from Catholic bishops, nuns and other Catholic leaders. The president’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protected Dreamers, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote, was “reprehensible … a heartbreaking moment in our history, and a short-sighted vision for the future.” Read on.

• Not enough preaching in the world that can make people change their hearts – Courageous conversations are no longer optional
[Amy Butler] I hosted a conversation in which Brené Brown and DeRay McKesson engaged in a public dialog about race and vulnerability. While the conversation they had is no longer available to view, the idea to host such a conversation came from a Twitter exchange they had about the same topics a few months be. My job as host was not to contribute any deep wisdom to the conversation; if you saw the event you already know that their exchange was so deep and intense that there was very little possibility I would succeed at even interrupting them. Rather, I was there to prod the conversation along if needed, to offer questions from the viewing audience, and to listen intently … which was what I was doing when Brown responded to a comment by McKesson: “There’s not enough preaching in the world that can make people change their hearts.” I was startled when I heard it. I am a preacher, after all. Read on.

• President Trump, if you're innocent, why act so guilty?[NYT, Nicholas Kristof]
President Trump and Devin Nunes have been muddying the waters of the Russia investigation, so let’s try to clarify those waters. Here are a dozen things we know. Read on.

• Trump wants a big parade. It would be a big mistake. … [NYT Editorial Board, Feb. 7] Mr. Trump is trying to exploit the armed forces as a political prop, even as he daily undermines the country’s other real and enduring strengths, including an independent judiciary and a free press. During the Cold War, such military spectacles were a hallmark of the Soviets. Today, North Korea regularly stages its own robotic displays of military power in an effort to intimidate adversaries. Read on.


SpiritSpin
• Good Book Club among diverse Lenten tools offered by the Episcopal Church Here.

• 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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• Spirit Resources
 ... way below


Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin
• This  is no time to be cute [Andrew Gerns] When I was a kid, I was taught to sail a boat. It was at a summer camp off the Penobscot Bay in Maine, and we learned the basics of sail-handling, working as a team, and navigation. It was great fun and it was also no time to fool around. One could get clonked on the head by the sail when coming about, or fall in the water, or burn your hands on the line. It was a blast, but one of the lessons I learned at nine years was focus on what one was doing. To be present, attentive, and disciplined. As one of the wise “old” college-aged camp counselors would say while navigating the sail boat across the bay, “this is no time to be cute.” I am remembering that lesson because this is one of those strange years when Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day and when Easter is also April Fool’s Day. This is no time to be cute. Read on.

• Demons, Certainty, Messianic Secret, Why were you not you? [Bill Lewellis, Sermon at Nativity Cathedral, Feb. 4, Mark 1:29-39]
You may agree with me that the bible includes strange stories and verses. You may agree with me also that today’s gospel passage includes both. For starters, how about Jesus forbidding the demons to speak … because they knew him. Tell no one about me. A good motto for Episcopal evangelism? Tell no one about me? I’ll get back to that. First, however, the elephant in the room, the elephant in the gospel passage: demons. Read on.

• Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me [NYTimes column, Kate Bowler, Feb. 13, 2016 – Note: Two years ago]
On a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor’s assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer. The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder, but by a massive tumor. I am 35. I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small. I sank to my knees and cried. I called my husband at our home nearby. I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life.
  
But one of my first thoughts was also Oh, God, this is ironic. I recently wrote a book called “Blessed.” I am a historian of the American prosperity gospel. Put simply, the prosperity gospel is the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith. I spent 10 years interviewing televangelists with spiritual formulas for how to earn God’s miracle money. I held hands with people in wheelchairs being prayed for by celebrities known for their miracle touch. I sat in people’s living rooms and heard about how they
never would have dreamed of owning this home without the encouragement they heard on Sundays. Read on.
   Kate Bowler was recently interviewed, TIME Magazine Feb. 5 issue, about her cancer diagnosis and her faith. Did Christianity fail you? Sometimes it felt like that, in part because of the stuff people said using the Christian faith to be incredibly trite. Christianity also saved the day. You really want a brave faith, one that says, in the midst of the crushing brokenness, there is the something else there, the undeniable, overwhelming love of God. Read on.
   I like the title of her new book: “Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved.” Here.

•  What to say when you meet the angel of death at a party [NYTimes column, Kate Bowler, Jan. 26, 2018]
Durham NC — Every 90 days I lie in a whirling CT machine, dye coursing through my veins, and the doctors look to see whether the tumors in my liver are growing. If they are not, the doctors smile and schedule another scan. The rhythm has been the same since my doctors told me I had stage IV colon cancer two and a half years ago. I live for three months, take a deep breath and hope to start over again. I will probably do this for the rest of my life. Whatever that means. When my scan is over, I need to make clear to my friends and my family that though I pray to be declared cured, I must be grateful. I have three more months of life. Hallelujah.
   So I try to put the news in a little Facebook post, that mix of sun and cloud. I am trying to clear the linguistic hurdles that show up on my chart. Noncurative. Stage IV. I want to communicate that I am hoping for a continued “durable remission” in the face of no perfect cure, but the comments section is a blurry mess of “You kicked cancer’s butt!” and “God bless you in your preparations.” It feels impossible to transmit the kernel of truth. I am not dying. I am not terminal. I am keeping vigil in the place of almost death. I stand in the in-between where everyone must pass, but so few can remain. Read on.


DioBeth
• Two nominated for IX Bishop of BethlehemThe 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.

• DioBeth General News, Feb. 8 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 1 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Jan. 25 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Jan. 18 … Here.
• Bishop Search Committee website … Here.



Episcopal/Anglican
Diocese’s call for ‘expansive language for God’ sparks debate on gender-neutral Episcopal liturgies
[ENS, David Paulsen, Dec. 7] The Diocese of Washington is calling on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention to consider expanding the use of gender-neutral language for God in the Book of Common Prayer, if and when the prayer book is slated for a revision.
  
He? She? Those pronouns aren’t preferred, the diocese says in a resolution it passed Jan. 27 at its convention, held at Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital city. Instead, the resolution recommends using “expansive language for God from the rich sources of feminine, masculine, and non-binary imagery for God found in Scripture and tradition.”
  
The diocese’s convention passed two other resolutions, voicing support for immigrants and the transgender community. But it was the call for more inclusive language in the prayer book that drew national attention, especially from conservative-leaning critics. Read on.


Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD

Episcopal Migration MinistriesHere.?
Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN)Here.
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)Here
• Episcopal Asset Map
Here.
• Additional Resources

... way below


People

• Mother Laura Howell … On January 7, Trinity Bethlehem held a special celebration to give thanks for the ministry of the Rev. Canon Laura Howell upon her retirement. Emeritus Archdeacon Rick Cluett delivered the sermon at the Eucharist. Find the text here. Retirement? "You are sending me off to assist St. Margaret’s in Emmaus and St. Barnabas in Kutztown, two small parishes which are in need of clergy," Mother Laura said during her own reflection at Eucharist. "The spiritual formation and experience which I gained working with you will now be shared with yet more people in your name."


In the Media


TaleSpin
• What does it mean to die? [The New Yorker]
When Jahi McMath was declared brain-dead by the hospital, her family disagreed. Her case challenges the very nature of existence. For the past four years, Jahi McMath has breathed with the help of a ventilator. A neurologist described her as “an extremely disabled but very much alive teenage girl.” Read on.


Requiescant in pace
• The Rev. Elizabeth Diely … died February 3. Betsy had been a priest at St. Margaret's Emmaus. 

• Anna C. Kernan, 90 … died January 18, She was a longtime member of Nativity Cathedral Bethlehem where she taught Sunday School and was a member of the Albar Guild. Obituary.

• Eleanor A. Tannous, 82 … died on January 27. She had been a member of Grace Allentown for most of her life. Obituary.

• Bill Gessner, 92 … died on January 27. Husband of Barbara, he had been a member of Trinity Mt. Pocono. Obituary.

• Carol J. Bray, 65 … died on January 27. She was a member of St. George's Hellertown. Obituary.

• Stuart Hutchinson, 85 … died January 28. He was a member of Trinit
y Bethlehem. Obituary.  

• Sue Carroll Rush, 85 … died January 28. She was a member of Nativity Cathedral Bethlehem. Obituary.
 

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
Rebel Monk  [NYTimes Op-Docs, Feb/ 7] In Germany, everybody has his own Martin Luther. Our view on the monk whose 95 Theses redefined Christianity 500 years ago depends on any number of variables: where you grew up (north or south, or East or West Germany), for example, and whether your parents were Communists. Luther is probably more interesting today than while he was alive. The Luther who translated the Bible and reformed the corrupt Catholic Church is the Luther Germans are proud of. For some, Luther is a brave man who challenged the powerful. For others, he’s a spiritual leader whose ideas changed the world forever. There is also the fugitive Luther, the one who spent years hiding in the Wartburg, a fortress in southeast Germany. And there’s a darker side of Luther, the Luther who hated Jews, the Luther we don’t like. Read on and View.

• 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. REPEAT?


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
• Vatican rejects three wome speakers from Voices of Faith Conference[NCR, Sarah MacDonald, Feb. 2] Including former Irish President Mary McAleese. Organizers move conference outside the Vatican, make McAleese keynote speaker. Read on.

• The scariest Catholic in America
[NYT, Frank Bruni, Sunday Review, Feb. 3] The Rev. James Martin is a Roman Catholic rock star. His books, including one on Jesus Christ and another on the saints, have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The director Martin Scorsese has twice hired him to consult on movies with religious themes. Television producers love him: Back when Stephen Colbert had his Comedy Central show, Father Martin popped up frequently as its “official chaplain.” So the reaction when he agreed to speak this month to a group of parishes in central New Jersey was unalloyed elation, right? Wrong. Within days of the announcement, parish officials were in a state better described as dread. 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
• A Time to Judge: Pope Francis must be held to account
[Commonweal, The Editors, Feb. 6] When it comes to the crisis that has devastated the church, it increasingly looks as though Francis is only offering more of the same—or worse. He might not be inclined to judge, but the church and the world are watching, and will not hesitate to do just that. Francis has demanded accountability from priests and bishops, and now must be held to account himself. Read on. Also, at RNS.

• Benedict XVI says he is on 'pilgrimage Home'[The Tablet, UK] The retired Pope, 90, made the remarks in a nine line letter to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, who had presented him with letters from readers asking about his well-being.
Read on.

• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here.

• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.


Health and Wellness
• This year’s flu season is now more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and still getting worse [NYTimes, Jan. 26] Nationally, the number of people falling ill with flu is increasing. More worrying, the hospitalization rate — a predictor of the death rate — has just jumped. It is now on track to equal or surpass that of the 2014-2015 flu season. In that year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, 34 million Americans got the flu, 710,000 were hospitalized and about 56,000 died. “We’ll expect something around those numbers,” Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the C.D.C.’s influenza division, said during a telephone news conference Friday. This week, the deaths of seven children were reported to the C.D.C., bringing this season’s total to 37. In 2014-2015, there were 148 pediatric deaths — which the agency tracks individually, not by estimates as it does with death totals. Read on. Also here. And here.


Media/Print/Films/TV/Music/Tech

• Two new Netflix original documentary series
Dirty Money, premiering Jan. 26, takes on


Websites, Podcasts and Blogs
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere. Story here.


Varia


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
• Letter to the Episcopal Church from the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies  [Jan. 22] In recent weeks, compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture: the story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13: 1-22). It is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned. It is a Bible story devoid of justice.
  
For more than two decades, African women from marginalized communities have studied this passage of scripture using a method called contextual Bible study to explore and speak about the trauma of sexual assault in their own lives. Using a manual published by the Tamar Campaign they ask, “What can the Church do to break the silence against gender-based violence?” Read on.

• Salvadorans at risk of losing immigration status find support in churches [RNS, Jan. 17] When German Fernandez learned last week that the Trump administration plans to end Temporary Protected Status for him and around 200,000 other immigrants from El Salvador, it was a nightmare come true. “When I saw the news, I could express no words,” he said. “TPS has protected me for 18 years.”
   When the program allowing undocumented Salvadoran immigrants to live and work in the United States ends next year, many will be at risk of deportation to a country that is racked by horrific gang violence. But rather than succumb to despair, many Salvadorans — who are overwhelmingly Christian — are finding hope, support and empowerment in churches that are working with advocacy groups and faith-based coalitions to offer assistance. Fernandez, who has been sending money he makes in the U.S. back to his family in El Salvador, has found support at St. Matthew’s Parish, an Episcopal church in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Md., where about 40 percent of the congregation’s roughly 800 members are Salvadoran TPS holders. Read on.

• The Republican's Guide to Presidential Etiquette [NYTimes Editorial Board, Jan. 20] When the editorial board published the first edition of the Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette last May, we hoped to provide a helpful reminder to those morally upright members of the G.O.P. who were once so concerned about upholding standards of presidential decorum. Remember the hand-wringing when Barack Obama wore a tan suit or tossed a football in the Oval Office? Yet even as the current occupant of the White House continues to find new and shocking ways to defile his office, congressional Republicans have only lashed themselves more tightly to him. The examples come so fast that it’s easy to forget that the last one happened just four days ago, or just this morning.
  
As part of our continuing effort to resist the exhausting and numbing effects of living under a relentlessly abusive and degrading president, we present, for the third time in nine months, an updated guide to what Republicans now consider to be acceptable behavior from the commander in chief. As before, these examples, drawn from incidents or disclosures in the last three-plus months, do not concern policy decisions — only the president’s words and actions. And no, we’re not even opening that Michael Wolff book. Read on.

• 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.

• Are we there yet? Imagine that! [Bill Lewellis, The Morning Call, Jan. 21] Are we there yet? You may remember saying that. You may remember how slowly time moved. Your fullness of life was ahead of you. You perceived your days as plodding on. Toward fullness. That perception was your reality. Fullness came. Too busy to notice? You became used to time’s movement, perceived usually as neither slow nor fast. Now in my 81st year, time flies. In two-week increments. Read on. Also here.

• 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.

• Study asks: Why are young Catholics going, going, gone? [NCR, Julie Bourbon, Jan. 22] A new report on young adults who no longer identify as Catholic is attempting to understand why so many have "disaffiliated" from the faith they were born into. It comes at a time when more young people than ever before are leaving the church, even as those losses are being offset by Hispanic immigration to the U.S. Whether it's feelings of being judged by religious leaders who don't know or understand them, or being forced by their parents to attend church, or witnessing the sexual abuse scandal and the hypocrisy of church hierarchy, young people are expressing a desire both to break free from organized religion and to be part of a community. Read on



 

 

 


Demons, Certainty, Messianic Secret; Why were you not you?

Epiphany 5B – February 4, 2018
Bill Lewellis
Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Mark 1:29-39

Strange
You may agree with me that the bible includes strange stories and verses. You may agree with me also that today’s gospel passage includes both.

For starters, how about Jesus forbidding the demons to speak … because they knew him. Tell no one about me.

A good motto for Episcopal evangelism? Tell no one about me?

I’ll get back to that. First, however, the elephant in the room, the elephant in the gospel passage: demons.

Demons
If you’ve seen movies like The Exorcist, get them out of your head. If you’ve heard anyone equate demons with mental illness, get rid of that lie as well.

Stay with this: A demon is anything that has power that is not of God.

What/Who are today’s demons?

Racism?

Xenophobia, Nativism? i.e. fear of strangers, leading to denigration of those not like us. Accordingly, ban immigration. Get rid of the “Dreamers,” the Haitians, the Salvadorans and, of course, the Muslims. Just as people before us wanted to get rid of or make life difficult for the Irish, the Italians, the Polish, Lithuanians and Slovaks.

Another demon: whatever leads a person into addiction and keeps him/her there.

A true story might illustrate this.

Monica and I were members of Grace Allentown for some 30 years. One Wednesday evening, we welcomed some 125 people who gathered for a funeral Eucharist for Pablo Bonilla, a 52-year-old recovering drug addict, recovering alcoholic and a client of AIDS Outreach where my wife then worked. After beginning not to use, Pablo may have truly loved and helped to heal more people than I might imagine.

Many in that congregation were people in recovery. A man who spoke reminded them how often Pablo said, “Flacco [the drug dealer] doesn’t love you. I love you.”

Those who were there loved Pablo in whom they saw someone from “the rooms” who had chosen not to use and wanted to turn his life around.

They experienced, in Pablo – though they might not put it this way – they experienced in Pablo the healing touch of Jesus. Just as Jesus touched Peter’s mother-in-law, raised her up and healed her, they experienced themselves in need. Waiting for someone’s touch.

Aren’t we seeking the healing touch of Jesus? Jesus came to heal, you know, not to confer lifetime achievement awards.

Flacco, the drug dealer, was the demon. Pablo was the exorcist, the healer. “Flacco doesn’t love you, I love you.” Pablo said to them.

 

Need over certainty
A bit of an aside.

Have you noticed that we Christians often trivialize God by arguing over superficial things, lashing ourselves to the mast of tradition or doctrine or certainty rather than admit we don’t know the way.

Not so far from here, Bethlehem’s First Presbyterian Church on Center street had, a year or so ago, a very large congregation. Now, some 1100 of them are temporarily using the auditorium of Bethlehem Catholic High School for their Sunday worship.

Fewer – I’m not sure how many – remain at that large church and its 31.5-acre campus. Why the split? Those who left are certain that God does not approve of the ordination of gay ministers and gay marriage.

I don’t mean to judge any church, any group. (Episcopal churches have undergone similar disruptions.) I simply mean to say that we Christians often trivialize God by betting the house on superficial things. And that, I think, makes God weep.

One part of wisdom is recognizing our limits, letting go of our certainties, recognizing our neediness, asking for help, inviting God to do what we can’t do.

Every church needs regularly to ask why it is taking up space on God’s earth.

One reason might be to see people in obvious need as mirrors of our own hidden needs. To seek the heart of God.


The Messianic Secret
Perhaps the strangest part of today’s gospel passage is that Jesus would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.

Tell no one who I am.

One might understand not permitting the demons to speak – but because they knew him? Wouldn’t you think Jesus would want anyone who knew him to tell the world?

An underlying theme of Mark’s gospel is that Jesus did not want people to know too soon that he was, indeed, the Messiah.

They might act on their own derived certainties and seek him out for miracles and try to remake him according to their own images and certainties about one they were expecting. You know the old saying: God made us in his own image – and we have returned the favor.

Jesus did not – and does not – want people to follow him for the wrong reason.

He knew that what he was about was not what many were looking for. They didn’t yet know about Friday on Calvary hill.

Jesus suspected he would be a scandal to those who lived by their petty certainties about their small God. He wanted to give them – and wants to give us – time to discover a larger God.

So, he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him. In biblical theology, this theme in the Gospel according to Mark has been called, fittingly, “the Messianic Secret.”

On the move
The next morning, Mark tells us, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place to pray. When Simon and his companions found him, they told him everyone was looking for him. (For the wrong reasons, Jesus thought.)

“Let’s get out of here,” Jesus said to his disciples.

And Jesus was on the move.

I am quoting someone here, and don’t know whom. Christians have tried “to portray Jesus as the serene champion of stability, place and permanence, arguing endlessly about tradition and orthodoxy… We have sunk fortunes into standing still in the name of one who never stood still… while the restless love of God leads us on to places we haven’t seen before.”

The Glory of God
Remember, now. Don’t tell anyone who Jesus is.

One last thing. It’s open-ended – I like open-ended – It’s so open-ended.

Irenaeus, a second-century theologian and Church Father, said this: The Glory of God is a human person fully alive.

Coupled with that, I think of an ancient Hasidic story that I’ve baptized: When you die, God is not going to ask you why you were not Jesus … or Einstein … or Dean Pompa or Felicia … or Oprah … or Pope Francis … or Bishop Sean … or [name a few people from the congregation].

He will ask you why you were not you. Or, as it has been said: Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.  

Please say your first name – aloud – at the end of my sentence:  God will ask me why I was not  ??????

The Glory of God is a person fully alive!

Thank you.

Amen.

 


newSpin 180125

newSpin, the newsletter
January 25
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis


TopSpin
• 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, are 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).

• The Avengers [The cover and cover story of TIME, Jan. 29] First they marched. Now they're running. Call it payback, call it a revolution, call it the Pink Wave, inspired by marchers in their magenta hats, and the activism that followed. There is an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates, overwhelmingly Democratic, running for offices big and small, from the U.S. Senate and state legislatures to local school boards. At least 79 women are exploring runs for governor in 2018, potentially doubling a record for female candidates set in 1994, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The number of Democratic women likely challenging incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives is up nearly 350% from 41 women in 2016. Roughly 900 women contacted Emily’s List, which recruits and trains pro-choice Democratic women, about running for office from 2015 to 2016; since President Trump’s election, more than 26,000 women have reached out about launching a campaign. The group had to knock down a wall in its Washington office to make room for more staff. Read on.

• Letter to the Episcopal Church from the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies  [Jan. 22]
In recent weeks, compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture: the story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13: 1-22). It is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned. It is a Bible story devoid of justice.
  
For more than two decades, African women from marginalized communities have studied this passage of scripture using a method called contextual Bible study to explore and speak about the trauma of sexual assault in their own lives. Using a manual published by the Tamar Campaign they ask, “What can the Church do to break the silence against gender-based violence?” Read on.

• The church that thrives in a ghost town[BBC] 
In Pennsylvania's coal-mining mountains, there's an empty grid where a town once lived. Once, there were homes and gardens. Now there are weeds. Before Centralia started burning from below, more than a thousand people lived here. At the last count, there were six. The town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, has been left to die -- but its last remaining church is thriving. Read on.

• DioBeth Leadership News, Jan. 18Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Jan. 11 … Here.  
• DioBeth General News, Jan. 4Here.
• 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 newsletter, (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.
• Trump’s words may have been shocking, but they can’t be seen as surprising [Columbia Journalism Review, Peter Vernon, Jan. 12] Meeting with lawmakers Jan. 11 in the Oval Office, President Trump expressed his displeasure with the bipartisan immigration deal being discussed. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked, referencing immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations. The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey broke the story, reporting that Trump next suggested the US should instead prioritize people from countries such as Norway.
  
Trump’s words may have been shocking, but they can’t be seen as surprising. His history of racist comments stretches back decades, and it was only weeks ago that The New York Times reported that the president, again in an Oval Office meeting, said Haitian immigrants "all have AIDS" and Nigerians who visit the US would never "go back to their huts." Yesterday’s comments were nothing new for a man who launched his political profile on the lie that Barack Obama wasn’t a true American. Read on.
Also here.

• 'An assault on the body of the Church' [The Atlantic, Emma Green, Jan. 22] Catholic parishes have been hit hard by President Trump’s decision to suspend Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans. – A woman fled El Salvador in fear of violence, just months before a deadly series of earthquakes destroyed many Salvadorans’ lives and homes. She settled in Maryland with her husband’s family and started to build a life. She worked first in hotel housekeeping, then as a teaching assistant at a neighborhood school. She had four children, who excelled in school. She invested deeply in her local Catholic church, serving as a catechist and usher, working with kids on Sunday mornings, and hosting a small prayer group in her home.
   Now, after nearly two decades in the United States, the Trump administration may be sending her back to El Salvador, a country that still suffers from one of the world’s highest homicide rates, destabilizing gang activity, and a stalled economy. Many immigration advocates have pushed back on the decision, but perhaps none more strongly than the U.S. Catholic Church. Catholic leaders see these deportations not as a left-right political issue, but as threat to the families that make up the heart of their communities. As one local priest told me, “I see it as an assault on the body of the Church.” Read on.

• Deportation in America[The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast with David Remnick, Jan. 12]
A tougher stance on immigration is the signature position of the Trump Administration, and the President’s first year in office has been marked by sharply increased numbers of arrests of unauthorized immigrants. In this hour, we explore immigration and deportation from the perspective of a Wisconsin dairy farm, a conservative Washington think tank, the mother of a deportee, and a sanctuary church where a woman is hiding in plain sight from immigration enforcement.
  
In the first segment, about 8 minutes, Amanda Morales Guerra, fleeing deportation, is hiding from ICE, and its officers know exactly where: at the Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights NYC, where the congregation has given her sanctuary. Listen.

• Salvadorans at risk of losing immigration status find support in churches [RNS, Jan. 17] When German Fernandez learned last week that the Trump administration plans to end Temporary Protected Status for him and around 200,000 other immigrants from El Salvador, it was a nightmare come true. “When I saw the news, I could express no words,” he said. “TPS has protected me for 18 years.”
   When the program allowing undocumented Salvadoran immigrants to live and work in the United States ends next year, many will be at risk of deportation to a country that is racked by horrific gang violence. But rather than succumb to despair, many Salvadorans — who are overwhelmingly Christian — are finding hope, support and empowerment in churches that are working with advocacy groups and faith-based coalitions to offer assistance. Fernandez, who has been sending money he makes in the U.S. back to his family in El Salvador, has found support at St. Matthew’s Parish, an Episcopal church in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Md., where about 40 percent of the congregation’s roughly 800 members are Salvadoran TPS holders. Read on.

• Joan Chittister calls for formal censure of President Trump [NCR, Jan. 18] Martin Luther King Jr. wrote once, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." It's the congressional silence in the face of President Donald Trump's unpresidential, international insult of black countries that is bothering me right now. It is difficult to decide which is worse: A president unworthy of the office or a Congress unworthy of their power and place in American society. A Congress that stands by meekly — silently — while the standards of the presidency and the character of the nation deteriorate from the top down also betray us. Congress and its leaders say not an official word of public censure about the racism that has been exposed in relation to our immigration policies. The silence in this case is not virtue. By saying nothing about the racism that underlies the president's attack on black countries, Congress abdicates its responsibility to the nature of American democracy. Read on.

• The Republican's Guide to Presidential Etiquette [NYTimes Editorial Board, Jan. 20] When the editorial board published the first edition of the Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette last May, we hoped to provide a helpful reminder to those morally upright members of the G.O.P. who were once so concerned about upholding standards of presidential decorum. Remember the hand-wringing when Barack Obama wore a tan suit or tossed a football in the Oval Office? Yet even as the current occupant of the White House continues to find new and shocking ways to defile his office, congressional Republicans have only lashed themselves more tightly to him. The examples come so fast that it’s easy to forget that the last one happened just four days ago, or just this morning.
  
As part of our continuing effort to resist the exhausting and numbing effects of living under a relentlessly abusive and degrading president, we present, for the third time in nine months, an updated guide to what Republicans now consider to be acceptable behavior from the commander in chief. As before, these examples, drawn from incidents or disclosures in the last three-plus months, do not concern policy decisions — only the president’s words and actions. And no, we’re not even opening that Michael Wolff book. Read on.

• Lawmaker gets Sunday-shooled over botched religious reference … A GOP congressman called thousands of missing FBI text messages “the greatest coincidence since the Immaculate Conception,” then struggled to explain just what he meant. Here

SpiritSpin
• 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 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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• Spirit Resources
 ... way below


Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin
• Are we there yet? Imagine that! [Bill Lewellis, The Morning Call, Jan. 21] Are we there yet? You may remember saying that. You may remember how slowly time moved. Your fullness of life was ahead of you. You perceived your days as plodding on. Toward fullness. That perception was your reality. Fullness came. Too busy to notice? You became used to time’s movement, perceived usually as neither slow nor fast. Now in my 81st year, time flies. In two-week increments. Read on. Also here.

DioBeth
• Jubilate, Advent 2017 to Last Epiphany 2018, and weekly Prayers of the People
Linked here from Trinity Bethlehem.

Under "More Resources" way below.

• Data and Analysis from the 2016 Parochial Reports … of the Episcopal Church are available here.

• DioBeth Leadership News, Jan. 18 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Jan. 11 … Here.  
• DioBeth General News, Jan. 4 … Here.
• Bishop Search Committee website … Here.



Episcopal/Anglican
• House of Deputies newsletter
[January] Here.

• England's cathedrals face financial crisis as running costs soar[The (London) Guardian] A significant number of England's 42 historic Anglican cathedrals are at "severe financial risk" and some have ineffective and under-resourced management, an investigation set up by the archbishops of Canterbury and York has found. Read on.

• The Good Book Club[ENS]  Resources now available. Here. Also, Join the Journey 30-minute webinar, Jan. 31, 3:30pm here.

• 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.

Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD

Episcopal Migration MinistriesHere.
Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN)Here.
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)Here
• Episcopal Asset Map
Here.
• Additional Resources

... way below


People

• Mother Laura Howell … On January 7, Trinity Bethlehem held a special celebration to give thanks for the ministry of the Rev. Canon Laura Howell upon her retirement. Emeritus Archdeacon Rick Cluett delivered the sermon at the Eucharist. Find the text here. Retirement? "You are sending me off to assist St. Margaret’s in Emmaus and St. Barnabas in Kutztown, two small parishes which are in need of clergy," Mother Laura said during her own reflection at Eucharist. "The spiritual formation and experience which I gained working with you will now be shared with yet more people in your name."

• Dr. James Day, son of Canon Ginny and the Rev. Charles Day, was selected to be director of the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. Read on.



In the Media


TaleSpin
• Inside one of America's last pencil factories [NYTimes Magazine] 
Interesting story. Great photography.
  
A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive. The lines it makes can be fat or thin, screams or whispers, blocks of concrete or blades of grass, all depending on changes of pressure so subtle that we would hardly notice them in any other context. (The difference in force between a bold line and nothing at all would hardly tip a domino.) And while a pencil is sophisticated enough to track every gradation of the human hand, it is also simple enough for a toddler to use.
  
Such radical simplicity is surprisingly complicated to produShe was active both locally and nationally in the Episcopal Church, having been appointed to the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches in New York. As a member of the Church of the Mediator, Allentown, Anne served as a representative to the Episcopal Church of the United States. Her past service included being a member of the executive committee of the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, as well as a lay delegate to the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. Anne is credited with developing the clergy dialogues and instrumental in developing Consultation on Church Union. She was passionate about finding common points of intersece. Since 1889, the General Pencil Company has been converting huge quantities of raw materials (wax, paint, cedar planks, graphite) into products you can find, neatly boxed and labeled, in art and office-supply stores across the nation: watercolor pencils, editing pencils, sticks of charcoal, pastel chalks. Even as other factories have chased higher profit margins overseas, General Pencil has stayed put, cranking out thousands upon thousands of writing instruments in the middle of Jersey City. Read on.

• 1 Son, 4 Overdoses, 6 Hours[NYT Jan. 21] The first time Patrick Griffin overdosed one afternoon in May, he was still breathing when his father and sister found him on the floor around 1:30. When he came to, he was in a foul mood and began arguing with his father, who was fed up with his son’s heroin and fentanyl habit. The torrent of people who have died in the opioid crisis has transfixed and horrified the nation, with overdose now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.
   Patrick, 34, feeling morose and nauseated, lashed out. He sliced a love seat with a knife, smashed a glass bowl, kicked and broke a side table and threatened to kill himself. Shortly after 3, he darted into the bathroom, where he shot up and overdosed again. He fell limp, turned blue and lost consciousness. His family called 911. Emergency medical workers revived him with Narcan, the antidote that reverses opioid overdoses.

   Throughout the afternoon his parents, who are divorced, tried to persuade Patrick to go into treatment. His father told him he could not live with him anymore, setting off another shouting match. Around 4, Patrick slipped away and shot up a third time. He overdosed again, and emergency workers came back and revived him again. They took him to a hospital, but Patrick checked himself out.
   Back at his mother’s house and anxious to stave off withdrawal, he shot up again around 7:30, overdosing a fourth time in just six hours. His mother, frantic, tried pumping his chest, to no avail, and feared he was dead. Rescue workers returned and administered three doses of Narcan to bring him back. At that point, an ambulance took him to the hospital under a police escort and his parents — terrified, angry and wrung out — had him involuntarily admitted.
   Most drug users do not die. Far more, like Patrick, are snared for years in a consuming, grinding, unending cycle of addiction. Read on.

• The Promise [The Guardian, Tom McCarthy]
After a year of interviews in Northampton County, which voted twice for Obama before supporting Trump, the Guardian’s project ends at the closed-down furnaces of Bethlehem Steel. It has become clear that Trump has lost a critical measure of support in the county, though his base remains strong. Read on


Requiescant in pace
• Anne C. Shire, 89 … died on January 15. She had been a member of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Allentown.
She was active both locally and nationally in the Episcopal Church, having been appointed to the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches in New York. As a member of the Church of the Mediator, Allentown, Anne served as a representative to the Episcopal Church of the United States. Her past service included being a member of the executive committee of the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, as well as a lay delegate to the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. Anne is credited with developing the clergy dialogues and instrumental in developing Consultation on Church Union. She was passionate about finding common points of intersection of different faiths. Obituary.

• June Weidner Holt, 92 … died on January 22. She was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Allentown. Obituary.

• F. Jean Ebling, 84 … a member of Trinity Pottsville, died on January 20. Obituary.


Garson W. Wunderlich Jr, 89 … died on January 11. He was a member of St. Gabriel's Douglasville where he served on the vestry and as junior warden. Obituary.

Ralph H. "Jim" Imschweiler Jr, 90 … died on January 9. He was a member of Trinity Pottsville. Obituary.

Angelina Ciervo Burkhart, 88 … died on January 11. She was a member of St. Alban's Sinking Spring. Obituary.  

Walter R. Weaver Jr, 71 … died on January 11. He was a member of St. Anne's Trexlertown. Obituary.

Gloria J. Palmisano, 86 … died on January 23. She was a member of St. Mary's Wind Gap
where she served on the Altar Guild, and was instrumental in starting and running St. Mary's Hoagies fund raiser. Obituary.
 

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
• 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.

Evangelical chaplain's suspension intensifies ECC's marriage debate  [RNS, Adelle Banks, Jan. 11] The suspension of a popular evangelical university chaplain has highlighted tensions over same-sex marriage in a growing Protestant denomination that forbids it but also takes pride in its willingness to allow congregants to hold opinions contrary to church doctrine. The Rev. Judy Peterson, ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church and pastor at its flagship North Park University in Chicago, presided at the wedding of two men in April. That act resulted in her suspension and then a petition drive calling on ECC leaders to place a moratorium on their guidelines forbidding clergy to officiate at same-sex weddings. The petition had more than 4,270 signatures as of Thursday (Jan. 11). Members of the ECC — which has more than 850 churches in North America, with about 225,000 weekly attenders — have grappled with the issue much as have other Protestant denominations. Other ECC pastors also face disciplinary action for taking part in the nuptials of gay couples or affirming them in other ways. Read on.

• Why so many Americans think Buddhism is just a philosophy [The Conversation, Jan. 22] Traditional Buddhism does in fact have many deities, doctrines and rituals, as well as sacred texts, ordained priests, ethics, sectarian developments and other elements that one would typically associate with any organized religion. But at the 1893 World Parliament, the Buddhist masters favorably presented their meditative tradition to modern America only as a practical philosophy, not a religion. This perception of Buddhism persists in America to this day. The Buddhists did not deliberately misrepresent their tradition or just tell the Americans what they wanted to hear. They were genuine in their attempt to make a 2500-year old tradition relevant to the late 19th century. But in the end they only transplanted but a few branches of Buddhism’s much larger tree into American soil. Only a few cuttings of Buddhist philosophy, art and meditation came into America, while many other traditional elements of the Buddhist religion remained behind in Asia.
   The popular construction of nonreligious Buddhism has contributed much to the contemporary “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon, as well as to the secularized and commodified mindfulness movement in America. We may have only transplanted a fraction of the larger bodhi tree of religious Buddhism in America, but our cutting has adapted and taken root in our secular, scientific and highly commercialized age. For better and for worse, it’s Buddhism, American-style. Read on.

• 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.

• Five major world religions
Khan Academy's tour through five major world religions.  • Buddhism,  • Christianity,  • Hinduism,  • Islam,  • Judaism.  

• The Protestant Reformation … 
Khan Academy's introduction to the Protestant Reformation



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
• Study asks: Why are young Catholics going, going, gone? [NCR, Julie Bourbon, Jan. 22] A new report on young adults who no longer identify as Catholic is attempting to understand why so many have "disaffiliated" from the faith they were born into. It comes at a time when more young people than ever before are leaving the church, even as those losses are being offset by Hispanic immigration to the U.S. Whether it's feelings of being judged by religious leaders who don't know or understand them, or being forced by their parents to attend church, or witnessing the sexual abuse scandal and the hypocrisy of church hierarchy, young people are expressing a desire both to break free from organized religion and to be part of a community. Read on

• 'An assault on the body of the Church' [The Atlantic, Emma Green, Jan. 22] Catholic parishes have been hit hard by President Trump’s decision to suspend Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans. 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
• The surprising predictors of a long, healthy lifeRead on.


Media/Print/Films/TV/Music/Tech

• Two new Netflix original documentary series
Dirty Money, premiering Jan. 26, takes on corporate greed. Six episodes from Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions feature multiple directors tackling various subjects related to scandal and corruption in the world of business. Says Netflix, “Using first-hand accounts from perpetrators and their victims, combined with rarely-seen video footage, this addictive series keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.”
   Rotten began Jan. 5. Six episodes tackle food biz corruption. From the team behind Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and The Mind of a Chef, Rotten, as Netflix describes, “gives food the true crime treatment, diving deep into the food production underworld to expose the corruption, waste and real dangers behind your everyday eating habits. In a world where huge global supply-chains are increasingly intertwined and consolidated, this series starts on your dinner plate… and follows the money to the shocking consequences—intended or not—of regulation, innovation and greed.” Read on.


Websites, Podcasts and Blogs
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere. Story here.

• The Axe Files with David Axelrod … This podcast includes revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. David Axelrod is the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Recent interviews with Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich (especially good), Preet Bharara, Steve Kerr, Frank Bruni, Kathleen Seebelius, Donna Brazile, Tony Blair, Christiane Amanpour, Susan Rice, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

• The Daily … Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism. An especially good one recently was the December 19 edition wherein Catherine Porter, a New York Times reporter, talked to the heroes of Burial Road, the men who tend to the unclaimed bodies of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Here.


Varia


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]

 


Are we there yet? Imagine that!

Bill Lewellis
The Morning Call
Jan. 21, 2018

http://www.mcall.com/features/religion/mc-fea-faith-and-value-lewellis-20180121-story.html

Are we there yet? You may remember saying that. You may remember how slowly time moved. Your fullness of life was ahead of you. You perceived your days as plodding on. Toward fullness. That perception was your reality.

Fullness came. Too busy to notice? You became used to time’s movement, perceived usually as neither slow nor fast.

Now in my 81st year, time flies. In two-week increments. 

I create as a volunteer a newsletter for the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. I named it newSpin. Alternate Thursdays are my deadlines. They come by quickly. I work slowly. It may take me four times as long to do something I could have done quickly and efficiently years ago. How about you?

For the past 12 years, I have been invited to serve as priest-in-charge at a bayside Episcopal church and a residence a few steps from the beach in Longport, New Jersey, the Church of the Redeemer. Those two weeks pass like two days.

And, of course, I am “nearer my God to thee.” Every day is a gift.

“The contemplation of one's own death is an ancient part of spiritual practice,” writes Barbara Cawthorne Crafton. “It helps us become braver, because the things of which we refuse to think don't go away meekly -- they just go underground, where they grow more potent and more frightening than they really are. 

“Death will be part of your life, just as birth was. Get used to it. Don't be afraid to think about it. You won't have much say in where and how death will come to you, but you do have a lot to say about who it is who will do the dying.”

I know that today is the only today I will ever have. I struggle to make it matter. I write a lot, hoping what I say – perhaps this column – may be useful to someone.

I’ve been helped by encouragement received from readers.

On a Saturday morning in 1994, I posted a story online in response to a request from a writer in New Hampshire, prompted by a quote posted a few days earlier by a writer from New Mexico.

Later that day, a writer from New York thanked me for posting the story. He said a friend from Bellingham Washington sent it to him. "It's exactly what I needed to wrap up my sermon tomorrow," he wrote.

The miracle of the Internet is that something good may have happened for someone in a church in Aurora NY because someone in Bellingham WA felt that a story someone in Bethlehem PA told in response to a request from someone in Keene NH prompted by a quote posted by someone in Albuquerque NM was worth copying for a wider cyberspace public. That hooked me into writing online.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in an automobile accident soon after his first Senate win in 1972. Nearly three years ago, he lost his 46-year-old son Beau to brain cancer.

He now tells people dealing with grief, “The day will come when the memory of the person you lost brings a smile to your lip before a tear to your eye.”

I often hear someone say at the death of a loved one, something like, “Dad is now happy with Mom, and I will soon be with them and my beloved husband.”

Though I cannot imagine life with God to be a recreation of the love I have experienced here, I am not critiquing that way of looking at death. My theology moderates such imagination. At times, I wish it did not. It might be more comforting than simply letting go and letting God

This I know, however, that if I can’t say what the afterlife is I can’t say what it isn’t.

Soon after I die and reach another “time fulfilled” when time is absorbed into eternity, I want what people remember of me  – soon enough – to bring a smile to the lips of my loved ones before it brings tears to their eyes. When that happens, it may mean as well that the lives we lived even made God smile. Are we there yet? Imagine that.

Canon Bill Lewellis, blewellis@mac.com, an Episcopal priest, retired since 2010 served on the bishop’s staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem for 24 years and on the bishop’s staff of the RC Diocese of Allentown for 13 years before that. His newSpin newsletter may be found at http://diobeth.typepad.com/diobeth_newspin/


newSpin 180111

newSpin, the newsletter
January 11
, 2018 – Bill Lewellis


TopSpin
• In Haiti, the heroes of burial road[NYT, 'The Daily' podcast] For some Haitians, death is harder t'o afford than life. The men who tend to the bodies of the unclaimed dead told their stories to a New York Times reporter. So coincidetally, as I was listening to the podcast, my son Stephen suggested it to me as a follow-up meditation on an earlier post of mine about "where everybody is somebody." Listen.

• Where everybody is somebody … The late Bishop Mark Dyer's description of the Kingdom of God.


• Until evacuated itself, CA Episcopal church served as shelter from mudslides  [Episcopal Café] Mudslides in southern California have killed at least 13 as storms hit soil left bare by last year’s wildfires. Montecito has been particularly hard hit. Read on.

• How would Jesus drive?[David Brooks, NYT, Jan. 4] Over the past several years we have done an outstanding job of putting total sleazoids at the top of our society: Trump, Bannon, Ailes, Weinstein, Cosby, etc. So it was good to get a reminder, from Pope Francis in his New Year’s Eve homily, that the people who have the most influence on society are actually the normal folks, through their normal, everyday gestures being kind in public places, attentive to the elderly. The pope called such people, in a beautiful phrase, “the artisans of the common good.” Read on.

• Joe Biden on what helped him deal with grief[PBS News Hour, Jan. 4] The day will come when the memory of the person you lost brings a smile to your lip before a tear to your eye. View.

Boston. Racism. Image. Reality [Boston Globe, Spotlight] The median net worth of non-immigrant African-American households in the Boston area is just $8, the lowest in a five-city study of wealth disparities. It’s hard to ignore the dramatic contrast to the $247,500 net worth for white households in the Boston area. That borders on insane and absurd. The disparity in Boston just transcends everything, said William A. Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Duke University who was one of the lead investigators of that study, which involved the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. It’s just staggering. And when it comes to income alone, the imbalance looks like this: For every one black household earning more than $75,000 in the metro region, there are about 21 white ones. Read on

• The Episcopal Café's top magazine posts during 2017Here.

• Sexuality, Race and Gender[RNS, Jonathan Merritt, Dec. 29] Three explosive insights about America’s 100 largest churches. 1. None of America’s 100 largest churches are LGBTQ-affirming. 2. 93% of America’s 100 largest churches are led by a white pastor. 3. Only 1 of America’s 100 largest churches has a female pastor. Read on.

• Cardinal Laws complex role in the contemporary history of clergy sexual abuse [NCR, Thomas Doyle, Dec. 28] Public awareness of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy actually dates from 1984. It was triggered by the public exposure of widespread sexual violation of children by a single priest in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and its systemic cover-up by the church's leadership that lasted well over a decade. Cardinal Bernard Law, who went from in 1974 being bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to in 1984 being named archbishop of Boston, became the most powerful and influential Catholic bishop in the United States. This all came to a screeching halt in 2002. In one day Law became the face of hierarchical treachery and dishonesty when The Boston Globe revealed the systemic cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by Boston priests, most of it his doing. He remained the face of the hierarchy's disgraceful attitude towards the violation of minors and the vulnerable. Even in death – Dec. 15 in Rome – he remains the focal point of the anger and rage of countless victims of sexual abuse by clergy — certainly Boston victims, but also others worldwide. Read on. Also, by NCR staff, here.

• DioBeth Leadership News, Dec. 21Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Dec. 14Here.
• DioBeth General News, Dec. 7Here.
• 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 newsletter, (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.
• Republicans in Congress are failing America's children [NYT, Editorial Board, Jan. 8] Children from lower-income families could soon lose access to affordable health care because the Republican leaders in Congress have failed to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is a travesty. Read on.

• Trump's increasing unfitness … [TNY, David Remnick, Jan. 15 issue] Scandal envelops the President. Obstruction of justice, money-laundering, untoward contacts with foreign governments—it is unclear where the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will land and what might eventually rouse the attention of the U.S. Senate. Clearly, Trump senses the danger. A former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been indicted. A former national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, has admitted to lying to the F.B.I. and has become a coöperating witness. The President sees one West Wing satrap and Cabinet official after another finding a distance from him. “Where is my Roy Cohn?” he asked his aides angrily, according to the Times, when his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, defied his wishes and recused himself from the Russia investigation.

   In the meantime, there is little doubt about who Donald Trump is, the harm he has done already, and the greater harm he threatens. He is unfit to hold any public office, much less the highest in the land. This is not merely an orthodoxy of the opposition; his panicked courtiers have been leaking word of it from his first weeks in office. The President of the United States has become a leading security threat to the United States. Read on.

• Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador
[NYT, Jan. 8] who have been allowed to live in the United States for more than a decade must leave the country, two government officials familiar with the decision said on Monday. It is the Trump administration’s latest reversal of years of immigration policies and one of the most consequential to date. Homeland security officials said that they were ending a humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, for Salvadorans who have been allowed to live and work legally in the United States since a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001.  Read on
. Also, NYT Editorial Board, Jan. 9, here.

• President Trump has made 1,950 false or misleading claims over 347 days [WaPo, Glenn Kessler, Meg Kelly and Nicole Lewis, Jan 2] An update on The Fact Checker's year-long project analyzing, categorizing and tracking every false or misleading claim by President Trump. Read on.


SpiritSpin
• When the carols have been stilled[Howard Thurman] Here.

• Why won't Ivanka become the Pharoah's daughter?Here.

• Bishop John Spong: Hell was invented by the churchHere.

• 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 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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• Spirit Resources
 ... way below


Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin

 

DioBeth
• Jubilate, Advent 2017 to Last Epiphany 2018, and weekly Prayers of the People
Linked here from Trinity Bethlehem.

Under "More Resources" way below.

• DioBeth Leadership News, Dec. 21 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Dec. 14 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, Dec. 7 … Here.
• Bishop Search Committee website … Here.


DioBeth Parish and Agency Websites
Under "More Resources" way below.


Episcopal/Anglican
• 2018 likely to be another tough year for the ABC 
[RNS, Dec. 20] If 2017 was a tough year for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby keeping the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion together, 2018 promises to be tougher still. Read on.

• The Good Book Club[ENS]  Resources now available. Here.

• The Toolkit of the Public Affairs Office … Way down, under "More Resources," at "Episcopal/Anglican."
• Sermons that work, Weekly bulletin inserts and more … Way down, under "More Resources," at "Episcopal/Anglican."

Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD

Episcopal Migration MinistriesHere.
Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN)Here.
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)Here
• Episcopal Asset Map
Here.
• Additional Resources

... way below


People

• The Rev. Charley Day[Rick Cluett] shown here with his beloved Ginny, was ordained to the sacred order of Priest on December 20, 50 years ago. He has enriched our lives in this diocese for a good number of those years and to me is a model for life long learning and curiosity. In his retirement, he has exercised his ministry as a consummate chaplain and pastor. Congratulations, Charley, on God’s holy calling well lived out. (And I bet you won’t like this public notice!)


In the Media
• St. Peter's Tunkhannock supports Young People in Recovery
[Wyoming County Examiner] For the second year in a row, Young People in Recovery rang in the New Year at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Tunkhannock.
Read on

• Abington-area parishes to share priest[Abington Journal, Clarks Summit, Dec. 26] St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Tunkhannock, and Church of the Epiphany, Glenburn will begin a new ministry relationship in January, 2018. Rev. Lou Divis will remain as the pastor of St. Peter’s and become the pastor of Church of the Epiphany. Both positions are part-time. This is a new era in The Episcopal Church as people become more involved in various ministerial activities with pastoral oversight. Read on.

• St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral holds annual vigil for homeless [Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Dec. 22, Patrick Kernan] After the brief prayer service — which fittingly ended with a rendition of “Amazing Grace” — the congregation went into the church’s courtyard for a candlelight vigil. Standing in a circle, the congregation read the names of area homeless people who have died since 2001. As each individual read the names on the card they were given, they blew out their candle … The Rev. Brian Pavlac, priest-in-charge at St. Stephen’s, said helping with homelessness is something important to the South Franklin Street church. “It’s something the church has really committed itself to,” Pavlac said, adding there are renovations being made to the church, especially to the bathrooms, to help the homeless community. Pavlac said there is a need in the area for a permanent shelter. But until then, St. Stephen’s is happy to house the traveling homeless shelter run by Catholic Social Services. He said St. Stephen’s houses the shelter more frequently than other local churches. “If one or two things go wrong, anyone could be there,” Pavlac said. “It’s often through no fault of their own. But even if it is, these people still need help.” Read on.



TaleSpin
• A simple question saved their marriage For years, novelist Richard Paul Evans and his wife Keri struggled with their marriage. Then, one day, they learned to ask each other a simple question: “How can I make your day better?” The question, which Evans wrote about in a viral blog post, saved their marriage. Read on.



Requiescant in pace
• Elizabeth Coken, 98 … a longtime member of Nativity Cathdral, Bethlehem, died on Jan. 6.
Obituary.

• Katherine Johnson, 77 … a member and choir member of Trinity Bethlehem, died on Dec. 7. Obituary.

• George Oxenreider, 88 … a member of St. Alban's, Sinking Spring, where he served on the vestry for several years, died December 15. Obituary.


Jonathan Demme and many more
Several times at the close of the year, I've watched in silent attention the photos and brief videos cable networks collected on entertainment celebrities who died during 2017. Some whose good work and deeds were obvious; others, whose weren't, but not necessarily non-existent. Pray for them. One of those was Jonathan Demme, Oscar-winning filmmaker who observed emphatically American characters with a discerning eye, a social conscience and a rock ’n’ roll heart, achieving especially wide acclaim with “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia,”
  
I remember Demme best of all for his direction of a 1992 documentary, "Cousin Bobby," about his cousin Robert Castle, a white Episcopal priest who had served an inner-city church in Harlem for many years, and who died in 2012 at 83. Castle was fairly conventional at an earlier stage of his life. Then came the 1960s and social upheaval, and, for him, a crucial and influential friendship with Isaiah Rowley, a Black Panther leader in Jersey City, N.J. At a time when the Panthers were feared and hated, Castle found Rowley to be a natural leader, sane and inspirational, and gradually the white priest was drawn into circles that were alarming to many members of his congregation.

   Castle once spoke at an AIDS Memorial at Nativity Cathedral in Bethlehem. View.

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem: Breakaway group seeks new home [TMC, Dec. 27] The conservative leaders of the fractured First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, who recently lost a court battle for ownership of the sprawling property on Center Street, intend to find a new home, possibly taking a majority of the church’s members with them. In June 2016, a majority of the congregation voted to split from the church’s national denomination, the increasingly progressive Presbyterian Church USA that recognizes gay marriage and allows gay ministers to be ordained. The majority joined the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, or ECO. Read on. Also here.

• More Resources

... way below


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
• Father Gregory Boyle… Sarah Silverman sits down with Father Gregory Boyle to talk about his work with Homeboy Industries. View.

• Monsignor who stole $500K sentenced to federal prison[PhillyNews, Jan. 3]
The church has forgiven Msgr. William Dombrow for embezzling a half-million dollars meant to fund the care of aging and retired priests. The federal justice system, however, showed Wednesday that it was not so ready to absolve him. 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
• Pope upbraids Vatican Bureaucracy: Serve the world, not 'degraded logic of small cliques[NCR, Dec. 21] Pope Francis again upbraided the high-level Catholic prelates who run the Vatican bureaucracy in an annual pre-Christmas speech Dec. 21, telling them to get beyond what he termed an "unbalanced and degraded logic of plots and small cliques" in order to better serve him, the global church and the world at large. Francis told the cardinals and bishops who run the bureaucracy to not "let themselves be bribed by their ambition" in search for higher office but rather to act simply as antennae that listen for the "cries, joys and tears of the churches of the world" and relay what they hear to him. Most of all, the pope told the prelates the Vatican is not designed to be closed in on itself but to be at the service of the world, especially local bishops, "for whose good it operates and acts." Speaking in the apostolic palace's 16th-century Clementine Hall in his colorful style, Francis warned: "A curia closed up in itself would betray the objective of its existence and would fall into self-centeredness, condemning itself to self-destruction." The pope was speaking Dec. 21 in an annual meeting that under previous pontiffs had simply been a polite encounter to exchange greetings before the holidays. Read on.

• Vatican Information Service blog
... Here.

• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.


Health and Wellness
• Forgetfulness and aging: What's normal?
Here.

• Flu shots
Read on.

• More Resources… below.


Media/Print/Films/TV/Music/Tech

• Three Billboards [Jeffrey Salkin, RNS, Jan. 8]
The story one of the most religious tales that you will see on the silver screen, and for this alone, it merits your attention. Simply put: The movie is about sin, forgiveness, and redemption. Or, as one of my colleagues said, it was deeply Christian. Yes — but it is also deeply Jewish. Read on.

• Cue the religion scholar![RNS, Cathy Lynn Grossman, Dec. 1] Representing faith on the big and small screen. You try boiling down 400 years of religious history into a few seconds. Read on.

Your Faith, Your Life  … [Church Publishing, Revised Edition of the 2009 book by Jenifer Gamber and Bill Lewellis, Nov. 2017] The everything-you-need to know adult guide to the Episcopal Church that is easy to read but with substance for newcomers, adult formation groups, and lifelong Episcopalians who desire to know more about their church. The language of worship, theology, church structure, sacraments, and discipleship offers a framework to explore the meaning and practice of being an Episcopalian and follower of Jesus. Not just a book of information, but a book for transformation. Read on.
   "Jenifer Gamber and Bill Lewellis have completed a generous update of the 2009 instant classic Your Faith, Your Life, presenting orthodoxy for the 21st century. It's not rewriting orthodoxy to include 21st century ideals, its showing that orthodoxy always included these ideals. New textbooks on physics aren't created because the immutable laws of physics have changed. New discoveries illuminate what was already there: quarks, gluons, earth-like planets. These don't change our view of Newton's laws of gravity, or the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Likewise, Gamber and Lewellis have brought the "new" discoveries of the gospel of inclusion, the Jesus Movement, and the modern Church to a new guidebook of Episcopal identity. Your Faith, Your Life will be the new must have for Confirmation classes, adult education, college ministry, and other formation needs. It offers a simple guide through what it means to be an Episcopal disciple in the 21st century." –– Bill Campbell, Executive Director of Forma 


Websites, Podcasts and Blogs
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere. Story here.

• The Axe Files with David Axelrod … This podcast includes revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. David Axelrod is the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Recent interviews with Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich (especially good), Preet Bharara, Steve Kerr, Frank Bruni, Kathleen Seebelius, Donna Brazile, Tony Blair, Christiane Amanpour, Susan Rice, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

• The Daily … Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism. An especially good one recently was the December 19 edition wherein Catherine Porter, a New York Times reporter, talked to the heroes of Burial Road, the men who tend to the unclaimed bodies of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Here.


Varia
• The Five People [Podcaster Tim Ferriss] You are the average of the five people you most associate with.

• Oprah's Golden Gloves speech … [NYT, Jan. 7] Oprah Winfrey accepted the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement with a rousing acceptance speech that began as a personal reflection and ended as a call to arms. Read on.


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]


More Resources

DioBeth
• Look online every Thursday for a Diocese of Bethlehem newsletter or for newSpin … Every Thursday in the following rotation: (1) The Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) The General News, (4) The newSpin newsletter. The Leadership News and the General News are official publications of the Diocese of Bethlehem. They include news, info, features and events relating to our diocese and parishes. 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 parish as 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 always posted on the newSpin blog. If you wish to receive it by email, please send a note to rebecca@canticleccommunications.com

• Jubilate, Advent 2017 to Last Epiphany 2018, and weekly Prayers of the PeopleLinked here from Trinity Bethlehem are Jubilate, a resource for hymn selection, and weekly Prayers of the People which 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 Word (.doc) and .pdf formats.


• 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. Includes more than 425 members

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  … Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
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/ .
• Church locators ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.

DioBeth Parish and Agency Websites
• Allentown: Episcopal House … Here.
• Allentown: Grace … Here.
• Allentown: Grace Montessori School … Here.
• Allentown: Mediator … Here. Refugee Community Center … Here.
• Allentown/Bethlehem: St. Andrew … Here.
• Athens: Trinity … Here.
• Bethlehem: Nativity Cathedral … Here. Emergency Shelter … Here.
• Bethlehem: New Bethany Ministries … Here.
• Bethlehem: Trinity … Here.
• Bethlehem: Trinity Soup Kitchen … Here.
• Carbondale: St. James-St. George … Here.
• Clarks Summit/Glenburn: Epiphany … Here.
• Dallas: Prince of Peace … Here.
• Douglassville: St. Gabriel … Here.
• Easton: Trinity … Here.  ARK Soup Kitchen … Here.
• Emmaus: St. Margaret … Here.
• Forest City: Christ Church … Here.
• Hazleton: St. Peter … Here.
• Hamlin: St. John … Here.
• Hellertown: St. George … Here.
• Honesdale: Grace … Here.
• Jermyn: St. James/St. George … Here.
• Jim Thorpe: St. Mark/St. John … Here.
• Kingston: Grace … Here.
• Lebanon: St. Luke … Here.
• Lehighton: All Saints … Here.
• Milford: Good Shepherd … Here.
• Montrose: St. Paul … Here.
• Morgantown: St. Thomas … Here.
• Moscow: St. Mark … Here.
• Mountain Top: St. Martin-in-the-Fields … Here.
• Mount Pocono: … Here.
• Nanticoke/Alden Station: St. Andrew … Here.
• Nazareth: St. Brigid … Here.
• Palmerton: St. John … Here.
• Pen Argyl: St. Joseph … Here.
• Pottsville: Trinity … Here.
• Reading: Christ Church … Here.  SPARK … Here.
• Reading: St. Mary: … Here.
• Sayre: Redeemer: … Here.
• Schuylkill County: North Parish … Here.
• Scranton: St. Luke: … Here.
• Sinking Spring: St. Alban … Here.
• Stroudsburg: Christ Church … Here.
• Towanda: Christ Church … Here.
• Trexlertown: St. Anne … Here.
• Tunkhannock: St. Peter … Here.
• Whitehall: St. Stephen … Here.
• Whitehall: St. Stephen School … Here.
• Wilkes-Barre: St. Clement/St. Peter … Here.
• Wilkes-Barre: St. Stephen … Here.
• West Pittston: Trinity … Here.
• Wind Gap: St. Mary … Here.
[Bill] Please let me know if your website is not listed above. Also, let me know if you would like me to highlight something on your site. Please note, also, that a few of the websites need to be updated. Thanks.]

• Data and Analysis from the 2016 Parochial Reports … of the Episcopal Church are available here.

Episcopal/Anglican
• The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
Episcopal Café
• AngicansOnline website and news centre.
The Living Church
• 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.
• Free weekly bulletin inserts provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Find the inserts here.
Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Episcopal Church Event Calendar ... Here

• 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.

Ecumenical/Interfaith Relations
• 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.

• Five major world religions
… Khan Academy's tour through five major world religions.  • Buddhism,  • Christianity,  • Hinduism,  • Islam,  • Judaism.  
• Protestant Reformation… 
Khan Academy's introduction to the Protestant Reformation

• Five major world religions … Khan Academy's tour through five major world religions.  •
Buddhism,  • Christianity,  • Hinduism,  • Islam,  • Judaism.   MOVE UNDER 'MORE RESOURCES'

• Protestant Reformation
  Khan Academy's introduction to the
Protestant Reformation  MOVE UNDER 'MORE RESOURCES'

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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... 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.


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.

Health and Wellness
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Center for Disease Control - Healthy Living
Church Health Reader

Eastern Pennsylvania Faith Community Nurses
Episcopal Mental Illness Network
Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH

National Episcopal Health Ministries
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.

Media/Film/TV/Books/Podcasts/Music/Tech
• Spirituality & Film ... Here.
• Spirituality on DVD ... Here.
• 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.
• 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.

 

 


newSpin 171214

newSpin, the newsletter
December 14
, 2017 – Bill Lewellis


TopSpin
• Puerto Rico's hurricane death toll is much higher than the government has reported[NYT, Dec. 8] It may be over 1,000, not 62. Officially, just 62 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the island with nearly 150-mile-an-hour winds, cutting off power to 3.4 million Puerto Ricans. But The Times found that in the 42 days after the storm made landfall, 1,052 more people than usual died across the island. The analysis compared the number of deaths for each day in 2017 with the average of the number of deaths for the same days in 2015 and 2016. Read on.

• Nativity Cathedral hosting family of six from Puerto Rico[Dean Tony Pompa] The Cathedral community is responding to the crisis in Puerto Rico following the devastation of recent hurricane by providing short term housing to a family of 6. This family has endured much over the last year and now their home in Puerto Rico has met with complete devastation. Three adults and three children have been given refuge in an apartment on Cathedral grounds. One of the children is in need of medical treatment that cannot be provided in Puerto Rico. We are working closely with the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley who are providing a great deal of support. One member of this family is a social worker looking for employment. Read on.

• Influx of people from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico straining Lehigh Valley agencies[TMC] Community groups are feeling the strain of helping people flee hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico, and are pleading for cash donations to aid families settling in the Lehigh Valley. Nonprofit leaders said their agencies have received an abundance of clothes and food. But now the urgent need is affordable housing and transportation costs. “We’re feeling that we’re not able to help enough,” said Mary Colon, interim executive director of the Hispanic Center in south Bethlehem. “We just want to do more for our folks.”
  
The call for help was made at a press conference Tuesday held by officials from the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, nonprofits involved in helping the victims of Hurricane Maria and community leaders. The Hispanic Center and Casa Guadalupe in Allentown have already helped more than 60 families each from Puerto Rico.
  
Many leaving Puerto Rico have come to the Lehigh Valley because they have family here. The most recent U.S. Census figures showed about 64,000 people of Puerto Rican heritage live in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Unlike Texas and New York, Pennsylvania has not been designated a host state for Hurricane Maria survivors by the federal government, a designation that would bring federal money. That means nonprofits and community groups must use their own small budgets to help victims.
  
Alan Jennings, executive director of the CACLV, said efforts to help Puerto Ricans coming to the Valley are putting a strain on nonprofits. Among the problems is charities don’t have enough staff to meet the demand. “These are nonprofits that struggle in the best of times,” he said. “Now we’ve got arguably the worst of times.” CACLV will collect monetary donations and disperse them among the groups. Donations can be made on CACLV’s website. Read on.

• The Silence Breakers[Person of the Year 2017, TIME Magazine]
Taylor Swift says she was made to feel bad about the consequences that her harasser faced. After she complained about a Denver radio DJ named David Mueller, who reached under her skirt and grabbed her rear end, Mueller was fired. He sued Swift for millions in damages. She countersued for a symbolic $1 and then testified about the incident in August. Mueller's lawyer asked her, on the witness stand, whether she felt bad that she'd gotten him fired. "I'm not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault," she told the lawyer. "I'm being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine." (Mueller said he would appeal.)
   In an interview with TIME, Swift says that moment on the stand fueled her indignation. "I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances," she says, "imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance." Like the five women gathered at that echoing soundstage in San Francisco, and like all of the dozens, then hundreds, then millions of women who came forward with their own stories of harassment, she was done feeling intimidated. Actors and writers and journalists and dishwashers and fruit pickers alike: they'd had enough. What had manifested as shame exploded into outrage. Fear became fury.
   This was the great unleashing that turned the #MeToo hashtag into a rallying cry. The phrase was first used more than a decade ago by social activist Tarana Burke as part of her work building solidarity among young survivors of harassment and assault. A friend of the actor Alyssa Milano sent her a screenshot of the phrase, and Milano, almost on a whim, tweeted it out on Oct. 15. "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet," she wrote, and then went to sleep. She woke up the next day to find that more than 30,000 people had used #MeToo. Milano burst into tears. Read on.

Default must be to trust the victim[NCR Editorial Staff, Dec. 12] In our legal system, we presume an accused person to be innocent until someone can prove otherwise. In the case of sexual assault, violence or harassment, that means the burden is on victims to prove their trustworthiness. Often, in those cases, we are asked to choose sides based on the stories of the only two people involved — the accuser and the accused. In the post-Weinstein milieu we are now experiencing, one is a woman and the other a man who holds some level of power. In a different conversation, the victims have been children and the powerful accused have been priests … Women, children, anyone who has been abused or who has felt some sexual pressure by a person in power must be shown the respect of our trust. They must feel confident that if they tell their stories, people will listen. Moreover, they must be able to draw from that sense of public trust in finding the strength to push back when faced with an ugly situation. Read on.

•  Boston. Racism. Image. Reality [Boston Globe, Spotlight]
The median net worth of non-immigrant African-American households in the Boston area is just $8, the lowest in a five-city study of wealth disparities. It’s hard to ignore the dramatic contrast to the $247,500 net worth for white households in the Boston area. That borders on insane and absurd. The disparity in Boston just transcends everything, said William A. Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Duke University who was one of the lead investigators of that study, which involved the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. It’s just staggering. And when it comes to income alone, the imbalance looks like this: For every one black household earning more than $75,000 in the metro region, there are about 21 white ones. Read on. Read on.

• First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem property belongs to national denomination
[MC, Sarah M. Wojcik, Dec 12] A Northampton County judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of the congregants of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem who’ve remained loyal to the national denomination in a court case over who keeps the sprawling church property on Center Street. In a 42-page ruling, President Judge Stephen Baratta declared that the 31.5-acre property was held in trust for the national denomination, Presbyterian Church USA, and was not the property of the church members to do with what they pleased.
  
Opposing the national body was a majority of the congregation that had joined with a more conservative branch of the church which, among other things, opposes gay marriage and gay ordination. Read on.

• Study ranks RC dioceses' online financial transparency [NCR, Peter Feuerherd, Dec. 7] Separated by a continent, the dioceses of Sacramento, California, and Camden, New Jersey, are also divided by degrees of financial transparency. Parishioners in Sacramento can find out where their donations go with the click of a button on the diocesan website. Those in the Diocese of Camden, which covers southern New Jersey, will have a more difficult time. That is a takeaway from a study on financial transparency undertaken recently by Voice of the Faithful, a church watchdog group. The study surveyed dioceses and archdioceses across the country, rating them from most transparent to most opaque. The study was based on how much financial information is accessible on diocesan websites. Read on. Also here.

• DioBeth General News, Dec. 7Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Nov. 30Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Nov. 22Here
• 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 newsletter, (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.
• The Republican war on children[NYT, Paul Krugman, Dec 7] Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir? Read on.

• Fight the tax plan and the coming budget cuts
[NCR Editorial Staff, Dec. 8] What is truly wrong with this plan, however, is that is just the first step of a two-step process that will accelerate the decades-long conservative agenda to shrink government and reduce social investments that aid all Americans.
  
Numerous analyses have shown the Republican messaging on this tax plan to be a lie. The plan does not favor the middle class. We have yet to see a final reconciliation bill, but what we have seen in the Senate and House versions are tax cuts that flow overwhelmingly to the richest households and to profitable corporations. The Senate bill would leave 13 million Americans without health insurance and severely undermine confidence in the health care market.
  
Numerous studies, even those done by government offices, say these plans will add a trillion dollars and probably more to the deficit. These studies, too, refute Republican claims that giving more money to the wealthy and large corporations will stimulate economic growth and generate enough revenues to offset the cuts. Read on.


SpiritSpin
• Questions[Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe] Sometimes attaining the deepest familiarity with a question is our best substitute for actually having the answer.”

• No word …One degree of separation. During a conversation yesterday with a friend of the mother of a young woman who was shot and killed recently, I mentioned that while a young child who has lost her parents is called an orphan, a wife who loses her husband is referred to as a widow, and a husband who loses his wife is a widower … there is no word for a parent who loses her child. "It's too terrible to name," she said. "It's not meant to happen."

• Finding and losing[Thomas Merton] Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

• Lost in translation?[NYT, Dec. 8] It has been a question of theological debate and liturgical interpretation for years, and now Pope Francis has joined the discussion: Does the Lord’s Prayer, Christendom’s resonant petition to the Almighty, need an update? Read on.

• The truth about the war on Christmas[Mic video] A Jesuit priest explains the truth about the "War on Christmas" — and it's really not what you think. Here.

• 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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• Spirit Resources
 ... way below


Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spi


 

DioBeth
• Jubilate, Advent 2017 to Last Epiphany 2018, and weekly Prayers of the People
Linked here from Trinity Bethlehem are Jubilate, a resource for hymn selection, and weekly Prayers of the People which 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 Word (.doc) and .pdf formats.

• DioBeth General News, Dec. 7 … Here.
• The newSpin Newsletter, Nov. 30 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Nov. 22 … Here

• Bishop Search Committee website … Here.


DioBeth Parish and Agency Websites
Under "More Resources" way below.


Episcopal/Anglican
• Presiding Bishop Curry's Christmas Message 2017 Video and Transcript.

• House of Bishops, Alaska meeting … Three videos. Here.

Your Faith, Your Life  … [Church Publishing, Revised Edition of the 2009 book by Jenifer Gamber and Bill Lewellis, Nov. 2017] The everything-you-need to know adult guide to the Episcopal Church that is easy to read but with substance for newcomers, adult formation groups, and lifelong Episcopalians who desire to know more about their church. The language of worship, theology, church structure, sacraments, and discipleship offers a framework to explore the meaning and practice of being an Episcopalian and follower of Jesus. Not just a book of information, but a book for transformation. Read on.
   "Jenifer Gamber and Bill Lewellis have completed a generous update of the 2009 instant classic Your Faith, Your Life, presenting orthodoxy for the 21st century. It's not rewriting orthodoxy to include 21st century ideals, its showing that orthodoxy always included these ideals. New textbooks on physics aren't created because the immutable laws of physics have changed. New discoveries illuminate what was already there: quarks, gluons, earth-like planets. These don't change our view of Newton's laws of gravity, or the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Likewise, Gamber and Lewellis have brought the "new" discoveries of the gospel of inclusion, the Jesus Movement, and the modern Church to a new guidebook of Episcopal identity. Your Faith, Your Life will be the new must have for Confirmation classes, adult education, college ministry, and other formation needs. It offers a simple guide through what it means to be an Episcopal disciple in the 21st century." ––Bill Campbell, Executive Director of Forma 

• The Good Book Club[ENS]  Resources now available. Here.

• The Toolkit of the Public Affairs Office … Way down, under "More Resources," at "Episcopal/Anglican."
• Sermons that work, Weekly bulletin inserts and more … Way down, under "More Resources," at "Episcopal/Anglican."

Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD
• Charity Navigator…maintains lists of charities and offers advice on how to pick a charity. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is highly rated, above American Red Cross. Read on.

• An ethical guide to responsible giving[The Conversation] Before you reach for that checkbook or give to a charity online, pause to think about what makes a cause good in the first place. Read on.

Episcopal Migration MinistriesHere.
Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN)Here.
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)Here
• Episcopal Asset Map
Here.
• Additional Resources

... way below


People



In the Media


TaleSpin
• Tom Roberts
[NCR, Dec. 8]
Tom Roberts, who has served the mission and readers of NCR for nearly 24 years, is retiring. The official record will note that Roberts joined NCR in January 1994 serving as managing editor, editor and editor at large. The simplicity of those words do not convey the true meaning of what Roberts has done for this news organization and for those of us who have had the privilege, honor and pleasure to have worked with him. Read on.
   [Bill] During my early years on the staff of the bishop of Allentown, as press liaison and communication minister, Tom was a young reporter at the old Bethlehem Globe under John Strohmeyer. We became good friends. His gifts, integrity and professionalism have been a blessing to journalism, especially along the religion landscape. Tom was one of three local journalists who left a deep impression on me. I remember his affection for Dan Berrigan and the story of the teenage Jesus he wove into a column, a story he heard from Berrigan. That story, with attribution, appeared in several of my own columns and sermons over the years. I suggested to Tom that his dream job might be with the National Catholic Reporter. He applied. NCR offered him a job in Washington, but the money wasn’t what he needed at the time. He then went to and saved “Religious” News Service – and happily changed its name. Ultimately, he became editor at the NCR. Tom was a progressive Roman Catholic thoughout his life. The RC Church in the U.S. owes Tom big time for the many time he kept that institution honest.


• Marketing stories, news and spotlights [The Mission] Seth Godin: “Great stories are trusted. Trust is the scarcest resource we’ve got left. No one trusts anyone. People don’t trust the beautiful women ordering vodka at the corner bar (they’re getting paid by the liquor company). People don’t trust the spokespeople on commercials (who exactly is Rula Lenska?). And they certainly don’t trust the companies that make pharmaceuticals (Vioxx, apparently, can kill you). As a result, no marketer succeeds in telling a story unless he has earned the credibility to tell that story.” Read on.

• The nature and power of fiction … [AM, Liam Callanan, Oct. 31] Good nonfiction may teach us what to believe, but fiction teaches us how. Read on.


Requiescant in pace
Robert Hugh Nourse, 84 … died on Dec. 4.
He was a member of Trinity Easton. Obituary.

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
The evangelical slippery slope, from Ronald Reagan to Roy Moore [LATimes, Randall Balmer, Dec. 11] I left the evangelical subculture, more or less, at the end of the 1970s. Little did I know that evangelicals were then stepping onto their own slippery slope that would lead to Donald Trump and now Roy Moore. To say that I left the evangelical subculture is not quite accurate — and not only because evangelicalism is so stamped into my DNA that it is impossible to leave entirely. Evangelicalism really left me more than I left it. The religious tradition that shaped me was part of a long and noble movement that, in earlier generations of American life, took the part of those on the margins of society. Evangelicals, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, sought to educate those on the bottom rungs of society so they would have a better life. They worked for the abolition of slavery and advocated equal rights, including voting rights for women.
   By the late 1970s, however, leaders of the religious right were preparing to abandon that legacy, and their first step onto the slippery slope was their embrace of Ronald Reagan. Read on.

• The real danger of religious lies …  [CNN, Daniel Burke, Dec. 2] Earlier this week, a Russian Orthodox cleric investigating the 1918 assassination of Czar Nicholas II and his family raised the possibilityt hat it was a "ritual murder." To many observers, that statement might sound strange, but more or less inoffensive. To Jews, however, it raised the haunting specter of "blood libel," a pernicious and long-lasting lie about Jews murdering Christian children and using their blood in religious rituals. Used for hundreds of years as a pretext to torture, imprison and kill Jews, the "blood libel" myth may be the worst religious lie in circulation, but it is far from the only one. Read on.

• For unto (some of) us a child is born[Religion Dispatches, Peter Laarman, Dec. 3]
This is the season when choral music aficionados will argue the merits of various renderings of G. F. Handel’s masterwork while pretty much ignoring the peculiar theology of the Charles Jennens libretto for Messiah—60 percent of which was stitched together from bits of the Hebrew Bible as viewed through the lens of Christian triumphalism. But attention should be paid to the theology, especially to the question of who exactly is the “us” in in Part 1, No. 12: “For unto us a child is born.” Read on.

• More Resources

... way below


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
• Fomer Salvadoran official extradited, to stand trial for murder of Jesuits[NCR, Nov. 29] A 9-year legal battle has ended with U.S. officials handing over custody of Inocente Orlando Montano, a former Salvadoran army colonel, to Spanish authorities who have indicted him for "terrorist" murder in connection with the 1989 Jesuit massacre in El Salvador. Read on.

• Policing the Communion line[Commonweal, Cathleen Kaveny, Nov. 29] Why sacramental rigorism backfires. Read on.


• How a group of California nuns challenged the Catholic Church[The Conversation, Diane Winston, Dec. 6]
California in the 1960s was the epicenter for spiritual experimentation. Indian gurus and New Age prophets, Jesus freaks and Scientologists all found followings in the Golden State. But among those looking for personal and social transformation, the unlikeliest seekers may have been a small community of Roman Catholic religious: the Immaculate Heart Sisters. Theirs was, as I discovered in my research on the order, a compelling spiritual saga, culminating in a showdown with the Catholic hierarchy. The story of that conflict spotlights the impact of the California dream on a Church in transition. Read on.

• NY Catholic archdiocese pays $40 million to sex abuse victimss[AP, Dec. 7]
Just over $40 million in compensation has been paid to 189 people who identified themselves as victims of clergy sex abuse, the Archdiocese of New York said in a report released Thursday. The archdiocese noted that the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program ended Nov. 30, but some additional claims are still being processed. Money for the payouts came through a long-term loan.Mediators Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros evaluated victim claims and determined compensation. Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said he did not have a specific breakdown of how much each recipient received; some of the victims’ claims date back decades. The payouts averaged $211,600. 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
• Forgetfulness and aging: What's normal?
Here.

• Flu shots
… Got mine. Got yours? Read on.

• More Resources… below.


Media/Print/Films/TV/Music/Tech

• A mess without adult supervision [Kevin Roose, NYTimes, Dec. 11]
If you’ve lost sleep worrying about the growing power of the alt-right — that shadowy coalition that includes white nationalists, anti-feminists, far-right reactionaries and meme-sharing trolls — I may have found a cure for your anxiety. Just try using its websites. Read on.

• Not So Great Escape[Rand Richards Cooper, Commonweal, Nov. 29] Cooper looks at Novitiate, writer-director Margaret Betts’s new film, set in 1964, about life among young cloistered nuns. “One can’t help but warm to the luminous performance of Margaret Qualley as Sister Cathleen,” Cooper writes. “But the religious life as Betts depicts it is little more than a stifling regimen of deprivation … Novitiate sets its sights not on eternity, but pathology.” Read on.

• Cue the religion scholar![RNS, Cathy Lynn Grossman, Dec. 1] Representing faith on the big and small screen. You try boiling down 400 years of religious history into a few seconds. Read on.


Websites, Podcasts and Blogs
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere. Story here.

• Radiolab … is a radio show and podcast about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
• The Axe Files with David Axelrod … is a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. David Axelrod is the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
• The Daily … This is how the news should sound. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism.
• Vox's The Weeds is a semiweekly policy podcast hosted by Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff, and Matthew Yglesias.

Varia
• The Five People [Podcaster Tim Ferriss] You are the average of the five people you most associate with.

• A murmuration of starlings … [Aeon] The flight of a starling flock at dusk, known as a murmuration, is one of nature’s most beguiling sights. Blurring the line between the individual and the group, murmurations involve synchronised swooping patterns to ward off predators and exchange information in a manner that’s still something of a mystery to scientists. Read on.

• Why you need to touch your keys to believe they're in your bag[Aeon] An important aspect of touch is often missed: touching is more psychologically reassuring than seeing. Touch does not always make us experience things better, but it certainly makes us feel better about what we experience. Even when we can see that the keys are in our bags, we are much more certain that they are once we’ve touched them.
What might seem almost superstitious at first could however have deeper reasons. The assurance that touch gives us makes it rather special in our epistemic life. René Descartes came close to this diagnosis when he noted that the evidence we got from touch was somewhat harder to discard: ‘Of all our senses,’ he wrote in The World (1633), ‘touch is the one considered least deceptive and the most secure.’ We have perhaps to remember the biblical story of doubting Thomas to understand the privilege of touch: Thomas had to touch Christ’s wounds to be convinced the person in front of him was Jesus.
  
The story of Thomas tells us something important. Touching ‘to be sure’ is especially relevant when our other senses or beliefs create a situation of high uncertainty. Individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder keep touching the objects of their anxiety, even though they can look at them: they return to turn off the tap, even when they can see or hear that no water is dripping. Research also shows that people experience apprehension when interacting with graphical user interfaces that display objects that cannot be touched. Touching reassures; knowing that things can’t be touched can create anxiety. Now why would touch bring us more certainty? Read on


Abbreviations of Sources
AM … America Magazine
AO
… Anglicans Online
AP
…ple Associated Press
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]


More Resources

DioBeth
• Look online every Thursday for a Diocese of Bethlehem newsletter or for newSpin … Every Thursday in the following rotation: (1) The Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) The General News, (4) The newSpin newsletter. The Leadership News and the General News are official publications of the Diocese of Bethlehem. They include news, info, features and events relating to our diocese and parishes. 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 parish as 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 always posted on the newSpin blog. If you wish to receive it by email, please send a note to rebecca@canticleccommunications.com

• 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. Includes more than 425 members

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  … Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
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/ .
• Church locators ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.

DioBeth Parish and Agency Websites
• Allentown: Episcopal House … Here.
• Allentown: Grace … Here.
• Allentown: Grace Montessori School … Here.
• Allentown: Mediator … Here. Refugee Community Center … Here.
• Allentown/Bethlehem: St. Andrew … Here.
• Athens: Trinity … Here.
• Bethlehem: Nativity Cathedral … Here. Emergency Shelter … Here.
• Bethlehem: New Bethany Ministries … Here.
• Bethlehem: Trinity … Here.
• Bethlehem: Trinity Soup Kitchen … Here.
• Carbondale: St. James-St. George … Here.
• Clarks Summit/Glenburn: Epiphany … Here.
• Dallas: Prince of Peace … Here.
• Douglassville: St. Gabriel … Here.
• Easton: Trinity … Here.  ARK Soup Kitchen … Here.
• Emmaus: St. Margaret … Here.
• Forest City: Christ Church … Here.
• Hazleton: St. Peter … Here.
• Hamlin: St. John … Here.
• Hellertown: St. George … Here.
• Honesdale: Grace … Here.
• Jermyn: St. James/St. George … Here.
• Jim Thorpe: St. Mark/St. John … Here.
• Kingston: Grace … Here.
• Lebanon: St. Luke … Here.
• Lehighton: All Saints … Here.
• Milford: Good Shepherd … Here.
• Montrose: St. Paul … Here.
• Morgantown: St. Thomas … Here.
• Moscow: St. Mark … Here.
• Mountain Top: St. Martin-in-the-Fields … Here.
• Mount Pocono: … Here.
• Nanticoke/Alden Station: St. Andrew … Here.
• Nazareth: St. Brigid … Here.
• Palmerton: St. John … Here.
• Pen Argyl: St. Joseph … Here.
• Pottsville: Trinity … Here.
• Reading: Christ Church … Here.  SPARK … Here.
• Reading: St. Mary: … Here.
• Sayre: Redeemer: … Here.
• Schuylkill County: North Parish … Here.
• Scranton: St. Luke: … Here.
• Sinking Spring: St. Alban … Here.
• Stroudsburg: Christ Church … Here.
• Towanda: Christ Church … Here.
• Trexlertown: St. Anne … Here.
• Tunkhannock: St. Peter … Here.
• Whitehall: St. Stephen … Here.
• Whitehall: St. Stephen School … Here.
• Wilkes-Barre: St. Clement/St. Peter … Here.
• Wilkes-Barre: St. Stephen … Here.
• West Pittston: Trinity … Here.
• Wind Gap: St. Mary … Here.
[Bill] Please let me know if your website is not listed above. Also, let me know if you would like me to highlight something on your site. Please note, also, that a few of the websites need to be updated. Thanks.]

• Data and Analysis from the 2016 Parochial Reports … of the Episcopal Church are available here.

Episcopal/Anglican
• The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
Episcopal Café
• AngicansOnline website and news centre.
The Living Church
• 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.
• Free weekly bulletin inserts provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Find the inserts here.
Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Episcopal Church Event Calendar ... Here

• 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.

Ecumenical/Interfaith Relations
• 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.

• Five major world religions
… Khan Academy's tour through five major world religions.  • Buddhism,  • Christianity,  • Hinduism,  • Islam,  • Judaism.  
• Protestant Reformation… 
Khan Academy's introduction to the Protestant Reformation

• Five major world religions … Khan Academy's tour through five major world religions.  •
Buddhism,  • Christianity,  • Hinduism,  • Islam,  • Judaism.   MOVE UNDER 'MORE RESOURCES'

• Protestant Reformation
  Khan Academy's introduction to the
Protestant Reformation  MOVE UNDER 'MORE RESOURCES'

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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... 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.


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.

Health and Wellness
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Center for Disease Control - Healthy Living
Church Health Reader

Eastern Pennsylvania Faith Community Nurses
Episcopal Mental Illness Network
Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH

National Episcopal Health Ministries
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.

Media/Film/TV/Books/Podcasts/Music/Tech
• Spirituality & Film ... Here.
• Spirituality on DVD ... Here.
• 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.
• 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.

 

 


newSpin 171130

newSpin, the newsletter
November 30
, 2017 – Bill Lewellis


TopSpin
• A great migration from Puerto Rico is set to transform Orlando[NYT, Nov. 17] Ten intolerable days after Hurricane Maria trounced Puerto Rico, Sahria Garcia finally got a call from her brother on the island. The call lasted three minutes and the news shook her: Her family had lost everything — jobs, houses, possessions, cars — and had spent days foraging for food, ice and water. Ms. Garcia, who lives in a small Orlando apartment with her three children, did not hesitate: “Don’t even ask,” Ms. Garcia said she told her brother during their conversation. “This is your house.”
  
Last week, they arrived — two brothers, their wives and their four children — and plopped onto newly bought bunk beds. The family is one small part of a sudden exodus of tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans racing to Florida after Hurricane Maria, a migration so large it rivals those from New Orleans to Houston after Hurricane Katrina and from Cuba to Miami during the Mariel boatlift. The scale is larger than any previous movement of Puerto Ricans to the mainland. Read on.

• Nativity Cathedral hosting family of six from Puerto Rico[Dean Tony Pompa] The Cathedral community is responding to the crisis in Puerto Rico following the devastation of recent hurricane by providing short term housing to a family of 6. This family has endured much over the last year and now their home in Puerto Rico has met with complete devastation. Three adults and three children have been given refuge in an apartment on Cathedral grounds. One of the children is in need of medical treatment that cannot be provided in Puerto Rico. We are working closely with the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley who are providing a great deal of support. One member of this family is a social worker looking for employment. Read on.

• Influx of people from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico training Lehigh Valley agencies[TMC] Community groups are feeling the strain of helping people flee hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico, and are pleading for cash donations to aid families settling in the Lehigh Valley. Nonprofit leaders said their agencies have received an abundance of clothes and food. But now the urgent need is affordable housing and transportation costs. “We’re feeling that we’re not able to help enough,” said Mary Colon, interim executive director of the Hispanic Center in south Bethlehem. “We just want to do more for our folks.”
  
The call for help was made at a press conference Tuesday held by officials from the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, nonprofits involved in helping the victims of Hurricane Maria and community leaders. The Hispanic Center and Casa Guadalupe in Allentown have already helped more than 60 families each from Puerto Rico.
  
Many leaving Puerto Rico have come to the Lehigh Valley because they have family here. The most recent U.S. Census figures showed about 64,000 people of Puerto Rican heritage live in Lehigh and Northampton counties. Unlike Texas and New York, Pennsylvania has not been designated a host state for Hurricane Maria survivors by the federal government, a designation that would bring federal money. That means nonprofits and community groups must use their own small budgets to help victims.
  
Alan Jennings, executive director of the CACLV, said efforts to help Puerto Ricans coming to the Valley are putting a strain on nonprofits. Among the problems is charities don’t have enough staff to meet the demand. “These are nonprofits that struggle in the best of times,” he said. “Now we’ve got arguably the worst of times.” CACLV will collect monetary donations and disperse them among the groups. Donations can be made on CACLV’s website. Read on.

• Trinity Soup Kitchen in Bethlehem welcomed and served 250 guests on Thanksgiving … Thanks to the generous service and ministry of 30+ volunteers. See a 2015 report on Trinity Soup Kitchen here.

• Don't be the one without coverage
… The Trump administration has cut funding for advertising during the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act medical insurance. A Los Angeles graphic design firm responded to that situation by offering a set of free downloadable advertisements that any congregation or organization can use in encouraging enrollment. Find the material here.

• Texting while driving – Tragic all around[Morning Call] A 21-year-old Palmer Township man was formally charged Wednesday with homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter in the crash that killed 12-year-old Emma Raymondo. Authorities say Dylan T. Groff was texting while driving on Sept. 22 when he hit Emma along Route 248 near her home.
   A crying woman, who identified herself as Groff’s mother, told [District Judge Jackie] Taschher that her son “is the most honest and trustworthy human being you will ever find.” Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Groff was neither drunk or speeding the day of the crash. But, he said, Groff’s decision to use his cellphone while driving proved just as dangerous and sparked a tragedy when he drifted onto the shoulder of Route 248 and hit Emma, who was walking home with her younger siblings after buying ice cream at a nearby convenience store. Groff stayed at the scene after the crash and cooperated with investigators, authorities said. Pennsylvania court records show no prior criminal history. Read on.

•  A free workshop on domestic violence[Turning Point] Join us Wednesday, Dec. 6, from 9 to 10 AM, for an educational presentation for pastors and laity at Dubbs Memorial Community Center (457 W. Allen St., Allentown). Topics include the dynamics of an abusive relationship, how a person takes power and control over the life of another, the cycle of abuse, and the effects of abuse on the victim, the children, and the community. We will also discuss how you can recognize, support, respond, and refer victims of domestic abuse to supportive services. To confirm your attendance, call Miriam R
ivera of Turning Point Lehigh Valley at 610-797-0530 ext. *226 or email Rev. Larry Pickens. All spiritual leaders are welcome to attend.

• Fifty years later, religious progressives launch a new Poor People's Campaign [Religion and Politics, Nov. 27] I
n the past 18 months Bishop William Barber, the longtime president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the state’s Moral Mondays movement, has given a blockbuster speech at the Democratic National Convention, appeared on the cover of the Sunday New York Times, helped topple a Republican governor, received attention from major Democratic funders, and otherwise established himself as a rising star of progressive politics. But when, in May, Barber announced that he was stepping down from his North Carolina positions to launch a national campaign, he didn’t join a big progressive organization. Instead, Barber announced that he would partner with the Kairos Center—a little-known anti-poverty organization housed at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Read on.

• Jubilate, Advent 2017 to Last Epiphany 2018, and weekly Prayers of the PeopleLinked here from Trinity Bethlehem are Jubilate, a resource for hymn selection, and weekly Prayers of the People which 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 Word (.doc) and .pdf formats.

• DioBeth Leadership News, Nov. 22Here
• The newSpin Newsletter, Nov. 16Here.
• DioBeth General News, Nov. 9
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 newsletter, (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.
• It started as a tax cut. Now it could change American life[NYT, Peter . Goodman and Patricia Cohennov, Nov. 29] The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.
  
Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements. Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.

   With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington. The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people — especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic. All of this is taking shape at such extraordinary velocity, absent the usual analyses and hearings, that even the most savvy Washington lobbyist cannot be fully certain of the implications. Read on.

• GOP 'war' on Johnson Amendment turns serious
[RNS, Spiritual Politics, Mark Silk, Nov. 19] When last we visited Republican meddling with the Johnson Amendment, it was (according to me) much ado about very little. With passage of the tax bill in the House of Representatives, it has turned into something serious.   Read on.  Update … Killing the Johnson Amendment about more than religion. Read on.

• We're on the verge of a profligate arms race[NCR Editorial, Nov. 30]
Pope Francis' condemnation of nuclear weapons, "the threat of their use, as well as their very possession," has come at a crucial time, perhaps in the nick of time. The possibility that nuclear weapons could actually be used and the cataclysm their use would wreak on the planet has never been greater than right now.
   Just days after Donald Trump became president, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of its doomsday clock to two and half minutes to midnight. Reasons cited for the push included North Korea's testing of nuclear weapons, tensions between the United States and Russia, "a rise in strident nationalism worldwide … including in a US presidential campaign," and Trump's disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons. We know all too well how these trends have deepened and darkened through this year. Read on.

• Truthfeed spreads pro-Trump propaganda
The website has connections to the president’s camp—and white supremacists. Read on.

• Trump retweets video critical of Muslims … President Donald Trump retweeted a series of inflammatory videos Wednesday (Nov. 29) purporting to show violence being committed by Muslims. Trump retweeted them from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First, a small fringe group whose profile was elevated by Trump’s attention. The group’s tweets read: “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” Read on. Also, The British prime minister's office said President Trump was 'wrong' to share anti-Muslim videos by U.K. nationalists, a rare rebuke by an ally. Here. Also here. And here.

• The Russia Investigation's spectacular accumulation of lies[WaPo, Michael Gerson, Nov. 16] There is a spectacular accumulation of lies. Lies on disclosure forms. Lies at confirmation hearings. Lies on Twitter. Lies in the White House briefing room. Lies to the FBI. Self- ­protective lies by the attorney general. Blocking and tackling lies by Vice President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people for whom truth, political honor, ethics and integrity mean nothing. The implications of all this are not only legal and political. We are witnessing what happens when right-wing politics becomes untethered from morality and religion. Read on.

• The Nationalist's Delusion[The Atlantic] One hundred thirty-nine years since Reconstruction, and half a century since the tail end of the civil-rights movement, a majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency. Their support was enough to win the White House, and has solidified a return to a politics of white identity that has been one of the most destructive forces in American history. This all occurred before the eyes of a disbelieving press and political class, who plunged into fierce denial about how and why this had happened. That is the story of the 2016 election. Read on.



SpiritSpin
• Imagining a new America[Krista Tippett of "On Being" interviews Ta-Nehisi Coates] He is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His books include The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir, Between the World and Me, and most recently, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy. Listen to or read the transcript.


• 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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• Spirit Resources
 ... way below


Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin

• The Da Vinci Lode[NYT Editorial Board, Nov. 16] The sale of Leonardo's "Salvator Mundi" for almost a half-billion dollars says more about grotesque financial inequality than about art. Read on

DioBeth

• DioBeth Leadership News, Nov. 22 … Here
• The newSpin Newsletter, Nov. 16 … Here.
• DioBeth General News, Nov. 9… Here.

• Bishop Search Committee website … Here.


DioBeth Parish and Agency Websites
Under "More Resources" way below.


Episcopal/Anglican
• Our moral opportunity on climate change [NYT, archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Nov. 3] As a global family of churches, the Anglican Communion has stood alongside other faiths in prayerful solidarity and compassion with victims and survivors of the recent extreme weather in many places around the world. Read on.

• House of Bishops, meeting in Alaska … Three videos. Here.

Your Faith, Your Life  … [Church Publishing, Revised Edition of the 2009 book by Jenifer Gamber and Bill Lewellis, Nov. 2017] The everything-you-need to know adult guide to the Episcopal Church that is easy to read but with substance for newcomers, adult formation groups, and lifelong Episcopalians who desire to know more about their church. The language of worship, theology, church structure, sacraments, and discipleship offers a framework to explore the meaning and practice of being an Episcopalian and follower of Jesus. Not just a book of information, but a book for transformation. Read on.
   "Jenifer Gamber and Bill Lewellis have completed a generous update of the 2009 instant classic Your Faith, Your Life, presenting orthodoxy for the 21st century. It's not rewriting orthodoxy to include 21st century ideals, its showing that orthodoxy always included these ideals. New textbooks on physics aren't created because the immutable laws of physics have changed. New discoveries illuminate what was already there: quarks, gluons, earth-like planets. These don't change our view of Newton's laws of gravity, or the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Likewise, Gamber and Lewellis have brought the "new" discoveries of the gospel of inclusion, the Jesus Movement, and the modern Church to a new guidebook of Episcopal identity. Your Faith, Your Life will be the new must have for Confirmation classes, adult education, college ministry, and other formation needs. It offers a simple guide through what it means to be an Episcopal disciple in the 21st century." ––Bill Campbell, Executive Director of Forma

• In Conversation: Michael Curry and Barbara Harris is the first volume of Church Publishing’s new In Conversation series focusing on dialogues between leaders. Edited by Fredrica Harris Thompsett. Curry serves the Episcopal Church as its 27th presiding bishop. Harris is the first female bishop elected by the Anglican Communion (1989). Thompsett, a historian and theologian, is professor emerita of historical theology at the Episcopal Divinity School, where she also served as academic dean for fourteen years. Read on.

• Planning for Rites and Rituals: A Resource for Episcopal Worship, Year B 2017-2018 [Church Publishing] From the introduction: A wide range of thought-provoking creative options for Sundays and holy days. Looking for ways to engage a range of ages? It's here. Looking for help "seeing" the images in each week's scripture? We've got that. Want hymns keyed to the lectionary or brief introductions to the scriptures? It's all here, in a single resource. Read an excerpt here

• Episcopal News Service (ENS) has launched a leading-edge new website. Visually appealing, easy-to-navigate and mobile-friendly, the new ENS website was designed to improve the overall user experience, raise awareness of the news service, and generate further interest and engagement in the life-changing ministries of the Episcopal Church. Story here.

• The Toolkit of the Public Affairs Office … Way down, under "More Resources," at "Episcopal/Anglican."
• Sermons that work, Weekly bulletin inserts and more … Way down, under "More Resources," at "Episcopal/Anglican."

Evangelism/Stewardship/Church Growth/Migration/ERD
• Charity Navigator…maintains lists of charities and offers advice on how to pick a charity. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is highly rated, above American Red Cross. Read on.

Episcopal Migration MinistriesHere.
Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN)Here.
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD)Here
• Episcopal Asset Map
Here.
• Additional Resources

... way below


People



In the Media


TaleSpin
• Stop watching your local news?
… The news you think is "neutral" isn't neutral at all. Read on.

• Can Time survive the Kochs? [TNY, Jane Mayer, Nov. 26] Time magazine’s cover story from its November 6th issue was a point of pride in its twelve-person Washington bureau. It featured three swinging wrecking balls emblazoned with Donald Trump’s face and a tough-minded, fact-laden investigative report on three Trump Cabinet secretaries who were systematically dismantling protective regulations in their respective government agencies. The section on Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, was particularly critical, opening with a story from a mother from Minnesota whose eight-month-old baby appeared to have suffered brain damage from a pesticide that Pruitt’s E.P.A. had recently removed from the list of banned chemicals after meeting with executives from the company that manufactures it. (An E.P.A. spokesperson told Time that the conversation was brief and that the pesticide, chlorpyrifos, was not discussed.)
   The sale of Time Inc. earlier this week, to the Meredith Corporation—a deal made possible by an infusion of six hundred and fifty million dollars from Koch Industries’ private-equity arm—has called into question whether such independent, accountability journalism from the media company will continue. For decades, Charles and David Koch have spent a staggering amount of money from their family’s private oil, gas, and chemical fortune to attack government regulations—particularly concerning the environment, where their company has a history of record-breaking violations. The brothers even helped sponsor Pruitt’s political career. As the New York Times reported, political operatives working for the Kochs also wrote the early blueprint for the Trump Administration’s rollback of Obama-era regulations, a corporate wish list called, “A Roadmap to Repeal.” And, as I reported, Pruitt placed Patrick Traylor, a lawyer for Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies, in charge of the E.P.A.’s enforcement of key anti-pollution laws. In other words, the Kochs are directly invested in promoting policies and politicians that the publications they now partly own would ordinarily cover.
   Despite their long and deep involvement in trying to align American politics with their conservative libertarian views, spokesmen for the Kochs insist that the multibillionaire brothers have no plans to play any role in running or shaping the editorial content of the Time Inc. publications. In addition to Time magazine, the company publishes Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated, Money, and several other previously iconic national weeklies. Instead, spokesmen for the Kochs and for Meredith say that the brothers intend to act merely as “passive” investors. They and their underlings will have no seat on the merged company’s board of directors, and play no managerial role other than meeting on a quarterly basis with senior management to discuss “financial and strategic matters.” According to an eighty-page agreement on the merger filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Kochs do, however, reserve the right to send an emissary to attend board meetings if Meredith fails to make good on its hefty 8.5-per-cent interest payments to the Kochs. But the brothers’ motive for financing such a large chunk of the $2.8 billion merger, according to those close to the deal, is purely financial, akin to the role that Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecom tycoon, has played at the Times, where he is the single largest investor.
   Those familiar with the Kochs’ history, however, have reason to be skeptical about their professed passivity.  Read on.

• Jay-Z spoke with the NYT's top editor
about therapy, politics, marriage, the state of rap and being a black man in Trump's America … [NYT, Dean  Baquet, Nov. 29] Watch and/or read.


• A teacher's perspective on Wonder … Last night, my family went to see the movie Wonder. I hoped my two, young sons would watch the movie and leave with a renewed understanding of what it means to be kind, but I wasn’t prepared for the lesson it had for me.

   It is November. The season of darkness and paperwork. By November, teachers are run down. The September honeymoon has worn off, and students, co-workers, administrators and parents are all showing their true colors. Feeling constantly behind and exhausted, we are trying to remember why we ever wanted to do this job in the first place. We feel defeated and discouraged. We know it is far too early in the year to feel this overwhelmed, and we wonder if we even have what it takes.
   Wonder is the story of Auggie Pullman, a 5th grade boy with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a condition that can cause extreme facial difference. Auggie’s disability is obvious. It is a constant reminder of the struggles he faces. Read on.

• Unmistakable goodness … Sometimes the Universe goes out of its way to remind you of unmistakable goodness. Read on


Requiescant in pace
• Marion L. Gavern … died on Nov. 23.
She was a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Scranton, and until her illness, St. Luke's was a very big part of her life. She was a Sunday school teacher, served in the choir, Altar Guild, all fundraisers, especially the baking of Welsh Cookies. Obituary.

• Mary Capone, 97 … died on Nov. 20. She was a lifelong member of St. Mary's in Wind Gap where she taught Sunday School, and was a former member of the ECW. Obituary.

• Della Reese, 86
… died on Nov. 19. A onetime gospel singer, minister and groundbreaking African-American talk show host, she was later known for her lead role in the TV series “Touched by an Angel." Read on.

Joseph Gwilym Morris Jr, 88 … died on Nov. 26. Dr. Morris was a member of St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre. Obituary.

Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not
• More Resources

... way below


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
• Fomer Salvadoran official extradited, to stand trial for murder of Jesuits[NCR, Nov. 29] A 9-year legal battle has ended with U.S. officials handing over custody of Inocente Orlando Montano, a former Salvadoran army colonel, to Spanish authorities who have indicted him for "terrorist" murder in connection with the 1989 Jesuit massacre in El Salvador.

• RC priests raped children in Philadelphia, but the wrong people went to jail[Newsweek, Ralph Cipriano, Nov. 30] Philadelphia Detective Joe Walsh was admired by peers and prosecutors, but he is most proud of the fact that he never locked up an innocent person. Then he got sucked into a massive cover-up of sexual abuse by priests. [Bill] This is a lengthy, intriguing story that includes a few paragraphs on something I had not heard about, the late Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's affairs with women and his lack of financial restraint in his personal life while presiding over the painful downsizing of the archdiocese. 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
• Forgetfulness and aging: What's normal?
Here.

• Flu shots
… Got mine. Got yours? Read on.

• More Resources… below.


Media/Print/Films/TV/Music/Tech

• The Book of Revelation: The End of the World or Heaven on Earth? [A free video teaching series for Advent]
The Book of Revelation raises questions that many of us would rather not think about: Does Hell exist? Will we be separated from our loved ones when we die? What does the end of the world look like? But, what if this scripture is not about the end of times, but rather a guide to how we create Heaven on Earth, right now? To that end, Trinity Church Wall Street is delighted to offer an important new video seminar on Revelation, led by the Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, professor at General Theological Seminary and based on his book “Heaven on Earth: God’s Call to Community in the Book of Revelation.”
   Over five videos, Dr. Battle will guide participants through the final book of the Bible and illuminate how it reveals God’s dream for humanity and its relevance to our world today. The series is perfect for Advent, and can be used once each week, beginning with Christ the King Sunday, as we anticipate the annual celebration of the Nativity. The program is intended to be helpful in faith-formation educational settings large and small, and for individual use. This curriculum is offered to all free of charge and may be viewed online or downloaded Also available at this location in the future will be a podcast series, and a version that is not Advent-specific and thus suitable for any season of the Church year. Read on.


Websites, Podcasts and Blogs
The Episcopal CaféHere.

AnglicansOnlineHere.
Diocese of BethlehemHere.

The Episcopal ChurchHere.
Episcopal News ServiceHere.

• Pod Save America … is an American progressive political podcast, co-hosted by Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Daniel Pfeiffer.
• Radiolab … is a radio show and podcast about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.
• The Axe Files with David Axelrod … is a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. David Axelrod is the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
• The Daily … This is how the news should sound. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism.
• Vox's The Weeds is a semiweekly policy podcast hosted by Ezra Klein, Sarah Kliff, and Matthew Yglesias.

Varia
• Ten award-winning optical illusions and brain puzzlesHere.

• He was a star, now
[TNY cartoon] Here.


Abbreviations of Sources
AM … America Magazine
AO
… Anglicans Online
AP
… Associated Press
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]


More Resources

DioBeth
• Look online every Thursday for a Diocese of Bethlehem newsletter or for newSpin … Every Thursday in the following rotation: (1) The Leadership News, (2) The newSpin newsletter, (3) The General News, (4) The newSpin newsletter. The Leadership News and the General News are official publications of the Diocese of Bethlehem. They include news, info, features and events relating to our diocese and parishes. 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 parish as 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 always posted on the newSpin blog. If you wish to receive it by email, please send a note to rebecca@canticleccommunications.com

• 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. Includes more than 425 members

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  … Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
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/ .
• Church locators ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.

DioBeth Parish and Agency Websites
• Allentown: Episcopal House … Here.
• Allentown: Grace … Here.
• Allentown: Grace Montessori School … Here.
• Allentown: Mediator … Here. Refugee Community Center … Here.
• Allentown/Bethlehem: St. Andrew … Here.
• Athens: Trinity … Here.
• Bethlehem: Nativity Cathedral … Here. Emergency Shelter … Here.
• Bethlehem: New Bethany Ministries … Here.
• Bethlehem: Trinity … Here.
• Bethlehem: Trinity Soup Kitchen … Here.
• Carbondale: St. James-St. George … Here.
• Clarks Summit/Glenburn: Epiphany … Here.
• Dallas: Prince of Peace … Here.
• Douglassville: St. Gabriel … Here.
• Easton: Trinity … Here.  ARK Soup Kitchen … Here.
• Emmaus: St. Margaret … Here.
• Forest City: Christ Church … Here.
• Hazleton: St. Peter … Here.
• Hamlin: St. John … Here.
• Hellertown: St. George … Here.
• Honesdale: Grace … Here.
• Jermyn: St. James/St. George … Here.
• Jim Thorpe: St. Mark/St. John … Here.
• Kingston: Grace … Here.
• Lebanon: St. Luke … Here.
• Lehighton: All Saints … Here.
• Milford: Good Shepherd … Here.
• Montrose: St. Paul … Here.
• Morgantown: St. Thomas … Here.
• Moscow: St. Mark … Here.
• Mountain Top: St. Martin-in-the-Fields … Here.
• Mount Pocono: … Here.
• Nanticoke/Alden Station: St. Andrew … Here.
• Nazareth: St. Brigid … Here.
• Palmerton: St. John … Here.
• Pen Argyl: St. Joseph … Here.
• Pottsville: Trinity … Here.
• Reading: Christ Church … Here.  SPARK … Here.
• Reading: St. Mary: … Here.
• Sayre: Redeemer: … Here.
• Schuylkill County: North Parish … Here.
• Scranton: St. Luke: … Here.
• Sinking Spring: St. Alban … Here.
• Stroudsburg: Christ Church … Here.
• Towanda: Christ Church … Here.
• Trexlertown: St. Anne … Here.
• Tunkhannock: St. Peter … Here.
• Whitehall: St. Stephen … Here.
• Whitehall: St. Stephen School … Here.
• Wilkes-Barre: St. Clement/St. Peter … Here.
• Wilkes-Barre: St. Stephen … Here.
• West Pittston: Trinity … Here.
• Wind Gap: St. Mary … Here.
[Bill] Please let me know if your website is not listed above. Also, let me know if you would like me to highlight something on your site. Please note, also, that a few of the websites need to be updated. Thanks.]

• Data and Analysis from the 2016 Parochial Reports … of the Episcopal Church are available here.

Episcopal/Anglican
• The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
Episcopal Café
• AngicansOnline website and news centre.
The Living Church
• 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.
• Free weekly bulletin inserts provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Find the inserts here.
Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Episcopal Church Event Calendar ... Here

• 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.

Ecumenical/Interfaith Relations
• 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.

• Five major world religions
… Khan Academy's tour through five major world religions.  • Buddhism,  • Christianity,  • Hinduism,  • Islam,  • Judaism.  
• Protestant Reformation… 
Khan Academy's introduction to the Protestant Reformation

• Five major world religions … Khan Academy's tour through five major world religions.  •
Buddhism,  • Christianity,  • Hinduism,  • Islam,  • Judaism.   MOVE UNDER 'MORE RESOURCES'

• Protestant Reformation
  Khan Academy's introduction to the
Protestant Reformation  MOVE UNDER 'MORE RESOURCES'

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.
• The Prayer Site ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Speaking to the Soul ... 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.


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.

Health and Wellness
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Center for Disease Control - Healthy Living
Church Health Reader

Eastern Pennsylvania Faith Community Nurses
Episcopal Mental Illness Network
Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH

National Episcopal Health Ministries
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.

Media/Film/TV/Books/Podcasts/Music/Tech
• Spirituality & Film ... Here.
• Spirituality on DVD ... Here.
• 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.
• 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.