newSpin, the newsletter
March 4, 2014
Published weekly, usually by Tuesday
• Jubilate ... [Diocese of Bethlehem] Hymnody for Lent and Easter is published by the Diocese of Bethlehem for our diocesan community and for free distribution to the world. It is a service of our Liturgy and Music Commission, specifically Canon Cliff Carr who has been doing this for more than 30 years. Find it here.
• How Peter Berger's views have changed ... [The Cresset] In a fascinating Q&A, eminent sociologist of religion Peter Berger talks about the decline of the “secularization theory” which posited that modernity inevitably produces a decline of religion. Berger rejects that theory. "I came to the conclusion some years ago that to replace secularization theory—to explain religion in the modern world—we need the theory of pluralism. Modernity does not necessarily produce secularity. It necessarily produces pluralism, by which I mean the coexistence in the same society of different worldviews and value systems." [h/t Religion Daily Roundup]
• Tending to the holy ... A place for those who hunger and thirst for a deeper connection with God, written by Lutherans. Here.
• 40 ... [YouTube] video by Si Smith. Here.
• The Oscars’ most beautiful line ... [Religion News Roundup] from an acceptance speech came from ”12 Years a Slave” actress Lupita Nyong’o, who won best supporting actress: “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s.”
• Matthew McConaughey was one of the few ... [Religion News Roundup] to mention God in his acceptance speech for best actor. ”First off, I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to,” he said. “He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or another human hand. He has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.”
• The Airport Chaplain ... [NYTimes] The Interfaith Airport Chaplaincy, in the atrium next to a steak-and-brew restaurant, offers more than a two-item menu of spiritual guidance and comfort. It is the concierge for the disconnected. Maj. Larry Cowper of the Salvation Army and the Rev. Donna Mote of the Episcopal Church lent the traveler a sympathetic ear. Then Ms. Mote accompanied him back to the check-in, pulled out the chaplaincy credit card and covered the fee. “We are kind of an extreme customer service,” said the Rev. Chester R. Cook, senior chaplain at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, whose three full-time pastors are augmented by some 50 volunteers representing 10 faiths. The airport, the world’s busiest, serves over 225,000 passengers a day. Read on.
• Making a film about God – Making the invisible visible ... [The Star-Ledger, Stephen Whitty] Cinema remains a primarily visual medium. Which poses a problem for a certain kind of film: How do you visualize something that's invisible? Give form to the amorphous? How do you make a film about God? It's a risky question directors have confronted since 1897, when a famous Passion Play in Czechoslovakia was put on film. Yet the challenge continues to draw moviemakers. …
Ultimately, ironically, what really works in cinematic stories of the divine is the human — to see not just the message, but its effect. To see sisters struggling with their vows in "Black Narcissus" or "A Nun's Story." To see the daily life of the clergy in "Diary of a Country Priest," or the redemptive arc of the preacher in "The Apostle." To watch the God-inspired goodness of "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" or "Beyond the Gates." Which, perhaps, is the answer to the initial, eternal question. How do you turn the word into the image? How do you make the invisible real? The same way you photograph the wind — by pointing your camera at what it touches. Read on.
• Hollywood's real problem with religion isn't a dearth of religiously themed movies ... [The Week] Hollywood produces relatively few films about religious subjects and themes. But that might not be a bad thing for religion. Religion is a serious subject, and Hollywood doesn't do well with serious subjects — because Hollywood's goal is to make money, not art. If the major studios started producing more big-budget movies on religious topics, all we'd end up with are more dumbed-down portrayals of religion. Don't believe me? Consider the record. Hollywood doesn't have a religion problem. It has a quality problem.
• From Ashes to Easter: the cost and promise of a Lenten practice ... [America, Rhonda Mawhood Lee, St. Philip's Episcopal Church, Durham NC] The invitation to keep a holy Lent asks everyone present “to think about how you can love God more deeply. Think about those things for which you are sorry, pray daily, and offer acts of kindness that will help others and be a sign of your love for God.” The prayer over the ashes focuses our attention on the season’s promise: “May the ashes placed on our heads remind us that our life on earth is temporary, but because God loves us, we will live with God forever.” Read on.
• Lent begins March 5 ... [Canon Kitch] A fine selection of Lenten devotional materials and online resources for people of all ages can be found on our Diocesan Website on the Christian Formation page (see Seasonal Resources). Read on.
• Lenten Resources ... listed by Episcopal News Service. Here.
• Keeping Lent ... [Episcopal Café, Ann Fontaine] What are your plans this year? Maggie Dawn, associate dean of Marquand Chapel and associate professor of theology and literature at Yale Divinity School, suggests 40 ways to keep a joyful, thankful, holy Lent. Read on.
• Daily meditations from Trinity Bethlehem ... [Mother Laura Howell] For the 40 days of Lent, parishioners and clergy from Trinity Bethlehem will be posting Lenten meditations daily. To read the blog subscribe to Lights in the Darkness. If you prefer, you may also receive the reflections in your email. Send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• After a long day ... [Night Prayer, New Zealand Prayer Book] Lord, it is night ... It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.
On July 27, 2009, the cover of “Sports Illustrated” featured an arresting image of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. The headline—“Tim Tebow: Man of Many Missions”—riffed on the way he’d created a fan frenzy with his unique blend of faith and football. The championship quarterback seemed poised to jump off the glossy cover with pursed lips that oozed determination and a simple Bible verse scribbled within the black grease underneath his eyes: “Phil. 4:13.”
Tebow’s highly churched Southern fan base didn’t need to look up the passage. No, most of them knew it by heart: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in any of the 66 books of the Christian Bible, having been printed on millions of key chains and t-shirts, cellphone cases and coffee mugs. (If one wanted to argue the trinketization of Christianity, this Bible verse would be a good starting point.)
But it also one of the misunderstood, misused, and misinterpreted.- See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/01/16/philippians-413-many-christians-misuse-iconic-verse/#sthash.btZ7xsTO.dpuf
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• SpiritSpin Resources ... Below, near the bottom.
• Paging the Holy Father ... [NCR, John Gehring blog] Pope Francis is winning hearts and minds around the world for his emphasis on mercy, personal simplicity and vision for a church that is “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets.” He rejects culture-war Christianity and aloof moralizing from the safety of the sanctuary. He warns that a fixation on “small-minded rules” can stand in the way of ministering to those on the margins. A look at at a few recent headlines shows that some Catholic leaders never got the memo from Pope Francis or tossed it in the trash. Read on.
• Uganda president signed harsh anti-gay law ... [AP] Uganda's president has signed an anti-gay bill that punishes gay sex with up to life in prison, a measure likely to send Uganda's beleaguered gay community further underground as the police try to implement it amid fevered anti-gay sentiment across the country. Read on.
• Ugandan tabloid publishes list of 'top' homosexuals ... [AP] One day after the president enacted a harsh anti-gay law Ugandan newspaper published a list of what it called the country's "200 top" homosexuals, outing some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay. The Red Pepper tabloid published the names — and some pictures — of alleged homosexuals in a front-page story under the headline: "EXPOSED!" Read on.
• Some say American Christians share blame for Ugandan law ... [NYTimes] Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family. For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.” Read on.
• How did Uganda get to this point? ... [Religion & Politics] The bill’s passage and Museveni’s assent are but the latest in what has been a long, convoluted, and controversial international history. The most prevalent narrative in the United States goes something like this: American evangelicals and Pentecostals, losing the culture wars in the United States, decided to export the battle front to places like Uganda, where they enlisted new recruits in their homophobic campaign. Trans-oceanic, religio-political networks were fashioned by U.S.-based organizations like the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and The Family, along with Ugandans like the Rev. Martin Ssempa or MP David Bahati—the bill’s most notorious supporters. These collaborations provide the evidence needed to claim that the egregious “Kill the Gays” bill was but the inevitable, perhaps the intended, product of Western anti-LGBT activism. In this narrative, as seen in news reports like Jeff Sharlet’s “Straight Man’s Burden” and the recent documentary “God Loves Uganda,” the story of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill is the extension of an American story: American agendas, agency, money, and power are at its heart. Uganda is treated, in many ways, as incidental, becoming a convenient battleground. Read on.
• Crimea 101 ... [Chicago Sun-Times] A primer on why the Ukraine region is at the center of Russia-US tension. Here.
• Three deacons ordained ... Bishop Sean Rowe ordained Beverly Ann Meneeley, Michelle Marie Moyer and Elizabeth Sharon Yale to the order of deacons on Sunday March 2.
• Trip to Diocese of Kajo Keji ... [Charlie Barebo] Report on the January 2014 trip of Charlie Barebo, diocesan Missioner for Development, and Archdeacon Howard Stringfellow to the Diocese of Kajo Keji, South Sudan. Here.
• New Hope in Pictures ... Archdeacon Stringfellow has begun blogging “New Hope in Pictures” chronicling our shared mission with the South Sudanese.
• The DioLight ... Feb. 12, Vol. 2, Iss. 2. Here.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... [Canon Anne Kitch] A newsletter of lifelong Christian formation resources. February.
• Diobeth Episcopal Relief and Development ... [John Major] A shield...in the midst of life's storms, February 20.
• DioBeth news, info ... DioBeth website, newSpin blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn,
• Public news and info lists ... At the Diobeth website, enter your name and email in the "Get Connected" box. You are welcome to subscribe to any or all of these. "Bakery" is our diocesan interactive list.
• Christophany ... April 25-27 at Bear Creek Camp, Wilkes-Barre. Here.
• EYE: The 2014 Episcopal Youth Event ... will take place at Villanova University, July 9-13. Read on.
• Audrey Clara Margaret Reinholz ... [Cathedral Church of the Nativity] Drum roll, please, for Cathedral's newest member. Daughter of Mother Kim and Father Andrew Reinholz. Born Jan. 29. Photo here.
• Homeless shelter rotates among Pottsville churches ... [RepublicanHerald] The temporary homeless shelter is on the move again while a nonprofit organization continues to work on getting a permanent location. The rotating shelter was recently at the United Methodist Church and the United Presbyterian Church. A coalition of volunteers established the temporary shelter just before the winter storm on Valentine's Day at Trinity Episcopal Church. It will continue to rotate among city churches. Read on.
• At Trinity Bethlehem ... [Mother Laura Howell] Bach will be 329 years old in late March. Celebrate his glorious contributions by attending an all-Bach concert on March 16 at 3:00 p.m. Co-sponsored by the Lehigh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, the concert will be given by Aram Basmadjian, Trinity's Artist-in-Residence. Trinity is located at 44 E. Market Street in Bethlehem. For more information contact email@example.com or call 610-867-4741 X306.
• St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre ... February newsletter of REACH at St. Stephen Food Pantry and Clothes Closet. Here.
• At St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre ... Organ recitals and Lenten ecumenical services. Here.
• IRS VITA ... The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. To find a VITA tax preparation site in your area, go to http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Find-a-Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep and enter your zip code.
• Calendar of events in our parishes ... Here.
• Donate wisely ... [The Morning Call, Paul Muschick] Verify a charity and/or solicitor are registered with the state at 800-732-0999 or http://www.dos.state.pa.us under "charities." Don't donate to a charity you know nothing about. Don't donate cash or give your credit card number to phone solicitors. Don't be pressured into donating on the spot, Don't be confused by a charity using a name similar to a well-known charity. Read on.
• Two churches, different financial trajectories ... [Phila Inquirer] Along the two blocks of North 17th Street on either side of the Vine Street Expressway in Center City, remarkably different financial trajectories of two religious groups are playing out. At the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, south of Vine, church leaders are turning property accumulated over generations - such as cemeteries - into cash in a bid to fill huge financial gaps. About a block north, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced plans this week to build a meetinghouse and a 32-story residential tower next door to its $70 million temple, already under construction. The apartment tower alone could cost $75 million to $90 million, a real estate expert said. Where do the Mormons get the money? The Mormon Church expects members to tithe - to donate 10 percent of their income to the church - and puts some teeth into that expectation. Any Mormon is allowed to worship in a chapel, like the one to be built in Philadelphia, "but only Mormons who adhere to the highest standards of the faith," including full tithing, are allowed in the temple, said W. Paul Reeve, an associate professor of history at the University of Utah.The highest sacraments of the religion, such as marriage, take place in the temple, and having that access apparently motivates Mormons to give. Read on.
• Communication tips and tools ... Here. (February)
Rest in Peace
• Maurice 'Ben' Benitez, 86 ... [ENS, Diocese of Texas] died Thursday, Feb. 27, in Austin. Benitez brought a focus on the changing demographics in Texas. While he coped with challenges to the church brought by the recession in the late 1980s, the collapse of the oil business and the resulting banking crisis, he laid the foundations for a vibrant Spanish-speaking ministry in the diocese, opening the first Hispanic missions, recruiting Spanish-speaking clergy and appointing the first Hispanic missioner for the Province. He responded to the increasing Hispanic populations’ needs with the establishment of El Buen Samaritano, the diocesan social service agency in Austin. Read on.
• House of Deputies ... newsletter.
• Around the Episcopal Church ... Here
• Episcopal Positions (NYC/DC) ... Here.
• They have a lot to say and are not going away ... Older Americans are one of the fastest growing demographics in our country. Yet, it's easy to underestimate this demographic because they are so often invisible. As Pacific Standard reports, the elderly have a lot to say, and they're not going away any time soon.
• Kentucky Baptists lure new worshippers with gun giveaway ... [USA Today] In an effort its spokesman has described as "outreach to rednecks," the Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading "Second Amendment Celebrations," where churches around the state give away guns as door prizes to lure in the unchurched in hopes of converting them to Christ. Read on. [h/t Religion News Roundup]
• Did Francis drop the F-bomb? ... [Bill] Pope Francis may not be infallible. He misspoke during his Sunday address this week, accidentally dropping the F-bomb or using a vulgar Italian word for a male body part, cazzo, when he meant to say caso (“case or example”). He quickly corrected himself and moved on without missing a beat. The video has gone viral. I noticed that most news and web sites reported this gaffe by saying that Francis dropped the F-bomb. Of course.
• What does it sound like when you change your mind? ... [Seth Godin] Nineteen years ago, shortly after I hired Mark Hurst to join the team at my internet startup Yoyodyne, I turned to him and said, "I don't think the web makes sense." This was the most expensive mistake I ever made. Read on.
• NEPA Synod website ... Here.
• ELCA website ... Here.
• ELCA News Service ... Here.
• ELCA's blogs may be found here. See especially "Web and Multimedia Development."
• Communication tips and tools ... Here. (February)
• UMC website Here.
• News Service Here.
• Communication Resources ... Start here.
• Eastern PA Conference website Here. Facebook Here. Bishop Peggy Johnson's blog Here.
• Fighting to be heard amid church's silence ... [Chicago Tribune] Sister Peg Ivers stood up to pedophile priests, stubborn church hierarchy. Read on.
• National Catholic Reporter ... Here.
• Diocese of Allentown ... Here.
• Diocese of Scranton ... Here.
• United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ... Here.
• Catholic News Service ... Here.
• The Joy of the Gospel ... Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, with detailed table of contents. Here.
• Vatican website ... Here.
• Vatican Information Service blog ... Here.
• Vatican News/Info Portal ... Here.
• America's Temple of Pseudoscience – Whole Foods, say it ain't so ... [The Daily Beast] A column to chew on. Americans get riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods. It’s all pseudoscience—so why are some kinds of pseudoscience more equal than others?” Read on.
• Resources for caregivers ... Here.
• Medline Plus ... Here.
• WebMD ... Here.
• Alzheimers.gov ... For people helping people with Alzheimers. Here.
• Three Free Apps for getting qualified medical advice... [Techlicious] Urgent Care, HealthTap and First Aid. Info and links.
• Free eBooks by Project Gutenberg ... Here. • Free Audiobooks from LibriVox ... Here. • Free Audiobooks and eBooks ... Here and Here.
• Google Books ... Millions of books you can preview or read free. Here. • The Online Books Page ... from UPenn. Here.
• More free eBooks and Audiobooks ... [Techlicious] Here.
• Religion Research Hub ... ARDA, Association of Religion Data Archives, an especially useful site.
• In-Formation in Bethlehem ... February.
• Many Congregational Resources ... The "Using Resources" series of publications by the Center for Congregations is designed to help congregations make the most effective use of capital funds, consultants, architects, contractors, books, congregation management software, and more.
• Church locators ... Here.
• Insights into Religion ... Here.
• Forward Movement ... Here.
• The Alban Institute ... Here.
• ECF Vital Practices ... Here.
• Faith in Public Life ... Here.
• Religion&Ethics News Weekly (PBS) ... Here.
• The Chalice, a publication created by Joan DeAcetis for older adults and caretakers. Download issues here.
• Weekly Bulletin Inserts from the Episcopal Church ... Here.
• Episcopal Web Radio ... Here.
• Updated Episcopal Church canons and constitution ... Here.
Additional sources for news/info/commentary
• Religion News Service Daily Roundup ... here.
• Religious Freedom Blog ... a weekly look back at the top stories and developments on religious liberty around the world. Here.
• National Catholic Reporter ... here.
• Back issues of the newSpin newsletter ... here.
(1) The Episcopal Church website, news service, news service blog,
(2) Episcopal Café
(3) AngicansOnline website and news centre.
(4) The Living Church
(5) The Anglican Communion website and news service.
• The Book of Common Prayer ... every edition from 1549 to 1979. Here.
• Prayers and Thanksgivings from the BCP ... Here.
• The (Online) Book of Common Prayer ... Here.
• The Daily Office ... can be read online in Rite I, Rite II or the New Zealand Prayer Book versions. At Mission St. Clare.
• Daily Prayer ... a resource of Forward Movement. Here.
• Holy Women, Holy Men ... Download Holy Women, Holy Men as a .pdf file.
• Speaking to the Soul ... An Episcopal Café blog. Sermons, reflections, multimedia meditations and excerpts from books on spirituality. Here.
• The Imitation of Christ ... Available free online.
• The Lectionary ... A collection of Lectionary resources for the Episcopal Church, updated Sunday night. Here.
• Lectionary Page ... A liturgical calendar for upcoming weeks, with links to readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), as adapted for use in Episcopal worship. Here.
• Revised Common Lectionary ... Here.
• The Liturgical Calendar ... BCP, Lesser Feasts and Fasts, HWHM ... Here.
• Oremus Bible Browser ... Here.
• Enriching our Worship and Same-Sex Blessings ... Free download here.
As soon as the newSpin newsletter is completed, usually by Tuesday, it is uploaded to the newSpin blog and posted on Bakery and on a ChurchPost list of some 1,200 addresses. Many recipients often forward it to others. The newsletter comes, of course, with some spin from the editor. The views expressed, implied or inferred in items or links contained in the newsletter or the blog do not represent the official view of the Diocese of Bethlehem unless expressed by or forwarded from the Standing Committee or the Archdeacon as an official communication. If you're wondering why you haven't seen something related to your parish or agency here, it's probably because no one has sent relevant info. If you think something about your parish or agency merits inclusion, send email to Bill. Comments are welcome at the newSpin blog. Click there in the right hand column on the title of the current newsletter. Then, make your comment below.
Bill Lewellis, Diocese of Bethlehem, retired
Communication Minister/Editor (1986-2010), Canon Theologian (1998)
Blog , Email (c)610-393-1833
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. [Bernard Lonergan]