newSpin, the newsletter
February 23, 2017
[A DioBeth newsletter (General or Leadership) or the 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 find something online or in print(or if you'd like to write something) that you think might warrant inclusion for the sake of many in this newSpin newsletter, please send the link or your text to email@example.com]
TopSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• DioBeth Leadership News, Feb. 16 … Here. •Bishop Search Committee Appointed, •Violence Escalates in Kajo-Keji •2017 Parish Officials and Convention Delegate Forms, •SUMMA Student Theological Debate Society Summer Camp, •Contextual Outreach Course for Lay Leaders, •Call for Shrove Tuesday Suppers, •Lenten Resources, •Unholy Trinity Gun Violence Conference April 20 - 22, •2017 UTO Grant Applications Now Available, •2016 Parochial Reports, •Clergy Housing Resolution, •News of the Diocese, •People of Bethlehem, •Upcoming Diocesan Events
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 2 … Here. •"We Are Here to Support the Child": Radhika Hoshing, •Turning away refugees violates Christian principles: Bishop Sean Rowe, •Solidarity with Refugees and Relief for Kajo Keiji: Bishop Sean, •Standing Committee Opens Nominations for Bishop Search Committee, •2017 UTO Grant Applications Now Available, •Unholy Trinity Gun Violence Conference April 20 - 22, •News of the Diocese, •People of Bethlehem, •Upcoming Diocesan Events
• Scranton vigil supports refugees … [Citizens' Voice, Feb. 19, WNEP-TV] At an interfaith vigil in support of immigrants and refugees, people came together to call for unity, pray for social justice and enact positive change. Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Episcopalians, believers and nonbelievers, filled every pew at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Scranton. Read and/or View.
•• Turning away refugees violates Christian principles… [Bishop Sean Rowe, Erie Times, Feb. 2] One of my favorite Bible verses comes from the first chapter of the Gospel of John: "A light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it." I have been thinking about that verse lately as darkness began to fall over our country and light struggled to reassert itself.
The executive order closing our borders to Syrian refugees and suspending refugee resettlement and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries is a profound betrayal of Christian principles and American ideals. If we, as a nation, are to be that indomitable light the Scripture speaks of, we must resist the efforts to close our border to those who are in desperate need of our help.
Recent events have given me reason for deep unease, but also reason for hope. Read.
•• Solidarity with refugees and relief for Kajo Keji … [Bishop Sean, Jan. 31] International news events are having an impact on our life as a diocese, and I wanted to talk to you about them and suggest a couple of ways in which we might respond. Read.
• This foster father takes in only terminally ill children – He's the only one … [Los Angeles Times] The children were going to die. Mohamed Bzeek knew that. But in his more than two decades as a foster father, he took them in anyway — the sickest of the sick in Los Angeles County’s sprawling foster care system. He has buried about 10 children. Some died in his arms.
Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She’s blind and deaf. She has daily seizures. Her arms and legs are paralyzed. Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life.
Bzeek is the only foster parent in the county known to take in terminally ill children. Read on.
Intersection: Religion, Culture, Politics [•New item ••Repeat]
• Intellectual integrity in the age of Donald Trump – Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture … [Feb. 18] Bret Stephens, foreign-affairs columnist of the Wall Street Journal, delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The question of what Mr. Trump might yet do by political methods against the media matters a great deal less than what he is attempting to do by ideological and philosophical methods. Ideologically, the president is trying to depose so-called mainstream media in favor of the media he likes — Breitbart News and the rest. Another way of making this point is to say that he’s trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism. His objection to, say, the New York Times, isn’t that there’s a liberal bias in the paper that gets in the way of its objectivity, which I think would be a fair criticism. His objection is to objectivity itself. He’s perfectly happy for the media to be disgusting and corrupt — so long as it’s on his side. But again, that’s not all the president is doing. Read on. View video on YouTube.
• Being Church in the Trump years … [Brian McLaren] If you are a pastor, priest, or other Christian leader in the U.S., or if you are an active church member, the election of Donald Trump has changed your life and ministry, and not just a little, but a lot, and for the foreseeable future. View and/or Read.
• Resources and links related to religion and media … [The Revealer] Here.
• Prophetic, not partisan: Why we need courageous preaching about politics … [America Magazine, The Editors, Feb. 20 issue] There are good reasons to be wary of addressing political issues from the pulpit. In addition to questions of the proper relationship between church and state, the church’s own teaching allows for a great diversity of political regimes and actors. Most important, the pastoral reality of congregations whose members support different candidates and political parties means that preachers need to avoid anything that could be construed as a partisan endorsement in order to avoid creating division instead of building communion.
But when only a third of Catholics report hearing from the pulpit about contemporary issues on which the teaching of the church is utterly clear and the bishops of the United States have spoken forcefully and consistently, we need to ask whether cautious prudence has crossed the line into unwarranted avoidance. …
The Gospel demands more of us—both when we speak and when we listen. While we must avoid partisanship, we must also avoid letting the fear of partisanship loom so large that it overpowers our ability to speak prophetically on issues that are political in the best sense: questions about how to order our common life toward the common good. Jesus in the Gospels is anything but silent on these questions, and those who follow him cannot be silent either. Read on.
• How can priests preach in the age of Trump – without mentioning Trump? … [America Magazine, Feb. 9] A priest friend who works at a parish in the Midwest confided recently that he was finding it hard to preach these last two weeks. “It’s a high-wire act,” he said. On one level, his comments disturbed me. I get it, some parishioners at our parishes might be happy with the way things are going in this country, might have hoped for this in the first place. And maybe some of those parishioners are among the most generous, too. Money: It talks, and it also muzzles. Read on.
SpiritSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• This Lent, adopt the role of comforter as a spiritual discipline … [Gretchen E. Ziegenhals, Faith and Leadership, Feb. 21] Being “called to the side of another” is a difficult venture, but one that is a mandate from God, writes a managing director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity … Denmark’s citizens are some of the happiest people in the world. Last Christmas I noticed a large number of social media posts and articles about the Danish concept of hygge. Pronounced “HOO-guh,” the term means cozy or comfortable. Hygge is the way the Danish say they get through their long, dark, cold winters. Fires on the hearth are hygge, as are hot cocoa, porridge cafes (yes, they really exist), candlelight and fuzzy sheep’s-wool throws.
But for Christian leaders, it is not enough to practice hygge for our own sake. While we might profitably start any spiritual practice with candlelight and a hearty bowl of porridge, the season of Lent calls us to engage a spiritual practice that brings such comfort to others. I don’t mean simply sending a greeting card. The spiritual practice I’m urging this Lent centers on being a comforter. And being a comforter is not as warm and cozy as it sounds.
As Jesus prepares to leave his disciples to ascend to the Father, he promises in John 14:16-17 (link is external), “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforter to be with you forever -- the Spirit of truth.” Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit, the one who will comfort the disciples when Jesus is gone. The Greek word parakletos, often translated as “advocate,” “counselor” or “comforter,” is literally “one called to the side of another.” Read on.
• If you're too busy for these five things, your life is more off-course than you think … [Medium] “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” — Martin Luther (Bill) The late Bishop Mark Dyer used to say something similar to his staff at the Diocese of Bethlehem. This is a lengthy post. Read on
• The Place Where We Are Right… [On Being, Column by Parker Palmer] Here’s a poem I [Parker Palmer] re-read frequently. As short and simple as it is, it helps me remember that nothing new can grow between us when we speak to each other from “the place where we are right.” Read on.
• How I teach theology to undergrads … [Christian Century, Aristotle Papanikalaou, Feb. 6] Being religious is not about following rules. It's more like dancing. Being religious is less about agreeing to certain propositions or following certain rules, and more about transforming one's mode of being in the world. Being religious is very much like being an artist. Read on.
• If you grew up in an evangelical home … [WSJournal, Feb. 13, Micah Mattix] there’s a good chance that all of the following books were on your shelves: C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Elisabeth Elliot’s “Shadow of the Almighty,” J.I. Packer’s “Knowing God” and, not least, Oswald Chambers’s “My Utmost for His Highest.” For all the variety of evangelical belief and practice (and charges of anti-intellectualism), books are at its heart.
[Bill] That's the interesting beginning of a Mattix review of Macy Halford's “My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir” – interesting at least to me because I once was taken with the Chronicles and My Utmost.
[Back to Micah] In her book, Macy "traces the hold that Chambers’s daily devotional has had on her life—from her teenage years as a Southern Baptist in Dallas to her early adulthood in New York, where she worked at the New Yorker magazine. What makes Ms. Halford’s experience unique is her continued daily reading of Chambers’s devotional even as she moves away from most (though not all) of her upbringing and evangelicalism. The book is partly a defense of Chambers and his most recognized work and partly a memoir of growing up in evangelical America."
•• On Life's Pilgrimage …
May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps;
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey;
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on life's pilgrimage; and,
The blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you wherever you may go. Amen.
• Spirit Resources
... way below.
Columns, Sermons, Reflections, other Spin [• New item •• Repeat]
Nothing for now
DioBeth [• New item •• Repeat]
• Turning away refugees violates Christian principles … [Bishop Sean Rowe, Erie Times, Feb. 2] See above, under "TopSpin."
• Solidarity with refugees and relief for Kajo Keji … [Bishop Sean, Jan. 31] See above, under "TopSpin."
• DioBeth General News, Feb. 2 … Here.
• DioBeth Leadership News, Feb. 16 … Here.
Episcopal/Anglican [• New item •• Repeat]
• The Church of England has reached a turning point on gay marriage … [Prospect, Feb. 22] “Church of England could split over homosexuality” is a headline that occurs with the reassuring regularity of the shipping forecast. As with the boy who cried wolf, we hardly listen any more. But last week’s vote in the General Synod, in which the clergy voted against a bishops’ report that said only a man and woman can marry in church, is a genuine turning point.
The Economist followed a well-trodden path by presenting what happened as the triumph of modern liberalism over a “traditional” Christian view of marriage. It’s more illuminating to turn this view on its head. In effect, clergy rebels returned the Church of England to the position it had reached in the 1980s before it was diverted into a “family values” agenda—one which owes more to modern culture wars and the rise of fundamentalism than to tradition.
Traditionally, Christianity has supported vastly different kinds of family structure and taken a rather grudging view of sex and marriage as second-best to celibacy. The Church of England was founded on reason and tradition, not just the Bible, and was embedded in the universities and other institutions of learning. It has been a societal Church for the whole nation, not a sectarian one for purists. Read on.
• As Church and Society diverge, so do Christianity's liberals and hardliners … [The Economist, Erasmus, Feb. 17] What the Catholic and Anglican quarrels have in common, of course, is that both reflect a vast and growing disconnect between the traditional teaching of the church and the way people actually live in historically Christian countries. As Giles Fraser, a liberal Anglican cleric, noted, less than one in five Anglicans now believes that same-sex relationships are “always wrong” and an increasing number of clergy have entered same-sex nuptials as English law allows them to do. He believes that ordinary clergy are in touch with social reality, while many bishops, at least in their public statements, are not.
For traditionalists, an appropriate response to society’s free-wheeling state might be to retreat to society’s outer edge, albeit in small numbers, and preach the old-time religion with undiminished integrity to anyone who will listen. But that is very hard for churches whose habit and culture is to stand confidently in the middle of society, sharing power and prestige with its secular elites. When you have dwelt in the emperor’s palace, it is not easy to become a voice crying in the wilderness. Read on.
•• Weekly bulletin inserts … provide information about the history, music, liturgy, mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Current inserts here. To view the archive of bulletin inserts dating back to 2006, please visit here.
• Resources … way below.
• Resources ... way below
In the Media [• New item •• Repeat]
• Scranton vigil supports refugees … [Citizens' Voice, Feb. 19, WNEP-TV] See above, under "TopSpin."
• Turning away refugees violates Christian principles… [Bishop Sean Rowe, Erie Times, Feb. 2] See above, under "TopSpin."
TaleSpin [• New item •• Repeat]
• Bizarre facts about Pennsylvania … [The Morning Call] Including the Steagles, the Pottsville Maroons, the Big Mac, Yuengling's early energy drink, the Pagoda, 30,000 pounds of bananas, the mushroom capital of the world, Zippo, Bingo, pull tabs, Polka King, the Sheppton mine disaster and Gravity Hill. Read and View.
• The Catholic Charismatic Renewal … [RNS, Feb. 20] The 50th anniversary of the greatest religious movement few have heard of. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal ranks second only to Protestant Pentecostalism among significant new Christian movements to emerge over the past century, Read on.
•• The Obama Era … [NYTimes, Parts 1-6] A transformation of the delivery of health care may be an enduring legacy for the president, even as Republicans plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Read.
Rest in Peace [• New item •• Repeat]
• William Block, 99 … died on February 6. He had been a member of the vestry and very active at St. Stephen's Wilkes-Barre. Obituary.
[In the midst of serious computer problems, I lost the names and obituaries of parishioners who died over the past three weeks. For the future, I will continue researching myself, but it would be helpful if rectors or senior wardens who would like the death of a parishioner noted here might point me to published obits. Thanks.]
Ecumenism, Interfaith, Pluralism – or Not [• New item •• Repeat]
Nothing for now