Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Anglican Communion

A lot of coverage has been offered in past weeks throughout broadcast media from television and radio to e-mail and blogs to magazine articles on the state of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church’s place within the organization. But what is this mysterious entity?

We never want to presume that anyone knows anything about Church polity and organization, especially for those who are new to the Episcopal Church. But I wonder even about those of us who have been Episcopalian for many years, even from birth, and what we understand about the Anglican Communion. Over the course of the next few editions of the Eagle, I will try to offer an admittedly simplistic explanation. First we need a bit of history.

The Episcopal Church in the United States of America is the name given since after the Revolutionary War to the American branch of the Church of England, established on these shores with the first British Colonists. At the Revolution (which we celebrate this month in our Independence Day) many who were loyal to the British crown left our new country while others remained behind to carry on the traditions brought here, including the King James Bible (when the Mayflower landed in 1620 this was a radical ‘new’ translation of the Bible - only 10 years old!) and the first Book of Common Prayer (the ‘Standard’ BCP of 1662 was not even out yet!)

Let’s go further back. The Church of England is the continuing catholic Church established on the British isles in the first centuries, brought by the early Roman centurions (some believe Joseph of Aramathea and his followers brought the Christian faith to the tin mining communities of Wales). The “split with Rome” and the Pope began long before Henry VIII, but that’s a long story. Nonetheless, the Church of England, as we know it today, the mother Church of the Anglican Communion, was instrumental in the Reformation following Martin Luther in Germany and John Calvin in Switzerland. The Bible and Prayer Book being translated into the English tongue were major steps in our identity as a people of active faith.

The independent American spirit has made its expression from the first years of our young country. Since we could no longer with integrity pledge allegiance to the King (as all clergy were required on ordination) our first American Bishops went to the Anglican Church of Scotland to be consecrated for this emerging Church on a new continent. Soon an Episcopal Church polity was developed which mirrors the two houses of Congress, and an American Prayer Book (the one used when St. John’s was established as a parish!) was based on the Scottish Church liturgies.

For America to be on the edge of Revolution is not a new thing, as one might expect. It’s who we are. In coming months, we’ll look at some of the other aspects of this broadening Communion.

Father Erb
Hamlin, PA
[From the July/August Eagle Newsletter, re-printed with permission]

Film Friends!

A new season of Film Friends is beginning on September 16, 2006.

We will meet at the home of Carol and Tom Beightol at 6:00 PM.

We will begin by enjoying a "potluck" supper, and some great conversation. After supper, we will watch the movie, The Apostle, starring Robert Duvall.

Discussion, as always, will be accompanied by delicious desserts.

We are looking for a crazy, funny, scary, outrageous movie for October, so bring your ideas. "Who you gonna' call" for information? Try Carol Beightol. Ghostbusters!

Game Night!

Join us for Game Night on Friday, September, 15, 2006 at 7 pm.

The membership committee invites you to a night of laughter, snacks, and games at the next Game Night. This relaxing night out is gaining in popularity as more and more people join in the fun. We provide a table of snacks and drinks. And, while many of the kids take over the conference room with their games, the adults play too -- in big and small groups.

Previously, the youngest generation beat the older generation in Uno, no cheating we're sure. Meanwhile, the adults tested their brains and creativity in Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary. The jury is out on those results. Hullabaloo in the conference room had the kids occupied for quite a while with the older kids helping the younger set. The membership committee provides tons of games -- Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Cadoo, Hullabaloo, Uno, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Bean Bag Toss, Deal or No Deal, Sorry, Scattergories, Chutes & Ladders, Battleship, Clue Jr., Cards, Scrabble, and MANY more. OR bring your own game for others to enjoy. Games for adults. Games for kids. Games to play together.

Everyone is saying it's a fun night out. Join us. It's always more fun when you're with us! Contact Sara Cardinale for more information.

The 'Feed the Flock Breakfast' Returns

September 2, 2006 - 8 to 11 am

Feed the Flock Breakfast at St. Margaret's Church.

First Saturday of each month (September through June), 8 to 11, at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 150 Elm Street, Emmaus.

Enjoy a home-cooked breakfast at a great price. The standard menu incudes eggs (many styles), bacon or sausage, home fries, toast, coffee, fruit and juice. The event is open to the public. More info at 610-967-1450 and on the flyer that may be downloaded below.

Feel free to invite your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Labyrinth at the Peach Festival

A Labyrinth will be set up at St. Margaret's Church for the Peach Festival on August 19, 2006.

Everyone is invited to walk the Labyrinth, located in the grassy area adjacent to the rear parking lot.

Labyrinths are an ancient, world-wide tool for meditation, prayer, and spiritual renewal.

Information sheets will be available to assist participants.

The Labyrinth we use is based upon the one at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Star Party

I went to a Star Party last night and I loved it!

The headliner of this party was Jupiter and 4 of her 63 moons. Our very own Moon was there out-shining everyone else and begging for attention.

It was a celestial event sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society (LVAAS).

LVAAS is a non-profit organization comprised of individuals with a wide range of interest in astronomy. LVAAS is located in eastern Pennsylvania, near Allentown. The society is currently in its 48th year of existence, making it one of the oldest continuously operating astronomical societies in the country.

It was a family event and my wife (Jill) and daughter (Hannah) were there as well. Hannah is thinking about a subject for her upcoming science fair project and her top prospect is the question, “Is Pluto a Planet?” Despite what I’ve been told my entire life, this is now a hot topic and there are strong arguments on both sides. (Read more here and here)

So I spoke to my friend and co-worker, Simon Porter, who is an avid star-gazer and has told many stories of lugging his very heavy telescope out of his basement to his ‘Shakey Deck Observatory’ (just outside his back door in Allentown) and to South Mountain and Pulpit Rock (near Hamburg, PA). After hearing about Hannah’s interest in the solar system, he invited us to the Star Party. He also sent me the link to the LVAAS website.

The evening started at 7 pm with a slide presentation by Brian Mickley about the search for Exo-planets: planets outside our solar system. It was a great slide show, geared towards people like me who are interested in space but who are not experts. There was information and pictures from NASA and an overview of the how and why of the search for a planet like ours.

On the wall behind Bruce was a sign that said, “Speed Limit: 186,000 MPS.” I pointed it out to Hannah and she casually said, “The speed of light.” Yeah, 186,000 miles per second! It takes 8 minutes for light from our Sun to reach us. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. And the nearest star is 4.3 light-years away. Yeah, I can do the math but it still has no real meaning. The distances are too vast.

Next was Fred Bomberger’s Planetarium show. He told us how the club purchased the planetarium equipment from the Palmerton School District (where Simon’s wife Maureen works, though I’m sure she had nothing to do with it) and how the members of the club removed it and installed it at their South Mountain site. The show highlighted the stars that are visible in our night sky at this time of the year. He also turned up the lights a bit to show how many stars are not visible to us because of the light pollution in the Lehigh Valley.

When the Planetarium show ended we went outside to the telescopes. Simon had his focused on Jupiter, the only star visible in the not-yet-dark sky. Clearly visible in the viewfinder were Jupiter’s four largest moons! It was so fascinating!
An earlier picture of Jupiter with one moon by Simon Porter

It was about this time that Simon’s step-daughter arrived. Trisha was in Hannah’s 2nd grade class. They don’t get together often so they went off to talk and catch up. I was clearly not invited, except for the occasional, “Dad, can I have a dollar?” I knew the snack bar was involved so I didn’t ask too many questions.

Meanwhile, Jill and I visited various telescopes and talked to a variety of people. I met a couple of chemists and a professor from Kutztown University. They were all eager to talk about the sky, stars, Pluto, Jupiter, Star Trek, Isaac Asimov, jobs, family, or whatever the conversation produced. This was a large group of people who clearly enjoyed being on South Mountain together.

One highlight for me was when I turned from Simon’s telescope (showing Jupiter and her moons) to a woman who started asking me questions. “We saw the Star Party signs. Is this a private event or can anyone come here? Is there a fee?” I assured her that it was free, open to the public, and she was welcome to come look through the variety of telescopes available. She said, “Oh, good. We have four boys who will love this!”

It turned out the four boys were her nephews and they did love it! After seeing Jupiter and the moons, one of the boys, about 10 years old, started clamoring for a view of our moon. While his aunt was trying to tell him no, Simon said, “I’ll show them the moon. But you have to be careful. The moon is so bright it will hurt your eyes after a while.” After the proper re-alignment, the boy took a long look and declared, “That is the best thing I have even seen and nothing will ever be better! And it didn’t hurt my eyes. They’re fine!” Oh, the exuberance of youth! All the adults were smiling and the other boys were crowding in for a look (and yes, I was in line, too).

The night continued with looking at stars I’d only ever heard of and many that were new to me, like the Hercules Cluster, the Witch’s Broom and a pulsing nebula. At one point Simon said, “Look at the double star.” This was two stars that revolve around each other. Cool. Then he changed the eye piece to a higher magnification and said, “Now look.” What I saw immediately was that it was two pairs of stars that revolve around themselves and each other! Four stars. Way cool! In fact, it was the best thing I had ever seen…!

Hannah, Jill and I all agreed it was a fun event. The next Star Party is September 9th and I know I will be there. If you are interested in looking deeper into the night sky, feel free to join us. You can contact me or go to the LVAAS website for directions.

Either way, I hope to see you there.

One of Simon Porter's pictures of Saturn.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Speaking of Faith

Public radio's conversation about religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas. Free podcasts available.

Evolution and Wonder – Understanding Charles Darwin: A fresh and thought-provoking look at Darwin's life and ideas. He did not argue against God but against a simple understanding of the world, its beauty, its brutality, and its unfolding creation.

The Tragedy of the Believer – a Conversation with Elie Wiesel: Exploring the literary and religious journey that unfolded after Night, his memoir of the Holocaust that has climbed to bestseller lists five decades after its publication. Hear passages of his varied writings of the last 50 years. Explore his thoughts on God and evil, youth in Jerusalem and Berlin, and prayer after the Holocaust.

Deciphering the DaVinci Code: New Testament scholars, Luke Timothy Johnson and Bernadette Brooten, give us the basic picture of what really happened in the fluid early years of Christianity. Why were some of the books early Christians read included in the Bible while others were left out? How did it happen that modern Christians inherited an erroneous view of women in the early Church, including Mary Magdalene?

Obedience and Action: In over 50 years as a Benedictine nun, Joan Chittister has emerged as a powerful and at times uncomfortable voice in Roman Catholicism and in global politics. If women were ordained in the Catholic Church in our lifetime, some say, she should be the first woman bishop.

The Spirituality of Addiction and Recovery: Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson once said that the program he helped create is "utter simplicity which encases a complete mystery." This program explores the spiritual aspects of addiction and recovery with Susan Cheever, who's written a biography of Bill Wilson. Also, Lakota teacher and healer, Basil Brave Heart, describes how, in his own life and in native communities, the 12 Steps find resonance in indigenous spiritual practices.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hijacking Fears and Values

By Bishop Paul V. Marshall
August 2006

This is Bishop Paul Marshall’s August column for secular newspapers, usually different from his column in Diocesan Life. The column is sent to newspapers throughout our 14 counties. It is published by The Morning Call, Allentown, on the first (occasionally, the second) Saturday of every month. The combined circulation of papers that publish the column regularly is about 400,000. More than 100 columns have been published over the past nine years.

When Samuel Johnson observed in 1775 that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he was disapproving of scoundrels, not patriotism.

What scoundrels did, and do, is hijack people’s values in order to amass power and wealth for themselves. It is not just patriotism that is used this way, but anything that evokes people’s fear of losing what is sacred to them. Family and moral values are recent examples of values being hijacked for ignoble purposes.

When the two can’t be told apart, religion is as bad as politics. No religion on earth fails to have blood on its hands – the arguments tend to boil down to whose religion has more.

No fictional example of the moral profiteer is more memorable than Professor Harold Hill of The Music Man, who sells musical instruments and band uniforms by harnessing people’s fear that their youth may be corrupted by the presence of a pool table.

No real-life example is more horrific than what happened in Europe when an evil man convinced Germans that they were victims of a conspiracy in the 1930s.

What will history say of our own time?

Eric Fromm, who gave much of his career to helping people live and love authentically, observed: “There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.”

History provides an example. The Crusades, no matter what the motivation of their initiators, became the opportunity for breath-taking pillage and murder.

Can anyone say that the love of God motivated those crimes? Of course not, but those who perpetrated them said so. Some of them apparently believed it.

Fromm and Johnson suggest a test for weighing our responses to what we see and hear. If someone consistently raises our fears and repeatedly harks on what is wrong in an effort to get our votes or our money, we may be in the presence of a scoundrel.

If someone reduces patriotism or morality to one issue or a very small cluster of issues, a scoundrel may be at work.

If we notice that our outrage can be linked to our own sense of personal security or to our pocketbooks, we may be listening to a scoundrel.

That’s the easy part – if the alarms just described go off, don’t vote for the scoundrels and don’t give them money. The more challenging part is regulation of whatever, inside our own souls, makes us vulnerable to the scoundrel’s pitch.

Fromm says that the envy and hate on which the scoundrel relies are already there. The scoundrel merely provides the channel through which they can flow.

It is worth asking ourselves, when we hear a stirring denunciation of someone else, what in us makes us interested in hearing such things?

An answer comes in part from the fact that we tend to blame in others what we fear in ourselves. This may explain why so many high-profile crusaders turn out to have secretly sordid lives.

Those who are willing to look into the chaos of their own souls tend to give others a break. People who know their lives to be in order are seldom obsessed with apparent disorder in the lives of others.

The highest use of religion is not to create the illusion of order and a place from which to obsess about the failings of those around us. The highest use of religion is to make us enough at peace with our own dark places that there is no joy in degrading others. Such a state of things would put a lot of scoundrels out of work, but it would be pleasant.

[The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall is bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem, 14 counties of eastern and northeastern Pennsylvania. Additional columns and sermons by Bishop Marshall are available at]

Emerging Church Learning Party

Resources for Outreach, Worship and Spiritual Formation in Today's Culture

Karen Ward, abbess of Church of the Apostles, Seattle and a key figure in the Emerging Church conversation in the US and the UK, will be leading a "Learning Party" at St. Stephens Episcopal Church.

Here's a description of the event:

Sep 16, 2006
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
St. Stephens Episcopal Church
35 South Franklin St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
United States

A new movement being called the 'emerging church' is making a major impact on the landscape of North American Christianity and around the world. Find out what it's about and discover its significance for re-shaping church and mission in today's culture. Explore how traditional mainline congregations can get involved in and be enriched by insights from the emerging church conversation. This mission event will be helpful for those from mainline congregations (Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, UCC...) and also from traditional evangelical congregations.

Reimagine Church. Experience new ways to integrate arts, new media technologies and ancient Christian practices into worship and community mission for today's contexts.

Consider bringing a team of 2-3 or more from your congregation to help fuel missional momentum when you get back home.

You will be accompanied by native, postmodern guides, from Church of the Apostles (Seattle) – a leading edge, mainline (Episcopal/Lutheran), emerging congregation. Also giving a talk is Philadelphia-based emergent leader Robert Fisher, from SE Penn Synod of the ELCA.

In the context of an experiential Kingdom Party, discover the new ways to re-shape Church for the contours of mission in today's culture.

The Learning Party includes lunch and ends with a 5 pm emerging worship service with Church of the Apostles.

Early Registration (through Sept. 4) is $25
Regular Registration (Sept. 5-15) is $30

You may REGISTER ONLINE: Peacemeal and the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, PA.

Posted by
Bill Lewellis, Communication Minister/Editor (1986), Canon Theologian (1998)
Diocese of Bethlehem, 333 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem, PA 18015
(W)610-691-5655 x229
Be attentive. Be intelligent. Be reasonable. Be responsible.
Be in Love. And, if necessary, change. --Bernard Lonergan

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

An Interesting E-mail

I want to share with you a story about an interesting e-mail I received yesterday. And what I've gotten myself into...

I was e-mailing back and forth with Bill Lewellis. He is the person who compiles and edits newSpin and the DioBeth blog. I was trying to get the announcement about the Peach Festival onto the blog. Bill said he was on vacation and in pain (sciatica) and suggested that I post the message onto the Bethlehem of PA site (a Diocesan news group through ECUNET with a large distribution throughout the Diocese) and he would take it from there and add it to newSpin. It took a while but with Bill's help I figured it out and posted the message.

About an hour later I received an e-mail from Rick Cluett, addressed to the Ecunet e-mail address I had used for the post.

Here is what he wrote:

I am writing on behalf of the bishop's office to ask if you might be willing to become the chair of the Elections Committee at Diocesan Convention. The fellow who has done it for the last couple of decades died this year and we are seeking a new leader (not necessarily for decades, I would be happy with a 1-convention commitment [Grin]).

If this is even of remote interest or possibility, please let me know.
Thanks for considering.

From Archdecon Cluett? On behalf of the Bishop's office? Well, what could I do? Besides, I could actually see Rick's grin. And if you know him, you know the grin I mean!

But does Rick even know who I am? After thinking about it for a few minutes I realized that, yeah, he probably does, even though we have only met a couple of times, briefly. (There was that EpiscoPals thing.)

And, yes, there was a remote interest. Well, maybe more than remote. I recalled the times when there was a call for delegates to past Conventions and I had thought, "I don't know how to do that." There were always volunteers so I was never pressed into service. But I could imagine that at some point I would volunteer as a delegate. And then ask how to do it.

So I decided to say yes. I told to my wife, Jill, about it. "Yes, I can see why you want to do this." She had no objections. I then replied to Rick that I would accept (term length undetermined [Grin]). I hoped my grin worked as well as his!

Since then I've been thinking about the chain of events that led to this: pushing Bill to advertise the St. Margaret's Peach Festival (for Carol); posting to Bethlehem of PA (struggle, struggle, success), thus reminding Rick that I exist (and ensuring he knows where to get hot dogs and a peach cobbler); not being able to resist that grin!

So, I can either credit the guiding hand that led me to this path or blame Carol, Bill, Ecunet, Rick, and his grin, for getting me into this.

I think I know which it will be.

Peach be with you,