The Friday Reflection
July 31, 2020
The Rev. Luis Rodriguez

I recently finished The Heart of the Lion,a novelized biography of the great early 20th century film producer, Irving Thalberg (1889-1936). He produced such classics as the silent Ben-Hur (1925) with Ramon Navarro, Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, and Grand Hotel (1932) with a large cast of A-list stars including Joan Crawford and Great Garbo. In a span of thirteen years it is thought he produced some four hundred films, but to this day the exact number is uncertain because he refused to have his name appear in the credits. It only first appeared in his final film, The Good Earth, which was released posthumously in 1937. He once said, “credit you give yourself is not worth having”.
In considering the nature of leadership, Irving Thalberg and the attitude encapsulated in that quote immediately came to mind. There is no doubt that Thalberg was hard-working, sometimes to the detriment of his fragile health and his family life, yet it is also clear that he was able to see the craft and beauty of movie-making as something greater than himself. The film critic Carol Lejeune wrote about him: “He had the quality, rare among showmen, and precious among men, of standing back after an achievement and letting the other fellow take the credit…he never wanted to be known as the big promoter. He just saw a little farther than most of the others, and trusted in his vision, and worked like a laborer until it came true….What he also had was a great kindliness, a love for his workers, friends and audiences.” Without a doubt Thalberg had something of the genius about him, but he never tried to fool himself about his abilities or self-sufficiency, and while he got a lot of things right, he got a number quite, quite wrong; he didn’t initially believe that talking picture would take off, and he completely missed Clark Gable’s star quality on first meeting him. However, in each of those cases and in many others, when he realized he’d gotten the wrong end of the stick, as it were, he didn’t dig in his heels, but got on board with the judgement of others. In fact, his initial impressions notwithstanding, he produced the very first all-talking, all-singing Hollywood musical, The Broadway Melody (1927), and he is the one who groomed Clark Gable into “The King of Hollywood.” But, again, little of it was about him. It was about the work, about the workers, about the audiences. In 1929 he produced Hallellujah!, one of the first (if not the first) all-African-American film by a major studio and intended for a general audience. It was a huge risk on his part as well as the studio’s, and the film lost $120,000 (almost 2 million today). Nevertheless, he felt it an important film to make in part to present some very fine African-American performers to the general cinema-going public. Equally, toward the end of his life he produced one the first screen adaptations of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. That too lost money – almost one million dollars at the time – yet he still believed it worthwhile and an important artistic contribution. For Thalberg it was the project that mattered, not the accolades or the criticism.
I have come to admire Thalberg tremendously, and I think his attitudes about work and leadership and engagement translate into the lives of many of us.   If I were to write a book called All I Ever Needed to Learn about Leadership I Learned from Irving Thalberg I would list four things as essential: 1) It’s about the work, not about you. If you are looking for accolades and strokes, real leadership is probably not for you. 2) Don’t get caught up in either personal praise or criticism. Both pull you down in one way or another, while at the same time they are somehow both equally meaningless. It’s the fruit of the work that has any significance, and that’s not immediately discernible. For example, few people realized at the time the significance of Hallelujah! and its importance. 3) You’ll get a lot of things wrong, but once you realize you’re wrong get onto the right track…and wholeheartedly, with gusto. 4) And of course, “Credit you give yourself is not worth having.” Don’t ever buy your own publicity…no matter how “successful” you may be (or think you are). I try to remember these especially during our present trying times when I just might be a little more critical and self-conscious about my life and work, and little more inclined to lose objectivity and perspective. Ultimately, so little is actually about me. Thalberg’s life and outlook remind me of that.

In an increasingly polarized and fearful world, there are few places where people can have a reasonable and constructive dialogue about race relations and other important issues of our time. Summer Institute 2020 brings together spiritual leaders to provide insight and guidance and community leaders who want to see things differently to provide gracious time and place for truth-seeking dialogue that can achieve non-violent mutual understanding and learn tools to lead discussions that will lead to brave and gracious community.
From August 3 – 13 (excluding Saturday and Sunday), Institute participants will meet online from across the nation each day.
Find out more information here.

“We are living in a country that is focused on scarcity. We as a country are so afraid that if we let anyone into our country; to eat our food and take our jobs there will not be enough for us.
The Bible and Jesus does not want us living this way. I have a friend who continually talks about an amazing God who will do things beyond our imagination. Sometimes this annoys me, yet if we believed in this amazing God, in the wonderful and amazing things he will do for us, there is no reason to live in fear of scarcity.” – Dcn. Amy Larsen
You can continue reading her powerful article in the newsletter.

This years Provincial VIII & VI Deacon Conference 2020 is open to all laity and clergy!
Thursday, August 20, 2020
10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2:30-5:00 p.m.
Friday, August 21, 2020
10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2:30-5:30 p.m.
$35 registration fee includes the following:
  • 4 conference sessions over 2 days, which will be recorded and available to attendees after the event
  • 4 renowned speakers
  • resources for your church
  • 2 follow-up sessions after the event:
    Tuesday, September 29 at 4:00 p.m. PDT
    Tuesday, December 8 at 4:00 p.m. PST

Contact Your Representative
Take initiative today and call, email, or write one of your state representatives regarding a creation care issue that you are passionate about. Positive environmental change starts with the individual and continues with larger scale change. You can contact your representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. You can find out who your US Representative is here and your US Senators here.

 Friday Reflection
All articles and special news can be submitted to the Diocesan Office at:
All submissions are due MONDAY for the following Friday Reflection.
Submission requirements:
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Events Warranting Your
Participation and Prayers

   Diocesan Events
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship
Bishop and Canon Visitation
August 5 | 7:00 PM
Visalia – ZOOM
COVID Clergy Conversations
August 6 | 12:30 PM
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship
Mary Meditation
August 12 | 6:30 PM
Bishop and Canon Visitation
August 12 | 7:00 PM
Taft – ZOOM
COVID Clergy Conversations
August 13 | 12:30 PM
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship
Bishop and Canon Visitation
August 19 | 7:00 PM
Ridgecrest – ZOOM
COVID Clergy Conversations
August 20 | 12:30 PM
Deacon’s Gathering with Bishop David
August 22 | 10 AM
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship
Bishop and Canon Visitation
August 26 | 7:00 PM
St. John’s, Stockton – ZOOM
COVID Clergy Conversations
August 27 | 12:30 PM
DC/SC Joint Meeting
August 29 | 10 AM
Diocesan/Cathedral Worship

Mary model of Christian life and believer in the promise of the Eternal Life
Join us on Facebook live for our monthly bilingual gathering on the study of Mary.
August 12 at 6:30 PM on Facebook live!

It is with great hope, anticipation, preparation, and prayer that we announce St. James Cathedral Sunday School for school-aged children kicks off Sunday, September 13th at 9:15AM on ZOOM.
During the digital church period, St. James Sunday School is open to the entire Diocese. The first session, September 13th, is designed for the whole family to participate.
Registration is required and will open Saturday, August 1st and will be available on the St. James website. Registered students/families will receive the Zoom link and login information. We invite you to check out the St. James Children’s Ministry web page for more about our ministry with children and our curriculum Weaving God’s Promises.
Teacher recruitment period is now! If you feel called to the ministry of the spiritual formation of children, please send an email to Teachers can be members of any Episcopal congregation in the Diocese.
Prior to the first session, Dean Ryan and the Sunday School Committee will host via ZOOM an Orientation and Training session for all interested teachers. No prior teaching or Sunday School experience is required-all that is required is a willing and committed heart to educating the next generation of the Church. In addition to the Orientation and Training session, teachers will be required to take an online training module called Safeguarding God’s Children–an in-depth educational and training program for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse in everyday life and in ministry.
Classes are Sundays at 9:15AM on ZOOM. Registration for Sunday School opens August 1st. Please visit St. James website for link to registration. The first session is Sunday, September 13th and the whole family is invited to participate.
Weaving God’s Promises is a comprehensive, three-year Christian education curriculum for children developed and written exclusively for the Episcopal Church. Weaving God’s Promises’ 30-minute lesson plans are accessed online. There will be a “take-home” paper, Threads, that will be emailed to every family after each lesson. Threads allows families to continue the conversation and theme throughout the week.
  1. Gathering and Greeting
  2. Sunday School Prayer
  3. Sunday School Song
  4. About the Scripture Story
  5. Telling the Story
  6. Activity Related to the Story
  7. Weaving Our Faith: Conversation about the story
  8. Closing Prayer
(Developed by Sunday School Committee)
With God’s Help I Covenant 
To practice the spiritual disciplines of scripture reading and prayer.
  • Worship on Sundays and be an active member of the St. James community or other church in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
  • Be prepared: Read the curriculum and plan my lessons.
  • Grow in my faith and understanding of my work through educational opportunities as offered.
  • Practice inclusive hospitality as Jesus teaches us the love of God is the love of neighbor.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, 4147 E Dakota AVE, Fresno, CA 93726
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