The Common Good
September-October 1997

Inside Story

by The Editors | September-October 1997

Once we had gone beyond Left and Right, liberal and conservative, East and West, nothing remained but to go beyond the false categories of taste and decency.

So we bought advertising ...

Once we had gone beyond Left and Right, liberal and conservative, East and West, nothing remained but to go beyond the false categories of taste and decency. So we bought advertising space from NASA. It took sacrifice of course. We had to sell our most treasured possessions: Jim Wallis' vintage issues of Radical Pastor!, Ed Spivey's 1957 Fender Telecaster, Rose Berger's autographed Thomas Merton pin-up, the crystal and fine china from our office kitchen...oh, some tears were shed. But it was worth it. The night was long, the bidding fierce, but thanks to a last-minute infusion of cash from the parents at Sojourners, who came forward with their children's college funds, we prevailed at the NASA product-placement auction, narrowly beating out Frito-Lay, Kinko's, and a candy company that shall remain nameless. Words can't describe our pride as we saw the first image of "our" little rover on the Red Planet's surface. (To all our readers who have moved beyond those tired political categories: "Red" is purely a reference to the color of Mars. Just like here at our pilgrim Earth Station Sojourners, NASA engineers initially had to turn Sojourner[s]' power on and off to get its modems working properly. We e-mailed a reminder to back up their files frequently, especially if forecasts call for thunderstorms. Anyway, none of us look up at the night sky quite the same way now. We get tears in our eyes, a lump in our throat, and realize that the air quality in D.C. is getting really bad. Some said interplanetary marketing couldn't be done. But we proclaim that with the God of the universe and lithium thionol chloride D-cell batteries as a backup, anything is possible. Now if we can just figure out how to get direct mail to Jupiter.... A special tilt of our 3-D glasses in honor of abolitionist Sojourner Truth, after whom the Mars rover is really named.
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