The Common Good


Sojomail - January 28, 2000

              ****S O J O   M A I L****

      Promoting values at the crossroads where
      spirituality, politics, and culture meet

              Brought to you by SojoNet
           Publisher of Sojourners magazine

++++++++++++++++++++  28-Jan-2000 ++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Mother Teresa on happiness

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Jim Wallis finds Martin Luther King Jr. alive in Topeka

N e t w o r k  N e w s
    *SojoNet Radio Launches

P. O. V.
    *Starving in Cyberspace

T e r r a s c o p e
    *Stranded in silence

B o o m e r a n g
    *SojoMail readers hit reply

C a l l  t o  R e n e w a l
    *Washington, D.C. Rally

W e b  S c e n e
    *Coolest siting of the week

R o a d  S h o w s
    *We're coming to a city near you


Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k

"The roots of happiness grow deepest in the soil of service."
                              -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta


H e a r t s  &  M i n d s

Finding Martin Luther King in Topeka
By Jim Wallis

Most every January I preach at a Martin Luther King
celebration service somewhere around the country. This
year I went to Topeka, Kansas, in the nation's heartland.
It's not easy to get to Topeka from Washington D.C., but
the trip was well worth it.

In 1954, a landmark Supreme Court decision ruled "separate
but equal schools" unconstitutional. In that historic case,
referred to as "Brown vs. the Board of Education," future
high court justice Thurgood Marshall argued on behalf of
two little black girls from a segregated school in Topeka
against the local school board. I met Mrs. Brown, the
mother of those girls, in Grace Cathedral after my sermon.
She gave me a big hug, and told me she was still involved
in the struggle for justice.

She wasn't alone. I joined more than 200 leaders from local
organizations on the steps of their state capitol on a very
cold afternoon, sending a signal to state legislators that
the fire for justice has not gone out. We all marched to the
cathedral to share a simple community meal of bread and soup,
symbolizing that "it was enough" as long as fellow Kansan
families were still hungry. A diverse and overflow crowd
showed up to share the table fellowship, including the mayor.
Then it was upstairs for the service and the biggest turnout
ever for a Martin Luther King annual observance in Topeka.
Clearly, something was in the Kansas air.

As in other parts of the nation, the religious community is
turning its attention to poverty. Even the mainstream media
is acknowledging that, despite our highly touted prosperity,
many are still being left out and behind in America and the
gap between rich and poor continues to grow even as the stock
market soars.

It's time the prosperity is shared. That was the message in
Topeka, and it received a rousing response. To do that will
require more than charity, which is sharing the crumbs from
the table; it calls us to practice justice, which is
making room at the table for all of God's children. I got
a glimpse of that widening table in a cathedral parish hall
in Topeka, Kansas, where one community's commitment to pick
up the mantle of Martin Luther King bodes well for the
health of the nation.


Final chance! Next week 50 people will be randomly selected 
from e-mail responses to receive an advance reader's copy of Jim
Wallis' forthcoming book, Faith Works. It is part memoir, part
inspirational game plan for transforming our lives and our society,
and part primer on how faith communities are changing their

To become eligible for a FREE advance reader's copy, e-mail Greg 
Durham, Include in the body of the e-mail
your interest in receiving a free copy, and your name and mailing address.


N e t w o r k   N e w s

SojoNet Radio goes live Sunday morning, January 30, 
at ll:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (USA). D.J. Alvin 
Soedarjo from Indonesia lays the backbeat with 
innovative and fresh spiritual house music. Host 
David Batstone -- who was host and executive producer
of NPR's 1998-99 "What Does It Mean to Be an American? -- 
interviews guests who are making a difference for good
in the world.

On January 30, Tom Hewitt visits SojoNet Radio.
Hewitt, author of Little Outlaws, Dirty Angels, is 
a British surfer turned street-worker in the cities
of South Africa for the last eight years. He talks
about the "little outlaws," South African street kids,
who are struggling to find their place in the new
South Africa. Has anything really changed with the 
end of apartheid?  Tune in and hear Tom tell his story.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can
set your radio dial to KUSF 90.3 FM (that's at 8:30 am 
PST, of course). Anywhere else in the world, you can 
listen in live over the Internet:


P. O. V.

How Far Does Charity Go?                     

Fight world poverty with a click of a mouse

Visit the Hunger Site at the U.N. Click a button and somewhere 
in the world some hungry person gets a meal to eat, at no cost 
to you. The food is paid for by corporate sponsors (who gain 
advertising in the process because you see their logo). Go to 
the site and click on the donate food button. You're only 
allowed one donation per day.

Feeling overly self-righteous now? Maybe you need to leap 
back into the cold waters of moral ambiguity. From Down Under 
comes a provocative op-ed from Sally Cloke:

"The Hunger Site reminds me of my favourite episode of the cartoon
South Park, 'Starvin' Marvin.' In this episode the four South Park 
8-year-olds, tempted by the offer of a free sports watch,
respond to a World Vision-style TV commercial and sign up to 
sponsor a starving child in Ethiopia.

In a mix-up made credible by the show's bizarre view of reality, 
the boys are sent a real live, if starving, Ethiopian child instead
of the watch. 'Hang on,' is the irony underlying the show's black 
humour, 'We didn't want any actual involvement with a real child!
We just wanted to send money!'" 

Go beyond the soundbite to:




T e r r a s c o p e

Dateline: January 28, 2042
          2042.1.7  ShengXiao: Dog
          San Francisco
          Republic of the Americas
by Sam Mendoza
Hong Kong Media Network

The total crash of Omnicom this week and the ensuing 48-hour 
quiet period turned into a fascinating experiment in self-
awareness. Even basic communication with family and 
friends was near impossible, commerce came to a grinding 
halt, and we were left to operate with our own wits. Expect 
a spate of hologram games to emerge over the next few years 
dramatizing the remarkable events that transpired over those 
two days.  

I was most touched by the story from Boston of a six-block 
neighborhood organizing themselves to resurrect old phone
networks, then using it to pass along vital information on
food and medical services. Their efforts literally saved 
the life of a 21-year old woman who was home alone when
she had a severe asthmatic attack, reaching one of her
neighbors for help.

I was 12 years old when my Omnicom chip was implanted. 
So I do have some memories, altogether foggy, of being
unplugged. But my father remembers well the days when he 
had to interface with a number of separate com units - the 
Internet (the infant stage of Omnicom), fiber optic and 
wireless phone nets, a broadcast television net. And you 
did all the work yourself. No virtual agents to do your 
bidding. And then you logged off. Cut off your link to 
the world of intelligence, hibernating to your cave. 
Alone with your own thoughts.

It's to this world that many of us returned. And I, for
one, didn't like it. I became anonymous to my environs - 
the walls and appliances in my house did not know me, 
my transporter could not guide me, and, of course, I
had lost complete access to the vidcam images that
give me a view of the place I will be next, or perhaps
cannot yet be.

I will never be able to understand why Arborites, Theophites, 
and their ilk choose to live this way all the time. It's 
so anti-cultural, narrowing life to the bandwidth of one. 
The first thing I did when Omnicom came back online was
to summon my VA Vanessa, and she tracked down my "A" list
of family and friends. She returned two hours later with the 
good news that everyone was safe, and told me the stories 
they shared with her of their own adventures during the quiet 

Who would want to live with the anxiety that silence breeds?



B o o m e r a n g

A few of the messages we've received from SojoMail readers this week:

Walt Jack wrote: 

I just read the article by Mr. Wallis about Jubilee 2000. 
I almost choked. The intentions are good but relieving 
poor nations of their debt will cost everybody in the end. 
The poor nations will remain poor and the ruthless dictators 
who have a chokehold on these nations will continue to rape 
their country of money and resources. That's why they are poor 
in the first place. It's the leadership. You can't just wipe 
out a country's debt when the same corrupt leadership is still 
in power...the same thing will happen. 


Jeff Cochrane wrote from Nairobi, Kenya: 

On Jim's article, I know many who work in the poorer 
countries of the world have mixed feelings about Jubilee 
2000. On the one hand, other things being equal, reducing 
debt payments allows benevolent democratic governments to 
reallocate resources for schools, hospitals, and roads.  
On the other hand, as other things are not usually equal, 
reducing debt payments allows other types of governments to 
reallocate funds for weapons and other tools of oppression, 
or to enrich elites.

Strategically, it's often difficult to find sharp policy 
instruments to separate the wheat from the chaff.  A blunt 
instrument like the Jubilee 2000 campaign frees up funds 
in poor countries for all kinds of things, many of them good 
things.  Will the poor truly benefit?  I suspect in many 
cases they will.


C a l l  to  R e n e w a l

Call to Renewal's national summit will conclude with a rally
to announce a new campaign to overcome poverty, to be held
on the East steps of the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, Feb. 16. 

Getting people off welfare is not the same as getting people out
of poverty! It's time to go deeper than welfare reform. It's
time to focus on poverty.

The summit will be held in downtown Washington, D.C., February 13-16.
For more info, visit:


W e b  S c e n e

Coolest siting of the week....

What is it with those folks Down Under? Shoot the Messenger is 
yet another Aussie online review of popular culture from a 
religious faith perspective (see P.O.V. above). Full of clever 
book, movie, television, and Web reviews. 

To find out "why X-Files is not a search for truth" and other
sizzling ideas go to:


R o a d  S h o w s

Meet members of SojoNet personally at these upcoming
speaking engagements.

January 30   Burlingame, California
David Batstone completes his series on Barbara
Kingsolver's NY Times bestseller, The Poisonwood Bible,
and its implications for Christian missions.
Contact: The First Presbyterian Church of Burlingame,
(650) 342-0875


.................... E D I T O R I A L .....................
David Batstone                                T 415.422.6660
Executive Editor                          

.................... T E C H N I C A L .....................
Bob Sabath                                    T 202.328.8842
Chief Technologist                 

....................... S 0 J O N E T .....................
The Sojourners Network                        T 202.328.8842
2401 15th Street NW                           F 202.328.8757
Washington, DC 20009           

For more information, e-mail us:

................. L E G A L   N O T I C E S ................

Copyright (c) 2000 The Sojourners Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SojoNet material may be freely distributed, as long as it bears
the following attribution:
        Source: 2000 SojoNet

...................... A R C H I V E S .....................
        View a sortable history of SojoNet letters

................ S U B S C R I P T I O N S .................
   SojoNet is published weekly. Subscriptions are free.

                   SUBSCRIBE online at: 
             or by e-mail:

                  UNSUBSCRIBE online at: 
            or by e-mail:
              ---- SOJONET IS A SPAM-FREE ZONE ----