The Common Good


Sojomail - February 11, 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

++++++++++++++++++++  11-Feb-2000 ++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Sexual harassment among the young and wealthy

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Truth, justice...and prosperity for some?

N e t w o r k  N e w s
    *What's up this week on SojoNet

T e r r a s c o p e
    *Who is to blame for the Malaysian fraud?

O n  the  W i r e
    *SojoNet in the national media

C u l t u r e  W a t c h
    *Ben Harper plays with soul

C a l l  t o  R e n e w a l
    *Students spend year in urban America

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

W e b  S c e n e
    *Net hang-outs for Black History Month


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

"I still beat myself up about it. It's scary to come out
against your company."

         -- Lisa Bongiorno, on the sexual harassment suit
                  she filed last fall against Juno Online

Read the sad tale of a Net company run amok with
testosterone at:,1151,9375,00.html?nl=int


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

What Would the Biblical Prophets Say About Our Prosperity?
By Jim Wallis

When the archeologists dig down into the ruins of ancient
Israel, they find periods of time when the houses were of
more or less the same size and the artifacts of life
show a relative equality in the people's standard of living.
Remarkably, during those periods the prophets were silent.
They had literally nothing to say. No Isaiah, Amos, or
Jeremiah could be heard.

But digging into the ruins of other periods revealed
the remains of very large houses and tiny hovels,
with the instruments of life suggesting great
disparities of wealth between the people. Strikingly,
it is during those periods when the prophets came to life,
proclaiming the judgment and justice of God and calling
the people to repentance. The prophets of Yahweh made clear
that God would not endure such great and outrageous gaps
between people. The Bible doesn't mind prosperity as
long as it is shared.

The only difference between those biblical periods and ours
was that the inequities that prompted the prophets to speak
paled in significance compared to the divisions between rich and
poor that we accept as normal today. The United Nations' 1998
Development Report said that the world's three richest
families now have more wealth than the world's 44 poorest
countries. Disney CEO Michael Eisener makes $97,000 per hour
while the workers that make Disney toys and clothes in Haiti
earn 28 cents.

Have you noticed how odd the headlines are lately? First,
we hear about a new record-breaking milestone in the booming
economy. Then a new study tells us alarming facts on child
poverty. The stock market reaches an all time high; then we
hear homelessness is growing--especially for women and children.
Inflation and unemployment are at all time lows, but the food
banks and soup kitchens report growing needs from hungry
people. What's wrong with this picture?

America is enjoying unprecedented prosperity, but not all
Americans are sharing in it. The rising tide is lifting
all the yachts, but not yet all the boats. The welfare rolls
are certainly down, but many of the welfare poor have simply
become the working poor, and those families have yet to see
their little boats lifted. They are mostly women and children,
and they are many of the ones showing up in the new poverty

Some politicians this election season are talking a lot about
their devotion to Jesus. Well, what would Jesus say about
massive child poverty in the midst of record breaking


Faith Works: Lessons from the Life of an Activist Preacher,
a new book by Jim Wallis, will be published in March by
Random House. You can preorder your copy of Faith Works
from your favorite local or online bookseller, including
Sojourners Resource Center at 1-800-714-7474, or:

Here's what Marian Wright Edelman, president of Children's
Defense Fund, has to say about Faith Works:

"God gives us His love and calls upon us to give our love
and service to our fellow men, women, and children. In his
wonderful book Faith Works, Rev. Wallis shows how to turn
faith and love into action and how to transform our beliefs,
hopes, and good intentions into catalysts for needed changes
in our world."


N e t w o r k   N e w s

Call to Renewal

America is enjoying unprecedented prosperity,
but not all are sharing in it. Welfare rolls
are down, but the welfare poor have become
the working poor.

Call to Renewal's fourth annual Summit, "Poor
No More," will be held February 13-16 in
Washington, DC. Join us for informative
speakers, educational workshops, and inspiring
preaching and music. For more information, visit:

The Summit will conclude with the signing of
a "Covenant to Overcome Poverty" on the East
steps of the U.S. Capitol at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday,
February 16. Church leaders from across the
theological spectrum--including the National
Association of Evangelicals and the National
Council of Churches, World Vision, the Progressive
National Baptist Convention, and Catholic
leaders--will pledge to work together in a new
united campaign to overcome poverty.

SojoNet Radio

On February 13, house D.J. Alvin Soedarjo plays a full
half hour of innovative spiritual music from around
the globe on SojoNet Radio.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can
set your radio dial to KUSF 90.3 FM at 8:30 a.m.
PST. Anywhere else in the world, you can listen
in live over the Internet:




T e r r a s c o p e

Dateline: February 11, 2042
          2042.1.21  ShengXiao: Year of the Dog
          San Francisco
          Republic of the Americas
by Sam Mendoza
Hong Kong Media Network

This week's scam on the Global Trading Boards (GTB)
stung thousands of traders from around the world.
As more details come out, it's a wonder that more
people didn't get their rocket turbos flamed.

The bait was dropped on Monday morning when a posting
went up on the GTB from a Malaysian source claiming
to represent a construction company in need of 20
million wealth credits for a major project in Kuala
Lumpur. It was a standard, 30-day contract offer, but
the return on wealth credits was nearly double the
Toyko index. Sure, the risk rating on the deal was
somewhat high, beyond my comfort zone, but the track
record of the company looking for capital was

The personal virtual assistant handling the transaction
received visits from more than 90,000 PVAs by Tuesday
evening, according to GTB records. The host VA
appeared to have all the records in good order,
including encrypted validation of the firm's wealth
credit history and DNA encoding of the company
directors. None of the visiting PVAs were able to
detect even the slightest fabrication of the records.

One hates to say it when so many people have lost so much,
but the plan was executed to perfection. The criminals did
not even get blinded by their greed. By Wednesday morning
the posting had completely disappeared from the GTB, with
nearly 18 million wealth credits disbursed so efficiently
that investigators have not been able to track down a
single packet. I hate to think of the assets against which
so many lost wealth credits were leveraged.

Beyond the personal tragedies, the circumstances surrounding
the fraud are sure to shake confidence in PVAs. I find it
hard to believe, for instance, that my PVA, Vanessa, could
be fooled so badly. But surely that's the kind of overconfidence
that afflicted this week's victims. Vanessa told me that with
time a PVA learns to go beyond immediate data and look for
patterns in another PVA that might suggest a glitch in the
persona it projects itself to be.

The most enduring legacy of the Malaysian scam, however, may
live on in the legal arena. Nearly 6,000 of the 23,000 victims
made application to the International Trade Commission to
annul the execution of the transaction, blaming it on
the faulty judgment of their PVAs. The ITC ruled, however,
that every individual must accept full responsibility for the
actions for which the PVA serves as his or her proxy. In
simple terms, the PVA was ruled a legal extension of
our own consciousness. The implications are staggering.



O n  t he  W i r e:
In case you missed SojoNet in the nation's media....

"What's Your Price?" by David Batstone, found on, reprinted from Sojourners magazine

Sure, no businessperson would think him or herself unethical.
But could these 10 principles improve your ethical standing?

See the full story at:,6378,ART16810_CHL11_CNT56,00.html


C U L T U R E   W A T C H

Prodding the Spirit:
The music of Ben Harper
By Elizabeth Newberry

If Ben Harper held a séance with just his Weissenborn guitar
and the songs from his latest release, Burn to Shine, he could
conjure up the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Hank Williams Sr., and
Blind Willie McTell. Harper has been compared to these
musicians whose legacies stretch through the century before
Harper and his band, The Innocent Criminals, had their first
release in 1994.

The lyrics of this writer, musician, poet, and (some say)
prophet are National Public Radio-meets-Rolling Stone. I
wouldn't know where to find him on FM radio--the lower 80s
of public and college radio stations or in upper 100s of
modern rock stations.

Read the entire review at:


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

Mission Year is a grassroots youth movement initiated by
the Call to Renewal and founded by Tony and Bart Campolo.
In just its second full year of operation, the program
has brought together volunteers from more than 20 states.
Mission Year workers form teams of six or seven young people
who live and work together for one year in inner-city

A Northern California newspaper recently published a
feature article on a Mission Year team as part of
its coverage of big changes in Christian missions:

Drug dealers stood in the driveway when the young missionaries
moved into the apartment last fall. During the previous year,
police warned them, eight murders occurred within a three-block
radius. It's even too dangerous to jog around the neighborhood,
neighbors cautioned.

See the full article at:

See the coverage of Mission Year in Sojourners magazine at:

For more information about Mission Year, call 1-888-340-YEAR.

Are you a regional member of Call to Renewal? Let us know
what your group is doing so that we can share the news with
SojoMail readers. E-mail: ""

B o o m e r a n g

Messages we've received from SojoMail readers:

Kate Foster from Seattle wrote:

Is there any chance that your radio show will show up
on stations outside of San Francisco - in Seattle for
instance? Should I write my favorite stations and tell
them to get it? I'd really like to hear it, but the Web
option is not that practical for me.

Boomerang *from* the editor:

Thanks for your interest, Kate. We're working on the
technical capability to produce the radio show in a way
that is accessible to radio broadcast stations across
the country. Once that process is complete, we'll ask our
supporters (like yourself!) to make that request to their
local stations.

Thomas Reis Sr. wrote:

I happened to be reading the "Hearts and Minds" column
by Jim Wallis (
and felt compelled to comment. I agree that our churches
must challenge us to examine our own ongoing personal
responsibility to understand and then act on injustice.
But your predictions did not include the issue I consider
the #1 issue in the Western world, especially for poor
and working class people: affordable comprehensive health
care. I consider it a right equal to any in the U.S.
Bill of Rights in such a technologically wealthy
society such as ours.

Want to raise your voice? Send Boomerang e-mails to
the editor: ""


W e b  S c e n e
Two of the best on the Net to help you honor Black
History Month:

We Shall Overcome, an extensive history of the civil
rights movement as well as the strategies and people
behind it. If you want to relive the journey, the site
includes a very cool clickable itinerary map of the
United States.

Go to:

The Harlem Renaissance site is a primer on the genesis
of literature and fine arts in Harlem from 1920 to 1930.
Includes a historical overview and biographies of the
era's most influential writers and artists, including
Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Paul Robeson.

Go to:


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