The Common Good


Sojomail - March 17, 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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 17-March-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Dying as you live

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *A model partnership

N e t w o r k  N e w s
    *Business, technology, and the environment

F u n n y  B u s i n e s s
    *Plague of affluenza hits the rich

T e r r a s c o p e
    *Does not compute

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

    *Was justice served in the Amadou Diallo case?

T h e  L a u g h i n g  S a l m o n  D i g e s t
    *A dog-matic believer

O n  the  W i r e
    *SojoNet in the nation's media

F o r  M e r c y ' s  S a k e
    *Bishop of Mozambique: Hear Our Cries

B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
    *Mobilize with Jubilee 2000

W e b  S c e n e
    *For adult Christians only!!!

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

"In our life we should recognize our roots. We
should not be muddled at birth and muddled at
death, to the point that when we die we are
still clinging to this and that and unable to
let go of our sons and daughters."

             -- Venerable Master Hua
                Founder, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas


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

New Partnerships in North Carolina
By Jim Wallis

Last Thursday I traveled to North Carolina. It
was the fourth year in a row that I spoke to
an annual meeting of churches from across the
state, coming together to do something about
poverty. One reason I keep going back is that
the trip is always so encouraging.

The first year, the welfare bill of 1996 had
just passed and the North Carolina churches
were trying to figure out what to do. I suggested
that somebody had to lead--to be the catalyst,
convener, prophetic voice, and community mobilizer.
I encouraged them to take up the job.

When their dynamic organizer, Diana Jones Wilson,
called to invite me to return the following year,
she said they had a lot to report. Indeed they did--
more than 5,000 people had been trained by North
Carolina clergy and laity in just one year, helping
people to make the difficult transition from welfare
to work. Christians in North Carolina had also
become advocates for poor families, challenging
both businesses and the state of North Carolina
to do their part.

The third year found me back in the state again and,
just before I spoke, Diana announced the churches had
been awarded a first $1.25 million grant by the
state of North Carolina to continue their successful
welfare-to-work program, and more money was to come.

This year, the churches had started "A Child at the
Door," a major effort to assist churches in setting
up child care centers in their buildings to meet the
growing demand of low-income working parents
with children. Sitting next to me was the North Carolina
state auditor, and not far from him were two leaders
from the Department of Human Resources. Though it
was still a powerful church gathering (with music
and preaching to prove it), the churches' conference
had now also become a civic forum where people of
faith and others could come together and find real

A real story is emerging in North Carolina--and a
national model for church-state cooperation. While
others rightly decried the 1996 welfare bill that
dismantled the old system before putting a new one
into place, North Carolina's church leaders challenged
their state leaders to a new level of shared
responsibility. When devastating floods came last
fall, the new church/state relationships swung
into action and made a critical difference.

To their great credit, the North Carolina churches
are not just cleaning up the mess of bad social
policy. Rather, they are leading by example,
inviting every other sector, including government,
to each take up their rightful responsibilities,
and preaching good news to the poor.


You can preorder your copy of Jim Wallis' new book, Faith
Works, from the Sojourners Resource Center at 1-800-714-7474,
or go to:


N e t w o r k   N e w s

SojoNet Radio

On March 19, Business 2.0 senior editor and writer
Susan Moran visits SojoNet Radio. Moran, who has
taken lay Buddhist refuge vows, initiated the "Get
a Life" section of Business 2.0, a unique series
of articles on lifestyle, values, and spirituality
at work and beyond. Moran also writes regularly on
the impact of business and technology on the

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:


F U N N Y   B U S I N E S S
Boo-ho...we have too much money

by Rob Morse

Pity the families of Silicon Valley, suffering
from a horrible new disease called Sudden Wealth
Syndrome. Before you roll a crisp hundred into
a green ribbon and pin it on your lapel, rest
assured that the disease is treatable.

Much the way many alcoholics treat their alcoholism
with more alcohol, the disease of Sudden Wealth
Syndrome is being treated with its cause: overdoses
of money.

Psychologists, counselors, and philanthropic investment
experts are making sudden silicon wealth their own,
giving parents and kids guidance on how they can
survive the local epidemic of "affluenza."

The basic symptoms of Sudden Wealth Syndrome in
children are the following:

*Arguments in the cafeteria about

*Posters of Bill Gates on bedroom walls instead
of Michael Jordan.

*Hiding Fortune magazines inside textbooks during

*After schoolyard fights, the cry, "You'll hear
from my attorneys."

*Teachers bribed with Apples.

*Vested by 7th grade, retired by 12th.

See the whole article at:




T e r r a s c o p e

Dateline: March 17, 2042
          2042.2.26  ShengXiao: Year of the Dog
          San Francisco
          Republic of the Americas
by Sam Mendoza
Hong Kong Media Network

Our daughter Saskia is nine. Several
years ago, shortly before her first year in
school, she had memory chips implanted into
her brain. Most private schools now require
the implants for all entering students, as
well as annual enhancements to update their
knowledge banks.

I decided to drop in on Saskia's classroom
this week, mostly out of curiosity since I
find it so hard getting any clear sense from
her how she's getting along. Every evening
at the dinner table we religiously perform
the same ritual. I ask her what happened at
school, and she responds, "Nothing special."

"Special" is a relative judgment, I learned
anew, because I had the most fascinating visit
to Saskia's school. If you're more than 20 years
old, you vividly recall straining your gray
matter to memorize math tables, capital cities,
dates in history, science formulas, software
code, and other data we were assured would one
day prove to be useful. How different it is
for today's students who have available for
their immediate consideration just about every
piece of information imaginable. My daughter
is a walking library.

Saskia has many teachers during a course of
the day, some human, some robotic, and one
holographic. The robotic Mr. Chronos is
the most intriguing of the lot. He guides
the kids through the art of logic, teaching
them how to prioritize information and make
good judgments.

But arriving at the truth of a matter turns
out to be a more complicated process than even
Mr. Chronos can imagine, um, compute. On the
day I observed class, he asked Saskia and her
peers to solve a puzzle:

Five children go on an underground cave adventure
and get lost in the maze of tunnels. It's been
days, and they still can't find their way out.
But then they reach a 3-way split in the tunnel.
Above the split is an old sign, reading, "Way Out:
5 miles." But the sign does not indicate whether
all three of the new tunnels lead out of the cave,
or only one. Two of the children are now too weak
to walk any further. What should the children do?

Mr. Chronos asked a boy named Sergio to use
logic. Sergio immediately answered, "The
children should vote on one tunnel, then take
it together, with the strongest two
carrying the weak ones."

"That is not logical, Sergio," Mr. Chronos
responded. The children would have a better
chance of a survival rate if each of the stronger
three went up the three tunnels, leaving the
other two behind. Then, once one is successful,
that one has a chance of saving the other four.

"I don't care what's logical," the brave
youngster retorted. "It would be a terrible
thing to die alone."

Mr. Chronos merely stared back blankly.


B o o m e r a n g

Todd Briggs from Buffalo, New York, wrote:

Ed Spivey...very funny man! His column is
the first thing I read when I pick up
the magazine. What's he like in real life?


Boomerang from the editor: Ed is dull, fastidious,
and petty. Thanks for asking.


Carl Briggs, from Philippi, West Virginia, wrote:

I believe the media focus on politics and
religion is a lot more substantive than
what Jim Wallis suggested.  Here are two

The Protestant Presidency: Why Jews, Mormons,
and Catholics still can't get elected president.

Charles Colson: How a Watergate crook became
America's greatest Christian conservative.


Rev. Scott Collins, from Lake Park, Florida, wrote:

As a Republican and a "compassionate conservative"
I am disappointed that I won't get to vote for
McCain in the Florida primary. Frankly, that
seems undemocratic to me and is just one more
facet of our political system that I think
needs reforming along with the elimination of
the electoral college.

I may end up voting for Bush but I feel that
he has played to all sides of the political
fence, with the visit to Bob Jones University
as a prime example. I sometimes wonder if he
has any deep convictions. I had some interest
in Bill Bradley but it seemed like that he totally
catered to the pro-choice people on the abortion
side and I thought that he supported some
reconciliation on this issue as Tony Campolo
and Jim Wallis have promoted.

I am disheartened at this point. Perhaps Bush
will come through with support for faith-based
initiatives. Perhaps you have some insight that
I have been missing. Thank you for SojoNet.


Are we missing your insight? Send Boomerang
e-mails to the editor:


By Evelyn Hanneman

Following the jury's decision in the trial of
the four police officers charged in the shooting
death of Amadou Diallo, many people have voiced
their opinion that justice was not done.

As painful as it may be, it is important for
them to take a step back from their emotions and
realize that, in our criminal justice system,
justice is simply a determination of whether a law
of the State has been broken and, if so, who has
broken it. The jury decided that, given the
facts as presented at the trial, no law had been
broken by the actions of the officers. From
the statements several jurors have made, it
appears that they made a careful review of the
facts and presented a thoughtful decision based
on the law as instructed by the judge. This,
however, does not mean that justice, as demanded
by the family of Amadou Diallo and the
community, occurred.

It is my belief that this justice can occur
only when the focus changes from whether a law of
the State has been broken to concern about the
harm done by the actions of one person against
another. This type of justice is called restorative
justice. In the death of Amadou Diallo, definite
harm has been done, harm which the recent trial
and verdict did not address at all because the
system was not established to address such concerns.

To see what Evelyn Hanneman means by "restorative
justice," go to:


T h e   L a u g h i n g   S a l m o n   D i g e s t

The Flat-Coat Retriever of Grace

I have a bumper sticker on my office door
that reads: "Lord, help me to be the person
my dog thinks I am." This is a theological
replacement for my shy and vulnerable mid-20s
angst, which shrink-sized to: "I think your
karma just ran over my dogma."

In Denise Levertov's poem "Overland to
the Islands," she lets her imagination map out
her way to God. "Let's go-much as the dog goes,
intently haphazard, dancing edgeways, there's
nothing the dog disdains on his way, nevertheless
he keeps moving, changing pace and approach but
not direction - "every step an arrival."

My dog is like this. Always exuberantly joyful.
Always forgiving of my many faults. Where I
fail in hospitality, she welcomes friend and
stranger alike. When intellectual theology
fails, my dog nudges me back to the heart of my
faith w-a-l-k. (No, sweetie, not right now.)

                    --The Laughing Salmon


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

"Ethics in the New Economy," The Business Journal,
March 13, 2000

William Bennett, founding CEO of the marketing consultant 
firm Idea, and David Batstone, founding editor of monthly
magazine Business 2.0, are teaching an experimental
course called "Internet and Society, Ethics in the New
Economy." By exploring ethical issues surrounding "trust,
truth, and reality," the two professors hope to spark
debate among college students and within the business

See the full story at:


F O R   M E R C Y ' S   S A K E
'This is the Cry of a Dying People'
An open letter from the bishop of Mozambique

Dear Friends:

This is a short message to call for your support
as we call for total and immediate debt cancellation.
It is worldwide knowledge now that Mozambique
has and still is being hit by the worst flooding
in the history of this country. There is no memory
from the past of what is happening now. It is
millions of people that have been directly affected
by these floods. We cannot begin to count the possible
human lives that will be lost.

More than ever before, we call on the international
community to cancel our debt immediately so that
our country can concentrate on reconstruction of
the lives of those affected and of the destroyed
infrastructures. It is unthinkable that the country
can continue to drain itself of the much needed
resources at this point in time to service the debt
which we believe that morally and even financially
has already been paid back. It is immoral for the
international community to continue receiving back
those meager resources, while on the other hand
watching the screens of their magnified TV sets
and say, "What a pity."

The cancellation we are calling for should not
replace the emergency response that is coming
through. These two things should not be linked. We
are calling for even more emergency support to save
lives by all means. We need to continue airlifting
people from the trees and from the rooftops. We
need to provide food, blankets, shelter, and basic
health care for the people that have already been

This is a cry of the dying people of Mozambique.
Pray for us. Best wishes for you. Shalom.

Bishop Bernardino Mandlate


B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k

Join the Jubilee 2000/USA National Mobilization
for Debt Cancellation. Sunday, April 9, 12-4:30 p.m.
on the National Mall between 4th and 7th Sts. NW
in Washington, D.C. People of faith and all who care
about economic justice for the world's most highly
indebted countries will be part of a massive public
witness supporting debt cancellation. (Jim Willis
will be one of the speakers.) For more
information, see:

If you would like to help with the event through
peacekeeping and crowd control, contact the AFL-CIO at
and fill in "PEACEKEEPER" for your Local.


W e b  S c e n e

Be warned, this week's siting is not for
everybody. If you don't get/like satire--
particularly when it comes to something
as personal as your religion--then don't
waste your time.

The "Adult Christianity" Web site provides a
satirical lens on fashion, money, fame, sex,
and other matters that tend to sneak into
religious communities in bizarre and
contradictory ways. Intrigued? Go to:


R o a d  S h o w s
SojoNet is coming to a city near you!

*Boston, Monday, March 20, 5:30 pm
A panel discussion on "Religion and Politics
at the Millennium" - with Jim Wallis, EJ Dionne,
Fr. Robert Drinan. Kennedy Library. For further
information call (617) 929-4571

Jim Wallis' Faith Works Book Tour/Call To Renewal

*New York City, Monday, April 3, 7 pm
Marble Collegiate Church
1 West 29th Street
With Sing Sing prison program and People
of Faith Network/Sweatshop Watch

*Boston, Tuesday, April 4, 7 pm
Fourth Presbyterian Church
340 Dorchester Street

*Cambridge, Wednesday, April 5, 8 pm
ARCO Forum, Institute of Politics
Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University

*Chicago, Thursday, April 6
4 pm - University of Chicago, Public Theology Seminar
7 pm - Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 West Division Street
         River Forest, IL

*Grand Rapids, Michigan, Monday, April 10, 7 pm
New Hope Baptist Church
130 Delaware Street SW
Inner City Christian Federation 25th Anniversary event


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

Jim Rice                                     T 202.328.8842
Managing Editor              

................. A D V E R T I S I N G .................
Larry Bellinger                              T 202.328.8842
Advertising Manager                     

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

Ryan Beiler                                  T 202.328.8842
Internet Assistant                         

................... 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 ----
(That means: SojoNet won't trade, sell, or give away your address.)