The Common Good


Sojomail - May 12, 2000

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

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

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 12-May-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Cybersurfing on the WWP (WorldWidePorn)

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Raising a disciplined ruckus

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *Let me tell you where to go today...

T e r r a s c o p e
    *Inside the sex club rage

S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s
    *Funeral rights

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

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
    *British rabbi becomes God's spin doctor

O n  the  W i r e
    *Résumés lost in cyberspace

B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
    *How to save low power radio

W e b  S c e n e
    *Cool siting of Sputnik 7

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

"I haven't been to a dinner party for a while without
at least a few of the participants - men usually, but
not always - swapping details of pornographic Web sites.
'Porn,' a woman told me the other night 'is the new food.'"

            John Diamond of The Times (London), on the new
            dinner party etiquette of Europe's middle classes.

(Sam Mendoza implies we ain't seen nothing yet! See
below his column on sex clubs in 2042: Terrascope)

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

Raising a Disciplined Ruckus
By Jim Wallis

I made a mistake. In my SojoMail column two
weeks ago, I was talking about the need to
distinguish between various demonstrators in
Seattle and Washington, D.C., and referred to "marginal
and irresponsible IMF protest groups like 'Ruckus,'
which like to fight with police and break windows at
Starbucks." A few letters pointed out that "Ruckus"
is a California-based group that trains people
in nonviolent civil disobedience. We checked and
you're right. Ruckus promotes disruptive tactics
to be sure, but is committed to nonviolence. I
stand corrected and apologize for the error.

But Ruckus aside, I still want to make the point
about the need to "parse the protests" that are
now emerging in response to "globalization," and to
suggest what the role of faith-based groups might be.

So who was breaking windows and focusing media
attention on the violent few in Seattle? It appears
to have been a loosely knit collection of groups who
go by the generic name of "anarchist black block"
(small letters). They believe the system is beyond
reform, and espouse property destruction as the only
way to send a message. It was estimated that out
of the 40,000 protestors in Seattle, no more than
100 were in the violent groups, yet they caused
virtually all of the $2 million damage.

I was just in Toronto, talking with Christian
activists about the Canadian protests in response
to Seattle and D.C. They were concerned about
groups that profess nonviolence but say that
demonstrators can legitimately defend themselves
against police attacks. Such a view is behind
the scuffles with police the world has seen
in television pictures of both the D.C. and
Seattle protests.

I cut my political teeth in the civil rights
movement, and still believe King and other black
leaders were right in enforcing the discipline,
yes discipline, of nonviolence on the movement.
The public will always side with law enforcement
officials when they see demonstrators battling
with the police, unless it's clear the protestors
are clearly behaving nonviolently and are still
being attacked. Then public opinion can quickly
shift in the protesters' favor.

Social movements also need to practice the
discipline of clear and responsibly stated goals.
Slogans like "smash the global economy" are going
to be much less effective than appeals to cancel the
debt of impoverished nations (Jubilee 2000) and
fair rules for global trade that protect worker
rights, human rights, children, and the environment.
Such disciplines are part of what faith communities
involved in this new movement for economic
justice can bring. The demonstrations against the
injustices of the new global economy, especially
involving so many young people, are a real sign
of hope. Now they must be fashioned into a
disciplined social and, yes, spiritual movement.

Let's raise a disciplined "ruckus" for global justice.


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s

Let me tell you where to go today...

The classically-minded among us may have noted
a new TV ad for Microsoft's Internet Explorer
e-mail program which uses the musical theme of the
"Confutatis Maledictis" from Mozart's Requiem.

"Where do you want to go today?" is the cheery
line on the screen, while the chorus sings
"Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis."

In case your Latin is rusty, this means:
"The damned and accursed are convicted
to the flames of Hell."

Perhaps this isn't really where you want to
go today....


T e r r a s c o p e
Inside the sex club rage

Dateline: May 12, 2042
          2042.3.23 ShengXiao: Year of the Dog
          San Francisco
          Republic of the Americas
by Sam Mendoza
Hong Kong Media Network

The proliferation of sex clubs on the Omninet
is hard to ignore. I used to think it was a
fad that would pass once the hype over the
Sensational platform deflated. But I see now
how badly I underestimated the primal power
of being able to use all five senses in a
virtual world.

As fast as some behaviors change, it's amazing
how constant other behaviors remain. While
investigating the appeal of sex clubs, I found
lots of people willing to talk (embarrassingly
willing, at times) about their escapades, but
hardly anyone wanted me to use their name in
this column. Some genuinely pleaded modesty.
But many felt they would hurt someone who would
feel betrayed by their cyberspace intimacies.
Virtual activities, real world impact, it

But Jennifer Patel from Hong Kong shared openly
with me her remarkable story. I suppose Jenny fits
our stereotype of a sex club aficionado. Simulation
programs might promise sensual pleasure, but meeting
a live partner virtually added the dimensions of
risk and unpredictability.

So I guess Jenny found exactly what she was
looking for. She met Kali several months ago
in a club lounge. But was it really Kali? There's
no guarantee of that in the sex clubs, because
members can freely make up any number of personas.
Only the club owners know an individual's real
identity. They build trust by promising to screen
member applicants for specific criteria: criminal
offenses, economic class, education, or whatever
other filters are important to its clientele.
But once you're admitted into the club, your
identity is your own.

Jenny met Kali at the billiards table. They
played a game, had a drink, and had a long chat.
Turns out they had a great deal in common, and
Jenny was thrilled to make a real connection.
They then retired to one of the "pleasure zones"
and engaged in an hour of intimate activities.
When it came time to leave and they were saying
their good-byes, Kali told Jenny that their
encounter meant much more to him than any other
club experience. She instantly felt a flood of
emotions. Warm for being liked, scared since
she wasn't looking for any deep attachments.

Kali then said he wanted to be honest with her.
"My name really isn't Kali, it's Michelle. Would
you still meet me again here, tomorrow?"

Jenny was a bit confused, but also intrigued. So
the next day she went back to the club and met
Michelle (was it really Michelle?) at the billiards
table. They played another couple of games, then
went to the lounge for another conversation.
Jenny could swear she was talking to a man.
Everything about this individual's mindset, her
manner, pointed to manhood. But why would he
pretend otherwise.

Did it matter? Yes it did, she decided, and she
felt anger well up inside. It was cruel to play
with her this way. Jenny got up and walked out
of the club without a word to Michelle.

Would she every go back to a sex club? "Of course,"
Jenny told me, "I went back the next day. But this
time I took on another persona for the first time.
I learned firsthand the power of being in sole
control of your identity."


S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s

We all have to die...
but does it have to cost so much?
by Julie Polter

...Most just-bereaved people find themselves
completely unprepared for the confusing and
usually expensive decisions that have to be
made about the preparation and final destination
of a loved one's body. The unscrupulous within
the American funeral industry count on and
exploit such ignorance and the vulnerability
of the bereaved. They sell embalming (with full
cosmetic makeover) as both desirable and necessary,
a casket as more than a box, and seek to equate
one's love for the dead as directly proportional
to dollars spent. It is big business, worth
$25 billion annually in the United States alone.
A family member's funeral is one of the largest
single purchases that many adults will make
in their lifetime.

Many funeral home directors, crematorium owners,
and commercial cemetery operators sincerely
strive to serve their communities; many do not
have profit as their only goal. Nonetheless,
to be naive about the commercial realities of
most "death care" services can lead to
exploitation and additional heartbreak. The
current American standard for funeral care is,
in large part, a product of marketing. It is
a sentimental, mass-produced packaging of
"traditions" (many of which never were), aided
by the general public's ignorance of actual
legal requirements concerning dead bodies.

No one deserves to be ripped off, especially
when they are grieving. And, as might be
expected, those who are the most traumatized or
have the least money to lose are often the most
vulnerable. This is reason enough to learn about
misleading and fraudulent funeral practices and
what can be done to counteract them.

See Julie Polter's entire feature on the death
industry as printed in Sojourners at:


And don't miss Polter's two related sidebars:

"Shop Before You Drop: Steps to Getting the Funeral
You Want and Can Afford" at:


"Reclaiming Our Rites: The Power of Ministering
to the Bereaved" at:




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

Gary Novak of Port Townsend, Washington, wrote:

Responding to last week's column by Jim Wallis:

I would like to know how much the new World
Vision CEO earns off helping the poor. I think
this is a fair question to ask anyone making
a living promoting Jesus' message.


Mary Ward-Bucher of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote:

Responding to Jim Rice's "A Blank Check for China"...

China's human rights record is indeed deplorable,
and the United States should be doing more politically
to end such abuses of power. Unfortunately, the
statement about China's increasing human rights abuses
over the past year is somewhat misleading. It may be
true that the abuses have heightened this year; however,
this fact seems to coincide with a historical pattern
that has been in place for the past 50 years or so.
The Chinese people have endured waves of oppression
that increase and subside: The government "eases up,"
things may seem calm for a while, and dissidents begin
to speak out. Next, the central government becomes
fearful of unrest and systematically crushes the
participants and the hope of collaborative dissent.

It is rumored that numerous protests against
government corruption have been springing up all over
China (esp. in rural areas devastated by the Yangtze
floods). This would seem to be the reason why the
Chinese government has been so harsh lately: they
fear another revolution. And so the cycle of
oppression goes on.

Isolating China in these chaotic times would be
a grave mistake. (Remember Germany?) To alienate
such a large and angry population with a government
full of potential (and actualized) dictators could
be the end of civilization as we know it. The nuclear
threat that such a dominant society presents is
alarming. It is agreed that Clinton has accommodated
the Chinese too much for political and material gains.
In light of China's potential, however, I think he
is better to err on the side of diplomacy.


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


C u l t u r e   W a t c h

Rabbi Condemned for Rewriting Bible
by David Smith in Express News
London, May 3, 2000

A new version of the Bible has been branded
"blasphemous" for spicing up the scriptures
and axing words such as angels and Christ.

"The People's Bible" aims to make the good book
more accessible by updating its language and
adding colorful passages, such as a love
scene between David and Bathsheba.

But religious critics last night condemned the
16-volume paperback project as being "closer to
Mills and Boon" than the Word of God.

Rabbi Sidney Brichto, who says he wrote the
translation in "seeking to become God's spin
doctor," replaces references to Jesus as "Christ"
with "the anointed one" because he feels it better
explains the Jews' hopes He would restore the
sovereignty of the House of David. "Angels"
make way for "messengers of God" because the rabbi,
from Middlesex, England, points out they did not
have wings and were never seen in flight.

But the Trinitarian Bible Society said it strongly
disapproved of the work. The Rabbi's treatment
of David and Bathsheba read "like a Mills and Boon
story, which is blasphemous".


O n  t he  W i r e:
In case you missed SojoNet in the media....

"Resumes Lost in Cyberspace," by David Batstone,

The Web was supposed to provide a giant help-wanted section
that would seamlessly connect employers with potential new
hires. No more circling classified ads in the Sunday paper. But
Forrester Research, of Cambridge, Mass., recently revealed
that 45 percent of job seekers receive no response after
posting a resume online. And one-third of the 62 percent who
use resume-matching agents say they've never received a job
match. That's bad.

See the whole story at:,1653,6662,00.html


B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
How to Save Low Power Radio

In January, the Federal Communications Commission
approved a plan to license low power (or "micro") radio
stations in many areas of the country, largely due to
a campaign waged by a diverse coalition of public interest
groups, churches, and labor unions. The FCC planned to
begin the licensing process for non-commercial radio
stations operating at 10 watts and 100 watts.

However, an intense lobbying effort by the broadcast
industry threatens to severely restrict the prospects
for low power radio. The effort, which included National
Public Radio, culminated in HR 3439, the "Radio
Preservation Act,"  which passed the House of
Representatives on April 13.

If approved by the Senate, this legislation will have
a dramatic impact: It will reduce the number of possible
low-power stations by about 80 percent, delay the FCC's
implementation of its plan to license any low power
stations, and require a new round of technical tests
that many public interest groups insist are unnecessary.

Advocates for low power radio argue that the wave of
concentration in the radio industry, especially since
the Telecommunications Act of 1996, underscores the
need for local, non-commercial broadcasters that better
serve the public interest.

The Senate is expected to debate the bill to undermine
the FCC's low power radio program (S.2068) in the next
few weeks. This gives advocates for greater diversity
on the airwaves a chance to communicate with their
elected officials about the FCC's low power radio plan.

ACTION: Contact your senators and ask them to vote
against S.2068, the broadcast industry's effort to
stifle low power radio. Tell them that greater access
to the airwaves, especially in a time of overwhelming
media concentration, is an important first step toward
a more democratic media structure.

To locate your senator's e-mail address, go to:

The Senate switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.

As always, please remember that your comments are
taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone.
Please cc your correspondence to

For more background on low power radio, go to:

Low Power Radio Coalition

"Frequently Asked Questions About Low-Power FM Radio"

Media Access Project:


W e b  S c e n e
Siting of Sputnik 7 in cyberspace

Kill your TV tonight and waste a few hours
entertaining yourself on the Net!

Credited as the world's first real-time
audio/video Internet entertainment experience,
sputnik7 is a broadcast network offering a
sophisticated mix of independent music, film,
and animated programming.

Highly innovative.

Go to:


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

*The FaithWorks Tour with Jim Wallis

Monday, May 15, 7-9 p.m. - MINNEAPOLIS
Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church
3751 Sheridan Ave. N
CONTACT: Bob Hulteen (612) 870-3600

Wednesday, May 17, 5-8 p.m. - MADISON, WI (tickets required)
Christ Presbyterian Church
944 East Gorham Street
CONTACT: Madison Urban Ministry (608) 256-0906

Thursday, May 18, 7 p.m. - MILWAUKEE
Archbishop Cousins Center
3501 S. Lake Drive
CONTACT: Marcus White (414) 276-9050


*David Batstone in Stockholm, Sweden

Monday, May 15
"Money and Ethics in the New Economy"
Swedish Association of Online Bankers

Tuesday, May 16
"The New Economy: Hype and Hope"
The Bonnier Media Group Symposium

Wednesday, May 17
"Uncovering the Ethos of Silicon Valley"
The European e-challenge awards

Thursday, May 18
"What Will the World Look Like in 2010?"
Swedish Association of Information Technologists
and Entrepreneurs

Friday, May 19
The New Economy Council
"Social Trends in the New Economy"
Contact in Sweden: Madelene Kornfehl


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