The Common Good


Sojomail - May 26, 2000

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 26-May-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Curiosity cures the cat

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Sojourners school reunions

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
    *No spiritual revival in USA?

    *Yahoo! for hackers

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

O n  the  W i r e
    *Faith Works tour makes noise

B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
    *21 years in Tibet...imprisoned

W e b  S c e n e
    *A web of old wisdom


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

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure
for curiosity.

                         - Dorothy Parker



SojoMail reader Mike Bruinooge of Washington, D.C.,
(okay, he's also the Call to Renewal National
Coordinator) e-mailed this note to his circle of

I was recently challenged to introduce some 
friends to the weekly "SojoMail" publication 
of Sojourners Magazine and SojoNet. It comes 
by e-mail every Friday for free and there are 
no obligations. It's also very good -- eclectic, 
snappy, thoughtful and often, fun. So if you're 
at all interested in trying it out just send 
an email message to "" or 
subscribe online at:

Please think about sending this out to your 
friends as well.


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

Sojourners School Reunions
(more notes from the Faith Works tour)
By Jim Wallis

I remember a conversation with Dorothy Day almost 
three decades ago. I was very young and enthusiastic 
as I excitedly shared with her our vision for Sojourners 
Community. She said, "I thought we were starting a 
community with the Catholic Worker too. But it turned 
out to be more of a school."

Countless numbers passed through the Worker, few 
stayed, but most kept at the vision in their own 
ways. Now I would say the same thing as Dorothy. 
Sojourners has alumni all over the country.

Former Sojourners Aaron and Wendy McCarroll Gallegos 
got married and moved to Toronto where they organized 
our town meeting with a very diverse crowd of people. 
And the response the next day from hundreds of 
clergy and lay leaders attending a nationwide 
conference of the United Church of Canada demonstrated 
the international appeal of this message.

Doug Maben, an ex-intern who is a Presbyterian pastor, 
organized an exciting Denver town meeting, and one 
of the most moving local speakers was another former 
intern, Mara Vanderslice, who challenged the 
enthusiastic audience to join the Jubilee 2000 campaign. 
A beloved teacher and mentor of mine, Vincent Harding, 
introduced the evening. Call to Renewal and Sojourners
board member Leah Gaskin Fitchue is now dean of the
Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, 
which hosted the Atlanta Faith Works Forum. Media 
coverage was very extensive in Atlanta as it was in
Minneapolis/St. Paul. Former Sojourners magazine editor
Bob Hulteen now works for the Minnesota Council of 
Churches and organized the successful town meeting we 
held at Rev. Al Gallmon's Fellowship Missionary 
Baptist Church.

The Midwest has always been a stronghold of support 
for Sojourners and now for the Call to Renewal, and 
some of the best days of the tour were at the end in 
Minnesota and Wisconsin. Madison-area Urban Ministries 
hosted our town meeting there while local radio, 
television, and newspapers helped broadcast the message. 
And even a highly unusual Milwaukee monsoon rain
storm didn't dampen the spirits of the people in that 
city who came out to the Archbishop Cousins Center 
to talk about a new movement to overcome poverty in 

On the last day of the tour I visited a shelter with 
Marcus White of the Milwaukee Interfaith Conference, 
one of the town meeting sponsors. It was an "overflow 
shelter" run by the Red Cross and the conference. On 
many of those beds I saw little stuffed animals and 
toys marking the places of the homeless kids who live 
there every night. They looked like my son Luke's
animals and toys.
The Red Cross often runs shelters like this after 
natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. 
But an overflow shelter in a time of prosperity? That's 
what must change. And after six weeks of seeing some of
the best faith-inspired work going on across the country, 
I come home believing that we are now at the beginning 
of that change.


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

No spiritual revivals in the USA?

A new study of what Americans want most out of life
showed they haven't changed much in the last 10 years.
Contrary to popular belief, spiritual revival
isn't happening in the United States, says George
Barna, director of the Barna Research Group.

"If spiritual revival were occurring, you'd expect
to see increasing levels of interest in a relationship
with God, in church involvement, and in commitment
to the Christian faith," Barna said. "None of those
are evident."

"If teenagers were on the leading edge of altruistic
living, you'd see their levels of interest in
integrity, faith, and a modest lifestyle surpassing
the levels of adults. We do not see that," Barna said.
"And if Christians were truly focused on serving others,
you'd expect to see much larger percentages of
them committed to influencing other people and to
making a difference in the world. That, too, is not

Most people in the Barna Research Group study said
they wanted good health, a clear purpose for living,
satisfying sex, a comfortable lifestyle, and a good job.


P. O. V.

Yahoo! for hackers
By Danny Duncan Collum

Left historian Michael Kazin told The Village
Voice that the e-commerce guerrillas are
the direct descendants of Abbie Hoffman, and
he was right. There has not been a more perfect
symbolic, made-for-media political act since
Hoffman and company dumped baskets of dollar
bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

...A culturally savvy communitarian had to notice
the Net's promises of open communication and free
access to information. The new network had the
potential to empower those outside the official
opinion-making loop. Living in a small rural
community for the past three years has deepened my
appreciation of that potential. Unfortunately,
I'm also old enough to have been through this all
before. When I was a kid, TV was supposed to open
the world to the isolated and ignorant. What we
ended up with was "Petticoat Junction." Cable was
supposed to bring us broad access to art and
communication -- self-produced and decentralized.
When it reached critical mass in the early 1990s,
we got the same couple of dozen cheesy commercial
channels on every system.

The Internet is moving in the same direction. It
began as a national defense system, then evolved
into a network of university researchers. But
the old utopia of free access and open communication
cannot withstand the pressures of the market. The
Internet was not meant to have things worth $50
billion on it, Web analyst Bruce Sterling told
The Village Voice. In his estimation, the attack
on e-commerce could be a pivotal event like the
Seattle WTO protests. Suddenly, he said, "people
were wandering around in pepper gas and people
across the country started thinking, 'Gee, why
would anyone possibly be against world trade
as we know it?' In this case it's like, how could
anyone possibly resent e-commerce, which is about
a bunch of super-rich guys with stock options
up the wazoo more or less taking over the Web?"

A global economy depends, among other things,
upon a global flow of information. The people
who took down E*TRADE et al. might have been a
bunch of kids out for kicks, but -- whether by
design or not -- they happened to hit one of
the hottest buttons for our brave new century.

See Danny Duncan Collum's entire "Eyes and Ears"
column as printed in Sojourners at:




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

Ruth Carroll from Turku, Finland, wrote

Thank you for Julie Polter's article; I just 
thought I'd mention another source of information 
on alternative and low-cost funerals.

Several years ago I bought an excellent anthology 
of poetry - one poem for each day of the year, all 
of a memorizable length. The book turned out to be
sponsored by the Natural Death Centre, a British 
organization promoting reasonably priced funerals 
that met people's needs.

Their Web site ( 
contains a lot of interesting reading material, much 
of which could probably be adapted to U.S. situations.  
There is one link to explicitly North American projects 
and information sources:


Vicky Nelson from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, wrote:

I just recently had the amazing opportunity to meet 
Jim Wallis when he spoke in Milwaukee this past week 
during the "Wisconsin Monsoon" and was ever more 
fortunate to speak with him afterwards to have him 
sign a copy of his book. I was deeply inspired. The 
evening was truly an answer to my prayers, as I had 
been struggling with the pain of my first exposure 
to the brutal reality of poverty following my volunteer 
year in Philadelphia working with homeless women and 
their children. I lost sight of hope and became 
overwhelmed by the daily suffering I witnessed. 
I now feel more refreshed and determined to remain 
active. I have HOPE for a better tomorrow.


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


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

"Renewing action: Activist, author brings together 
religious groups to help reduce poverty," by Tom
Heinen in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 12, 2000.

"You can almost pick an area of deep, entrenched, 
pressing problems that we've had a hard time solving,
and you find churches, congregations, synagogues 
working with mayors, and city council people, and
business leaders, and labor, and other non-profits 
to find not so much liberal-conservative answers. We're
asking what's right and what works," [said Jim Wallis].

See the full story at:


"Answer Call to Renewal," Editorial, The Capital Times,
Madison, Wisconsin, May 17

"For years, Wallis was a voice in the wilderness. Now, 
however, the Call to Renewal movement he has worked 
so hard to forge is gaining national attention as the 
base for a new movement to break the chains of poverty 
in America."

See the full story at:


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

Ngawang Sangdrol is a Buddhist nun who believes that 
Tibet should be independent from China. At the age of 
10 she was arrested for the first time by Chinese
authorities. Her only crime was to participate in a 
peaceful demonstration for the independence of Tibet. 
When she was 13 she again took part in a peaceful 
demonstration. She was too young to be brought to trial
under Chinese law, nevertheless Chinese authorities held 
her for 9 months.

In June 1992, at the age of 15, she was once more 
arrested by Chinese authorities for trying to stage a 
peaceful demonstration with fellow nuns. Subsequently 
she was accused for "subversive and separatist activities" 
and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment in the notorious 
Drapchi prison.

Her sentence was extended for another 6 years in October 
1993. The reason for this was the fact that she had 
sung and recorded independence songs in the prison together 
with 13 other nuns. The tape with those songs was
smuggled out of jail and distributed throughout Tibet.

In 1996 Ngawang Sangdrol's sentence was again prolonged 
for another 8 years as she shouted "free Tibet" while 
standing in the rain in the prison's yard.

The third extension of Ngawang's sentence was announced 
in October 1998 when she refused to acknowledge the Panchen 
Lama, whom the Chinese authorities had chosen. (The Panchen
Lama is the second most important political and religious 
dignitary of Tibet. He died in 1998 and ever since there 
has been a dispute between Chinese authorities and the
Dalai Lama about who was the reincarnation of the Panchan 

Including this last extension of 4 years her total 
sentence amounts to 21 years. Together with other prison 
inmates in the Drapchi prison, Ngawang Sangdrol suffers 
under inhumane treatment including beating and solitary
confinement with reduced food rations. Today she has 
problems with her kidneys as a result of torture.

This inhumane treatment of Ngawang Sangdrol and prisoners 
throughout China is a clear violation of Article 5 of the 
Universal Declaration of Human Rights which prohibits 
torture at all times and under any circumstance.

Help Ngawang Sangdrol by signing this e-petition and
sending a copy to your friends.

The list will be printed out and sent to:
Premier of the People's Republic of China
ZHU Rongji Zongli
9 Xihuangchenggenbeijie
Beijingsh1 100032
People's Rebuplic of China

By signing this, we demand that Ngawang Sangdrol is to 
be released unconditionally and immediately. Furthermore 
we demand that the Chinese authorities respect Article 5 
of the UDHR by treating Ngawang Sangdrol and other 
prisoners in China with dignity, and by bringing to an 
end any form of torture and inhumane treatment. We demand 
the Chinese authorities to disclose all information about 
the health of prisoners throughout China by allowing an 
independent organization to inspect prisons in China.

PLEASE COPY this email on to a new message, sign the 
bottom and forward an e-mail a copy of it to :

(David Reith, member of group 10 Amnesty International Austria.)


W e b  S c e n e

Encyclopedia Mythica offers the best Web source
for mythology, folktales, images, and geneaologies.
The old world of wisdom meets the new world
of convenience. And we're not just talking Greek
mythologies here; tales from many religions, 
including Japanese, Hindu, and Native American.

And the best part, it's completely free with no
banners and no advertisements to annoy you! Visit 
the site at:


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