The Common Good


Sojomail - June 2, 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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 2-June-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Overbooked appointments

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Give me that old time religion

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *Driving Miss Crazy

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
    *What makes a "hate site"?

T e r r a s c o p e
    *India: a state of mind

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

O n  the  W i r e
    *Online fraud stings merchants

B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
    *Rebuilding southern Lebanon

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


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

People come to me and say they are disappointed.
I ask them, "Who made the appointment?"

                       - Swami Satchidananda
                         Founder, Integral Yoga Institute


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

Give Me That Old Time Religion
By Jim Wallis

On Sunday, I traveled to Ohio to do the baccalaureate
address at Oberlin College. Being a long-time admirer
of Charles W. Finney, the second president of Oberlin,
I was especially eager for the first-time visit. This 
small Midwestern college was a hotbed of both revival 
and reform in 19th century America. Finney was the 
premier evangelist of his day and also a fervent 
abolitionist. Some say he was the first to pioneer 
the modern altar call, because he wanted to sign his 
converts up in the movement to abolish slavery!

I was full of questions as the campus chaplain showed
me around before my speech. And I must have seemed
like a Finney groupie, asking to see portraits of the
school's early leader and other mementos of this 
tumultuous period when evangelical Christians were 
also radical social reformers, not only on the issue 
of slavery, but also in fighting for woman's suffrage 
and child labor laws (they waged the original 
anti-sweat-shop campaigns!). I caught the chaplain 
and the librarian whispering about where such things 
might be found so they could be shown to the guest speaker.

The commencement ceremonies planned for the following
day were to take place on Tappan Square, named for two
philanthropist brothers and businessmen who raised the
equivalent of what (at that time) was half the federal 
budget, and used it for abolition, revival, and reform. 
I've always been amazed by the story of the Tappan 
brothers, but no one seemed to know much about them 
anymore either. My campus host told me that revival 
and reform had been separated at Oberlin since the 
1960s, and that while social reform was still a theme 
at the college, the spiritual roots had been mostly 
forgotten. The school had even installed a stain glass 
window with a modern art motif in the Finney Chapel 
where I spoke, and tried to rename the chapel "the 
Temple of Beauty."

So, of course, I preached about Finney. I quoted him
saying that true revival would always be "hindered"
when the church took the wrong position in crucial
issues of human rights. Finney had boldly called
slavery "a sin," and I asked what he might say today
about wretched poverty in a sea of prosperity. I also
questioned whether "revival," or the power of faith,
can really be separated from "reform," or the promise
of real social change.

Can social transformation really ever occur without
an accompanying spiritual transformation? Or can the
impulse of reform last for very long without the
motivation, sustenance, and hope that faith can
bring? Does social reform without spiritual power
just become political correctness? Those are
questions Finney might also have asked. It all
seemed to strike a very responsive chord and it
looks like I'll be going back to Oberlin again.
They promise to find the old portraits and memorabilia.
Maybe we can bring out the old gospel preaching
again too.




Driving Miss Crazy
by Ed Spivey

There comes a time in every man's life when he
has to begin a sentence with a really bad cliche.
This is one of those times. You see, words are not
coming easy to me these days. And when I do speak,
I seem to be talking in gibberish, running my words
together in a strange new dialect:

"YOU'REGOINGTOOFAST!" I'll say, seemingly at
random. Or I'll blurt out "STAYINYOUROWNLANE!!"

And I'm talking louder than I used to, as if
I were trying to alert someone far away. An
ambulance, perhaps.

It's just a coincidence, of course, that this
only happens when I'm in a car being driven
by my 16-year-old. While technically still a
child, she has earned the right to drive our
2,500-pound minivan because she passed the District
of Columbia's grueling written test, a test
specifically designed to weed out incompetent
drivers through the use of such demanding
questions as:

What is your name?
What is your address?
Do you have $14?

By law, she cannot operate the vehicle alone.
For the safety of others on the road, she is
required to have a frightened and babbling adult
in the car with her. And since I say things like
"LOOK OUT!" with less emotion than my wife, the
family has chosen me for this task. (Our thoughtful
14-year-old generously offered to take my place,
so that we parents could "just relax at home,"
but we declined.)

See the entire H'rumphs column as printed in
the May-June issue of Sojourners at:


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

What makes a "hate site"?
by Declan McCullagh

Blocking software, long criticized for mislabeling
innocuous Web sites as pornographic, now has a new
problem: accusations of double standards.

The most popular filtering programs allow their
users to freely visit the Web sites of arch-
conservative groups like Focus on the Family and
Concerned Women for America, which feature strident
denunciations of homosexuality.

But when those identical fulminations against
lesbians and gays were duplicated and placed on
personal Web pages, Cyberpatrol, Surfwatch, and
four other programs quickly added the addresses
to their off-limits blacklists....

One reason why some manufacturers of blocking
software are hesitant to block powerful conservative
groups is financial: They have similar goals and
even, occasionally, marketing alliances. NetNanny,
for instance, says it has a relationship with
Focus on the Family.

Conservative organizations have long lobbied to
install the products in public schools and libraries.
In one case in Loudoun County, Virginia, a federal
judge ordered the public library to remove X-Stop,
saying it banned innocuous materials.

Another reason not to block is the strongly negative
reaction from blockees: Nobody likes to be told their
publications are "hate speech" and are therefore
unsuitable for employees or minors to read.

"Look, I'll say straight out that we do not promote
hate. Anyone these days who speaks out against a homosexual
lifestyle is said to be speaking with hate," says Wendy
Wright, spokesperson for Concerned Women for America.

"We're a Bible-based organization, based on the life
and admonitions of Jesus Christ. Anybody that wants
to visit our Web site will see that we do not
promote hate," Wright said....

See the entire story at:,1283,36621,00.html?tw=wn20000527


T e r r a s c o p e
India: a state of mind

Dateline: June 2, 2042
          2042.4.15 ShengXiao: Year of the Dog
          San Francisco
          Republic of the Americas
by Sam Mendoza
Hong Kong Media Network

Winston Churchill, a noted European statesman of
the 20th century - an era when statesman wielded real
power - once said, "India is merely a geographical
expression. It is no more a single country than the

Today, nearly a century later, I stand in India and
find Churchill's words extraordinarily relevant.
I came here to better understand its contradictions.
But I've reached the conclusion that this place
defies logic.

Few regions on the globe can surpass India for
its wealth and technological innovation. Yet
few can surpass India for its poverty and arcane
civilization. Across the Pacific, we daily encounter
Indians who mix easily in the globalized culture that
knows no boundaries. We dress the same, share
common values, and show respect to persons where
respect is due.

But traveling the length of India these last
few weeks, I've discovered old blood running
through deep veins. Especially outside of major cities,
caste lines still draw boundaries on the map of
human opportunity. And destiny flows perpetually down
the rivers of karma. Indeed, in many villages I
visited it appears life has not changed for five

On a visit to a village three hours drive south of 
Varanasi, I was invited to dine with the family of 
a local government official, a Mr. Sawhney. I had 
failed to mention that I would be accompanied by a 
young man from Bombay who was serving as my 
translator. As soon as we arrived at the Sawhney 
home, tension filled the air. I was pulled aside 
by my host immediately, and told that my translator 
could not share a meal with us because he came 
from a lower caste.

Outraged, I asked Mr. Sawhney how he could still
live this way in the middle of the 21st century. 
"Don't you see how these old ways isolate you 
from a global community, condemning you to 
perennial poverty and ignorance?"

"We know who we are, Mr. Mendoza," he
said in a slow, patient voice. "Your
future, on the other hand, does not tell you
who you are or where you are going."

"Yes, it's all undefined, but that's exactly what's
so exciting about living with your face turned
toward the future," I shot back energetically.

Mr. Sawhney hesitated, then replied: "Mr.
Mendoza, your future is not undefined, only
anonymous. And it's tragic that you don't
know the difference."


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

Lee Alley from London, England, wrote

Two or three years ago I had to get a rather obscure
textbook for a class I was taking in London. After
exhaustively searching all the big bookshops in central
London, I desperately turned to the Internet. I tried
Amazon at 3 o'clock Friday afternoon -- the book turned
out to be cheaper than anywhere else and arrived at
8:30 a.m. the next day. I don't care if Amazon is worth
mega-billions; they deliver the goods! The point is
that every teen, twenty- and thirtysomething out
there understands this....

To say the script-kiddy who hacked Amazon and Yahoo
did so as a political statement in the tradition of
Abby Hoffman [see Danny Duncan Collum's column:] is 
absurd. He was showing off to his friends. This is 
not the '60s; things work differently nowadays. 
Until the church understands that messages like 
this are not only not getting across to young people, 
they're actually doing harm there won't be spiritual 


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

"Biggest Waste of Money Online? Hint: It's Not Ads,"
by David Batstone, eCompany, May 31, 2000

"For the moment, retailers aren't all that
well-equipped to fight fraud. It's tough
doing business when customers can conceal
their identity and pretend to be someone

See the full story at:,1653,6714,00.html


B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
Update on Lebanon Following Israeli Withdrawal

Mercy Corps' Regional Director for the Middle
East Nora Bazzy traveled from Beirut to southern
Lebanon last week following reports of the Israeli
withdrawal. She was the first representative of a 
U.S. agency operating in southern Lebanon to visit 
the area. Mercy Corps has implemented agricultural
infrastructure and economic development projects
in the so-called "security zone" for several years.
"It is like a dream," she reported, "No one
expected this to happen so fast and so peacefully."

According to Bazzy, the primary issues of concern
in the newly liberated areas are security, water,
roads,and employment. Mercy Corps will focus
immediately on expanding its income generation
programs. "The area was occupied for more than 20
years," Bazzy notes, "and the economy has been

Mercy Corps is implementing programs in 39 Druze,
Christian, and Muslim villages in southern Lebanon.
Projects include a demonstration farm park and
training center, building and renovation of
agricultural roads, rehabilitated water catchments,
and construction of drainage canals. Mercy Corps will 
soon expand to an additional 24 communities.

Bazzy reports that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese
are now traveling to southern Lebanon. Traffic problems
are compounded by the fact that many roads and key
passages were demolished by the retreating forces as
they left the country.



Help SojoMail promote values at the
crossroads where spirituality, politics, and
culture meet.


W e b  S c e n e
Cool sitings

Looking for an effective, low-cost solution
to combating mind-control? Worried about an
intruder scanning your brain waves and knowing
your thoughts? Then delay no longer...go
directly to the "Aluminum Foil Deflector
Beanie" Web site.

You will find a step-by-step guide to
building your own deflector beanie, and
tips how to foil all kinds of mind-
reading equipment.

"AFDBs are safe and operate automatically. 
All you do is make it and wear it and 
you're good to go! Plus, AFDBs are 
stylish and comfortable."


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