The Common Good


Sojomail - June 30, 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
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+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 30-June-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Ensign, engage!

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Shedding light (and shadows) on politics

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *Organ legends

B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
    *Amazon saved from massive destruction

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
    *Summer reading list

O n  the  W i r e
    *Bill Maher, Warren Beatty ... and Jim Wallis

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

O n  the  W i r e
    *David Batstone in Melbourne, Australia
    *Jim Wallis in Davis, California


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

"A lot of America's global actions stink. The U.S.'s
international focus is based on money....It's laughable
that the U.S. considers itself the land of opportunity.
How can you be truly free when there is so much poverty
and poor education?"

    -- British actor Patrick Stewart, aka Capt.
       Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: The Next
       Generation" and Professor X in the upcoming movie
       "X-Men," telling George magazine what an "insular,
       bullying" attitude the greatest country on earth

"Put a lid on it, baldy, or we'll break your nose."

    -- Tongue-in-cheek response of The Washington Post's
        "Reliable Source"


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

The Shadow Conventions are coming!
By Jim Wallis

Are you really looking forward to the Republican
and Democratic Party conventions in August? Does
anybody believe that Philadelphia and Los Angeles
will provide exciting political debates on the
major issues of the day? Actually, they'll likely
look less like conventions and more like
coronations for Al Gore and George Bush -- the
only big "issues" discussed will be who the
running mates will be.

There was a time when political conventions were
real town meetings, with very lively discussions
of key and controversial questions facing the
country. Not any more.

But here's the good news. There will be "Shadow
Conventions" alongside the major party
conventions in both Philadelphia and Los
Angeles this summer. The Shadow Conventions
will be the town meetings that the party
conventions will not. And they will focus on
three key issues not being seriously discussed
at the official gatherings: poverty in the
midst of prosperity, the influence of money in
politics, and the failed drug war. Instead of
profiling people who have benefited from the
prosperous economy (as the party conventions
plan to do), the Shadows will give voice to
the many people who have been left behind.
We'll speak of the threats to democracy posed
by the excessive influence of big money in
politics and lift up the people at the bottom
of society who have been disproportionately
targeted and incarcerated by the public
policies of the so-called drug war.

But we won't just focus on the problems; the
Shadow Conventions will feature real solutions,
instead of false promises. Conveners include
the leaders of Call to Renewal, United for a
Fair Economy, and the Campaign for Jobs and
Income Security (on poverty); Common Cause
and Public Campaign (on money and politics);
the Lindesmith Center (on the failed drug war);
and columnist Arianna Huffington.

The momentum of the Shadow Conventions is
growing quickly, attracting elected officials
and party delegates seeking a real public forum,
a media bored with the party lines, and
activists coming to the conventions from around
the country. We will be nonpartisan and
independent, with participants from both
parties along with independents and third-
party supporters.

Speakers already confirmed include diverse
elected officials including John McCain,
John Lewis, Tony Hall, and Paul Wellstone;
faith-based leaders such as John Dilulio,
Eugene Rivers and Michael Lerner; writers
including William Grieder and Jonathan Kozol;
and public figures such as Granny D and
Warren Beatty. The best thinkers on the three
key issues will be called upon for analysis,
while grassroots practitioners will profile
their best strategies for change. The Shadow
Conventions will also feature music, satire,
and fun.

Plan now to come to Philadelphia or Los
Angeles. The focus will be on poverty and
the wealth gap on August 2 in Philadelphia
and August 14 in LA. You can volunteer
to help by calling Call to Renewal at
1-800-714-7474. See you at the conventions
of substance!

For more info, visit:



The Utne Reader recently listed Sojourners as
the 20th most-cited magazine in its 16-year

Why does the Utne Reader love Sojourners? Sign
up for a FREE ISSUE and find out for yourself.

Go now to:


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

Organ legends

I had been teaching my three-year old daughter,
Caitlin, the Lord's Prayer. For several evenings at
bedtime, she would repeat after me the lines from
the prayer. Finally, she decided to go solo. I
listened with pride as she carefully enunciated
each word, right up to the end of the prayer:

"Lead us not into temptation," she prayed,
"but deliver us some e-mail. Amen."


Six-year old Angie and her 4-year-old brother,
Joel, were sitting together in church. Joel giggled,
sang, and talked out loud.

Finally, his big sister had had enough. "You're
not supposed to talk out loud in church."
"Why? Who's going to stop me?" Joel asked.
Angie pointed to the back of the church and said,
"See those two men standing by the door? They're


B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
Amazon saved from massive destruction!

This message just in from SojoMail reader
Greg Thompson of World Vision Australia:

"The proposed bill legislating what would
have meant large scale Amazon rainforest
destruction has been shelved. Our colleague
Eduardo Nunes of World Vision Brazil reported
that 'NGO, public opinion and the international
reaction was so strong that the Brazilian
Government had no option. They used the
opportunity to act as the good guy.' Below
is an excerpt from a local news story announcing
the triumph for the environmental movement:

Historic Victory for Brazilian Amazon

BRAZIL - The Environmental Defense Organization
has announced that leaders of Brazil's Congress
have just shelved proposed legislation to increase
the area and rate of Amazon forest destruction,
handing the Brazilian environmental movement its
first major and precedent-setting victory in protecting
the rainforest. Representatives of powerful special
interest groups had pushed a draft law through a
joint House/Senate committee that would have
loosened restrictions on Amazon deforestation,
and could have caused a 25 percent increase in
annual rates of clearing and burning.

Massive e-mail and fax protests to Congress and
the president from all over the world and broad
national media coverage killed the measure before
it  could come to the House floor. At one point
government officials blocked the massive flux of
protest e-mails - but backed down when the move
was derided as censorship in the press. Press and
TV coverage overwhelmingly opposed the measure, as
did the Environment Ministry."


Sojourners Online Web site gets a new
look and feel plus new interactive features!

Watch for it this summer at


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

Grace Cangialosi from Stanley, Virginia:

I just sent information about SoJoMail to
the Anglican list (also known as St. Sam's
Cyberparish). This is a list with 400+ members
worldwide, most of whom are Anglican or have
some interest in things Anglican.

May net you some more subscribers...


John Hirt, Chaplain, Sydney University, Sydney,

Your innovative and biblical commitments are a
continual inspiration. I am hoping that by the
time you get this e-mail, the entire Uniting Church
in Australia Tertiary Students Association
(UCATSA) across our Australian Universities will
be wired to SojoMail. As someone who has read
Sojourners for 20 years, I am hoping that more
and more university students in Australia and
the Pacific region will get to share in the
strength of biblical radicalism that you bring to
our time.


Ed. note: Thanks heaps Grace and John! Any
other SojoMail subscribers out there who
are part of e-mail lists that would benefit
from receiving a weekly dose of fun and


Anne Savoie from North Smithfield, Rhode Island:

It's great that Mr. Hall wants the U.S. to apologize
for slavery and that so many churches have already
done so. Maybe we should also apologize for our
treatment of homosexuals - not 100 years from
now, but today, while we can still make a difference.


Cindy Caturia from Olympia, Washington:

I've been enjoying SojoMail each week. There is always
something there that catches my eye.

This week the article on the Congress apologizing for
slavery is what grabbed me. While I applaud this endeavor,
what I am wondering is when will the U.S. apologize for
all the atrocities done to the Native Americans over
the passed couple hundred years?

...I think if the U.S. government apologized to the
Native Americans, they'd essentially be admitting they
were wrong about a lot of things. Then they'd have to
start honoring treaties and taking responsibility for
many of the current issues that are a direct result of
the many injustices they initiated against the
Indigenous Peoples. I doubt they want to go that far.
That's why I doubt we'll see an apology to them
forthcoming any time in the near future.


Kenneth Conklin from Pinellas Park, Florida:

I read the commentary about apologizing for slavery.
It confused me a bit. Recalling history learned in
school, I didn't remember that our government (the U.S.
government, that is) had a whole lot to do with slavery,
outside of inheriting it from early forms of North
American government. I missed the lesson where people
from the U.S. government journeyed to Africa in search
of unwitting Africans to enslave.

I sort of recall that in the very beginning of this
despicable trade that it was the native chiefs themselves
who traded in slavery...and then it spread to Europeans.
In fact, today in Africa black slavery still well
as white slavery...which, alas, few people today outside of
the Christian right-wing say much about.

I've never had much to do with slavery, outside of historical
awareness of it, so I really don't understand why we today
are being encouraged to apologize for something we didn't
do. Why not also apologize to the Irish, Chinese, and every
other group that has felt slighted by the government,
real or imagined?

As for prior governmental apologies for slavery, how many
of those occurred in our more enlightened time? That alone
makes me cautious about such an action.

Also, as a minister, you're no doubt aware that the Bible
allowed for and enforced laws pertaining to Jew-on-Jew
slavery, right? In the Old Testament, it was more a matter
of economics than a class issue.

Thank you for a thought-provoking article nonetheless.


Chris Beach from Tulsa, Oklahoma:

I first want to thank you for SojoMail. It is very
helpful and encouraging to see what is happening
around the U.S. and the world.

Second, I was surprised to hear about the efforts
to have the U.S. government apologize for slavery.
Although I believe it is more honest when the church
does it than the government (sincere desire to heal
vs. political gain), it can be helpful nonetheless.
The body of Christ came together here in Tulsa,
Oklahoma, two years ago to apologize and make voluntary
reparations for past generations for the 1921 Tulsa
Race Riot. Great healing and a new desire to come
together was the result.

Third, I believe the way the former welfare system
was set up did great damage to the American family.
In fact, an African American member of our board
(who works at DHS in Tulsa) truly believes the
former welfare system has done more divisive damage
to the black family in America than has slavery. May
be a controversial statement, but after hearing his
points, I find it difficult to argue. I wonder if
our government will ever apologize for the past
welfare system that unintentially created deep
problems within our culture that will take years
of healing. I pray that the right balance
between the government and the church will happen
to ensure families are truly ministered to physically,
mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.


Steve Cain from West Lafayette, Indiana:

What horrible news about the rainforest of the Amazon.
Where are the agencies that can help people to see that
there is no future in farming the Rainforest....only misery!

What neat news of Rep. Hall apologizing for slavery.
Now we need to work on an apology to the countries we
have invaded and whose governments we have manipulated,
like Nicaragua. We invaded Nicaragua at least four
times! And if I'm not mistaken, we were condemned in
the [World] Court in the Hague and ordered to pay
reparations for our last contra war against them.
Have we? I doubt it. It's time we U.S. citizens asked
our government to submit to international law.


Lee Alley from London, England:

Martin Rowe boiled it down to the nitty-gritty in
his article on Bono, the pope and the debt. All the
intellectual arguments in the world, no matter how
well intentioned, or logically and meticulously
thought out, really don't mean much when a person who
looks too poor to be seen begging in the London Tube
would come to me to give me her portion of the money
she owes of her country's debt. I hope Anthony Minghella
makes his film; I'll watch it!

One point Jeffrey Sachs made last year on a television
interview seems to have been lost in the noise is the
effect on the international financial markets if the
money owed is forgiven as well as the effect on poor,
indebted nations credit worthiness. Sachs quite
bluntly said that regardless of what the bankers say,
they've already factored in that this money will never
be paid back, thus there will be NO effect on financial
markets. Secondly, many of these countries have no
credit-worthiness anyway (max out all YOUR credit cards
then try to get a low-interest loan!) and would have to
pay way over prime to borrow, if in fact anyone other
than the IMF would lend to them. If these unpayable
debts were forgiven, they would have a chance at
funding health and education themselves which
would set the foundations for sustainable growth.


Pamela Buitrago from Corvallis, Oregon:

Regarding your Funny Business section, I must take
exception to #3: "Sex is like air; it's not important
unless you aren't getting any."

As a Christian, I am painfully aware of the deluge
of cultural messages we receive daily from all media
that cheapen and degrade God's true and sacred
purpose for human sexuality. "Not getting any" is yet
another message that depicts sex as a commodity,
something to "take" or "get," something to be
had. So I'm disappointed to see sex cheapened for
the sake of a laugh in a publication like SojoMail.


Emilie Nichols from Denver, Colorado wrote:

While Jim Wallis was in Denver, he spoke about
finger-licking politicians who test the wind.
"Changing the politician won't be enough. What we
have to do is change the wind."

Well, look at Richard Cohen's column "Death Penalty:
Al with His Finger in the Wind," in the Washington

"It is a serious indictment of Bush that as
Texas governor he acted as death's cheerleader,
never questioning a system in which defense lawyers
have nodded off in the courtroom, where death
sentences have been rendered on the basis of one
eyewitness, and where every effort has been made to
accelerate the process.

Like a parent with a truly ugly child, Bush looked
at his system and pronounced it just plain adorable.

But Gore, too, is culpable. Innocent men are
convicted, and Gore has nothing to say about it. His
opponent played piano in the death house and never
noticed any inadequacies -- and still the vice
president is silent.

Gore won't even take a position on a bill designed
only to ensure fairness. He is the very model of the
very modern leader -- self-proclaimed and daring to
take the public where it already wants to go. I
understand. The politics of the issue are simple.
Alas, so is its morality."


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
Summer reading list
New books that have crossed our desk

*Life Ablaze: A Woman¹s Novena, by Joan
Chittister, OSB. A short collection of
nine biographies, lessons, intercessions,
and prayers by women such as Teresa of
Avila, Dorothy Day, and Mary Magdalene
(Sheed and Ward, 2000).

*Divine and Human and other stories by
Leo Tolstoy. New English translations by
Peter Sekirin. Vignettes and stories that
probe the complexities of life and faith
(Zondervan, 2000).

*The Good, the Bad, and Your Business:
Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull
You Apart, by Jeffrey Seglin. A resource
for managers to navigate the gray areas
in business‹which constitute the majority
of business decisions (John Wiley & Sons
Inc., 2000).

*Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings
or Individuals and Groups on the Twelve
Spiritual Disciplines, edited by Richard
Foster and Emilie Griffin. A collection
of classic Christian writings - from Thomas
Merton to Dorothy Sayers to Martin Luther
King Jr. - to be read throughout a year.
Includes excerpts from contributors' work
and guided reflections with questions,
scriptures, and exercises
(HarperSanFrancisco, 2000).

For more summer reading ideas, go
to the June/July issue of Sojourners


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

"Concocting Satiric Counterpoint to Conventions," by
Anne-Marie O'Connor, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2000

"Activist preacher Jim Wallis, the convener of
the national interfaith Call to Renewal movement,
is being heavily courted by both parties. But he
has chosen to be part of the Shadow Conventions
to draw attention to an issue he doesn't think
either party is addressing enough: the gap
between rich and poor in boom-time America."

See the full story at:


"Church group presses politicians to think of
U.S. poor," by Mark I. Pinsky, Orlando Sentinel,
June 27, 2000

"Americans following the national debates over politics,
economics and culture have no trouble picturing the
so-called religious right. Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed,
Jerry Falwell and the current conservative leadership
of the Southern Baptist Convention quickly come to mind.
But what is the face of the alternative? While the Rev.
Jim Wallis does not like the term religious left,
his national work for the poor and against racism makes
him the best candidate for the campaign poster. He has
helped organize a Christian coalition of his own,
including evangelical, mainline Protestant, Roman
Catholic and African-American churches and religious
organizations. 'Poverty is not a left-wing issue,'
he said."

See the full story at:


W e b  S c e n e
Australian youth channel their energy online

The Australian Youth Energy Project serves
to let young people have a say in the future
direction of Australia's energy policies.

Separated by distance yet united by the
desire to have a greater impact on the world,
young people can come together and tell
government their opinions on their country's
energy usage. Through friendships and fibre-optic
cables, this project lets youth can take positive
action to shape the country -- and planet --
to be a better, more environmental place.

This Energy Project is entirely youth run
and organized. There is the opportunity for
young people to become involved further in
the site's online Youth Advisory Board. All
findings will be presented to Australia's
federal government in October 2000.

Go to:



Help SojoNet build a network.


O n  t h e  R o a d

Melbourne, Australia
Monday, July 3, 2000

The Zadok Institute for Christianity and
Society will be hosting an evening discussion
with David Batstone. A 7 p.m. dinner followed
by a 8 p.m. discussion. Address:
12 Echo Avenue, North Balwyn (2 minutes off

RSVP to Jim Barr at 00500 546 227 or


Davis, California
Friday, July 14, 7 pm

Jim Wallis will be speaking at the Alliance
for Democracy's Fourth National Convention
at U.C. Davis.


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