The Common Good


Sojomail - September 22, 2000

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 ++++++++++++++++++++ 22-September-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *Albert Schweitzer: Hope in things unseen

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Washing feet and ending child poverty

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *How do you spell Quayle?

 O l y m p i c   S p e c i a l
    *An Australian writes an open letter to Cathy Freeman

 N e t w o r k  N e w s
    *Am-Bushed on Oprah

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Social justice film classic

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

 B u i l d i n g  a  N e t w o r k
     *Sojourners alum runs for governor

 O n  t h e  R o a d
     *We're coming to a town near you

 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

No ray of sunlight is ever lost,
but the green which it awakens into
existence needs time to sprout, and
it is not always granted to the sower
to see the harvest. All work that is
worth anything is done in faith.

                --Albert Schweitzer



Workplace giving, through the Combined Federal
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H E A R T S  &  M I N D S
Washing Feet and Ending Child Poverty

by Jim Wallis

In a fall election season dominated by political 
power and ambition, a remarkable gathering of church 
leaders this week opened with a meditation on Jesus 
washing his disciples' feet. Wes Granberg-Michaelson, 
leader of the Reformed Church in America and chair of 
the Call to Renewal board, led the Christian Roundtable 
on Poverty into the servant style of Jesus leadership, 
and contrasted that with the ethics of the recent 
television phenomenon "Survivor." Rev. Yvonne Delk, 
vice-chair of Call's board, did a closing reflection 
that had most of us in tears. In a powerful preacher's 
cadence, she enjoined us and the churches not to let 
this nation keep "voting people off the island." 

In an inspiring session between these two spiritual 
bookends, 55 leaders from 50 national churches and 
faith-based organizations testified to their own 
work in overcoming poverty. "I am so encouraged by 
what I've just heard," said Bud Ipema, from Chicago's 
Mid-America Leadership Foundation. We were there to 
offer each other real support and strategize about 
how to magnify our collective voice and put the 
people Jesus called "the least of these" on the 
national agenda for this election and beyond. 

Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action
did a compelling presentation on the facts of poverty 
in the midst of prosperity and called us to biblical 
action. Many ideas came forward. In numerous 
places around the country, church-based groups have 
developed questions to challenge candidates on what 
they will do for the nation's poorest families - many 
of whom are working and still not getting by. Public 
rallies and forums are being held to hold the candidates 
accountable. Call to Renewal has a new "voter check-list" 
on the issue of poverty to evaluate candidates for every
level of office.

But perhaps the most exciting idea was for this 
wide spectrum of churches to ask for new presidential 
leadership on the issue of poverty, from both Democratic 
and Republican candidates, that is measurable with 
concrete goals. In particular, the group will ask 
both Vice President Gore and Gov. Bush to commit to 
lead the nation in cutting child poverty in half in 
five years. The churches will pledge to step forward 
and do our part as the new president calls every sector 
of society to engage in this great task. If past 
presidents could promise to put a "man on the moon," 
we certainly can promise to use this nation's 
unprecedented prosperity for the purpose of getting serious 
about the scandal and tragedy of child poverty. I will be 
writing a letter to both candidates with that challenge 
from the Call to Renewal Roundtable.

One more thing...and very much related. Sojourners 
Neighborhood Center is looking for a new Executive 
Director. We work with children and their parents 
in inner-city Washington, D.C., to bring hope and 
opportunity where there is little of either. 

It's a great program - some of the kids we started with 
years ago are now coming back from college! And it's a great 
opportunity for someone who wants to lead a strong 
faith-based program. You'll find more information on the 
below, so take a look at it and let us know if you are 
interested or would like to see a fuller job description. 

Executive Director

Sojourners Neighborhood Center works with children 
and their families in Washington, D.C., to reduce 
violence and build community through educational 
enrichment, skill building, parent support, and 
leadership development. SNC is committed to the 
faith imperatives of racial reconciliation, 
justice for disenfranchised people, peacemaking, 
and spiritual renewal. 

Qualifications: strong Christian social justice 
commitment; experience directing a small 
nonprofit (or associate/program director 
in a larger organization); experience in urban 
ministry, fund-raising, hiring, training, 
supervision, and program development; strong 
communication skills; bachelor's or master's 
in related field; and ability to work flexible 
hours, including some weekends and evenings.

Full-time, available immediately. Salary is 
commensurate with experience; attractive 
benefits. Send resume, cover letter, salary 
requirements, and three professional 
references (including one supervisor) to:

Sojourners Neighborhood Center
Executive Director Search
2401 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

For more information, go to:


Jim Wallis' book, Faith Works, is available at your
favorite online or local bookstore, including the
Sojourners Resource Center at 1-800-714-7474 or

Here's what Anthony Kenny of the National Post (Canada)
has to say about Faith Works:

"[Wallis] is a preacher, and his book is really a
series of sermons. They are very good sermons, whose
appeal will be all the wider because they have little
or no dogmatic content."


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Is that a Quayle hiding under that Bush?

Recent quotes from the GOP presidential candidate.

"The best way to relieve families from time is to
let them keep some of their own money."
--Westminster, Calif., Sept. 13, 2000

"They have miscalculated me as a leader."--Ibid.
"I don't think we need to be subliminable about the
differences between our views on prescription drugs."
--Orlando, Fla., Sept. 12, 2000

"This is what I'm good at. I like meeting people,
my fellow citizens, I like interfacing with them."
--outside Pittsburgh, Pa., Sept. 8, 2000

"That's Washington. That's the place where you
find people getting ready to jump out of the
foxholes before the first shot is fired."
--Westland, Mich., Sept. 8, 2000

"Listen, Al Gore is a very tough opponent. He is
the incumbent. He represents the incumbency. And a
challenger is somebody who generally comes
from the pack and wins, if you're going to win.
And that's where I'm coming from." --Detroit, Mich., 
Sept. 7, 2000
"We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the
great country called America will be the pacemakers."
--Houston, Texas, Sept. 6, 2000

"We don't believe in planners and deciders making
the decisions on behalf of Americans." --Scranton, Pa., 
Sept. 6, 2000

Next week: How Al Gore invented the space ship...

O l y m p i c   S p e c i a l
Open letter to Cathy Freeman

by Paul Mitchell

I don't get into the centre of Melbourne
as often as I used to, so I've just seen the
billboard of you above the Nike shop (and a
friend tells me there's one of you in Sydney
as well). 

Gee, Cathy, it's big.

As I looked at it I thought, that's as big
as one of those statues they used to put up
in ancient Greece to show what one of the gods
looked like....

But, Cathy, I'm not writing to comment on the
picture of you....Well, hang on a minute, I am
in one way. You see, I'm concerned for you,
Cathy, because of all the attention you're

Yes, I know concern is a limp sort of emotion.
But it's the best I can do from this distance.
I mean, there you are, way up in the sky. I'm
down here in "warming-up for the Olympics land."
There's a gap as long as your past four years
of training between you and me....

I know you have to take the sponsorship.
You have to get in the running, make a living
while you can. And a 400 meters Olympic final
in'll never get exposure like
that again, will you?

And that's the point, Cathy. That final is
going to be over in, hopefully, record time.
But you might not run the record. And, as much
as I and most Australians would like you to win,
let's face it, you may NOT....

After that race, your face will once again
be seen most often by those close to you. And
the mirror our media has become for your image
will shrink back down until it is the same size
as everyone else's: bathroom size.

I just hope those putting your face up
everywhere have prepared you for that day. But
I think they're probably running other races.[]

To read Paul Mitchell's open letter to Cathy
Freeman in its entirety, go to:


N E T W O R K  N E W S 
Am-Bushed on Oprah

by Danny Muller

Andrew Mandell and I had tickets for the Oprah show today, an
event that would not normally be on our list of events to 
attend. But George W. Bush was being interviewed in the 
aftermath of his call for increased militarism and a vow that 
he would "get tougher on Iraq." As we stood in line to enter, 
members of the Voices in the Wilderness affinity group 
offered each audience member a rose affixed to a postcard, 
urging that the flower be worn to commemorate children who 
have died due to economic sanctions on Iraq. The cards also 
suggested questions to raise with Mr. Bush. We felt gratified
that so many people took the rose, read the card, thought for 
a minute and then pinned the rose on their clothing as they 
waited to enter the studio.

But other forces were also in motion. As we stood to pass 
through the metal detector, a bewildered voice, in an almost 
apologetic tone, announced that everyone must remove their 
flowers "for some reason, don't ask me." An image I will not 
forget for a long time was people lining up to hand over 
their roses as they approached the metal detector. In a 
society where free speech and free expression are so prized,
the regular infringement on the right to free speech is 
almost as surprising as the complacency of those who are 
prevented from speaking.

Three hundred Oprah fans and a couple of non-complacents sat 
down to watch Oprah interview Bush on a variety of topics. 
None of these topics addressed the roots of problems 
affecting most of the world's population, like hunger or 

About halfway through the show, I stood up and asked, "Mr. 
Bush, would you continue the Democrats' policy of bombing and
sanctions that kill 5,000 children a month in Iraq?" Cutting 
to commercial on cue, Bush was spared having to answer. But 
he was not spared the question.

Andrew stood and asked about what Iraqi children burdened 
by sanctions can expect, a reference to Bush's earlier 
remarks about great expectations for those who support 
his campaign. Mr. Bush stared directly at Andrew while 
Ms. Winfrey rebuked me, saying "You can't do this." I 
explained to Ms. Winfrey that I felt compelled to speak, 
that after traveling to Iraq and witnessing children 
die for lack of medicine, I needed to act. The room was 
silent. Ms. Winfrey gave me a momentary look of concern 
before I was escorted out.

To see people who create nonviolent change by creating beauty 
and asking questions that are not asked is a lesson in 
nonviolence. After our action, though, what lingers
is sorrow and overwhelming sadness that good people, 
like the audience members today, can remain complacent in the 
face of tremendous evil.[]

Danny Muller is a member of Voices in the Wilderness, a 
campaign to end the economic sanctions against Iraq

Andrew Mandell is a member of Ballydowse, a celtic punk band
with a social conscience and a member of Chicago's Jesus 
People USA community.


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Review of film classic: El Norte

by David Shield

El Norte, the 1983 movie about two Guatemalan siblings
fleeing the military by illegally immigrating to
the United States, is a beautiful, sad portrait of
an all-too common situation. Rosa and Enrique
Xuncax (Zaide Silvia Gutierrez and David Villalpando)
are forced to leave their small Mayan village after
their land-reforming father is caught and killed by
the military police. After the military comes and
their mother "disappears," as well as many others
in the village, they are forced to flee the country.

After dealing with the perils of Tijuana, the INS,
finding a reliable coyote (a person who smuggles
illegal immigrants across the border) and a rat-
infested, abandoned sewer tunnel (not a scene for
the squeamish), Rosa and Enrique finally make it
to the United States. Eventually the two learn
English, Rosa becomes a maid for a wealthy family,
and Enrique becomes a busboy at a fancy restaurant.

Were this a typical Hollywood movie, the story
would end here, with the land of opportunity shining
its face down on the plucky pair. However, important
issues are tackled in the film. In her first job at
a factory sweatshop, Rosa sees some white models
posing for a photo shoot, and taking the advice of
her surrogate mother (an older woman who also works
in the sweatshop), decides to "stop looking
like an Indian." She pulls her long braid back
into loops, buys new clothes, and puts on a lot
of makeup.  It's sad to see such beauty
crushed into western ideas of beauty.

Another scene shows Rosa's sweatshop broken up by
the INS, where agents rush at the screaming women,
vaulting over tables, and arresting everyone they
can catch. That leaves a cursing landlord
wondering what he's going to do with all
of the children left behind by their mothers. He 
eventually sends them to orphanages. Scenes like 
this give us a taste of the instability and danger 
illegal immigrants face.

And that's the strength of El Norte. The director
and actors help us relate to Enrique and Rosa
as human beings, having the same emotions and
difficulties that everyone else does. In this way,
the film makes the foreigners less foreign to
the viewer. It's a good movie, though it was 
made in the early '80s and may be difficult to 
find in video stores.


Gandhi's Seven Deadly Social Sins:

Politics without Principle
Wealth without Work
Commerce without Morality
Pleasure without Conscience
Education without Character
Science without Humanity
Worship without Sacrifice

Sojourners Resource Center carries t-shirts, sweatshirts,
and posters with Gandhi's provocative message.

To order this conversation starter, go to:


B o o m e r a n g

Carol Parente from Santa Monica, California:

In response to David Weinschrott's POV To
Jim Wallis' "Blaming Up and Looking Down"

May I suggest that a further reason for lack of
mobility, and for persons in higher quintiles
moving down, is the fact that for many people,
even people in the higher income brackets, one
serious illness that causes a loss of job, and
thus a loss of health insurance, begins the
downward spiral or assures that the upward one
never gets started! The Bill Moyers PBS series
on dying in America pointed to this problem again
and again. When are we going to see that economic
justice also must include access to adequate
health care for all of our people!


Keith Thompson from Petaluma, California, wrote:

I am disappointed by Jim Wallis' resort to
puerile name-calling ("secular fundamentalists")
in his recent commentary about the critical
response to Senator Lieberman's public
protestations of piety. Mr. Wallis does a
disservice by questioning the motives of
persons who raise responsible concerns about,
for instance, Lieberman's conflation of morality
and religion (the former is alleged not to be
possible without the latter). The ADL does not
object, nor do I, to a candidate's discussion of
the role of faith in his or her public life. I
do object to the tenor of Mr. Wallis's argument:
Those who declare their faith in the public
square are to be given a de facto exemption
from having to take seriously concerns about
the role of religious faith in civil governance.
Whether or not he intends to, by taking such a
position Mr. Wallis aligns himself with the
preposterous assertion of Pat Robertson and
Jerry Falwell that to criticize theocratic
encroachment amounts to "bias against persons
of faith."

I respect Joe Lieberman's faith and his right
to talk about it openly and with passion. I hope
the senator will in turn be enough of a mensch not
to go whining if I refuse his dubious premise that
"faith in God" is a necessary requirement for
American citizenship - or the implied assumption
that conventional ("exoteric") religion is a
sufficient or even necessary requisite for genuine
spirituality. Perhaps Mr. Wallis will agree the
time has come for a dialogue about the growing
breach that separates spirituality no less from
religion than from secular culture.

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B u i l d i n g  a  N e t w o r k
West Virginia's Mountain (Party Mama)

by David Case

[Ed. note: Denise Giardina was a member
of Sojourners Community in the late '70s
and early '80s. She's now running for
governor of West Virginia.]

West Virginia often seems like America's
very own slice of Third World. A powerful
clique of good-ole-boys rape the earth for
natural resource wealth while the masses
contend with shabby schools and inadequate
public services. Far-flung economic interests
own much of the valuable land. Public servants
work for peanuts while powerful corporations
lavish pliant politicians with campaign
contributions. Crony capitalists - most
notoriously from the coal industry - rotate
in and out of public office.

But there's one important difference between
the state and a real banana republic: West
Virginia is a democracy. That's a fact that
Denise Giardina plans to take advantage of.

Fed up, she is launching a grassroots effort to
topple the entrenched oligarchy and break the
state out of a downward spiral it has been riding
since she was a girl. No, she's not the leader
of a local militia marching through the Appalachia
plotting a bloody coup against King Coal. Close,

She has launched her own political party, called
the Mountain Party, and is running for governor.

A university lecturer, lay preacher, and acclaimed
author, Giardina has no experience in elected
office, but her background gives her ample insight.
She was born in West Virginia and brought up in a
coal camp. Two of her four books are tales of the
state and its coal heritage; perhaps her most famous
is 1992's account of failing coal mines and
weakened miners' unions, "The Unquiet Earth." []

To read more about the refreshing life and political
campaign of Denise Giardina, go to:


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O n   t h e   R o a d
Sojourners road trips

September 22, 2000
Cleveland Ohio

Jim Wallis and the Call to Renewal
celebrate "faith-working"

For more info, contact: Call to Renewal
at (202)328-8745 or


September 26, 2000

David Batstone
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Social Entrepreneurialism: Can It Create Justice?"

For more info, contact:


September 29, 2000
David Batstone
Westmont College
Santa Barbara, California
"...And His Disciples Are Turning the World Upside Down"

For more info, contact:
Steven Schultz



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W e b  S c e n e
Cool siting of the week: a Web tool

Tired of going from site to site for all your
favorite tools and news feeds?'s
free, Java-powered Web site lets you drag any
online gizmos or data from any site and keep
it all in your own personalized Web page.

So, for example, you can keep up with the
latest breaking news from, view
movie listings from, telephone
numbers from, headlines from The
New York Times, and storm updates from - all on one page.

The site also lets you check e-mail, download
MP3s, book flights, and search for jobs. And it's
free to us, the consumer, without being bludgeoned
with advertisements. tries to
make money by funneling traffic to other sites and
by licensing out its technology, not by posting

Go to:


.................... E D I T O R I A L ......................

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