The Common Good


Sojomail - October 6, 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

 ++++++++++++++++++++ 6-October-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *Serbian opposition leader: Do we dare use the "R" word?

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *First presidential debate - the missing question

P o i n t  o f  V i e w 
    *An on-the-ground report from the occupied territories

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *Revealed: Why you're feeling overworked

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Coach challenges Nike...and loses his job

 S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e
    *Stress-free Christmas holidays

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

 T e c h   E t h i x
    *China puts iron fist to Net

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Survivor! World Vision chooses many winners

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Dump AOL and get Solar!

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


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

I don't like to use the word "revolution,"
but what is happening now is a revolution -
a peaceful, nonviolent, wise, civilized,
quiet, and smart democratic revolution.
People are ready to start building a new

              -- Vojislav Kostunica
              Serbian opposition leader


             SojoNet - Your News Alternative

                 - news that matters -
                   - action alerts -
     - the latest commentaries from Sojourners staff -
         - links to recommended news sources -

H E A R T S  &  M I N D S
Presidential Debate - The Missing Question

by Jim Wallis

In this week's first presidential debate, there
was much talk about massive surpluses, middle-
class tax cuts, tax cuts for the wealthy,
protecting Social Security, and prescription drugs
for the elderly. But in 90 minutes of spirited
discussion, neither candidate uttered the word
"poverty," or offered a plan to do something
about it.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported its
annual poverty statistics. There was some good
news - the total number of people in poverty
dropped from 34.2 to 32.3 million people (12.7 
percent to 11.8 percent). And the number of 
children in poverty dropped from 13.5 to 12.1 
million (18.9 percent to 16.9 percent). The rate 
declined for every racial and ethnic group, 
including the lowest ever for African Americans. 
Clearly, that's all a step in the right

But there's more to the story. The poverty rate
for African Americans continues to be three times
higher than the rate for "non-Hispanic whites" 
(23.6 percent to 7.7 percent). Race remains 
intimately connected to poverty in America. 
Female-headed households are the majority
of poor families (53 percent), and fully half of children
under the age of six in fatherless homes live in
poverty (this compared to only 9 percent poverty 
in married-couple households). Family life and 
structure remain a major factor in both causing 
and preventing poverty, and children living in 
healthy two-parent families is still one of our 
best anti-poverty programs.

The report also shows that inequality remains
virtually unchanged. Last year, the top 20 percent 
of households received almost half of all income
(49.4 percent), while the bottom 20 percent 
received 3.6 percent. Every economic indicator 
shows that the rich are, in fact, getting richer. 
During the 1990s, CEO pay jumped 535 percent while
average worker pay increased only 32 percent. If the
minimum wage had risen as fast as CEO pay, it would
now be $24.13 per hour instead of $5.15!

Why is the topic ignored in a presidential debate -
how do we keep justifying such persistent poverty
in the midst of prosperity? As I noted several weeks
ago, the Call to Renewal Christian Roundtable on
Poverty meeting lifted up poverty as a moral focus
for this election. We've sent a letter to both
Gov. Bush and Vice President Gore, challenging
them to set a moral goal of overcoming child poverty
and then mobilizing the nation behind it. We noted,
"Dramatically reducing child poverty will take 
creative and comprehensive public policies, along 
with a profound national resolve and political
will, rather than a laundry list of incremental

We'll be releasing this letter to the media, and
sending a copy to Jim Lehrer with a request that
he address it in the next debate.


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 William C. Graham of the National
Catholic Reporter has to say about Faith Works:

"A beacon for those who believe, as [Wallis]
does, that we are on the verge of a new movement
for economic justice, led in large part by
communities of faith."



(Your chance to vote early and often. Or at least early.)


The Explosion
An on-the-ground report from the occupied territories
By Adam Keller and Beate Zilversmidt

How did we come to be in this miserable situation - two 
months after the high hopes of Camp David, less than a 
week after Barak and Arafat met for what was described 
as a "highly cordial meeting" in the living room of the 
Israeli PM's private home? Obviously, the fuse was lit by 
the notorious Ariel Sharon, leader of the opposition Likud 
Party, in a calculated provocation - designed, at least in 
part, to bolster his position in the right wing against the 
intended comeback of former prime minister Netanyahu.  

But it is far too easy to put the entire blame on Sharon - 
as the Americans and some Israelis do. The conflagration 
would not have started if not for the decision of Prime 
Minister Barak to let Sharon trample into this sensitive 
spot, exactly at the moment when a web of delicate 
international diplomatic formulas was being woven to find 
a mutually-acceptable arrangement for the holy place's 
future. In fact Barak and his second-in-command, Prof. 
Shlomo Ben-Ami, the prominent "dove" who holds a unique 
combination of the foreign affairs and police portfolios,
did more than let Sharon into the Mount. They provided 
the Likud leader with an escort of more than 1,000 police 
and semi-military "Border Guards," effectively reconquering 
Temple Mount (actually, it was a far bigger Israeli force 
than that which originally conquered the place in 1967). 

Such conflagrations do not result from a single provocation,
gross and insulting as it may be. There had been quite a lot 
of fuel building up, mounting anger and frustration among the 
Palestinians. The normal routine of occupation, which rarely 
gets into the media: another row of olive trees uprooted by 
order of the Israeli miltary governor; another settlement 
extending itself over a parcel of land that a Palestinian 
family had cultivated for generations; another rough search 
by Israeli soldiers at a roadblock; another late-night raid 
on a Palestinian home by Israeli "special units" - all made 
the more unendurable when peace negotiations are supposed to 
be going on with the declared aim of putting a definite end 
to the conflict, and when Barak has managed to convince much 
of international opinion that "Palestinian intransigence" is 
to blame.[]

read the full story at:

Adam Keller and Beate Zilversmidt are members of Christian 
Peacemaker Teams, an initiative among Mennonite and Church 
of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that 
supports violence reduction efforts around the world. Visit 

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

For a couple years I've been blaming it on lack
of sleep and too much pressure from my job, but
now I found out the real reason:
I'm tired because I'm overworked.

The population of this country is 237 million.
104 million are retired. That leaves 133 million
to do the work. There are 85 million in school,
which leaves 48 million to do the work. Of this
there are 29 million employed by the federal
government, leaving 19 million to do the work.

2.8 million are in the Armed Forces, which leaves
16.2 million to do the work.

Take from the total the 14,800,000 people who
work for state and city governments and that
leaves 1.4 million to do the work.
At any given time there are 188,000 people in
hospitals, leaving 1,212,000 to do the work.

Now, there are 1,211,998 people in prisons.
That leaves just two people to do the work.
You and me.

And you're sitting at your computer reading jokes.



Where else do you get fresh perspectives weekly
from a global network of concerned people?

AND IT'S FREE!! Let your friends in on the deal.

All they have to do is write us:

Or subscribe online at:


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
One Man's Crusade Against Nike
Standing Up to the Swoosh
by Andrew Hsiao

For [St. John's soccer head coach Jim] Keady,
the trouble began with a research paper. Three years
ago he was studying for a master's degree in theology
at St. John's, and working with the goalkeepers there.
It was a plum post for the then 26-year-old Keady,
who, after a lifetime of playing soccer, had risen
to backup goalie for the North Jersey Imperials, a
minor-league professional squad. A job with the
defending national champion Red Storm, even as a
part-time graduate assistant in the soccer
department, held out the possibility of a coaching

Then, in a class on Catholic social teaching, Keady's
professor suggested that the young jock explore the
connection between moral theology and sports, and
Keady settled on the issue of Nike's labor practices.
"I didn't know that this would lead to any sort of
activism," he says. "I was just looking for a good
paper topic." But Keady was appalled by what he 
learned about Nike's now notorious history of child 
labor (in 1996, eight-year-olds were found making 
Nike soccer balls in Pakistan), wretched working 
conditions (in 1997, overworked Vietnamese women 
were found to have been exposed to toxic chemicals 
at 177 times legal levels), and miserable pay 
(for years, Nike contractors even fought for 
exemptions from Indonesia's paltry minimum wages). 
He poured himself into his research - and 
eventually earned an A in the class.

It so happened that St. John's was then negotiating
with Nike over a multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal,
and for Keady what had been an intellectual issue
suddenly became all too practical. "As a coach, I
would've had to wear the equipment - shoes, socks,
T-shirts, sweats, everything." Keady decided he
couldn't. He started contacting university officials,
writing for the campus press, and talking up the issue
with the soccer team.

When Keady made his stance public, he kicked off
what his theology professor, Rev. Paul Surlis, 
calls "the most vigorously argued debate I
have seen in all the 25 years I have been at St.
John's." And in certain quarters, namely the
administration and athletic department, that
controversy was not happily received. Weeks of
pressure ensued, Keady says, culminating in an
ultimatum. "I was told I would have to wear
Nike clothes and drop the issue or resign."

The order stunned him. "I couldn't believe I was
being forced to make that decision. But I felt
like I didn't want to be a billboard for a company
that was reaping profits on the backs of the poor.
I knew what had to be done." In June of 1998, he quit.[]

To read the entire drama of Keady's challenge to
Nike on a college campus, and St. John's defense, go to:

S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e
Life Too Stressed? 
Christmas Losing Its Meaning?
Want to Simplify Your Christman Celebration?

Here's Help: "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"

Preparing for Christmas can be a time of stress -
scurrying, shopping, fretting. Try some peace this
season with the year 2000 edition of "Whose Birthday
Is It, Anyway?" from Alternatives for Simple Living.

Designed for individuals, families, and small
groups, this booklet includes Biblical reflections
by Miriam Therese Winter of the Medical Mission
Sisters, articles, worshipful ceremonies, activities,
an Advent calendar, and suggestions for remembering
those in need. 

"Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" is available in
quantity pricing as low as 60 cents per copy. For more than
25 years, Alternatives has provided people with
ideas to celebrate responsibly. For a current free
catalog of resources for responsible living and
celebrating, call 800-821-6153 anytime, fax
712-274-1402, e-mail,
or visit



Wear this slogan during the election season.
T-shirts and sweatshirts are available through
Sojourners Resource Center. Shirt comes in
either black or heather gray.

Back reads "Sojourners: Faith, Politics, and Culture"

To order this shirt or see our other original designs


B o o m e r a n g

Lee Alley of London, England, wrote:

Last week you asked in SojoMail, "Is your dog wired?"

Well, not since I moved the espresso machine. She
(German Shepherd) knocked over and licked up one
of my double cappuccino concoctions, and spent
most of the rest of the day chasing a housefly
around the house at high speed. We didn't know
about the animal blessings site but we probably
would've searched it for exorcism content; at
least until we found the spilled cup in the


Richard Griffiths, senior chaplain of the
Westminister Institute of Education in
Oxford, England, wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with Arthur Waskow's
doubt that the gasoline blockades in Europe
amounted to a "people's uprising." In the UK
there were no more than 2,000 blockaders,
while the main trade unions were all opposed
to the blockade. Today the news is that even
the Automobile Association believes that
increased fuel taxes will eventually have
a positive effect on traffic congestion.

The important thing about the fuel blockade
was that it showed us how close we are sailing
to the edge of civilisation as we know it. If
the blockade had lasted two weeks, the whole
of the country would have shut down completely.
As it was, there were panic rushes on milk
and bread, leaving supermarket shelves empty.
Hospitals were on the verge of following
schools into closure. The vital lesson is
that we now need as a matter of urgency to
move away from a fossil fuel, centralised
energy economy, into a fully renewable,
localised, distributed network, where
power, and therefore sustainability, is in
the hands of local communities.

The future of the oil economy is fuel
poverty for millions. It doesn't have to
be that way.


Dorothy Crocker of Ontario, Canada, wrote:

[Was that really Albert Camus in last week's
"Quote of the Week"?]

This quote has been floating around Adult
Ed literature since Adult Ed became popular
in the '50s (earlier?) and has been attributed to
umpteen writers of a philosophical turn of mind,
including ancient Chinese ones. Never anyone
with a prosaic John Smith name.


Colette MacNeil of Detroit, Michigan, wrote:

Doesn't sound like Camus to me either: too mushy.
I'd bet on Kahill Gibran.


Emily McPherson of Melbourne, Australia, wrote:

Last week in SojoMail, Mary Friesen wrote:
"Protecting children from the horrors of war
is certainly one agenda where churches and
politicians should be able to combine their

Perhaps the International Youth Parliament being
held in Sydney after the Olympics is a way this
is happening. Two young people have been selected
from 186 different countries, and will represent
their countries at the parliament, along with
government and church representatives from around
the world. Two of the topics: Breaking the Cycle
of Poverty, and Youth in War Zones.

During the parliament, there will be an online
"parliament" too, for those of us not lucky
enough to be in Sydney for the event. Go to:

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


            We're Having a Birthday...

     and you're invited to help us celebrate.


Sojourners is celebrating its 30th anniversary next year, 
and we're going to mark the occasion with a gathering of
friends far and wide...

               July 26 - 29, 2001
                 Wheaton College
              (just outside Chicago)

Make plans to join us next summer. (Details to come.)


T e c h   E t h i x
China's Iron-Fisted Net Regs

China published sweeping new regulations on
Internet companies last Monday that limit foreign
investment, require strict surveillance against
"subversive" content, and threaten to close down
any unlicensed firms.

The rules, passed by China's cabinet two weeks
ago and published in the official Xinhua Daily
Telegraph on Monday, are sure to send shockwaves
through the country's fledgling Internet industry,
which is heavily dependent on foreign capital.

By holding companies responsible for blocking
vast categories of illegal content on their
websites and chatrooms, the rules also illustrate
Beijing's determination to contain the spread of
ideas deemed dangerous to Communist Party rule.

The regulations ban any content that is
"subversive," that supports cults, that "harms
the reputation" of China or that hurts
reunification efforts with Taiwan, to name
just some. 

Internet content and service providers must
keep records of all the content that appears on
their websites and all the users who dial
onto their servers for 60 days, and hand the
records to police on demand, the rules state....

In an agreement with the United States last
year paving the way to China's membership in the
World Trade Organization, Beijing agreed to allow 49
percent foreign stakes in Internet companies upon
WTO accession, rising to 50 percent in the second
year after accession.

For the entire article on China's online censorship,
go to:,1294,39192,00.html



Workplace giving, through the Combined Federal
Campaign or United Way, is an excellent way to
support the work of Sojourners. Please designate
SOJOURNERS #2227 in the Combined Federal Campaign
and National Capital Area (Washington, D.C.) United Way.

Your gift to Sojourners will ensure that we continue
our work fighting poverty, responding to human needs,
and building communities of faith. Please give.


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Will the REAL survivors please step forward?

Most of the world's population faces hunger,
conflict, and extreme weather on a regular
basis, but without the million-dollar reward
at the end. Forget the faux-survival hype on
artificial island paradise, and learn about
the world's REAL survivors through the work of
Call to Renewal National Partner World Vision,
an international Christian relief organization
celebrating its 50th year.

Their mission is specifically focused on
ministering to those who face life and death
decisions every day. Here is how World Vision
expresses its mission:

"To serve the neediest people of the earth;
to relieve their suffering and promote the
transformation of their condition of life.
We stand in solidarity in a common search for
justice. We seek to understand the situation
of the poor and work alongside them toward
fullness of life...Together we share
a quest for justice, peace, reconciliation and
healing in a broken world."

Forget TV: spend your precious time and money
with people you can actually respect and admire -
those who work with the world's real survivors.

For more info about World Vision International, 
go to:

Or visit the Call to Renewal site to read about - 
and join - countless others in fighting poverty:


W e b  S c e n e
Cool siting of the week: SolarHost

SolarHost is an Internet company powered
only by the sun. 

Since March, the start-up has offered
high-end Web site hosting, design,
maintenance, and programming at competitive
prices - all while operating entirely off
the grid. SolarHost's high-density solar
panels convert sunlight to electricity
for its computer servers and facility.
A battery bank stores excess power to keep
things running during the night, on rainy
days, and in times of technical difficulty.

SolarHost specializes in providing Web hosting,
internet applications, and software development
to pro-environmental businesses, clubs,
organizations, and nonprofits - and anyone
just looking for great customer service!

Go to:



 The Utne Reader recently listed Sojourners as
 one of the most-cited magazines in its history.

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

 Go now to:


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

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

Denver, Colorado
October 6-7, 2000

San Francisco, California
October 11, 2000

Sheboygan, Wisconsin
October 14, 2000  
Chicago, Illinois
October 17, 2000   

St. Davids, Pennsylvania
October 18, 2000   

Orlando, Florida 
October 22, 2000  

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


Orlando, Florida
October 21-22, 2000

Carter Echols, national organizer for the
Call to Renewal, will deliver the keynote
address at St. Luke's United Methodist Church 
Jubilee Celebration.

For more info, contact
St. Luke's at (407) 876-4991


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

  David Batstone                               T 415.422.6660
  Executive Editor                         

  Jim Rice                                     T 202.328.8842
  Managing Editor              

  Molly Marsh				                   T 202.328.8842
  Assistant Editor			      

  Ryan Beiler                                  T 202.328.8842
  Web Editor                                 

.................. A D V E R T I S I N G ....................
  Larry Bellinger                              T 202.328.8842
  Advertising Manager                     

.................... T E C H N I C A L ......................

  Bob Sabath                                   T 202.328.8842
  Chief Technologist                

  Susannah Hunter                              T 202.328.8842
  Internet Assistant                         

...................... S 0 J O N E T ........................

  The Sojourners Network                       T 202.328.8842
  2401 15th Street NW                          F 202.328.8757
  Washington, DC 20009          

  For more information, e-mail us:

................. L E G A L   N O T I C E S .................

  Copyright (c) 2000 The Sojourners Network, Inc. All Rights

  SojoNet material may be freely distributed, as long as it
  bears the following attribution:

  Source: SojoNet 2000 (c)

..................... A R C H I V E S .......................

              For a history of SojoMail, visit

................ S U B S C R I P T I O N S ..................

     SojoMail is published weekly. Subscriptions are free.

                     SUBSCRIBE online at:
               or by e-mail:

                    UNSUBSCRIBE online at:
              or by e-mail:

            ---- SOJONET IS A SPAM-FREE ZONE ----
  (SojoNet won't trade, sell, or give away your address.)