The Common Good


Sojomail - October 20, 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

 ++++++++++++++++++++ 20-October-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *Ayya Khema: Never stop learning

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *The speeding train

 S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s
     *Prayer of Mother Teresa

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Job opening: Only qualified parents need apply...

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Moby: The Christian punk who conquered pop

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

 F a i t h   i n   P u b l i c   L i f e
     *National survey on morality in politics

 P. O. V.
     *A strategic and moral vote

 O n   t h e   W i r e
     *SojoNet in the news

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Another international church body joins Call to Renewal

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Don't go to church, go to vurch

 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

Only if in teaching you experience yourself
as still learning do you have what people call
authority. Only if that is the case do you
touch people's hearts."

              --Ayya Khema, author of
                "I Give You My Life: The
                 Autobiography of a Western
                 Buddhist Nun"


H E A R T S  &  M I N D S
The Speeding Train

by Jim Wallis

On the day that all the newspapers carried stories on the 
third presidential debate, another front page story 
appeared in The New York Times that was much more 

Here's the debate report: Gore gets more aggressive, 
Bush stays a regular guy, VP wins on a decision, race 
remains too close to call, and more people wonder if 
these guys really are the best America can produce. 

Now to the more important story. With the headline 
"Congressional Leadership Agrees to Debt Relief for 
Poor Nations," the Times reported an agreement to 
fund $435 million for the U.S. part of the Cologne 
initiative. The amount will now be included in the 
final appropriations bills moving through Congress.

Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-AL), ranking member of the House 
committee that controls the foreign aid budget, was 
quoted in the story: "The debt relief issue is now a 
speeding train. We've got the pope and every missionary 
in the world involved in this thing, and they persuaded 
just about everyone here that this is the noble thing 
to do."

How did debt relief come to be such a "speeding train"?

The Times reporter noted this "is a sign that street 
protests and parish activism about the problems of 
globalization have had an impact on Congress...." 
And President Clinton proclaimed, "It's not often we 
have a chance to do something that economists tell us 
is a financial imperative and religious leaders say 
is a moral imperative."

Several weeks ago, the diversity of the debt relief 
coalition was on display at a White House meeting as 
televangelist Pat Robertson and U2 lead singer Bono 
appeared at a press briefing with the president to 
urge passage of the appropriation.  

Following a meeting with Bono, even arch-conservative 
Sen. Jesse Helms has gotten on board the train. In a 
recent Times interview, Bono said: "When I met with 
Sen. Jesse Helms, he wept. I talked to him about 
the biblical origin of the idea of Jubilee Year, the 
idea that every 49 years, you were supposed to release 
people from their debt and slaves were supposed to be 
set free. It's very punk rock for God, but I think it's 
in Leviticus. He was genuinely moved by the story of 
the continent of Africa, and he said to me, 'America 
needs to do more.'  I think he felt it as a burden on 
a spiritual level."

So, here's to Jubilee 2000, and, as the New York Times 
story concluded, "a victory for a coalition of rock 
stars, religious figures, and charity groups that have 
made debt forgiveness a moral touchstone for wealthy 

It's yet another example of how a movement of concerned 
and active people, grounded in moral and religious beliefs, 
can change the wind to accomplish what only a few short 
years ago seemed impossible.


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 David Anderson of the Free Lance Star in
Fredericksburg, Virginia, has to say about Faith Works:

"Wallis successfully brings together the lessons of
his 30 years of activism, preaching, service, and
publishing....This is an absolute must-read."


S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s

A poem Mother Teresa hung in the Calcutta orphanage:
People are unreasonable, illogical, self-centered
.... love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives
.... do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies
.... be successful anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow
.... do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable
.... be honest and frank anyway.
People love underdogs but follow only top dogs
.... follow some underdog anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight
.... build anyway. 
People really need help but may attack you if you try to help
.... help people anyway.
If you give the world the best you have, you may get kicked in the teeth
.... but give the world the best you have
.... Anyway. 


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Wanted: Moms and Dads

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long-term team players needed
for challenging, permanent work in an often chaotic
environment. Candidates must possess excellent
communication and organizational skills and be
willing to work variable hours, which will include
evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on
call. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive
courier duties also required.

Must be willing to be hated at least temporarily,
until someone needs $5 to go skating. Must be
willing to face stimulating technical challenges,
such as small gadget repair, mysteriously
sluggish toilets, and stuck zippers. Must screen
phone calls, maintain calendars, and coordinate
production of multiple homework projects.
Must handle assembly and product safety testing of
a half million cheap plastic toys and battery-
operated devices.


PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None. On-the-job training
offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them, offering
frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment
is due to them when they turn 18 because of the
assumption that college will help them become
financially independent. When you die, you give
them whatever is left. The oddest thing about
this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually
enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance,
no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid
holidays, and no stock options are offered, this
job supplies limitless opportunities for personal
growth and free hugs for life if you play your
cards right.

*************************NOW ONLINE*****************************
              Sojourners Magazine Nov-Dec 2000

Should Joe Lieberman (and the rest) keep his faith to himself?
           The real question is not whether religious
           values should help shape politics, but how.
                     - Paradise Paved -
             Good news about changing Christian
              attitudes toward the environment
                  - New Eden, Same Snake? -
          What theologians, ethicists, and churches
          are saying about the human genome project
                - Love Stronger Than Steel -
              A summer camp that brings children
              together with their dads -- in prison

                      - Core Values -
           At Broetje Orchards, the most precious
             commodity isn't apples, it's people


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Moby: The Christian Punk Who Conquered Pop

by Andrew Smith

I find myself wondering how Moby defines
Christianity these days. He has a problem
with that title, he explains, because he
thinks it implies self-righteousness. He
became a lover of Christ ("in the platonic
sense," he giggles) when he came across
the gospel according to Matthew at school,
which "just struck me as right." Soon,
church and Bible studies became a refuge
from the alienation he felt elsewhere,
fitting neatly into the strictured universe
he was trying to create for himself. In
his newly chilled mode, he aspires to the
teachings of Christ, he says, adding as a
casual rejoinder, "at least some of them,
because, unfortunately, I have to be a bit

For Smith's complete article on Moby, go to:,6903,382671,00.html

For more on Moby, go to:

The Ultimate Moby Page:


B o o m e r a n g

SojoMail reader Sister Mary Jude Jun, OSU, wrote:

I was so happy to read someone address the fact
that the words "poverty" or the "poor" were not
mentioned once in the presidential debates. "Middle
class" over and over, but not the "poor." It's a sad
commentary on our national priorities.


Andrew Schleicher of Evanston, Illinois, wrote:

Yes, Jim Wallis, you do live in the wrong neighborhood
for polls. The pollsters and the two candidates you
keep writing about don't care what people who live in
lower-class, inner-city neighborhoods think. And,
without being presented any alternatives, why should
they even vote? So let's all stop talking about the two
worst candidates on the ballot, and instead look for
a candidate and a party that truly cares about the
poor and the oppressed in the United States and the

I'll be voting Green this year, because I believe it
is time to end the cycle of oppression. "Round 2"
continues to show that the two worst candidates are
practically alike. I want a new system and new
leaders that will come to our nation's cities not
just for photo ops at area senior centers or schools. I
want leaders who will walk the streets with those
who have been laid off their jobs in favor of sweatshop
labor elsewhere, or those who've been kicked off
welfare because they couldn't get the training for
the new jobs being created.

It's time for a change, but neither of the two worst
candidates will give us the needed change.


Phil Clark of Liverpool, England, wrote:

Despite sending out my e-mail pleading for balanced
treatment of the Middle East conflict, you publish
another one-sided piece of anti-Israeli propaganda.
Perhaps too much protesting and appealing has
disabled your hearing ability?


Ed. note: We clearly don't want to put out
"anti-Israeli propaganda," Phil. The report to
which you refer was written by Israeli Jews,
living in Jerusalem, who are hoping for a peaceful
solution to the conflict. All the same, if you'd
like to write a 300-word rebuttal representing
another side, we'd certainly be willing to publish
it in our P.O.V. section.

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


F a i t h   i n   P u b l i c   L i f e
Moral Values Matter in Politics

Last month The Washington Post, the Kaiser
Family Foundation, and Harvard University
conducted a national poll to survey the
priorities and attitudes of U.S. voters on
key moral issues. Here are some of the

Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the following?

State of the nation's economy
Satisfied 81% / Dissat. 18% / No opinion 1%

State of national defense and the military
Satisfied 66% / Dissat. 29% / No opinion 5%

State of the nation's public schools
Satisfied 44% / Dissat. 54% / No opinion 2%

Availability and affordability of health care
Satisfied 41% / Dissat. 56% / No opinion 3%

Moral values in this country
Satisfied 31% / Dissat. 68% / No opinion 1%


Tell us whether you think of each of the
following as a "moral issue" involving
your beliefs about what is right and wrong,
and whether this will be one of the most
important issues in deciding your vote 
for president.

Breakup of the family
Yes, moral issue 76% / Will impact my vote 33%

Sex and violence in the media
Yes, moral issue 74% / Will impact my vote 36%

Example a president sets by his personal behavior
Yes, moral issue 73% / Will impact my vote 47%

Yes, moral issue 70% / Will impact my vote 37%

Expanding health care coverage for all Americans
Yes, moral issue 65% / Will impact my vote 53%

Protecting the environment
Yes, moral issue 64% / Will impact my vote 42%

Death Penalty
Yes, moral issue 63% / Will impact my vote 23%

Inequality between whites and minorities
Yes, moral issue 63% / Will impact my vote 35%

Gun Control
Yes, moral issue 54% / Will impact my vote 35%

Taxes and tax system
Yes, moral issue 41% / Will impact my vote 32%

Campaign Finance Reform
Yes, moral issue 40% / Will impact my vote 22%

Income divide between wealthy and poor
Yes, moral issue 38% / Will impact my vote 26%

*********Sojourners Online Apparel*****************


Old favorite available in new design! This
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Back reads: Celebrating 30 years of Hope at

Check out this and other original Sojourners
designs at:


P.  O.  V.
The vote: It's more than a moral choice

by Don Hazen

Given the nature of our winner-take-all, corporate-
money-drenched democracy, many believe that voting
isn't the best way to create social progress. For
them, voting is tactical; it's about setting the
agenda and holding politicians accountable. In this
election, progressives who feel that way have an
opportunity to make a significant statement, to
send a loud and clear message to the political
establishment - we won't let our issues be left
out of politics anymore.

Actually, the concept is pretty simple, as the
ever-wise Molly Ivins points out. She has written:

"My voting philosophy is simple: In the primaries,
go with your heart; in the finals, vote your brain....
The point here is to move the debate. I am so sick
of having to listen to Newt-Gingrich, Rush-Limbaugh
Republicans and the Democrats who keep caving to
them that I'll vote Nader in a New York minute.
OK, that's because I live in Texas, where a vote
for Nader is a 'free vote.' Our electors are going
to Dubya no matter how Democrats here vote, so
for us this is the equivalent of a primary vote:
Go with your heart. The same is true in states
with the reverse situation. Massachusetts and
New York will go Democratic no matter how the
progressives vote; and if we can get Nader and
the Green Party the 5 percent they need to
qualify for federal spending in 2004, we will,
in fact, move the debate. There's every reason
to do it, and no reason not to. As for you voters
in swing states, where you might actually make
a difference, why don't we wait and see how it
looks in November?"...

A Nader vote has no chance of "spoiling" the outcome for 
Al Gore unless it potentially changes the outcome within 
each state. And for 90 percent of the states (including 
the biggest ones), that's not going to happen. Many 
articulate Goreites have missed this point,
and insist on hammering home the spoiler argument....
Of course, we need to consider their motivation.
It's not that these Gore apologists should be
completely blamed. These guys are practicing the
pragmatic politics that works for them, a position
they think is the "left wing of the possible." But
working constantly within the system and losing
touch with the larger progressive base - especially
with the many disgusted voters who have dropped out - 
can backfire on you in the end. Much more than
a solid Gore victory is possible in this election.
If progressives vote smart, we could elevate the
Nader populist critique to much larger audiences.

To read the entire Hazan article, go to:


O n   t h e   W i r e
SojoNet in the News

"Candidates' declarations of faith fail to
impress panel," by Beverly Kees, The Freedom
Forum Online

"Wallis said he was dubious about politicians
in general espousing their faith in campaigns:
'The question is, would they risk losing the
next election for their faith? I look to social
movements, not politicians, to make change.'"

Go to:


"The Rise and Fall of the Religious Right," by Jim

"Today, both conservative and liberal churches are
showing a deepening social conscience on the
issues of poverty and race. A recent survey
showed that 86% of the American people
(religious or not) believe that 'churches and
religious organizations should spend more time
helping the poor.'"

Go to:


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints (RLDS) joins Call to Renewal
Most people are less familiar with the Reorganized
Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints than
they are with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints. Though the two denominations share
similar names, they are in fact very different.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints is an international Christian church with
250,000 members in approximately 40 nations.
Its world headquarters, including a temple dedicated
to the pursuit of peace and justice, is located in
Independence, Missouri. The church was organized in
1830 in New York state.
The RLDS have come to the CTR table because they
have chosen to focus on issues of poverty and
justice and see the Call as an important beacon
of hope in the struggle.

Read more about the RLDS Church and its programs at:


W e b  S c e n e
British sites wear different stripes

"Don't go to church, go to vurch.", that is, a London-based site
offering spiritual icons, images, and
meditation for those who feel alienated
from the institutional church. Even if you
are a member of a local community, you
now have a virtual place to exercise your
spirituality from home, the office, or 
on the road. 

Go to:


The Web site of the Ebenezer Evangelical
Church in Bristol, England, offers regularly
updated news stories and online resources for
people all around the world involved in social
action concerns.

Go to:



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

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

Springfield, Ohio
October 25, 2000  

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

Carter Echols, national organizer for
the Call to Renewal

Orlando, Florida
October 21-22, 2000

Alexandria, Virginia
October 25, 2000

Yale University
November 1, 2000

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


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