The Common Good


Sojomail - October 27, 2000

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           Promoting values at the crossroads where
           spirituality, politics, and culture meet

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 ++++++++++++++++++++ 27-October-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *Abba Eban

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *A new morality

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Stop town at a time

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Steps to becoming a compassionate conservative

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *TV worth watching
     *U2 in virtual concert

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

 S p i r i t u a l i t y  &  P o l i t i c s
     *Special report: Environmentalism and the church

 P. O. V.
     *Who's to blame for the Middle East crisis?

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Getting smart about advertising

 O n   t h e   W i r e
     *Joseph Lieberman cites Jim Wallis at Notre Dame

 O n  t h e  R o a d
     *Call to Renewal goes to Yale


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

"A nation writes its history 
in the image of its ideal."
                - Abba Eban 
		Diplomat, Knesset member
		Jerusalem 1968


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H E A R T S  &  M I N D S
A New Morality

by Jim Wallis

George W. Bush recently spurned the Christian Coalition in 
the latest indication of the waning influence of the Religious 

For the past two decades, the Religious Right dominated media 
coverage of religion and politics. First the Moral Majority
then the Christian Coalition organized the faithful and 
attempted to gain power through the Republican Party. When
Gov. Bush declined an invitation to speak to the Coalition's
annual "Road to Victory" conference in Washington, D.C., last
month, it was the first time since the founding of the 
Coalition that the Republican presidential nominee did not
appear. Bush finally sent a short, videotaped message after
being warned by Pat Robertson that he was "taking a risk."
During the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, the
Religious Right was unseen and unheard. Robertson did not
speak, but spent the convention (as one news account noted) 
"tucked away comfortably in a skybox." 

The Coalition was hit with hard times by the departure of
Ralph Reed, losing money, members, and staff.  News reports
told of temporary employees hopping from room to room ahead 
of camera crews so that offices seemed bustling with 
activity. Bundles of Coalition voter guides showed up in 
dumpsters after election day. And in 1999 the Coalition was 
forced to reorganize when the Internal Revenue Service denied
it tax-exempt status. While their electoral strength was
always exaggerated, their ability to "deliver" decisive 
blocks of votes is now also in question.

But the deeper truth is that by focusing only on the "moral 
agenda" of abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and 
Hollywood sleaze, the Coalition ignored other moral issues of
poverty, racism, and economic inequality. In January 1997, 
the Coalition took a promising step by initiating the 
"Samaritan Project" to work with inner city churches. The 
project, however, was never given the necessary resources, 
and in the turmoil, was one of the first to be cut.

Today, conservative and liberal churches are seeing the moral 
importance of poverty and race, a belief echoed in the 
emphasis on new partnerships between government and faith-
based organizations to overcome poverty. Many churches once
associated with the Religious Right are among those now 
involved in social service ministries. This new moral focus 
shows great promise. The most effective social movements are 
also spiritual ones, which change people's thinking and 
attitudes. This then changes the political and cultural 
climate, and ultimately, changes policy. The best example is 
the civil rights movement. 

The need for a value-centered politics is a positive 
emphasis. Indeed, a continuing high poverty rate in the midst 
of great prosperity is a values and morals issue. If we can 
unite over this moral issue, both the poor and the country - 
and the integrity of the religious community - will be better 
for it.

B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Execution-Free Zones

In the past few weeks, the towns of Harrisburg,
Penn., Leverett, Mass., and Greensboro, N.C., 
have all passed resolutions calling for a 
halt to executions!

Could your city or town be next? It is easier
than you think to get a council to adopt a
moratorium resolution!

Contact Sara Klemm at or
(301) 699-0042 for more information.

Should candidates for public office keep their religion to
Let us know what you think by voting in our online poll at
F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Steps to Becoming a Compassionate Conservative, or...

How to Give $100,000 to Charity Without
Spending a Dime
by Joyce Timbers

Tired of giving your hard-earned cash
to shiftless losers? Keep your cash and
LOOK generous and loving at the same

1. Pro Bono Work

Any time you do something charitable, assign it a
monetary value. Dick Cheney valued his pro bono public
lectures at $232,320 and counted that amount as a
charitable donation. While you might not be a celebrity,
your time still has value.
For instance, if you earn $100,000 a year, just
cutting someone off in traffic to teach them the
value of planning ahead can be worth as much as a
dollar per incident. If you're diligent, these
types of micro-charitable donations can really
add up.
Value for our family: $6,000

2. Coupons
If you subscribe to a daily paper or magazines,
you will find inside thousands of dollars of coupons.
Clip these, and donate them to your favorite charity.
This is a great way to help poor people learn to budget
by stretching their grocery dollars. And don't forget
to count the price of your subscriptions. Without
them, you would have no coupons to donate.

Value for our family: $1,200

3. Return Stolen Shopping Carts
Once a month the men in our church walk through poor
neighborhoods rounding up "borrowed" shopping carts.
It's important to leave the contents with whomever
is using them. If it's more than an armload, dump
the contents neatly on the sidewalk. Count the
value of returned shopping carts as a $125 donation.
Value for our family: $7,000

For more creative ideas, go to:

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Un-boob tube

PBS's Masterpiece Theater series, better
known for its adaptation of British
Victorian dramas, this week launches its
new "American Collection Series" with Ann
Peacock's excellent adaptation of the Langston
Hughes short story "The Ways of White Folks,"
titled "Cora Unashamed." Set in a small town in
Iowa during the Depression, "Cora Unashamed"
explores the lives of women dealing with issues
of class, self-worth, self-expression, and
suffering. It stars Regina Taylor (Cora Jenkins),
Cherry Jones (Lizbeth Studevant), Michael Gaston
(Arthur Studevant), C. C. H. Pounder (Ma Jenkins),
and Molly Graham (Jessie Studevant).

Check your local listings.


U2: Exclusive session

On Monday, October 23, U2 played a live session
from the BBC Maida Vale Studios in London. BBC1 
DeeJay and SojoMail reader Simon Mayo decamped 
from his normal studio to do his show from the 
same studio as U2. The band performed four songs 
from their new album. Then, as an encore, Bono 
and Edge did an unrehearsed accoustic version 
of "She's a Mystery." 

Hear and see (via Webcam) the action at:


B o o m e r a n g

Mitchell Gold, UN Special Envoy, International
Association for World Peace, wrote:

I am surprised that Sojourners does not take
up the values notion of how much money is
being spent on the military. Both candidates
are talking about increasing military expenditures.
How does this fit with values for the future?
How does this affect other decisions? Health 

The real question is not about religious values
at all. The real question ought to be about
spiritual values and how they should help shape
politics. It is important that the religious
community begin to endorse this distinction.
Why? It is true that church and state are seen
to be as separate and the intention is not to
change that. The intention is to move the dialogue
into the area of values, and spiritual values are
not encumbered with "religious dogma" and therefore
we avoid the church vs. state issue.

This distinction must become a part of our
language, and Sojourners is a good place to


SojoMail reader Roger Chisnall wrote:

Here's to Jubilee 2000, which is, as The New
York Times story recently concluded, "A victory
for a coalition of rock stars, religious figures,
and charity groups that have made debt forgiveness
a moral touchstone for wealthy nations."

Jubilee 2000 has taken debt relief a long way, but
we have to remember that a lot of what has been
achieved are promises from politicians. Many of the
promises, particularly the $100 billion promised at
Cologne in 1999, have not been delivered on. One year
on from Cologne, and the G7 Summit in Okinawa, Japan,
spent $750 million staging the most lavish Summit yet.
Our leaders made no further move on debt relief,
other than to re-state the promises of Cologne,
which they have already broken!! According to the UN,
19,000 children still die each week as a result of 
debt repayments.

So well done to Jubilee 2000, well done for the
publicity, but let's look at how to carry on the
debt campaign after the end of 2000 and ensure
politicians deliver on their promises - and make
some new promises at that!

P.S. Why not visit or e-mail
the seven richest nations and tell them to "Drop The

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


S p i r i t u a l i t y  &  P o l i t i c s
Paradise Paved

by Lois Lorentzen

Conjuring up images of well-fed churchgoers
with a Bible in one hand and a chain saw in
the other, mainstream evangelical Christianity...
was no friend to the wilderness we cared about
passionately. Sadly, I read Lynn White Jr.'s now
famous 1967 article in Science magazine ("The
Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis")
accusing Christianity of promoting a theology
of domination over nature, thus contributing
to ecological crises, and I agreed. "Yup,
that's my people."

Yet something happened on the way to ecological
apocalypse. Although the church does not have
a strong history of either environmental
theology or practice, current theological and
environmental statements and church leadership
look nothing like the landscape I viewed as
a young wilderness guide a mere 20 years ago.
Even theologically conservative churches now
promote environmental theologies and programs.[]

To see Lorentzen's special report on environmentalism
and the church as it appeared in the Nov-Dec 2000
issue of Sojourners magazine, go to:



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 one of the most-cited magazines in its history.

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P.  O.  V.
Middle East crisis: facts on the scales

by Phil Clark, Liverpool, England

If peace is a scarce and greatly sought-after
commodity in the Middle East, then so is TRUTH.
If truth remains elusive, then peace simply will
not follow. The proclamation of "hard facts"
adds fuel to the fire. A brief survey of recent
events illustrates this:

*Was Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount at best
ill-considered and at worst downright provocative?

*Does an Israeli member of the Knesset have the
right to visit the holiest place in Judaism? Yes.

*Did Palestinian protestors respond by throwing
stones onto Jews celebrating the Shabbat at the
Western Wall? Yes.

*Did Israeli police and military respond in turn
by shooting at Palestinians armed with only
sticks and stones? Yes.

*Did Palestinians destroy a synagogue at the site
of Joseph's Tomb and injure (or kill?) a Rabbi
who attempted to retrieve valuable scrolls? Yes.

*Did Jews in Tiberias likewise destroy an ancient
mosque? Yes.

The presentation of selected facts does a great
disservice to those seeking a deeper understanding
of current events. A one-sided telling of recent
events merely succeeds in apportioning blame. "It's
not my fault" scream the kids in the school playground.
Hey kids, it takes two to fight, and in any
case we're interested in helping you to make up!

Much of what is reported from the Middle East does
the opposite, building prisons of hatred, prejudice,
and enmity. Truth, as with peace, is not the exclusive
possession of any one "side." Its value is immense,
matched only by its rarity.


W e b  S c e n e
Read between the lines

The 30-second TV spot now dominates
American politics. How are candidates
using political ads to present their
messages? What emotional buttons are
they trying to push to influence you?

Learn what it takes to dissect an ad
and be a savvy voter. Part of PBS's
Democracy Project, you'll learn how to
dissect and analyze ads - a useful
talent even after the election.

Go to these two sites:


Next, log onto GreedyTV.

How TV profits from democracy, and what
you can do about it!

Television stations will make $1 billion
this year from political ads, but they're
refusing to give viewers more time to hear
candidates discuss the issues. Find out
how your local stations stack up,
and send a message to them: Money shouldn't
be all that talks in campaign 2000!



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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.


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

"Vision for America: A Place of Faith,"
vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman
cites Jim Wallis in his campaign speech
at Notre Dame, delivered October 24, 2000. Go to:


"Lieberman Calls for 'Spiritual Awakening,'" by
Matea Gold, Dana Calvo, Los Angeles Times, October
25, 2000:

"I do think it's incredibly clear that the future
of American politics is a conversation about values,"
said Rev. Jim Wallis, author of "The Soul of Politics"
and a lecturer about the role of faith in politics.
"The perception is that we have lost our way. So when
someone talks about values, rooted in their religion
or not, I think it's very attractive to people." 

Go to:


O n   t h e   R o a d
Call to Renewal road trip

Carter Echols, national organizer for
the Call to Renewal

Yale University
November 1, 2000

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


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