The Common Good


Sojomail - November 10, 2000

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++++++++++++++++++++ 10-November-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *Leonard Cohen

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *Time for Prophetic Leadership?

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Ed Spivey: College bound

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Latest stats on U.S. poverty

 S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e
    *A call to people of faith

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Rabbi Michael Lerner on book tour

 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
     *The Mexican Church under the Fox government

 P. O. V.
     *Should politicians keep their religion to themselves?
      Results from latest SojoNet poll

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Alternative Christmas shopping guide

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

 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

Let judges secretly despair of justice:
their verdicts will be more acute.
Let generals secretly despair of triumph:
killing will be defamed.
Let priests secretly despair of faith:
their compassion will be true.

                - Leonard Cohen

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H E A R T S  &  M I N D S
Time for Prophetic Leadership?

by Jim Wallis

The nation finds itself in an extraordinary situation. 
It's already three days after the election, and we still 
don't know who our next president will be. And the 
uncertainty could continue for days or even weeks to 
come. For the first time in more than 100 years, a 
president could take office without winning the popular 
vote. The crucial recount in Florida has Bush ahead by 
only 327 votes with absentee ballots yet to be counted. 
And what many call a confusing ballot in Palm Beach 
County apparently resulted in several thousand votes 
being mistakenly diverted from Al Gore - enough votes to 
give Gore both the state and the presidency. Some of 
those voters have filed suit in court, demanding a re-vote, 
and the Democrats are supporting them.

Meanwhile, the Republicans predict victory and are talking 
about their transition team and new Cabinet. A war of words 
is escalating between the Bush and Gore camps. Most 
important, the legitimacy of this election is being 
questioned, and whoever ultimately wins will have little 
mandate to govern but, instead, could face a divided and 
angry public.

It's time for some wisdom here, and perhaps some patience, 
calm, humility, and perspective. Most important, we all 
(including the two candidates) should start thinking about 
how to bring a divided country together. It's time to move 
back from partisan attacks and ask what might be some 
significant acts of reconciliation. Whoever wins the 
presidency should move forward with this crisis of 
legitimacy and a divided public very much in mind. Moving 
beyond partisanship might be greeted with great relief by 
an anxious citizenry. In another close election, new 
President Abraham Lincoln included some of his chief 
rivals in the new cabinet. Could a deliberate and unusual 
effort to create such a bi-partisan spirit of governance 
begin to heal our divisions, revealed not only in this 
closest election in American history but in a political 
process that has become more and more polarized?

What would prophetic leadership mean at this critical 
moment? Who will show the character to rise about the 
bitter struggle for power? Who will ask what is best 
for the nation and the common good? How much is winning 
an election really worth? Those are questions not only 
for the candidates, but for all of us.

*****************GREAT JOB OPPORTUNITY*************************

Lead a faith-based organization focused on at-risk kids in 
inner-city Washington, D.C.  Sojourners is looking for a new 
executive director for its neighborhood center. 

Join an organization with a long track record, widely 
respected reputation, and a wonderful history of changing 
children's lives. The center is a small nonprofit that needs
real leadership to rebuild a great program and take it to 
another level. There are both great challenges and great 
rewards in this job. 

Send resumes to Sojourners Neighborhood Center Executive 
Director Search, c/o Jim Wallis, 2401 15th St. NW, 
Washington, DC 20009


REGISTER today for Faith Works 2000!

Jim Wallis will be in Phoenix, Arizona, Friday,
November 17th, to speak at a noon luncheon and
conduct a 7 p.m. Faith Works forum. A reception
and book signing will follow the evening event.

For information about Jim's visit to Arizona,
Contact: Larry Miller, 11810 N. Rio Vista Drive,
Sun City, AZ 85351; (623) 875-6901.


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
College bound (and gagged)

Because our oldest daughter absolutely refuses
to join the Merchant Marine after high school,
she made me drive through New England this summer
looking at prospective colleges. It wasn't a bad
trip, as it turned out, because I was able to
spend a lot of one-on-one quality time with her
in the car, whenever she removed her earphones
In fairness, she would occasionally set aside
her CDs to listen to the radio, which was great
for me since she enjoys a wide range of music,
as long as it's the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Maybe
it's best we never listened to my generation's
music, since it would have led to tough
questions like "Dad, what's a Shondell, and
why does Tommy James have more than one?")...

Her parents' college criteria were only slightly
different: She could not attend my alma mater
(30-year-old unpaid library fines), and she has to
enroll in a school we could brag about at parties.
(I really wanted her to go to Haverford since,
if you say it real fast, it sounds a lot like

To read Ed Spivey's entire reflection on
college hunting with his daughter, 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:


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Latest stats on U.S. poverty

The number of people in poverty dropped from
34.5 million (12.7 percent) in 1998 to 32.3
million (11.8 percent) in 1999, according to
the most recent annual report released by the
U.S. Census Bureau. The number of children in
poverty dropped from 13.5 million (18.9 percent)
to 12.1 million (16.9 percent). The rate declined
for every major racial and ethnic group.

However, 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 integrally related to
poverty in the United States. And more than half
of the children under 6 in poverty live in
fatherless homes (compared to only 9 percent in
two-parent homes). Rebuilding families
remains a key factor in overcoming poverty.[]

For a closer look at the latest Census Bureau
report, visit the Call to Renewal Web site:


Job Opening in Mississippi


The Glenmary Home Missioners is seeking a
director responsible for organizing justice
workshops and forums on local/regional levels,
assisting members and staff of Glenmary, facilitating
meetings and cross-cultural exchanges, and fostering
a network of solidarity among grassroots communities.

The director needs a background in community organizing
and analysis, knowledge of Catholic social teaching,
fluency in Spanish, and the ability to drive long
distances alone. Salary negotiable. Applications due
December 15, 2000. Send resume and references to Rev.
Tim Murphy, Box 134, Aberdeen, Mississippi, 39730,
(662) 369-2897.


S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e
A call to people of faith

by Rebekah Menning

It's easy to blame our leaders for what's wrong in
this country [USA]. Indeed, much rides on those in office.
Justice, however, doesn't fall solely on the decisions
of political leaders and the work of policy makers. As
people of faith, we are responsible for holding our
political leaders accountable to the values our faith
is built upon. We can't do that, however, without taking
a closer look at our own lives, our daily decisions and
commitments, and how they reflect the values with which
we judge political candidates. It is always important
to voice our deep dissatisfaction with political
corruption and persistent systemic oppression, and to
scrutinize the morals and motives of presidential
candidates. Of equal importance, however, as people of
faith, is to look at our own morals and values in light
of the biblical mandate to serve the poor and needy.[]

To read Rebekah Menning's entire article, go to:


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Global healing
Rabbi Michael Lerner will be traveling around
the United States over the next month to talk 
about his new book: Spirit Matters: Global 
Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul. Rabbi Lerner 
has been a prophetic voice calling for a just 
resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Here's the schedule:

Nov. 10  
Manhattan: Bnai Jeshurun, 88th between Broadway and 
West End; 6 p.m. dinner following. Call Bnai Jeshurun 
for dinner reservations.

Nov. 12
Philadelphia: Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 13
Washington D.C.: Hillel Foundation of George Washington
University, 2300 H St. NW; 8 p.m.

Nov. 14
Washington D.C.: Sojourners, 2401 15th St. NW; 5:30 p.m.
Washington D.C.: Politics and Prose Bookstore, 5015 
Connecticut Avenue NW; 7 p.m.

Nov. 15
New York: C.U.N.Y. Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave. 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 16  
Cambridge: Rockefeller Hall, Room 2, Harvard Divinity School, 
45 Francis Street; 11:30 a.m.   

Nov. 16
Cambridge:  Harvard Coop, Harvard Square; 7:30 p.m. (book
reading floor).

Nov. 17
Cleveland: Suburban Synagogue, Beachwood, California; 
7:30 p.m. services and next day services.

Nov. 28  
Tiburon, California: Kol Shofar synagogue.

Nov. 29  
Palo Alto, Caifornia: Printer's Ink Bookstore, 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 30  
Portland, Oregon: Powell's Bookstore, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1   
Portland: Portland City Club, noon.

Dec. 3   
Denver: Tattered Cover bookstore, 3 p.m.

Dec. 6   
Los Angeles: University of Judaism, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 12  
San Francisco: Modern Times Bookstore, with Peter Gabel.

Dec. 13  
Seattle, Washington: Elliot Bay books.

Visit for more information.

B o o m e r a n g

Shelley Cavalieri of Palermo, Italy, wrote:

I am working in social justice ministries with the
United Methodist Church's Mission Intern Program in
Palermo Italy....I work with women from West African
countries who are brought into Italy with the promise
of good jobs and are sold into prostitution upon
arrival, forced to pay many tens of thousands of
American dollars to earn their freedom. For the last
year, I have looked to Sojourners to inform me of
the world's injustices that get little attention
in the sometimes-isolationist American churches.
And indeed, now your weekly SojoMails are water
in a desert of injustice, thank you for sending
words of support in this struggle. It is difficult,
sometimes depressing work; I eagerly look forward
to my weekly email - after a long week, SojoMail
always lifts my spirits.

Mark Silk of Hartford, Connecticut, wrote:

Jim Wallis' refusal to endorse a presidential
candidate in his November 3 "Hearts and Minds"
column struck me as evasive and arrogant. Someone
who aspires to be a prophetic voice in the nation's
public life ought to be willing to put his own
reasons for voting one way or the other on the
line, and to run the risk of having some of his
readers strongly disagree. The idea that by
offering a rationale (biblical or otherwise) for
his own choices he would be solving the electoral
conundrum for his readers is an insult to them.


Ed. note: Neither Jim nor Sojourners endorses 
candidates although, needless to say, we do 
have strong opinions on such matters (in fact, 
quite a variety of them among the staff). In 
the piece, Jim pointed to guidelines developed 
by the Catholic bishops and suggested some 
principles he thought ought to undergird our 
votes. Who he was personally voting for 
wasn't or isn't the issue.

And as Convener of Call to Renewal, a national 
federation of churches across the political 
spectrum, Jim (and Call) will not endorse any 
candidate. Rather he has consistently asked all 
the candidates to "endorse" Call to Renewal's 
agenda of overcoming poverty. That, indeed, 
was the strategy of Martin Luther King Jr. 
and the civil rights movement -- focus on 
the agenda rather than taking partisan sides.


Steve Hayes of Pretoria, South Africa, wrote:

From the perspective of someone outside the USA,
Bush seems preferable to Gore, because Bush seems
less inclined to maintain the U.S. role as the
international bully-boy, as was promoted by the
Clinton-Gore administration.

At least with the death penalty and abortion
the United States is murdering its own people. But
Gore was part of the administration that used the
North Atlantic Terrorist Organisation to kill
people in other countries. Gore was in the
administration that included the warmongering
Madeleine Albright, who, when asked in an
interview whether she thought the death of
half a million Iraqi children was not too high
a price to pay for maintaining U.S. hegemony in
the Middle East, replied, "We think the price
is worth it."

So Bush is surely the lesser of two evils,
even if the election as a whole must be seen
as the evil of two lessers.

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
Whither goest the Church in Mexico under Fox?

A deeply Roman Catholic country, Mexico is also
a fiercely anti-clerical one. That contradiction
has both fuelled, and been fuelled by, two civil
wars since the 1860s, each lost by the church.
Yet even today the church's role is far from

The simmering tension between the church and
its opponents has flared up since the election
last July of Vicente Fox as Mexico's next president,
ending seven decades of rule by the anti-clerical
Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI). Mr. Fox
will be the first openly practising Catholic to
occupy the presidency since Mexico's 1910-17
revolution, and his centre-right National Action
Party (PAN) has close ties to the church.

For most of the PRI's rule, the church was
confined behind cloistered walls: until
constitutional reforms in 1992, priests and
nuns were barred from wearing clerical clothes
in public, open-air masses were forbidden, and
all church property technically belonged to the
state. Before the election, Mr. Fox promised
further changes, such as allowing the church
to own media outlets, permitting religious
teaching in public schools, and letting the
church get more involved in politics. In return,
the church published a pastoral letter stating
that an alternation of political parties in
government would solidify Mexican democracy -
a barely veiled endorsement of Mr. Fox.[]

For the entire article as it appeared in The
Economist, October 7, 2000, go to:


P.  O.  V.
Results of latest SojoNet poll

The cover article in the November-December
Sojourners looks at how Joe Lieberman and
other candidates have brought their religion
into the public arena.

Should candidates for public office keep
their religion to themselves?

48% - No, religion is relevant to understanding
a person's approach to social issues and public

41% - No, religion is an essential part of a
person that shouldn't be hidden.

6% - Yes, politicians are just using the veneer
of religion to manipulate public opinion.

4% - Yes, religion is a private thing and doesn't
belong in politics.


W e b  S c e n e
Alternative Christmas shopping guide

(only 45.75 more shopping days!)

Avoid Christmas consumer madness by giving
a gift that will keep giving for generations
to come. Visit these alternative shopping

Heifer Project International directly
combats poverty by giving livestock and
trees, along with training for their upkeep,
to families throughout the world. This year,
you can give the gift of geese ($20 per flock),
sheep ($140 for a whole one or $10 per share),
heifer ($500 whole or $50 per share) and much
more to those on your list who already have
it all.  You'll also be helping to combat hunger,
support women's businesses, and care for the
environment with each donation. Read all about
it and start that Christmas list at:
At the shopping portal, Internet
users can shop at more than 100 leading online merchants -
including, Priceline, Nordstrom, Land's
End, Dell, Office Max, 1-800 flowers, and more -
and up to 15 percent of each purchase automatically goes
to an organization you select at no extra cost. 
Shoppers can support local and national
charities, the nation's K-12 schools, and college
and university scholarship funds. Go to:

Support family artisans from around the world and
give beautiful Christmas gifts at the same time
through SERRV/Catholic Relief Services. View their
online catalogue at:

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


Old favorite available in new design! Jim
Wallis' inspiring message is available with
blue, yellow, and white print on either black
or heather gray shirts.

Back reads:    Sojourners
            30 Years of Hope

Check out this and other original Sojourners
designs at:


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

Jim Wallis appeared on a PBS special on
faith and the election that aired on Sunday,
November 5th. Click here for the transcript:


"The Vision Thing," by Jim Wallis, published

The problem with our present political situation
is the Bible: Proverbs 29:18 says "Where
there is no vision, the people perish."


O n   t h e   R o a d
Jim Wallis on a Call to Renewal tour:

November 10, 2000
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Western Michigan Summit

November 18, 2000
Phoenix, Arizona
Contact: Larry Miller
(623) 875-6901.

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


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