The Common Good


Sojomail - November 17, 2000

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++++++++++++++++++++ 17-November-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *Tom Wolfe on root canals

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *A nation hanging on a chad

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Fast food fit only for atheists...or Lutherans

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Teenager turns 15th birthday into anti-NRA protest

 P. O. V.
     *Should electoral college be axed?
      Results from latest SojoNet poll

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Rabbi: time for election reform

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

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Members of my church disagree on how to end poverty

 S p i r i t u a l i t y  &  P o l i t i c s
     *Flap over studying Bible in Honduras school

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Sports site for girls and women
     *Resource for desperate preachers

 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

Oddly, when deconstructionists required
appendectomies or bypass surgery or even
a root canal job, they never deconstructed
medical or dental "truth," but went along
with whatever their board-certified, profit-
oriented surgeons proclaimed was the last

          - Tom Wolfe on the state of philosophy
            at the end of the 20th century

H E A R T S  &  M I N D S
A nation hanging on a chad

by Jim Wallis

Until now, few of us knew what a "hanging chad" was. Now it 
seems the fate of the nation hangs on them. Chads, of course, 
are those little pieces of paper on a ballot that are 
supposed to be punched out when you vote. But when the chads 
don't fall completely off a ballot, they are often not 
counted by the machines. Gore wants to go looking for hanging 
chads on ballots that might be then counted for him, because 
human hand counters could see that somebody clearly was 
trying to vote for the vice president. Bush wants to stop the 
recount and silence the hanging chads, because he holds a 300 
vote lead in Florida and believes the yet-to-be-counted 
absentee ballots will also go his way. 

The candidates have not been very impressive so far in the 
post-election fight (yet another reminder of why Americans 
just couldn't decide between them in the closest election in 
U.S. history). And, predictably, their surrogates, spin 
masters, and lawyers have been worse. My favorite post-
election phenomenon is the new money campaigns for "recount 
funds" started by both candidates to pay the bills of their 
battle teams. And it is indeed war between them now, with 
each one clearly ready to go for it to the last recount or 
court suit.

The media just loves this war, which is far more interesting 
than reporting on the new president-elect's transition team. 
Each day, they report, the national crisis grows. But while 
the candidates and the media see Armageddon coming, the 
public seems patient to wait and see what the outcome will 
be. We are following this remarkable situation - more people 
are paying attention to the events in Florida (87 percent) 
than to either the O.J. Simpson or Bill and Monica soap 
operas. But crisis is not the word most Americans would use 
yet. Instead, it has become an interesting civics lesson, 
especially for young people.

The presidential contenders, however, are poisoning the 
waters of democracy when their camps use rhetoric that just 
heats up the battle. The more bitter it becomes, the more 
difficult gracious concession speeches and good transitions 
will be. And unless the final result is agreed to as fair by 
both sides, the legitimacy and ability to govern of the new 
president will be in jeopardy.

It's time for a political cease-fire, and some kind of agreed-
to and binding process before any result is announced. Voters 
on both sides wouldn't find that hard to accept and the 
candidates shouldn't either.

*****************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, a widely 
respected reputation, and a wonderful history of changing 
children's lives. The center is a small nonprofit that needs 
real leadership to take the program to the next level. This 
is a job of great challenges and wonderful rewards! 

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

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Catholics Order Big Mac To Go

by Rory Carroll
The London Observer
November 10, 2000

The empire-building of the restaurant chain
McDonald's hit a snag in Italy yesterday when
a Catholic newspaper declared fast food to
be fit only for atheists, or perhaps Lutherans.

Munching a Big Mac with fries was the antithesis
of receiving communion and should be spurned by
Catholics, declared [the newspaper] Avvenire.

McDonald's, already bruised from clashes with
employees, environmentalists, communists and
gourmets, found itself accused of promoting
selfishness. "The excommunication of the
hamburger," as the newspaper La Repubblica
described it.

In a full-page attack, Avvenire denounced eat-
and-run habits for lacking the communitarian
aspect of sharing: "It is not Catholic. It
completely forgets the holiness of food."

The author, Massimo Salani, a lecturer at
Pisa's centre for theological studies, said
McDonald's was better suited to the Lutheran
mentality of an individual relationship
between man [sic] and God.

Eating food in the fastest possible way, often
alone, satisfied only the self, not others, he



 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:

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
How one teen girl turned her 15th
birthday party into an NRA protest

By Michael Laris

They carried signs that read, "School is a Place
for Pencils not Pistols." They chanted, "Hey, Hey,
NRA, we don't want guns where we play." They put
away the Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins and popped
in a cassette of Buffalo Springfield....

The protest was a belated birthday party for Lisa
Grabenstetter, who decided she wanted her sweet 15
to be something special.

"I had decided to have a '60s-theme birthday party.
I had to figure out something to protest," she said.
She chose gun violence and the NRA because she and her
classmates have felt uneasy since the deadly shootings
at Columbine High School, she said.[]

To read the entire article as it appeared in the
Washington Post, go to:

And for more on women organizing against
guns and violence, go to:


P.  O.  V.
Results of latest SojoNet poll

Is it time to abolish the Electoral College system
and elect the president by popular vote?

56% Yes, go to a popular vote to elect the president.

44% No, keep the electoral college system.

Read more on the issue:

Electoral Anomoly
The Washington Post, November 13, 2000

NPR's Daniel Schorr on the historical reasons for the
Electoral College

Close race sparks new calls for end to Electoral College
The Nando Times, November 9, 2000,1068,500277996-500435541-502770909-0,00.html

Stop Theft of the People's Will
Michael Moore


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Ideal time to campaign for election reform

by Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Director, Shalom Center

Given the nationwide demand for clean money in
elections that was rising even before November 7,
and now the public outcry over the presidential
election itself, we have an extraordinary opportunity.

On Inauguration Day, Saturday, Jan 20, tens (hundreds?)
of thousands of us could gather in Washington, D.C., in 
a "Clean Up Our Elections!" demonstration, to demand:

1. Either abolish the electoral college or make
each state's electoral vote proportional to the vote 
inside that state;

2. Instant runoff voting (that is, naming first, second,
and third choices in every vote, thereby encouraging
third parties without paralyzing voters);

3. Public financing of all federal campaigns, with
prohibition of private money, or a very low limit.

At the start, of course, this would be a minority view 
(a more limited proposal such as McCain-Feingold would 
get majority support) but there would be very sizeable 
public support. The support would grow. And for the 
first time in 30 years, we would be setting the agenda 
from the left for a radically democratic reform.

In the meantime, we should be organizing teach-ins
and town meetings on electoral democracy.


B o o m e r a n g

Robert Kight, in the U.S. Navy in
Yokosuka, Japan, wrote:

I have been observing the reaction to "Indecision
2000" and listening to calls to abolish the Electoral
College from several different corners, most recently
the online survey Sojourners posted on their Web site.
I worry that people are letting their passions
override what I see to be a basic issue of justice.

There are two realities I have come to understand
about our great nation. First, from its founding
as a nation of 13 sovereign states to today, we
have had to represent the views and interests of
both our urban and rural citizens. Where we live
profoundly affects how we see both the problems and
solutions our society faces each day. Gun control,
abortion, gay rights - the list could go on - are
all examples of this divide. Laws that make sense
in a city seem absurd if applied in the country.

Second, as a new federation of states, our founders
felt it necessary to protect the voice of the smaller
states of the Union in matters that affected them.
That is the logic, and justice, behind the Senate.
The same logic is behind the Electoral College.

A move to popular election of the president would
result in the silencing of the voice of my rural
neighbors. Large cities and populous states would be
the ones courted for votes and the people speaking
for the nation. While urban dwellers just might be
more street smart and savvy, they cannot understand
or speak for those who live in rural areas. The
"little guys" need some way of "leveling the playing
field" in politics so that our policies reflect all
of our interests, not just the interests of our most
populous areas.

If you can understand the justice behind a House
of Representatives reflecting the population and
the Senate reflecting the states equally, then
recognizing the justice of the Electoral College
should follow.

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


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Members of my church disagree on how to end poverty

by Ryan Beiler

Call to Renewal actively supports Jubilee
2000 because it is one great way of relieving
poverty. Its members know, however, that they
will not always agree on exactly how to fight
poverty - only that it needs to be on the
national agenda. 

The Republican senatorial aide in my Sunday
school class admitted that he was discouraged
by how his colleagues were often more concerned
with getting tax cuts for those who needed them
the least than with helping the "least of these."
The Democratic aide admitted that if citizens
don't make their voice heard, her boss will only
hear the lobbyists. That's why we need to speak up.

Call to Renewal recently launched what it calls
"A Covenant and a Campaign to Overcome Poverty."
It states, "Political disagreements can no
longer be allowed to justify public inaction
while those in poverty continue to be
neglected. Overcoming poverty is our goal. We
must together focus on how best to accomplish
that goal, but how we get there is less important
than getting there. There are no more excuses or
other people to blame. The time has come for action."[]

To read Ryan Beiler's entire article as it appears
in the online magazine, The Ooze:

****************Sojourners Online Store ****************


Jim Wallis' compelling quote "Hope is believing
in spite of the evidence, and watching the evidence
change" is now available in an original poster

Blue and yellow text on a black background, this
11" x 17" print is suitable for framing.

To order this original print visit:


S p i r i t u a l i t y  &  P o l i t i c s
Flap over studying Bible in Honduras school

With church leaders putting pressure on him
from two directions, the president of Honduras
is trying to decide whether to sign a law
requiring all schools to begin every day with a
10-minute reading from the Bible. Approved by
the country's congress on September 26, the
proposal has unleashed a vehement discussion
within this Central American country, with
Christian leaders taking up positions on both
sides of the debate.

Some church leaders are jubilant over the
new measure and are putting pressure on
President Carlos Flores to sign the bill into
law. Others, who are either opposed in principle
to the measure - believing it violates the
separation of church and state - or upset that
they were not consulted about it, are calling on
President Flores to veto the bill. If signed by
Flores, the bill will take effect next year.


W e b  S c e n e
Cool sitings of the week

Sports site for girls and women

From the Women's Sports Foundation, this
girls' site is crammed with sports information
and ideas. There's too much praise showered
on sports drinks (Gatorade sponsors the site),
but the noncommercial messages are just right.
Go to:


Former electronics technician and now Methodist
minister Frank Schaefer has established a
"Desperate Preacher's" Web site that receives
more than half-a-million hits a month. The "Desperate
Preacher's Site" now has a homiletics editor,
a chaplain on duty, as well as a technician to
keep things running smoothly. Best of all,
check out the resource links. Go to:


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