The Common Good


Sojomail - June 22, 2001

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++++++++++++++++++++ 22-June-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
     *Spanish eyes...

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *Peace in the Balance

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Clone this!

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *An Irish blessing prayer

 B y   t h e   n u m b e r s
     *Social attitudes in a diverse India

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Slash and burn in the U.S. economy 

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *The Lion, the Witch, and the Profit Margin

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

 B i z   E t h i c s
     *McDonalds busted: those fries aren't vegetarian!

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *What would Jesus drive?

 W o r d   o n   a   W i r e
     *God comes as fire and in a whisper

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Guide for responsible shopping
     *Short films online
     *Public domain music
     *World history compass

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

"Art is a lie that makes us to realize the truth."

                        -- Pablo Picasso


SojoFest 2001: A Celebration of Hope


Join us this summer, July 26-29, near Chicago
to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sojourners.
Don't miss this chance to reconnect with old
friends and make new ones. To learn more about
the festivities and speakers, registration
options, and facilities, visit:


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Peace in the Balance 

by Jim Wallis

The week-old ceasefire in the Mideast is in 
danger of failure as incidents of violence 
continue on a daily basis. On Wednesday, a 
Palestinian father of five returning home 
from his job was killed by Israeli soldiers 
at a checkpoint near the West Bank town of 
Ramallah. And, near the Israeli settlement 
of Homesh, an Israeli was killed as he 
approached the home of a Palestinian business 

News reports indicate that the Israeli 
cabinet has authorized plans for new military 
operations, but will not implement them 
immediately. Palestinians for the first time 
fired a heavy 120mm mortar at Israel. And so 
the spiral of violence continues, with 
predictions that if the cease-fire does break 
down, the situation will explode out of 

Lockheed Martin announced this week an 
agreement to sell an additional 50 F-16 
fighter jets to Israel. The jets, used by 
Israel against Palestinian police stations in 
May, are an advanced air strike technology. 
Before the sale can go through, the 
administration and Congress must approve. 
Most observers consider this to be a 
formality, as the U.S. currently supplies 
more than $1 billion a year in military aid 
to Israel.  

In a recent letter to President Bush, 
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) questioned whether 
the use of American fighters by Israel 
violated the conditions of the Arms Export 
Control Act, which requires such weapons
to be used "for legitimate self-defense." 
Noting "the continuing violence and its 
potential to destabilize the entire region," 
Conyers requested an investigation into 
Israel's use of the jets.

Israeli violence against nonviolent 
demonstrations is also escalating. Last 
Friday, a group of Israeli Jews, 
Palestinians, and internationals attempted 
a protest march to three mobile homes 
placed by settlers on Palestinian land. 
As they approached, they were attacked 
by Israeli security forces. One Israeli 
activist, Neta Golan, had her arm twisted
behind her back until her elbow shattered. 
A U.S. Christian Peacemaker Team volunteer, 
Anita Fast, was beaten about the head. Six
demonstrators, including the director of 
Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik 
Ascherman, were arrested. A month ago, 
Arik visited us here at Sojourners to 
talk about his passionate commitment to 
peace and justice.

In response to the Israeli violence, plans 
are being made for an increased nonviolent 
presence in the Middle East. Americans Jews 
are organizing "Olive Tree Summer," during 
which three groups will travel to 
Israel/Palestine for a high profile series 
of protest activities against the Israeli 
occupation. Serious discussions are being 
held among U.S. Christian peace groups toward 
mounting a similar mass nonviolent campaign 
both in the Middle East and in the U.S.  

Leviticus 19:16 says "neither shalt thou 
stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor..." 
followed two verses later by, "Thou shalt love 
thy neighbor as thyself." As the violence 
continues, we cannot stand idly by, but must 
become actively involved in the growing nonviolent
campaign to show our love for our neighbors. 


Jim Wallis will be teaching a one-week course at the Graduate
Theological Union (Berkeley, California) from July 9-13, 2001. Churches and other faith-based organizations are joining together in a biblical commitment to overcome poverty, dismantle racism and promote healthier families and communities. Jim Wallis will explore the increasing role of faith and faith-based organizations in the public arena.

To download applications and more detailed information, go to:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Clone this!

One day a group of scientists got together and decided
that humanity had come a long way and no longer needed
God. They picked one scientist to go and tell God so.
The appointed scientist walked up to God and said, "God,
we've decided that we no longer need you. We're to the
point that we can clone people and do many miraculous
things, so why don't you just go on and get lost."

God listened patiently to the man and after the scientist
was done talking, God said, "Very well! How about this?
Let's have a human-making contest."

The man replied, "Okay, great!"

But God added, "Now we're going to do this just like
I did back in the old days with Adam and Eve."

The scientist said, "Sure, no problem." He bent down
and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, "No, no, no. Go get
your own dirt!"


S o u l  W o r k s
An Irish blessing

"May the blessing of light be with you - light
outside and light within.
May sunlight shine upon you and warm your heart
'til it glows like a great peat fire so that the
stranger may come and warm himself by it and
also a friend.
May a blessed light shine out of the two eyes of
you like a candle set in two windows of a house,
bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.
May the blessing of rain - the sweet, soft, rain -
fall upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean.
May it leave many a shining pool where the
blue of heaven shines, and sometimes a star.
May the blessing of earth - the good, rich earth -
be with you.
May you ever have a kindly greeting for those you
pass as you go along its roads.
May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon
it, tired at the end of the day.
May earth rest easy over you when at the last you
lie under it.
May the earth rest so lightly over you that your
spirit may be out from under it quickly, and up,
and off, and on its way to God."

                          -- Anonymous


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Social attitudes in a diverse India

India is one of the cradles of world religions. Four
world religions were born there - Hinduism, Buddhism,
Sikhism, and Jainism - and two others - Islam and
Christianity, came to India already in the first years
of their existence.

Sociologist Paul V. Parathazham conducted a study
of attitudes and beliefs held by diverse religious
communities in India today.

My religion is the only true religion:

Hindu: 21.9%
Muslim: 44.3%
Christian: 45.4%
Sikh: 25.1%

What is written in the Holy Book(s) is literally true:

Hindu: 51.4%
Muslim: 86.6%
Christian: 65.6%
Sikh: 66.7%

Inter-religious marriages should be encouraged:

Hindu: 60.2%
Muslim: 40%
Christian: 57.3%
Sikh: 51.7%

Favour giving women equal status in religion:

Hindu: 75.3%
Muslim: 64.7%
Christian: 59.1%
Sikh: 81.3%

*Results published in the Jnanadeepa: Pune Journal of
Religious Studies, published twice a year. Subscriptions
are $20/year. Write: Jnanadeepa, Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth,
Pune 411014, India.


Send them a sample edition along with an introductory
letter...all with no ongoing commitment. (First online
commandment: Thou shalt not spam your neighbor.)
Go to:

B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d 
Slash and burn in the U.S. economy 

by David Batstone 

I was reminded this last week why I usually dislike 
corporate conglomerates. Carrying over from my column 
last week on organic agriculture, I'm struck by the 
analogies between sustainable land use and social 
environments. In both cases, corporate capital breeds 
a monoculture that kicks in a law of diminishing 

Back in late 1987, I left Wired magazine (where I was 
writing regular feature articles) to become a 
founding editor of Business 2.0 magazine. Our nascent 
editorial team recognized that innovations in 
technology were daily shaping business practices, 
and we set about to predict the waves before they 
hit the shore. The magazine's success far surpassed 
our wildest dreams. In 1988 it won the USA award for 
best new consumer magazine across all categories, 
and its circulation climbed quickly to 250,000 
readers. It became the required manual for any 
entrepreneur hoping to start a new technology 
company. But beyond the content, it was widely 
hailed by magazine critics as "edgy," "innovative," 
and "daring" in design and format. After two years I 
left Business 2.0 to pursue my own entrepreneurial 
dreams. Most of my co-founders stayed on and saw 
their circulation head north of 350,000 readers (for 
sake of perspective, after decades of publishing Fortune 
and Forbes each reach approximately 900,000 readers). 

Last week AOL/TimeWarner bought Business 2.0 magazine 
for the unseemly amount of $68 million. AOL/TW already 
had tried to launch a competitor to Business 2.0 early 
last year, a magazine called eCompany Now. The magazine 
didn't take off - frankly, the content and its presentation 
was boring. But of course AOL/TW has the finances to 
compensate for its lack of creativity. But it's not 
necessarily the takeover that has got me riled, but the 
way it's being done. eCompany Now will cease to exist, but 
its entire staff will move on to operate under the 
Business 2.0 brand. The 120 employees who built 
Business 2.0, on the other hand, will be rewarded 
with pink slips, bar two or three of the senior 
writers who may be offered positions. 

First off, AOL/TW's lack of creativity must extend to 
its business operations. Do they really thing that (all) 
readers are stupid enough to notice that while the name 
hasn't changed, the innovative energy behind the content 
has disappeared? 

Second, how unfair to Business 2.0 employees. Very 
little of the proceeds of the sale went to those who 
built the product and the brand (note: this isn't sour 
grapes on my part; recall I had already left the magazine). 
Most of the $68m passed hands between AOL/TW and the 
original investors in Business 2.0. 

Finally, it's we the readers who lose out. Chalk up 
another loss for biodiversity in the marketplace of 
ideas. Slash and burn is more like it. Is that any 
way to tend to a social eco-system? 


Culture Watch
The Lion, the Witch, and the Profit Margin

Borrowing a page from a literary upstart named Harry
Potter, the Lewis estate and its publishers have
started shaping a marketing makeover of Aslan and
assorted Narnian habitués to expand readership and
extend the brand.

They have struck deals to license plush Narnian toys.
The series publisher, HarperCollins, revealed plans
to create new Narnia novels by unidentified authors,
to the outrage of some devoted readers. (What next?
"Narnia Barbie in a school uniform?" asked one fan in
a Lewis electronic forum.)

Most striking of all, they have developed a discreet
strategy to avoid direct links to the Christian imagery
and theology that suffuse the Narnia novels and inspired

"They're turning Narnia into a British version of Mickey
Mouse," said John G. West, co-editor of The C. S. Lewis
Readers Encyclopedia and an associate professor of
political science at Seattle Pacific University. "What
they've figured out is that Harry Potter is a cash cow.
And here's a way they can decompartmentalize the children's
novels from the rest of Lewis. That's what is so troubling.
Narnia is a personal creation, and they're turning it into
a corporate creation."

Read the full story:


B o o m e r a n g

Tom Boughan of Cowan, Tennessee, wrote:

In an Orwellian newspeak, Bush said his missile
defense is thinking beyond the Cold War and that
to oppose it and ask for reducing nuclear weapons
is going back to Cold War mentality. No, it is
Cold War mentality that brings Star Wars. It is
going beyond Cold War to call for reducing nuclear
weapons. Besides, Ronald Reagan said he wanted those
Star Wars defense to fight space aliens, don't
you know.


Paul L. Whiteley Sr. of Louisville, Kentucky, wrote:

The Republican Party always criticizes the Democrats
for throwing money at problems like education, poverty,
welfare. But the GOP proposes throwing unlimited sums
of money at foolish, unworkable, and unwise ideas like a
National Missile Defense system. This shows a lack of
faith and trust in our Creator. The "In God We Trust"
on our currency is just rhetoric.


Maryellen Mueller of Minneapolis, Minnesota, wrote:

I apologize if this seems obvious and simplistic.
If you want to get the full details of George W.
Bush's policy agenda, expected impact on ordinary
citizens, and the real financial beneficiaries,
read any copy of the Wall Street Journal. The
Wall Street Journal writes articles that tell
everything. The latest one was about the million
dollar ad campaign by investment/financial companies
that support the privatization of Social Security.
It named company and executive names, plus the fact
that the industry will get lots of profit as a result,
so a few million dollars in ad money is worth it.

Alan Thornton of Newcastle, England, wrote:

So Andrew Hackett, of Sydney, Australia, wants to
delegate God's authority to "every legitimate
government". But every government, however tyrannical,
claims to be legitimate. As an Anarchist I know that
governments, by definition, operate by the will of a
few corrupted by power. As a Christian I know that
God gave us ALL the mission to work towards creating
heaven on earth. 

Let's face it: All governments are oppressive. For
God's sake, let's not give in to them.


Steve Hayes of Pretoria, South Africa, wrote:

One of the disturbing things that has been said about
the killing of Timothy McVeigh is that his death will
bring "closure" to the victims of his bombing. Yet it
was the State that taught him to kill. It was the
State that taught him that the deaths of young
children were "collateral damage."

Should we not therefore argue that Madeleine "We think
the price is worth it" Albright, Bill Clinton, and
Tony Blair should have died alongside McVeigh in order
to bring "closure" to the victims of their bombing?

Have any theologians considered the theology of this
demand for "closure," and whether and how it is
compatible with Christian values?


Kevin Burt of Memphis, Tennessee, wrote:

The latest SojoMail included an essay, "For Whom the
Bells Toll...", in which the writer said, "Today,
however, the bells toll to mourn the immoral
practice of executions in this country."

I struggle constantly with the death penalty....
Although my heart wants to agree, my mind knows
that capital punishment has an accepted place in
my spiritual roots in the Jewish faith. The Torah
readily and clearly supports the death penalty in
a variety of cases, some of which seem rather
extreme to me. And yet, the Torah is an important
part of the writings that are sacred in my life.
If I, as a believer in the Jewish and Christian
God, accept these writings as sacred and authoritative,
how do I oppose capital punishment as an "immoral"
act? Doesn't that cast doubt on either the Jewish
scriptures' authenticity or on the God who gave
them? Help me sort through this!

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. Want to make your voice heard? Send
Boomerang e-mails to the editor:



B i z   E t h i x
McDonald's busted: Those fries aren't vegetarian!

Three Hindu businessman who accused McDonald's of
secretly using beef in their French fries were
triumphantly vindicated last night when the company
admitted that it has lied to the public for 10 years.

Facing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit, McDonald's
yesterday conceded that its chips were initially
cooked in beef fat before being frozen and shipped
to restaurants for further frying. Vegetarian
customers who had been told that the fries were
beef-free had not been given "complete" information,
the company said. "We're not too big to apologize,"
a McDonald's spokesman added.

The admission is likely to further anger right-wing
Hindu activists in India, who earlier this month
smashed up one McDonald's outlet in Bombay and
picketed its Delhi headquarters. The protesters
called on the prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
to shut all 27 Indian branches. They also sent
samples of the fries for laboratory tests.

For the full story, go to:


W o r d   on   a   W i r e
God comes as fire and in a whisper

Lectionary readings for June 24

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7), 8-15a, Psalms 42-43,
Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 8:26-39

The journey through ordinary time continues with the
God who accompanies us through every adversity, especially
those that emerge from the burden and joy of proclaiming
the good news. This week we experience God's presence
differently from the passion and drama of the Easter
season. Here, on Mt. Horeb where the covenant was first
revealed to Moses, God comes not in fire but in a whisper.




B u i l d i n g  a  M o v e m e n t
What Would Jesus Drive?

by Bill McKibbben 

The morning began with a few speeches and songs, before
participants, led by a parade of seven hybrid Toyotas
and Hondas, began walking a soggy picket line in front
of the auto dealers. A rented SUV, whose back window
read "Just Married - to the Gas Pump" dragged a dozen
gas cans along the pavement behind it.

The demonstration, endorsed by a dozen local groups
and organized by Debra Hall and Marci Gerulis of the
Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies,
was the first of its kind in the nation, an attempt to
take anti-SUV bumper-sticker and ticket campaigns to a
new level. It also marked a new level of religious
involvement in the cause--at least four ministers
from various denominations were on hand, including Bob
Massie, an Episcopal priest who also heads CERES, Fred
Small, director of Religious Witness for the Earth, and
Dan Smith, a Congregational minister who won the prize
for the day's best poster: "What Would Jesus Drive?"

Read the full story:


W e b  S c e n e

*Guide for responsible shopping

This site allows you to investigate hundreds
of commercial companies on a range of issues -
sweatshops, pollution, family-friendliness,
ethics. The search engine interface is easy to
use, and quickly gets you the information you're
looking for. Go to:


*Short films

Entertainment and advertising get cozy at BMW's
new, much-talked-about promotional site. The
automaker has enlisted acclaimed directors like
John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, and Guy Ritchie to
make these exclusive short films, which you can
view online for free. (You have to give BMW
your name and email address to watch them, so
check out the privacy policy first.)


*Public Domain Music

The Internet music boom has ignited some intense
copyright battles, a fact that can intimidate
anyone who wants to use a piece of music for
personal or business use, advertising, performance,
and so on. This site lists works that are in the
public domain (and therefore royalty-free).
It also serves as a good educational resource for
understanding music copyright law.


*World history compass

With its well-organized, unassuming layout, this
directory of historical sites on the Net is an
excellent starting point for students, researchers,
and anyone else who's interested in studying the
past. Simply click one of the topic areas in the
left-hand navigation bar to explore the
histories of countries and geographical regions as
well as math, medicine, technology, and more.


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