The Common Good


Sojomail - July 20, 2001

                  ****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

Note: Because the Sojourners crew is taking the party 
on the road next week for SojoFest (there's still time 
to join us - see details below), look for the next issue 
of SojoMail on August 3.

++++++++++++++++++++ 20-July-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Adrienne Rich: anatomy of a mass audience

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *Celebrate with us!

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Return to sender

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Rainforest Action Network under seige

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Governmental corruption index

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Crime and punishment

 B o o m e r a n g
     *As diverse views on capital punishment and
      technology as you'd hope to find...anywhere

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Jewish teachings on loving kindness

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Time capsule music gets flushed
     *Time capsule's digital divide

 P. O. V.
     *Class player turns all-star game into a classic

 W o r d   o n   a   W i r e
     *Thirsting for justice

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Tools for social activism
     *Big Brother librarian
     *Trying to get into shape?
     *Free admission 24/7 to art gallery

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

A mass audience in the United States is not an audience
for a collectively generated idea, welded together by the
power of that idea and by common debates about it. Mass
audiences are created by promotion, by the marketing of
excitements that take the place of ideas, of real collective
debate, vision or catharsis; excitements that come and go,
flash on and off, so fast they serve only to isolate us in
the littleness of our own lives - we become incoherent to
one another."
            Adrienne Rich, in "What is Found There."



less than a week away (July 26-29 in Wheaton), 
and you'll want to be there! Join us for any or all 
of the celebration. If you live in the Chicago 
area and would like to join us for an evening 
celebration, they are open to the public (for 
a suggested $5 donation). The schedule:

Thursday 7/26: Tony Campolo, with the music of the 
DuPage AME Gospel Choir. Followed by Over the Rhine 
in concert.

Friday 7/27: Jim Wallis and the music of Ken Medema.

Saturday 7/28: A panel discussion on Activism Through 
the Generations, moderated by Rev. Calvin Morris and 
including Vincent Harding, Rocky Kidd, and Jim Wallis. 
With the music of Carrie Newcomer, followed by 
David Wilcox in concert.

The festival also includes Bible studies (with 
Ched Myers, Leah Gaskin Fitchue, Bill Wylie-Kellermann, 
and others), workshops, peace camp and child care for 
the kids, an outdoor fair, cyber café, coffee house, 
Sunday worship led by Rev. Yvonne Delk, and more!

We have a one-day registration option, and group 
registration rates for parties of 10 or more. For 
more information, call Robin at 1-800-714-7474, or 
register online at

Sound off...And get a free T-shirt!

Have you thought about subscribing to Sojourners?
Have you been a subscriber and let your subscription lapse?

We'd like to hear your thoughts on Sojourners magazine in 
focus groups we'll be holding during SojoFest.
What: Focus Groups
When: July 27-28
Where: Wheaton, IL

Join us at SojoFest, share a meal, get a T-shirt, and 
give valuable feedback. Call 1-800-714-7474, ext. 221, 
or e-mail for more information.


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Celebrating with us!

Since the beginning of the year, this weekly commentary 
has covered a wide variety of issues. I've discussed the 
Bush administration's faith-based initiative and compared 
it to the British model. I've urged your support for the 
refundable child tax credit and a living wage, and opposed 
the death penalty and missile defense. I've shared thoughts 
on the Middle East, Vietnam, and the arrest of Slobodan 

Many of you have contributed to the discussion - sometimes 
agreeing with me and sometimes disagreeing. But all the 
responses have helped further the mission of SojoMail: 
"to promote values at the crossroads where spirituality, 
politics, and culture meet." Your interactive responses 
are an important part of our vision for a weekly e-mail 
newsletter. You are what gives it life.

Next week, I'll be at SojoFest in Wheaton, Illinois, 
celebrating 30 years of Sojourners. I'm looking forward 
to seeing many of you in person. We have an exciting 
program of music, celebration, Bible studies, and 
inspiring speakers. And, we've also planned plenty of 
time just to be together and visit. I'm especially 
looking forward to the intergenerational dialogue 
among Christian activists.

If you're in the Chicago area and have not yet 
registered, I encourage you to come by. It promises 
to be an informative and fun several days together. 
For more information and to register, go to

In August, I'm taking a long overdue vacation with my 
family. I'll also take a vacation from writing this 
column - it will resume in September.

In September, the paperback edition of "Faith Works" 
will be launched. I've revised and updated the book 
to take into account some of the new developments in 
the country since the book was written 18 months ago. 
There's a new introduction, updated statistical 
information, and a new chapter on the faith-based 
initiative discussion.

During the fall, I'll be speaking around the country
and doing events with the new edition of the book. 
We'll post the schedule as it is determined - here and 
on our Web page. I'll look forward to meeting more of 
you then.  

As I reflect on our 30 years, I'm amazed and gratified 
that a tabloid newspaper published by a small group of 
seminary students has grown into an award-winning 
magazine, a myriad of organizing efforts for justice and 
peace, the SojoNet Web site, and now this SojoMail 
newsletter. God has been good. 

Have a blessed summer,
Jim Wallis


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Return to sender

A father was at the beach with his children
when his four-year-old son ran up to him,
grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore,
where a seagull lay dead in the sand. "Daddy,
what happened to him?" the son asked. "He
died and went to Heaven," the dad replied.
The boy thought a moment and then
said, "Did God throw him back down?"


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Rainforest Action Network under seige

A trio of anti-environmental groups and companies is
launching a multi-tiered attack on the Rainforest
Action Network []. Best known for
its headline-grabbing campaigns to protect forests,
RAN has a proven track record of altering corporate
behavior through a range of pressure tactics.

A conservative group called the Frontier Freedom
Foundation (FFF) - heavily supported by tobacco, oil,
and timber money - is lobbying the IRS to revoke RAN's
nonprofit status. At the same time, logging company
Boise Cascade has aggressively targeted RAN's funders
with threatening letters, trying to undermine the
organization by drying up its cash flow. Both are
working with the anti-green Center for the Defense of
Free Enterprise to cripple RAN's effectiveness.

RAN executes highly visible, aggressive campaigns
primarily against corporations destroying old growth
forests in North America and around the world. Its
tactics include consumer boycotts and symbolic efforts
designed to capture media attention, including
rappelling down corporate buildings and unleashing
giant banners. Along with Boise Cascade, RAN has also
targeted Mitsubishi and Occidental Petroleum, among
other corporate giants.

The first attack came from the FFF (founded by former
Wyoming senator Malcolm Wallup, a close associate of
vice president Dick Cheney), which charged in a letter
to the IRS that RAN routinely engages in non-educational
activity, violating the legal requirement that it be
"operated exclusively for educational purposes."

RAN is planning a protest near Chicago at Boise
Cascade office on Wednesday, July 25. The group
gathered will include retired judges, former 
members of Congress, business CEOs, foundation 
executives, concerned celebrities, authors, religious 
leaders, and the executive directors of organizations 
in movements including civil rights, human rights, 
women's rights, environmental rights, and labor rights. 
For more info, contact Anne Walton-Sandberg;



Challenging position with the oldest, largest, interfaith/
international peace and justice organization in the U.S.
Respectable salary, excellent benefits. August 31 application
deadline. Contact: Yvonne Royster, FOR, Box 271, Nyack, NY
10960. (845) 358-4601. Fax: (845) 358-3924.


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Governmental corruption index

An annual survey by Transparency International
features a worldwide corruption crisis among

This year's index, published by the world's leading
non-governmental organization fighting corruption,
ranks 91 countries. Some of the richest countries
in the world - Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland,
Singapore, and Sweden - scored 9 or higher out of a
clean score of 10 in the new CPI, indicating very low
levels of perceived corruption. But 55 countries
scored less than 5  - many of which are among the
world's poorest - suggesting high levels of
perceived corruption in government and public

"The new index illustrates once more the vicious
circle of poverty and corruption, where parents
have to bribe underpaid teachers to secure an
education for their children and under-resourced
health services provide a breeding ground for
corruption. The world's poorest are the greatest
victims of corruption," said Peter Eigen, chair
of Transparency International, at a press conference
in Paris. "Vast amounts of public funds are being
wasted and stolen by corrupt officials," he continued.

Selected Rankings:

1) Finland
2) Denmark 
3) New Zealand 
4) Iceland
5) Singapore
6) Sweden
7) Canada
8) Netherlands
9) Luxembourg
10) Norway
11) Australia
13) United Kingdom
16) Israel
17) United States
85) Bolivia
86) Cameroon
87) Kenya
88) Indonesia
89) Uganda
90) Nigeria
91) Bangladesh

To learn more about the study's methodology, and data, go to:


            October 27-November 4, 2001

"Through Farmworkers' Eyes: Richness and Realities of
the Heritage of Mexican Immigrants," a travel seminar to
Cuernavaca and Oaxaca, Mexico. Co-sponsored by the Oregon
Farm Worker Ministry and the Episcopal Hispanic/Farmworker
Ministries of North Carolina. This seminar will be led by
the highly respected Center for Global Education, and
offers opportunities for conversation with people across
the spectrum of Mexican society. Spend Day of the Dead
in Oaxaca, learn about the labor movement in Mexico, build
community with other participants, and expand your worldview!
For more information or an application, contact Oregon
Farm Worker Ministry, 503-981-8384;;
or contact directly the Center for Global Education,


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
Crime and punishment

by David Batstone

Last week I spent a few days in Barcelona, Spain, with
my family. If you've never had the great privilege of
visiting Barcelona, I can bear witness to its reputation
as a remarkably artistic city. The architectural works 
of Antonio Gaudí alone - the Sagrada Familia church is 
without a doubt one of the most unique structures I've 
seen, mixing the sacred and ludicrous to perfection - is 
worth the visit.

But my family left Barcelona with another indelible
memory that could be considered neither sacred nor
ludicrous, but tragically mundane. Rounding a corner
with all four of our children in tow, we witnessed the
crime from start to finish. Two elderly women were
walking down the street, arm in arm, one slightly younger
and healthier lending support to the other. A young
teen stopped the women and pretended to offer help
to remove a liquid that had just been sprayed on them
from one of his accomplices a few moments before.
As he distracted them, another teen sprinted down
the street and grabbed the purse off one of the
women. As both women reeled in shock from the
snatching of the purse, the other boy worked on
releasing the purse tightly secured around the other
women's waist.

With my 3-year-old boy holding my one hand and 6-year
old grabbing the other, I stood immobilized no more than
10 feet away. I yelled for the women to turn around
before the second teen untied the other purse. They were
frozen in fear. Seconds later the teen had the purse
and was running down the street on the trail of his
partner in crime. 

It's easy to pontificate about social factors that
contribute to crime - and our need to rationally
understand its origins - until you've been its victim.
I found that out when I lived in the inner city of
Oakland for more than a decade and observed and 
experienced the very personal costs that crime exacts. 
One pattern I learned: crime gravitates toward the 
most vulnerable. Two elderly women walking down the 
street without protection were the perfect mark.

My children lost a certain innocence that day. They
now know intimately a condition with which their
parents have long lived: a sense of helplessness
to stop a wrong done, fear for the vulnerable (a place
we all stumble into at one time or another), and
anger at the perpetrator. Only a day passed, but my
children came of age.

B o o m e r a n g

Tony Dancer of Oxford, UK, wrote:

As Bill Wylie-Kellermann says, technology, and the Net
in particular, can disembody us, and movement is a
bodily thing. It can make us feel like we have done
something, when we have actually "done" nothing, other
than a few key strokes. Does it improve communications?
No, I don't think it does, not qualitatively at least.
For example, e-mail, whilst convenient and faster than
other written forms of communication, is in no way 
better than speaking to someone or meeting with them
face to face. Imagine what shape this conversation
[between David Batstone and Wylie-Kellermann] may have 
taken if it were, as the magazine cover picture depicts,
a conversation had in person, rather than that had
in a more vitual sphere. Is such imagining any
longer possible? The quality of communications has
dramatic importance for organizing and movement: it
is about people as subjects, not objects. Technology
can objectify with remarkable ease, and we can be too
easily comfortable with that.

Bill works hard at helping David to see the powers.
However, I don't think David ever gets it, or at
least buys into it.


R. Junior of Charleston, West Virginia, wrote:

Two people sitting at their *computers*, in their
*air conditioned, electrically lit* offices, exchanging
*e-mails* over the *national phone system* - debating
and fretting about the "good" or "evil" of technology.
It's enough to make a cat laugh....

Just as much, if not more, human suffering has
been brought about in this world by those *resisting*
scientific advancement, as any brought about by the
technology itself. Medicines shelved by foot-dragging
bureaucrats while millions died. Advances in things
as simple as personal hygiene fought against bitterly
by ignorant populace and arrogant authority alike.

The guiding rule of society is that if it is
cheaper, better, faster, cleaner, improves health,
corrects a long-standing problem, or improves the
quality of life, the status quo will fight to the
bloody death to prevent its implementation.

Technological advance may not be perfect, and every
advance may bring about problems of its own. But
today's "troubled, technology-ridden society" has
anything in the past beat hollow.


Maggie Minchew of Vero Beach, Florida, wrote:

Several years ago I was offered an opportunity to
take a self-defense course at a local college that
specifically taught how to shoot a gun. From what
little I know about guns, it appears that most of
them are purchased for just one purpose - to kill
something or someone. A .22 kills squirrels and rabbits,
a shotgun kills ducks, a rifle knocks off the bigger
stuff; well, something like that anyway. It seemed
to me that if I really wanted to learn to shoot that
pistol, first I had to acknowledge I was willing
to kill a person. Sure I might try to aim lower
or higher and just injure, but the reality is, I
might kill. Recognizing an unwillingness to make
this commitment, I declined. Today I heard that some
state wants to have vanity license plates promoting
the second amendment, the right to bear arms. I propose
we issue bumper stickers to afix right beside the
plate that lists the Ten Commandments, or perhaps
just one, the one that says, "Thou shalt not kill."


David Weinschrott of Indianapolis, Indiana, wrote:

In response to Jim Wallis, I think it is unfortunate
that we forced the issue of Milosevic's transfer to
The Hague - especially with a bribe. The president of
Serbia (nationalist that he is, but also a lawyer)
has opposed the transfer, not because he doesn't think
Milosevic is guilty, but because he wants his own
country to have a shot at holding him accountable
with their own courts. How better to strengthen the
legal structures in Serbia than to try this monster
before his countrymen. Perhaps after they have had
their say, a portion of the sentence would be to
transfer Milosevic to The Hague.


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



S o u l  W o r k s
Jewish teachings on loving kindness

by Rodger Kamenetz

In the past, dialogue between religions often meant
disputation; the purpose of the dialogue, however
polite on the surface, was to prove one religion
superior to another. The mindset was: to the extent
that my religion is right, yours must be wrong. In
the dialogue between Judaism and Tibetan Buddhism,
as embodied in the encounter between His Holiness
the Dalai Lama and a group of rabbis and Jewish
scholars that took place in 1990, there was
a different spirit and a different challenge. As
one of the participants, Rabbi Irving Greenberg, put
it, "Can I hold myself open to the beauty of
another tradition while yet affirming my own?"

My own witness to this encounter led me to ask, what
does my tradition say about the cultivation of loving
kindness? Not simply as an attitude but as a living
practice. Each tradition has something to teach us
about loving kindness and the method of practicing
it; each tradition has its areas of strong development
and none has an exclusive monopoly on wisdom.

The Jewish path is threefold. One of the earliest
statements of the Jewish way is that of Rabbi
Simeon the Righteous, who said, "The world rests on
three things: Torah, prayer, and deeds of loving
kindness." Of course the three work together as one.
Study of Torah leads to deeper intellectual
understandings, prayer cultivates attitudes of
gratitude and forgiveness, and deeds engage the
body. Mind, emotion, spirit and body; none of
these is enough alone.

To read more on the Jewish path to loving kindness,
go to:


Culture Watch
Time capsule music gets flushed

by Katie Dean

What will people in the year 3000 know of 20th-
century sounds? Lawnmowers, automobile traffic,
and flushing toilets. So where's the music? Go to:,1284,43402,00.html?tw=wn20010430


Time capsule's digital divide

The New York Times Capsule aims to preserve the
culture of the late 20th century. Yet analog formats
of preservation - not digital - will likely be more
successful at saving artifacts from an increasingly
e-world. Go to:,1367,43400,00.html?tw=wn20010430


P. O. V.
Class player turns all-star game into a classic

by Duane Shank

"There is always some kid who may be seeing me
for the first or last time. I owe him my best."

                       -- Joe Dimaggio

Two magic moments made the major league all-star
game an unforgettable memory. Both involved Cal
Ripken Jr., the lifetime Baltimore Oriole who is
retiring after this season.
When the American League team took the field in
the first inning, shortstop Alex Rodriguez began
pushing Ripken from third base toward the shortstop
position where for 15 years he had been the
best. Ripken looked puzzled and glanced toward the
dugout where manager Joe Torre was also motioning
him to move. Cal finally understood, and with a big
grin moved to his old position.

And when he came to the plate in the third, the
first pitch flew off his bat into the left field
stands in what proved to be the game-winning run.
It was enough to win him the Most Valuable Player
honor for the game. As a longtime Orioles fan,
I have followed Ripken for the past 20 years.
He's been a model in many more ways than just a
ballplayer.  He has exemplified devotion to family,
involvement in the community, and a work ethic
that led to the famous "Ironman" streak of 2,632
games. But he wasn't just putting in time: he became
only the seventh player in major league history to
reach 3,000 hits and 400 home runs.

Cal had a job to do - yes, a game to play - and
simply went out and did it every day. In an era of
overpaid, over-pampered, egotistical athletes, he
set a quiet example of how it should be done. Not
much flash, not much flair, just a steady presence
day after day, game after game. He felt he owed it
to his team and to the fans.
There are two and a half months left to watch Cal
play ball, and I'll enjoy every minute. There aren't
many like him around anymore.



Call to Renewal, a national network of churches and
faith-based organizations committed to overcoming poverty,
is seeking energetic candidates for the exciting new position
of Campaign Manager.

The Campaign Manager shall:

* Develop policy associated with the "Campaign to Overcome
* Facilitate communications with elected and government
* Provide a voice in Congress for those in poverty
* Coordinate and ensure participation of entire CTR network
(to include national partners, local affiliates, activities,
and roundtables) in our "Campaign to Overcome Poverty"
* Represent the convener on campaign-related matters
* Participate in and facilitate strategic thinking
* Coordinate National Roundtables
* Work with CTR denominational and FBO policy representatives
* Assist convener with writing/speaking
* Oversee the Call to Renewal policy team
* Supervise campaign volunteers

For more information, go to or call


W o r d   on   a   W i r e
Thirsting for justice

Readings for July 22:

Amos 8:1-12; Psalm 52; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42

This week's readings deal with the theme
of justice, with a specific focus on wealth; as
disciples, our source of hope and life must be God
alone. Through Amos, a shepherd turned prophet,
God calls those "who trample upon the needy and
destroy the poor of the land" to account for their
greed. The consequences of such idolatry will not
be fire and brimstone, but "a famine upon the land,
not...of bread or thirst for water but for hearing
the word of the Lord." For a people formed and
nourished on God's Word, this was a bleak prospect
indeed. And for Christians, for whom the Word is
now flesh, the threat of famine is utterly unthinkable.


W e b  S c e n e

*Tools for social activism

20/20 Vision provides tools for contacting government
officials and media on a wide range of progressive
issues, such as conserving the environment, shifting
military spending to domestic needs, stopping handgun
violence, and getting money out of our campaign process.
They'll even keep you updated with monthly e-mails. Go to:


*Lib Web

Many libraries around the world have their own Web
sites, offering students and researchers everything
from simple information (e.g., operating hours and
contact information) to fully searchable online
catalogs. This directory helps you find such sites
in more than 100 countries, including public, academic,
and other types of libraries. Go to:


*Trying to get into shape? is a great place to start. With
nutritional information on almost 6,000 different
foods - including levels of protein, fats,
carbohydrates, calories, and sodium - this is a
great place to get the facts you need to make
informed decisions about what you eat. The site
also includes calculators for calories and body
mass index. Go to:


*Free admission 24/7 to art gallery

Feast your eyes on some of the most stunning
digital art on the Web: The Bryce Forum Gallery.
This site features the work of more than 300
artists from around the world who compete for
inclusion in the gallery.


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