The Common Good


Sojomail - August 3, 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

++++++++++++++++++++ 03-August-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Economists: Will forecast for meals

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Brewing up some justice

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Reconciliation work in South African townships

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Myth of the disconnected society?

 S c i e n c e   a n d   R e l i g i o n 
     *Looking for God at Berkeley

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

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *William Blake: seeds of a mystic

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Film guide for "Magnolia"
     *100 best books politics, etc.

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Study shows hardships for working families

 W o r d   o n   a   W i r e
     *Possessed by love alone

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Oh brother, wherefore art thou? Prison stats
     *Book-trading bizarre online
     *What movie should you see tonight?
     *Grave finder

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

In all of recorded history there has not been
one economist who has had to worry about where
the next meal would come from.
           - Peter F. Drucker, economist

A Sojo Celebration

Thank you for helping Sojourners celebrate its 30th anniversary! 
Whether you were able to come to Sojofest last weekend, sent
notes and prayers, or remembered us in your thoughts, we appreciate
your support. For those of you who weren't able to come, here are 
some articles you might enjoy reading:

The Dallas Morning News

The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin:

Also, it's not too late to purchase a Sojofest T-shirt! Go to:

Note: Jim Wallis is on vacation. His Hearts & Minds column will resume
in September.


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
Brewing up some justice

by David Batstone

Behind every cup of coffee there is a farmer to
produce it. But usually the economics don't work
in the farmers' favor.

We coffee drinkers in the developed countries can pay
$2 or more for a premium cup of coffee. But many
small farmers in the underdeveloped world are
lucky to live on $2 a day.

The coffee industry is dominated by four multi-
national companies. Proctor & Gamble, Philip
Morris (yes, profiting on more addiction!), Sara
Lee, and Nestle account for 40 percent of worldwide
sales. Likewise, just six multinational firms control
40 percent of the world's coffee market.

For every pound of coffee sold in the United States
farmers get less than 35 cents and coffee pickers
less than 14 cents, according to industry statistics.
The causes lie in a complex system in which coffee
beans can pass through as many as 15 hands between
shrub and cup, with price increases along the way.
In between the farmer and the exporter are multiple
middlemen who mark up prices and pad profits.

That background helps explain why Sojourners has
decided to get into the coffee business. Beginning
in August we will be selling online our own
special SojoBlend - three blends, actually, from
which to choose. All of our coffee is "fair
trade," which guarantees coffee farmers a set
price at least four times higher than the industry
average, regardless of world price fluctuations.
All of our SojoBlend coffee is shade-grown and
organic as well. Call it the "triple seal" of
java justice. And just to show that justice doesn't
have bad taste, the coffee is just as good or
better than you can get at a premium coffee house.

Our partner in this venture is Pura Vida, a non-
profit charity that contributes 100% of its
profits to provide hot meals, clothing, medicine
addiction treatment, and hope to thousands of
needy families in Costa Rica. So every time you
buy SojoBlend coffee, you...

*ensure organic coffee producers get a fair wage
*supply funds for street kids in Costa Rica
*support the mission of Sojourners and SojoNet
*get a great cup of coffee

Please consider making your coffee drinking an
act of justice. You can order by the pound, or
become a "Constant Cup" and we'll deliver to you a
fresh pound every month. Go now to:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s

Definition of atheism: a non-prophet organization.


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Reconciliation work in South African townships

by Linda Martindale

Sitting in an icy, leaking shack last Wednesday
evening talking about life and God with twenty young
Xhosa teenagers, I am overwhelmed again by a strong
sense of privilege to be a part of what God is doing
in the townships of South Africa. Given the sordid
past of our country, I consider it no small miracle
that I can be involved in KTC, a township near
Guguletu in Cape Town.

People who live in the suburbs often ask me why I
am involved in the townships, which they perceive
as unsafe. There are many reasons - the main one
being that I believe that God's heart for reconcil-
iation and restitution goes beyond the law, but
is birthed out of relationships. God is bringing
people together who for years have been kept apart
in a bizarre legal system, apartheid, which somehow
survived too long. He is encouraging many resourced
people to share what they have with those who have
not had the same opportunities.

The blood of both black and white men and women has
stained Guguletu's streets. It is the place where
seven black teenage "terrorists," known as the Guguletu
Seven, were ambushed and killed by the police force
in 1986. The same road bears memory to Amy Biehl, an
American Fulbright scholar, who was attacked and
killed by a group of incited youth on their way
home from a political rally in 1993. In the past
many lost their lives to the political struggle.
Today lives are being lost to the struggle against
the rising levels of crime, unemployment, and HIV/AIDS.

It is by no chance that this is where God has placed
Khanyisa Community Church, of which I am a member.
Khanyisa ("to share the light" in Xhosa) aims to be a
multi-cultural and inter-racial fellowship reaching
into the community with love and pointing people to
Jesus while alleviating poverty and restoring hope.
In a place where the past is so tainted and the
need so great, this dream would have no chance of
reality without God's intervention.

Watching the news nowadays is more difficult. When
hundreds have to leave their flooded shacks in KTC
due to recent winter downpours there is a good chance
that many of those suffering are people I know and
love. It makes it easier, though, to want to be a part
of change in our country.

For more information, contact Linda Martindale at



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
Myth of the disconnected society?

As Americans grow increasingly dependent on computers
and the Internet, are they becoming more isolated and
less connected to their communities? No, according to
a new study by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change.
In fact, its survey shows that Americans are volun-
teering more than ever before and feel profoundly
connected to their communities.

Over a one-year period culminating in late 2000,
Americans were shown to be actively engaged:

54% performed volunteer work
78% donated money to charities, religious
    organizations, and nonprofits
77% helped a neighbor with a problem

...and feel connectedness:

77% say they feel a sense of belonging to community
74% perceive their quality of life as good or excellent
65% think their community's best years are yet to come

So SojoMail isn't contributing to your anti-social
behavior after all!


S c i e n c e   a n d   R e l i g i o n
Looking for God at Berkeley

A provocative theory called "intelligent design"
claims evolution is hogwash. But it's not the
usual religious zealots leading the latest
attack on Darwin. It's scientists and professors
at Cal Berkeley.

by Mark Athitakis

In a crumbling UC Berkeley research lab, Jed Macosko
is looking for God. Macosko is a molecular biology
researcher who holds chemistry degrees from Cal and
MIT. As a Christian, he believes that God is
everywhere. As a scientist, he thinks that God
might live in bacteria....

Macosko's interpretation makes a radical break
from the overwhelming majority of his colleagues:
He believes that the work going on inside those
bacteria isn't just amazingly complex - it's so
incredibly complex that it couldn't conceivably
have formed through evolution. The only reasonable
explanation, he says, is that these systems and
their processes were deliberately created by an
"intelligent designer."...

In the minds of most scientists, intelligent
design is simply a more insidious way of packaging
creation science; intelligent design theory, they
argue, is little more than the latest twist in
an ongoing debate to wedge religion into public schools,
and besides, it's not much of a theory at all.
It's just bad science, they say, which makes
specious, deceptive, and unprovable claims
about the nature of the universe....

Macosko sympathizes with the scientists
who are so resistant to his ideas. Darwin's
theory of evolution, after all, evicted God from
the laboratory; it built a wall dividing scientific
truth and spiritual truth. Tearing down the wall,
Macosko says, will require enlisting both the masses
and the scientists in ivory towers like Cal.
"The problem with Darwin is that it's so entrenched
in our culture," he says. "Newtonian physics never
made policy, but Darwinism has made policy. So
there's got to be two fights: one at the grassroots,
one academic."

Excerpted from a full-length cover feature in SF Weekly
June 20, 2001, titled "Looking for God at Berkeley."

            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 o o m e r a n g

Thabiti Anyabwile of Washington, D.C., wrote:

I was shocked at the recent Soul Works segment titled
"Lord's Prayer for Cellular Believers." Still laughing
aloud from the issue's Word Play section, I thought
the article was a pretty interesting joke. A pretty
good satire on the insane busy-ness and constant hurry
of contemporary culture. But when I visited the web
link and discovered that this was actually someone's
idea for reaching a "cellular" culture, I was
completely taken aback. My imagination was flooded
with the chirping of countless cell phones around the
world, followed by the tentative recitation of
distracted motorists and pedestrians lost in the
cellular limbo of deciphering handheld graffiti....
Rather than call people to a deeper, more meaningful
relationship with Christ, cell phones are being used
to signal that it's okay to rush past the eternal
things so we can be on with our lives. Let's fit our
daily conversation with God into a 160-character
e-mail and we will be done with our religious duties
to God. Such is the mind that reduces the Lord's
instruction on prayer to a contest, leaving us with
another example of the world's encroachment into
the church.  


Greg Linder of Woodruff, Wisconsin, wrote:

The re-enactment of the federal death penalty
has ignited a crisis of personal conscience that
I am unable to set aside or dismiss. I have, in
fact, stood idly by while "my government" facilitates
the rape and plunder of the environment, conducts a
deadly and senseless war on drugs (or goes to war for
any other excuse deemed momentarily sufficient), supports
inhumane regimes and dictatorships, rewards the already
rich for their corrupt practices, fosters a corporate
oligarchy and promotes an amoral paradigm in which all
things are measured only in terms of economics, refuses
to extend to its citizens universally accessible health
and child care, and castrates inspection and safety
programs designed to protect the public.

And now the government has begun executing its own
citizenry, contending in effect that murder in one set
of circumstances is abhorrent while murder conducted
by the government is justifiable.

I characterize myself as standing idly by because,
although I have been an activist, I have not "put my
money where my conscience is." In other words, I
have not withdrawn my financial support from an immoral
government that at this point responds only to issues
of money.

I am coming to the painful belief that I must, as a
matter of dire conscience, refuse to pay all federal
taxes until the government begins to function in a
moral and benevolent manner. I am contemplating sending
notification of my decision to the IRS, but I am also
the father of two young children, and I am aware that I
may face prison, exorbitant legal expenses, and other
penalties as a result. If I am to take this step, I want
it to be a meaningful one. This, I believe, requires
that many people take the same principled stand at
the same time, so that a movement-not-to-be-ignored

Have we had enough? Is it time at last for non-violent
but effective revolution? Let us at least begin the

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




Is your check from George W. Bush in the mail? We
have a great idea for how to use this money. Show
your opposition to Bush administration policies that
punish the poor and endanger the environment by
making a donation to Sojourners - Working Assets and
GiveForChange will match contributions (up to $1 million).

Here's How It Works:
Just donate exactly $300 or $600 to Sojourners in one
transaction through before November
1, 2001, and your donation will be matched. Please
note: Your individual contribution will be matched up
to $600 only.

You can even send President Bush a gift card to thank
him for the rebate and to let him know about your
donation. Just enter "President Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania
Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500" in the gift card fields.

As always, your online transaction is fast, easy,
and tax-deductible - simply click to donate. Thank
you for your generous support!

To choose Sojourners as your rebate designee, click on:

To get more information about Working Assets and
GiveForChange's campaign, see


S o u l  W o r k s
William Blake: life of a mystic

by Jonathan Bate

When William Blake was four years old, he saw
the face of God at the window and began screaming.
Soon after, he ran in from the fields where he
had been playing and told his mother that he had
seen the prophet Ezekiel. She beat him.
Blake's artistic life was one long scream against
the tyranny of conventionality and restraint. He
conversed with angels, with the mighty dead, and
once even with the ghost of a flea. His extraordinary
engraved works - a unique fusion of visual and poetic
art - are the record of those conversations.

For more on William Blake, go to:


C u l t u r e  W a t c h
Film guide for "MAGNOLIA"

The film Magnolia has taken on the status of a recent
classic exploring big issues of families, death,
forgiveness, and love. Go to:


100 Best Books

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, investigative
journalists and editors of the alternative newsletter
"CounterPunch," have come up with a list of their favorite
100 books of nonfiction first published in English in
the 20th century. A sampling:

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by Paulo Freire
Gandhi: An Autobiography, by Mohandas Gandhi
I, Rigoberta Menchu, by Rigoberta Menchu
Black Elk Speaks, by Black Elk
Traditional French Cooking, by Curnonsky
A Theology of Liberation, by Gustavo Gutierrez
Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl
The Complete Letters, by Vincent Van Gogh
See the complete list at:


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Study shows hardships for working families

The Economic Policy Institute has produced a new
study showing that 29% of working families in the
United States with as many as three children under
age 12 do not earn enough income to afford basic
necessities.  The book examines the cost of living
in every community in the U.S. and determines separate
"basic family budgets" - the amount a family would
need to earn to afford food, housing, child care,
health insurance, transportation, and utilities -
for each community. Go to:

An online supplement, the Family Budgets Calculator,
generates an itemized budget for more than 400 metropolitan
areas by various family types. Go to:



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
Possessed by love alone

by Michaela Bruzzese

Readings for August 5:

Hosea 11:1-11; Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23; Psalm
49:1-12; Colossians 3:1; Luke 12:13-21

Our scriptures assure us that the real treasure,
the only one able to satisfy our profound hunger
to love and be loved, is the unconditional and
all-consuming love of God. It alone can quench
our thirst; like a parent, God wraps us "with
bands of love" and clothes us with new life. And
unlike material wealth, this treasure does not
trap us, but liberates us, giving us the strength
and courage to be liberators in the world.

Read this week's entire reflection at:


W e b  S c e n e

*Oh brother, where art thou? Prison stats

Find an exhaustive set of statistics, graphs, and
general info about who is incarcerated in this country.
This is a very vivid set of state-by-state statistics
showing how much the incarceration rate grew between
1980 and 2000 compared to spending on education, what
the racial breakdowns are, and how the USA compares
with the rest of the world in terms of proportion of
population in jail (USA is #1.)



If you've read a great book you'd like to share with
others, take a look at this unique book-trading site.
Register your book at BookCrossing, type in your
thoughts about it, and then give that book away.
People who read that same book later can then log
onto the site and contribute their own comments.
You'll be able to trace a book's journey from one
reader to the next. Go to:


*What movie should you see tonight?

Check the Grid pulls together the opinions of
movie critics and then rates films with either a
green, yellow, or red light to tell you at a glance
whether they're worth seeing. For those seeking
more in-depth appraisals of movies, the site lets
you read full reviews, too. Go to:


*Grave finder

No, not an e-tailer for discount burial plots. Find a
Grave lets you search by name, location, and date for
graves both famous and non-famous. Great for morbid
vacation planning or family research.


........................ E D I T O R I A L ......................

  David Batstone                               T 415.422.6660
  Executive Editor                         

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  Web Editor                                 

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