The Common Good


Sojomail - August 10, 2001

                ****S O J O   M A I L****

           Promoting values at the crossroads where
           spirituality, politics, and culture meet

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++++++++++++++++++++ 10-August-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *What is globalization?

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *When the wizard behind the curtain turns
        out to be a teenage boy...

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Haiku poetry as error message

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Recruiting a global, non-violent army

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Interview with God

 T e c h   E t h i x
     *Net's feel-good spirituality

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

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Who benefits from the Bush tax cut?

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Deconstructing the "girl bibles"
     *McTrademarks: McDonalds moves beyond hamburgers

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Study: well-being of America's children improving

 W o r d   o n   a   W i r e
     *Extraordinary faith

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Re-versed lyrics
     *Chilean church debuts on Net
     *Make your own movies on Friday night
     *Growing up in the '80s

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

Q:  What is globalization?

A:  An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend,
using a Swedish mobile telephone, crashes in a French
tunnel in a German car with a Dutch engine driven by
a Belgian driver, who was high on Scotch whiskey,
followed closely by an Italian paparazzi on a
Japanese motorcycle, treated by an American doctor,
assisted by Filipino para-medical staff, using Brazilian
medicines, dies.

                    - Anonymous Net circulator

Note: Jim Wallis' 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.)
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B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
When the wizard behind the curtain turns
out to be a teenage boy...

by David Batstone

Maybe you were flipping through your cable
channels and caught me this past week on Tech
TV's "Silicon Spin" show, hosted by John Divorak. For
the rest of you who make better use of your time
than watching TV, I was on with NY Times columnist
Michael Lewis, who has just written a new book
called "Next: The Future Just Happened."

Lewis believes the "revolution" of the Internet
is not to be found in Amazon stock (something
patently obvious to any casual business mind) but
in the social consequences of the "democratization
of information." He particularly highlights how
youth are empowered to challenge traditional
authorities. To demonstrate his point, he features
a 15-year-old boy who passed himself off as a
25-year-old law student on an Internet advice
exchange (, and he quickly became the
most highly rated "expert" on the site. Hundreds
of people came to him for legal advice.

The "Silicon Spin" program wanted to focus on
new ethical dilemmas raised by a world mediated
by the Net. Should a 15-year-old boy be giving
out legal advice, or for that matter, should a 
non-certified quack open a medical clinic online?
Michael Lewis sees in such examples of greater
access to information (both dissemination
and consumption of information) the seeds of a 
social revolution. "Outsiders" - including youth 
- find a way to subvert the power of "insiders." 

In my opinion, he's overly optimistic about the
power of the Net to subvert anything. The
economic consolidation of the last two years
ensures that the same corporate entities who own
offline media and communications will also control
the Net. Sure, it creates more access to information
and communication, but just ask any librarian:
information is not always power. I'm enthused
about the Net's potential for quick and easy
communications, it's more a leap forward from the
telephone than the dawn of a new era.

As for the ethics of online exchange, I think
it's great that the priesthood of lawyers, doctors,
professors, et al., is challenged. Lots of practical
information can be dispensed without an hourly
"expert consultant fee." But for the social good,
it's critical that we hold people accountable for
how they represent themselves. It's fraud to say
you're an accredited lawyer when you're not (at
least the 15-year-old only lied to the extent of
saying he was a law student). The Net gives us
all a platform. It's important we know who's
behind the mike.


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Haiku poetry as error message

In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and
unhelpful Microsoft Error messages with Haiku poetry
messages. Haiku poetry has strict construction rules.
Each poem has only three lines, 17 syllables - five
syllables in the first line, seven in the second,
five in the third.

Haikus are used to communicate a timeless message,
often achieving a wistful, yearning, and powerful insight
through extreme brevity. What better answer for the
impersonal computer. Here is a sample:

*The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.

*Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

*Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

*Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

*First snow, then silence.
This thousand-dollar screen dies
So beautifully.

*Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

*A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.

*Three things are certain:
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

*You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

*Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.



Aug. 17 - 19th: Living Earth/Living Faith Conference on
Ecology, Spirituality & Sustainable Living, at St. Bridget's
Church, Copake Falls, in rural Columbia City., NY. With David
Toolan, Michael Dowd, Finley Schaef, Manna Jo Greene, & many
more. Saturday concert with Kim & Reggie Harris and Magpie -
benefiting family farmers in Nicaragua. IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO
REGISTER. Full details, call Bruce Gardiner at 518-325-5546
or visit our website:


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Recruiting a non-violent army

Peace Brigades International, recently nominated
for the Nobel Peace Prize, has 35 unarmed accompaniers
in Colombia who are effectively protecting human
rights workers and others in the zones of peace.
Christian Peacemaker Teams has two small teams
providing a peaceful presence in Israel/Palestine.
Germany has begun fielding a civilian peace service.

The vision of a global nonviolent peace force came
to Mel Duncan in a Buddhist monastery where Thich
Nhat Hanh teaches. "We have too many people taking
sides," Thich Nhat Hanh explains. "See that the
most essential thing is life." A similar vision
came to David Hartsough in a Serbian jail where
he had been locked up for supporting the Kosovar
Albanian nonviolent movement. When Kosovo exploded
in early 1998, the world did not respond to the
invitation of the Kosovar nonviolent movement for
international nonviolent observers.

Mel and David first met almost a year later, in
May 1999, at the Hague Appeal for Peace. There,
as U.S. bombers pounded Serbia and Kosovo,
activists began to explore how to create
larger-scale nonviolent intervention. Based on
our meetings at The Hague, they developed a
proposal for a global nonviolent peace force.

For the full story, as it appeared in the July-
August issue of Sojourners magazine, go to:



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.


S o u l  W o r k s
The online "Interview with God"

Treat yourself to a singular online experience.
Go to: and click on "Interview with
God." Simple, yet profound. A good way to start
your day.


Wired magazine reports that online masses are
flocking to a homespun site run by Reata Strickland,
a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Sunday school teacher who took
a short, inspirational, anonymously written piece called
"Interview with God" and set it to Shockwave animation.

Jupiter Media says 2.4 million people checked out
the site in June. All of this attention is happening
without a single advertisement for the site, and
despite Reata's taking "Interview" offline several
times while she tried to figure out how to pay for
the cost of 40 gigabytes of bandwidth per day.


T e c h  E t h i x
Net's feel-good spirituality

Internet users can find a lot about God in cyberspace -
not all of it authentic, warns a Jesuit review,
Civiltà Cattolica. The publication points out that
some sites face the danger of becoming "supermarkets"
of faith, and criticizes "religious kitsch" and "self-
service of the soul."

The review does view the cyber-phenomenon as positive
however, because "the Net is a place of discernment
and mission; to evade it would be to default in
commitment to an important challenge."

Civiltà Cattolica also warns against the dangers.
"Religious kitsch talks about the need for intimacy,
a halfway consolation between video game and popular
piety," and one "sees a reappraisal of the reality of
'apparitions' as being within a hand's reach," giving
the illusion that the sacred is at the 'disposition'
of the 'consumer' at a moment's need." Read more at:


            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

Rose Marie Springer of San Francisco, California, wrote:

Wow - what a great idea for Sojo to sell coffee!
I'm signing up right away.


Steven Clark of Seattle, Washington, wrote:

The coffee story has lots of depths that have yet to
be explored. I used to sell specialty coffee. Leaving
the canopy of trees makes coffee mature slower. This
makes for better coffee. The rush to get the trees to
grow to production faster compromises quality as well
as habitat. There are many practices that 'increase
production' while decreasing quality and harming
the environment.

*Ed. note: Thanks, Steve. Some of our readers might
be wondering why we think it's important that SojoBlend
coffee is "shade-grown" as well as organic and fair
trade. That's what we call the triple seal of java justice.
Learn more...and order some SojoBlend for your


Nate Distelhorst of Seattle, Washington, wrote:

To respond to Greg Linder's thought to withhold paying taxes:

I couldn't agree more with your disgust with our
government's relationship to the rest of the world.
It is a power-hungry, money worshiping system that
is based dominantly on fear and control, not faith
and grace.  Having spent about 5 months studying in
Central America and some time in Hiroshima, Japan,
I have talked with people who experienced first-hand
the plunder of the U.S.'s global presence.

However, I would argue that the relationship we have
with our government is not so black and white that we
can truly address these hugely complex issues by not
paying taxes. If you are living with the American
privileges of economic opportunity (overall and
individual) and the relative "safety" and "security"
that the U.S. military provides, you would be, in a
sense, stealing if you did not pay your taxes. In
addition to this, it is worth noting that some of
the federal tax money does go to support programs
that help people (education, for example).

Truly, if we were to wait to find a step to take that
addressed the whole problem at once, we would die
motionless. But I do want to encourage you to think
about alternatives.

My suggestion is to think about how you can limit
your involvement in this society in areas where you
do not agree (i.e., consume less, buy fair-trade
and local goods, etc).  Next, think about how you
can support positive programs and movements that are
happening around you, addressing the issue(s) that
capture your passion most. How can you, as an American,
use the privilege that you have to make a difference
(mind you, I don't know your financial situation, but
I'm willing to bet it's better than the coffee
growers spoken of in the last edition of SojoMail).
If you use your passion and anger towards our government's
role in this world to focus on making a positive
difference with what you have, you will create positive
change rather than produce negative reaction. It is
my firm belief that it is vastly better to create
than simply react.

*Ed. note: Greg Linder has invited dialogue
to his beliefs as expressed in the 8-3-01 edition
of SojoMail. You can respond directly to him at:


Sue Plater of Tollesbury, England, wrote:

Regarding last week's Quote of the Week, presumably
Peter Drucker has not read any biographies of Karl
Marx in his 'recorded history' or maybe he doesn't
realise that Marx was an economist? There were plenty
of times in Marx's life when there was no food on
the table, nor even a table, as everything was
pawned to get through to the next week.  As to why
this was the a biography! I recommend
David McLellan's "Karl Marx: His Life and Thought"
(Paladin, 1976), but the more recent "Karl Marx" by
Francis Wheen (Fourth Estate, 1999) presents the
same picture of his life - but with less detail
on his thought, which is every bit as interesting
as the stories of life on the edge in Paris,
Brussels, Cologne, and London.


E. Ellsworth Campbell of Sun City West, Arizona, wrote:

I sincerely believe that our recent tax refunds (to
those wealthy enough to pay at least minimal taxes)
is one of the most obscene gestures toward the
critically poor that our Congress could possibly
make. Poverty has not diminished since 1995, and
in the richest nation in the world 31 million people
(too poor to pay taxes) struggle to know how they
are going to feed themselves and their children.
My tax rebate is therefore "blood money." I will
not keep it. But neither am I going to "throw it
at the feet" of Congress. My wife and I have
decided to give all $600 to those organizations
in our community that serve the needs of the very
poor. I would hope that others might consider
doing something similar.


David Pruett of Lake Village, Arizona, wrote:

A tax rebellion is NOT the way to go (although if
enough people signed up, I would consider it).
While we may gripe about the spending we do not like,
we forget about the spending we do like.
We forget the highway.
We forget the people supported.
We forget universities and education.
We forget the security provided by those who care
enough to stay in the Armed Forces, instead of
opting for great paying civilian jobs, trained by
the military with our tax dollars.
We forget the flood control projects that have
saved thousands of lives.

The revolt is misplaced. It should be aimed, en
masse, at the polls. We don't bother with voting, but
we like to complain about taxes. I wonder when is the
last time some of us have written our senators and
representatives? We only have ourselves to blame. If
we took real effective action with our elected
officials, there would be no need for a revolt. Think
about it.


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



B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Who benefits from the Bush tax cut?

The top 10% get more than half of the tax cut pie.
The bottom 60% gets only 16%. Here's the breakdown.

1%:  Bottom 20% of earners (up to $15,000)
5%:  Second 20% of earners ($15,000-$27,000)
9%:  Middle 20% of earners ($27,000-$44,000)
15%: Fourth 20% of earners ($44,000-$72,000)
35%: Next 19% of earners ($72,000-$373,000)
35%: Top 1% of earners ($373,000 and up)

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice
"Analysis of Bush Plan Updated to 2001 Levels"



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


C u l t u r e  W a t c h
Deconstructing the "girl bibles"

Little pink guidebooks with the skinny on how to be
a "bad girl" or a "swell girl." Carina Chocano can't
stop reading them. Go to:



McDonalds has restaurants in 120 different countries and
serves a whopping 29 million people a day. But here's
something you may not have known: They also own 131
different words and phrases - including such surprises
as "Black History Makers of Tomorrow" and "Healthy
Growing Up." They've trademarked them so no one else
can use them. Some other intellectual properties owned
by McDonalds:

Changing The Face of The World
Good Jobs For Good People
When the U.S. Wins You Win
Hamburger University
McDonald's Means Opportunity
McDonald's Is Your Kind of Place
McDonald's Earth Effort
McHappy Day
McDia Feliz

For more McWords and McCommentary, visit:


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Well-being of America's children improving

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family
Statistics has released its fifth annual report
on the well-being of America's children. For many
indicators, children gained or held their own: the
child poverty rate, percentage of children living
in households with at least one parent employed,
percentage with health insurance coverage. Other
indicators showed no progress: infant mortality,
low birthweight babies, violent crime victimization
rate. See the study results at:

W o r d   on   a   W i r e
Extraordinary faith

by Michaela Bruzzese

Readings for August 12:

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20; Psalm 33:12-22; Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16;
Luke 12:32-40

Ordinary time provides an in-depth look at the
extraordinariness of faith. Beginning with Abraham,
ours is a relationship with God that was born of
faith. To God's invitation to believe, Abraham
simply said yes, though ignorant as to why God
chose him and without proof that God would fulfill
the promise of descendents.

Our alternate reading in Genesis (15:1-6) tells
us that for this reason alone, God credited him
"with an act of righteousness." At this moment a
people was born; it is a moment held sacred by
Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The definition
of faith given in Hebrews 11 ("...the realization
of what is hoped for and evidence of things not
seen") is precisely the faith of Abraham.

Read this week's entire reflection at:


W e b  S c e n e

*Re-versed lyrics 

Plagued with fundamentalist guilt for singing along
with your favorite pop song? Your salvation has come.
Re-Versed Lyrics lists alternative Christianized
lyrics for pop, rock, folk, country, and even TV theme
songs and showtunes. Often hilarious, occasionally
disturbing, and at times inspiring. Our personal
favorite: "Reformation Polka" sung to the tune of
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Go to:


*Chilean Church chat debuts on Web

The Chilean Church has opened virtual dialogue.
Organizers said the purpose of the "chat"
initiative is "to form a community around the
Web site of the Chilean Catholic Church in
Internet." The site has information on various
services and resources of dioceses and the bishops'
conference. Every two weeks the site will organize
chats with prominent Catholic figures. Vámonos a:


*Make your own movies on Friday night

Apple Macintosh owners show off their moviemaking
skills at this site, which features downloadable
short films created using Apple's iMovie software.
If you have Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X, you can also get
the latest iMovie software to make your own movies
and submit them to the gallery. Go to:


*Growing Up in the '80s

The gnarly 1980s featured big hair, parachute pants,
Duran Duran, and Pac Man. To relive your '80s glory
days, get out your preppie Izod shirt, turn up the
collar, and check out this rad site. Go to:


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