The Common Good


Sojomail - August 31, 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

++++++++++++++++++++ 31-August-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Roseanne: cause and effect

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *High-tech workers feel the heat

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Faith and labor

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *A soul on fire: Sojourner Truth

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *The newspaper to match your aspirations

 R e l i g i o n  &  P o l i t i c s
     *Religious wars alien to idea of jihad?

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

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *"The Simpsons" and religion
     *CBS network will air church's national TV commercials

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Where to party, where to study

 P. O. V.
     *Australian Anglican priest writes "A Letter to America"

 H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
     *Study on income disparity

 W o r d   o n   a   W i r e
     *You are what you worship

 W e b  S c e n e
     *Do your part to stop religious persecution
     *Emptying the closets of the Smithsonian
     *Back to school: parent soup
     *Help with your pet care

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

"Women love to lose themselves in effect. Men
love to lose themselves in cause."

               - Roseanne, entertainer


Note: Jim Wallis' Hearts & Minds column will resume in September.


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
High-tech workers feel the heat

by David Batstone

The tech industry has fallen on hard times
around the globe. Entrepreneurs who spent the
latter half of the 1990s in stock option
euphoria are now seeing the flip side of
the coin.

During a business luncheon this week, the CEO of a
high-tech company gloated to me about how easy it was 
for him to find low-cost labor. "People are so
desperate I don't even have to pay them a
salary any more; I put them all on pure commission."
To make sure I got the point, he added with
a smile, "We're really ruthless when it comes
to employment."

The concept of working for a low salary and
yet being compensated by stock options worked as
long as company values rose steadily. In fact,
not long ago many people in the high-tech industry
were willing to take that risk voluntarily,
in hopes of sharing in the wealth that they were
creating. Now there are no options but stock options.
But with no end in sight for current down market
conditions, stock options seem more like tissue
paper than adequate compensation.

Beyond being callous, I believe the CEO in
question is a poor excuse for an entrepreneur.
Particularly in the world of high-tech start-ups,
business success is highly contingent on a robust
workforce, people who tie their personal success 
to the success of the company. Loyalty and identity
within the company - what management consultants
call "believing" in the company - increases the
likelihood of strong performance and retention.
In this case, the CEO treats his employees like
replaceable cogs. He may very well discover one
day that a constant change in cogs leads to a
clunky machine.

As for the high-tech employees, I hope they use
their experience to understand better the plight
of lower-income workers around the globe. Day
laborers are accustomed to being squeezed by
unjust employers who refuse to pay them a living
wage. They often are forced to labor on pure
piece-work (the poor person's commission); cogs
in a machine, used, abused, then tossed aside by
the forces of profit.

For most of us, this territory is not a distant
shore. And if not for us, surely a generation or
two back that was the plight of our kin. Don't
forget. That's the way to begin your Labor Day.

*David Batstone, a founding editor of Business 2.0
magazine, is executive editor of Sojourners/SojoNet.


B u i l d i  n g  a  M o v e m e n t
Faith and labor

This year's Labor In the Pulpit, an innovative Labor Day
program that emphasizes the shared values of religious
communities and working people, will feature more than 800 
services by congregations in 35 states.

Find out more at the AFL-CIO's Online Labor Day Festival,
which includes an Interfaith Gathering, Rights@Work
Action Center, a Jacob Lawrence art exhibit, and more!

The site will be up until Sept. 21.


S o u l   W o r k s
A soul on fire: Sojourner Truth

by Yvonne Delk

When Sojourner Truth was in her 60s, she
desegregated the streetcars of Washington, D.C.,
by suing the company for not allowing her to
ride. In her old age, Sojourner campaigned for
land in the West to resettle African Americans
from the South. Like her, I too have traveled
up and down this land telling the truth as I
see it about racism, sexism, economic injustice,
and violence. I have stood with Sojourner Truth
in the face of death, but with hands reaching
for life. Sojourner Truth is my taproot. I draw
from her prophetic imagination and courage. She
defines who I am in ways that I am not free to
walk away from. I am because she is, and because
she is I also can be. I am her daughter.

To read Yvonne Delk's full feature on Sojourner
Truth as it appears in the September/October
issue of Sojourners magazine, go to:


F u n n y  B u s i n e s s
The newspaper to match your aspirations

A list of major U.S newspapers and the people
who read them:

1. The Wall Street Journal
is read by the people who run the country.

2. The New York Times
is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The Washington Post
is read by people who think they ought to run the country.

4. USA Today 
is "read" by people who think they ought to run the country
but don't understand the Washington Post.

5. The Los Angeles Times
is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country,
if they could spare the time.

6. The Boston Globe
is read by people whose parents used to run the country.

7. The New York Daily News
is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the

8. The New York Post
is read by people who don't care who's running the country,
as long as they do something scandalous.

9. The San Francisco Chronicle
is read by people who aren't sure there is a country, or
that anyone is running it.

10. The Miami Herald
is read by people who are running another country.


R e l i g i o n  &  P o l i t i c s
Religious wars alien to idea of jihad?

The Islamic notion of jihad is getting a bad name.
So says former Tunisian Minister of Education Mohammed
Charfi. "Religious wars fought in the name of the jihad
are false," Charfi said. "In the Koran, the jihad is
referred to only as a legitimate action of self-defense,
and can never be used as an offensive action."

He made his comments during the congress titled
"Religion, Human Rights and Education," organized by the
Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, in
collaboration with the U.S.-based Bradley Foundation.
"Only when religion has been usurped by politics have
there been wars, abuses, and violence," Charfi added.
"These are political reasons, which have abused religion
and, consequently, violated human rights."

The "three monotheist religions are messengers of an
announcement of love and charity," the Tunisian professor
said. "Around this message, rabbis, priests, and sheiks
have elaborated ethical and also legislative codes. From
this point of view, the [people] of faith constitute a moral
power parallel to the civil."
According to Charfi, only Iran, Afghanistan, and Sudan
hold the view that politics controls religion. However,
in 80 percent "of the Muslim world, corporal punishments 
and the death penalty for apostates have been abolished 
and women have more or less been able to emancipate
themselves," he added.



B o o m e r a n g

David Nybakke of Bloomington, Illinois, wrote:

Reading "By the Numbers" [featured in SojoMail]
on Bush's tax rebates and the well-documented
discrepancy of salaries between top executives
and laborers - CEO paid 531 times that of workers -
I ask when the next revolution is planned? Or
is everyone too busy watching "Survivor?"

Rob Porter of Carbondale, Illinois, wrote:

I am terribly disappointed at seeing the article
"Offering help to Palestinians at Risk" in last
week's edition of SojoMail. I'm not sure how you were
able to take sides in a conflict such as this, but
I'm less sure of how you were able to support a
"nation" that relies solely on terrorism to further
its causes. While I understand that this piece was
written by another organization, your publishing it
reifies its message. How can a message of nonviolence
come out of an article such as this? At any rate, I
sent it to a friend of mine in Jerusalem, who is
constantly at risk of terrorist acts, of course. He
had the following response:

"Yeah Rob, it's all the same story. Do you know what
Gilo is? It's a suburb of Jerusalem. It's actually
part of the city. But like the rest of Israel, the
Palestinians have claimed it as theirs - so they
shoot mortars into that part of town and of course
fire automatic weapons at the people there. Can you
imagine living in Sandy Springs, Georgia, (suburb 
of Atlanta) and suddenly having the people in Roswell 
(another suburb) claiming your part of town as theirs 
and shooting at you and firing mortars at you? It sounds
absurd but that's what is happening. So the Israeli
army has to go there to protect people. In the U.S.
such a situation would not even last a whole day,
and the world would not even think to condemn them
or "send an international force." And you know what?
This group who sent this communiqué that you forwarded
to me - they know what's really going on. And they
have some agenda or they're just plain stupid. It
really irks me to see this."

Chazak V'amatz 
Orion Siegelman, Jerusalem


*Ed. note:

Read the cover story of the September/October issue
of Sojourners magazine, "Against Impossible Odds,"
about an interfaith nonviolent movement taking
root in Palestine:

What's your opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict? Join in an online discussion with
other SojoMail readers at:


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



C u l t u r e   W a t c h
The Simpsons and religion

Once reviled as anti-values, America's most
animated family has been embraced by many
fans of faith. What changed?

by Ryan Beiler

[The] irreverent-verging-on-sacrilegious
attitude is still very much present in the
world's most-watched television show (yes,
it nets more viewers than Baywatch). The
Simpsons may go to church, pray, and quote
scripture, but the preaching, the prayer, or
the passage is almost always a setup or a punch

"It's like a Trojan horse that gets past people's
radar because it's superficially conservative,"
says head writer George Meyer. "The show's subtext,
however, is completely subversive and wild."

To read Ryan Beiler's entire feature on "The
Simpsons" as it appears in the Sept/Oct issue
of Sojourners magazine, go to:

Have your own opinion on "The Simpsons?" Join in a
SojoNet Forum hashing it out at:


CBS network will air church's national TV commercials

The United Methodist Church will get premium air
time on the CBS television network when the denomination
launches its national television commercials in the
first week of September.

The television spots, part of the churchwide "Igniting
Ministry" effort, will begin airing during the CBS
"Early Show," Tuesday through Friday, beginning
Sept. 4. The national commercials highlight the
church's diversity and focus on people considering
what it means to be in the community of God.

Igniting Ministry is the first full-blown television,
newspaper, and outdoor campaign undertaken for the
church. The $20 million national TV ad campaign
will be supplemented by regional and local church
efforts to help raise awareness of the church.


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Where to party, where to study or...

You're paying how much for that college education?

A list of the top 10 party schools as ranked by The
Princeton Review's "The Best 331 Colleges" 2000

1. Florida State University
2. University of Florida
3. Michigan State University
4. Seton Hall University (New Jersey)
5. University of Mississippi
6. University of Montana
7. University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa
8. Sonoma State University (California)
9. Washington State University
10. University of Georgia

The top 10 "stone-cold sober schools," whose students
report the least party-favorable atmosphere, according to
surveys by The Princeton Review:

1. Brigham Young University (Utah)
2. Wheaton College (Illinois)
3. California Inst. of Technology
4. U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Connecticut)
5. U.S. Naval Academy (Maryland)
6. Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania)
7. Wellesley College (Massachusetts)
8. Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts)
9. Calvin College (Michigan)
10. College of the Ozarks (Missouri)


P. O. V.
An Australian Anglican priest writes...


by Barbara Le Rossignol

As a nation it is hard for Americans to clearly limit
the actions of your citizens even if those actions
are dangerous or wrong. We often hear of your much-
prized constitution, and as a law student it seemed
to me that maybe such a document would be good for us
also, to protect citizens.  But now I wonder whether
in fact what it does is create a mindset that values
most the right of an individual to do what they
wish, rather than the welfare of the whole community.
And I realized that although I have heard of the rights
of U.S. citizens, I am not aware of any responsibilities
or duties to balance these, which are named in any
statement of who you are. It seems that the freedoms
you claim are those which give greater strength
to the strong and powerful, but I am not aware of any
kind of commitment to use those freedoms to benefit
the weak or needy.

In Australia, we are often impressed by the great
achievements of your country. But I must say that
you have always seemed to me a cruel country. I now
realize that this is possibly because your most
fundamental self-description is one that allows you
to think of what you can have or take, not what you
ought to give or do.

Perhaps it is this mindset that has seen the U.S., in
the last weeks, walk away from a number of international
discussions aimed at making this planet safer and
healthier.  Any agreements must involve those who are
parties, in limiting their behavior for the benefit of
the greater good, or to protect the fragile. Perhaps
such actions are well-nigh impossible for a country
that defines itself as the home of the free.
In a world where there does not seem to be a power to
balance the might of the U.S., the thought that you do
not feel you have obligations to change or limit your
behavior for the good of others is a little frightening.

*Barbara Le Rossignol is an Anglican priest living
in Melbourne, Australia. Before studying theology
and becoming ordained, she was a practicing lawyer.


H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
Study on income disparity

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has analyzed
a new Congressional Budget Office study that includes
the best data that any agency or institution has compiled
on income and tax trends in recent decades. It shows that the
average after-tax income of the richest 1 percent of
Americans grew by $414,000 between 1979 and 1997,
after adjusting for inflation, while average after-tax
income fell $100 for the poorest 20 percent of Americans
and grew a modest $3,400 for those exactly in the middle
of the income spectrum. In percentage terms, after-tax
income grew an average of 157 percent over this period
for the top 1 percent of the population, rose a modest
10 percent - about 1/2 of 1 percent per year -
for the 20 percent of Americans in the middle of the
income spectrum and was effectively unchanged for those
in the bottom fifth.

For the analysis by The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,
go to:



Is your check from George W. Bush (or from the
Social Security trust fund, depending how you look
at it) 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


W o r d   on   a   W i r e
Let mutual love flow

by Michaela Bruzzese

Readings for September 2:

Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8,
15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14

"You are what you worship," Jeremiah tells us.
While we may confess one faith, the object of
our true devotion reveals itself in our everyday
actions and in the things to which we devote most
of our time and energy. Read this week's scripture
reflection at:


W e b  S c e n e

*Do your part to stop religious persecution

Around the world, in more than 40 countries, 
Christians daily face persecution for their faith. 
And for more than 30 years, Voice of the Martyrs 
has led the cause in making their voice heard. If 
you would like to find out more about today's 
persecuted church, contact The Voice of the Martyrs 
and request a free subscription to their monthly


*Emptying the closets of the Smithsonian

This new site by the Smithsonian Institution
displays 450 historical objects that the Smithsonian
keeps in storage because it has no space to exhibit
them. The diverse collection includes items in
categories like arts and entertainment, computers,
print and communications, science and medicine, and
sports. (Be patient: The site's unusual interface can
take a few minutes to load using a dial-up
connection.) Go to:


*Back to school: parent soup

It's that time of year again. This informational
site has back-to-school tips for all grade
levels, parent message boards, after-school
activity suggestions, and a Development
Tracker that tells you what new skills and
milestones you can expect your child to
achieve. Go to:


*Help with your pet care

VetCentric is a great resource for pet owners
who want to educate themselves about preventive
care, diseases, grooming, and more. The site
includes an encyclopedia of health problems,
a knowledge base containing answers to common
questions, and discussion forums in which
veterinarians participate (a free registration
is required for the forums). Go to:


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

  David Batstone                               T 415.422.6660
  Executive Editor                         

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  Managing Editor                              

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  Assistant Editor                            

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  Web Editor                                 

....................... A D V E R T I S I N G ....................
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