The Common Good


Sojomail - September 18, 2001


                       S O J O M A I L

          Promoting faith, reason, compassion, and justice
                   in days of violence and fear

                 Brought to you by SojoNet
              Publisher of Sojourners magazine


          SojoMail will continue to be delivered to
          you daily this week...responding to the
          events of September 11, the suffering
          left in its wake, the threat of a global
          war, and the historic shaping of our
          moral character, now and for the future.


++++++++++++++++++++ 18-September-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *The ultimate weakness of violence...

 M o r a l   V i s i o n
     *Lead us not into war

 B u i l d i n g   A   M o v e m e n t
     *'Deny Them Their Victory' takes off

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *A psalm of love and anger

 P. O. V.
     *International crime, not war

 W e b s c e n e
     *Where do journalists go to find sources?
     *Where can you find balanced coverage of Islam?
     *Who is bin Laden and what is his network?

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


Q u o t e  o f  t h e  Day

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is
a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it
seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it
multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the
liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish
the truth. Through violence you murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely
increases hate.... Returning violence for violence
multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a
night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot
drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate
cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

                - Martin Luther King Jr.


M o r a l  V i s i o n
Lead us not into war

by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson

We have seen a startling glimpse of the face of evil.
Thousands of innocents wantonly slaughtered by zealous
martyrs. The nation's leaders are calling us to war.
In our corporate shock and visceral outrage, citizens
are ready to follow. In this moment of our nation's life,
what words and wisdom does the church have to offer? How
do we morally decipher the meaning of these events - and
what difference should that make? When called to war we
first must ask, against whom precisely is this war to be

Those who committed and enabled this slaughter of
civilians absolutely must be brought to moral and legal
accountability. Criminal conspiracies of terror must be
broken, and the guilty punished. That is the work of
justice - but justice is different from war. War is declared
against the military power of another state, or against
guerrilla armies seeking to replace one government with
another. Are we now to declare war on anyone who
ideologically and religiously despises America?

The terrorists have not just attacked thousands of
innocent civilians. They have launched an attack against
our ideals, against our value for human life, against our
sense of national identity. Evil terror wants us to be
controlled by fear, and resort to indiscriminate revenge.
The terrorists believe that America is corrupted beyond
redemption. They want to provoke America into ugly,
indiscriminate responses that will turn more hopeless
people in the world against us, and produce more martyrs
for their cause. The arsenals of this enemy are fanatic
beliefs and religious passions that translate into
sacrificed lives. Cruise missiles don't defeat such

How do we go to war against hate? Our response will be
a test of who we are. In this "campaign against terrorism,"
our strongest weapons are our ideals and values - our belief
in the dignity and worth of every human life, our conviction
that nations are strong when they respect the rights of all,
and our determination to pursue what is right in ways that
are just. These defining characteristics of national
identity are anathema to the terrorists; this is precisely
what their terrorism seeks to destroy. That is why, in a
real sense, our struggle is at heart a spiritual one.

The evil we have seen does not yield easily to search-and-
destroy missions. It is overcome in the end through a
resolute commitment to a moral political vision. Even
deeper, the religious community always declares that such
evil is finally defeated through faith in the power of
redeeming love. When someone hates you for any number
of alleged reasons, you face a choice. Either you can hate
them in return and actively seek their demise. Or you
can defend yourself against unjust attack, but live in
ways that demonstrate to all that you are not, at heart,
the person whom the other accuses you of being.

The nation faces choices for how it will respond to evil
that now has struck in such devastating ways right at
home. Politicians have given the president a military
blank check. The church, however, can never write a moral
blank check. Rather, the church must steadfastly insist
on the distinction between justice and revenge. Paul
reminds us, in Romans 12, that vengeance belongs to God.
Our task is to resist being overcome by evil, and instead
overcome evil with good. That counsel needs to be heard
and heeded by those now calling the country to war.

Economic, diplomatic, and military strategies must and
will be undertaken to bring terrorists to justice. But
the church must plead with the nation to never forget
who we say we are. For our gravest temptation at this
hour is to be grasped by the same evil that controlled
the terrorists. So let us join fervently in the prayer
taught to us by our Lord, saying, "Lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson is general secretary of the
Reformed Church in America. His office is in New York City.


B u i l d i n g   A   M o v e m e n t
"Deny Them Their Victory" takes off

by Duane Shank

Since last Thursday, a thousand religious leaders
nationwide have signed the statement "Deny Them 
Their Victory: A Religious Response to Terrorism." 
The statement is now being used as a powerful tool 
across the country and around the world in forging 
a public dialogue on America's moral leadership in 
responding to the events of September 11.

The signatories include the heads of 15 Christian
denominations, the presidents of six major seminaries,
superiors of Catholic religious orders, and directors
of state councils of churches. There are evangelical and
black church leaders, and leaders of the historic peace
churches. Leaders of several major Jewish and Muslim
organizations have signed along with hundreds of local
pastors and rabbis.

At this critical juncture we have an opportunity
to allow the voice of America's religious community
to act and speak as one in preventing an indiscriminate
violent response to the tragic events of last Tuesday.
Today we are sending the statement to the White House
and Congress. We are preparing to run it as an ad in The
New York Times and other major newspapers. We urge you
to use this powerful tool as it suits your community - have
your church sign on, send it as a letter to the editor
of your local paper, present it to your interfaith council,
or ask your local government and business leaders to sign on.

Use this unprecedented religious statement as a basis for
public dialogue in forging a moral and principled response
to the attack on America. Together, with God's help,
we can pray and work to mourn the dead in our country while
preventing more innocent deaths in other countries.

To read the statement, see signatories, and sign on, go to:




S o u l   W o r k s
A psalm of love and anger

by Kathy Galloway

Oh my heart's heart, in love and anger I will turn to you,
for my soul cries out, O where is justice,
when will the balance be redressed
for the fearful dreams of children who sleep with knives,
for the beaten women, and the shamed and helpless men?
Where is justice?
For the agony of hunger is not to be set
against the insatiable appetites of jaded palates.

In the villages and camps, the children lie bleeding,
and great wounds gape in their throats and sides.
In the city there is no safety for them;
as the leaves blow through the night streets,
they are swept away, they disappear without trace
as if they had never been.

In the marketplace, weapons are bought and sold;
they change hands as easily as onions from a market-woman,
and killing comes lightly everywhere.
The value of people is weighed out on crooked scales
and found wanting,
They are discarded like bruised apples
because they lack the appearance of perfection.

But you, my heart's heart, you are careful;
like a thrifty housewife you see no waste in anything,
You gather up that which has been cast aside,
knowing its sweetness,
and take it home with you.

And I will see you in the camps and villages,
working late into the night,
showing patience in the midst of confusion,
reweaving the web of life.

I will see you in the cities,
seated in a circle, making new plans,
drawing attention,
naming the forgotten names.

I will see you in the marketplace,
dressed in black,
with the carved face of an old woman saying No to war,
and you will stand your ground
and you will seem beautiful to me.

For you are my sanctuary and my light,
my firm ground when the earth cracks
under the weight of warring gods.
As a woman in mortal danger flees to her sisters
and finds refuge,
so you will comfort me, and dress my wounds with
And when the flame of courage burns low in me,
your breath, as gentle as a sleeping child,
will stir the ashes of my heart.

Teach me to know your judgement as my friend,
that I may never be ashamed of justice,
or so proud that I flee from mercy.
For your love is never less than justice,
and your strength is tenderness.
You contain my soul's yearning,
and in your encompassing, I am free.

*Kathy Galloway is a Scottish theologian and
writer. This is taken from her collection 
"Talking to the Bones."


P. O. V.
International crime, not war

by Tom Barry and Martha Honey

The attack on America's centers of power was an
extremist reaction to what is perceived as a new
world order where only the U.S. calls the shots.
But it was, first and foremost, a crime against all
humanity. If there is to be justice in this incident
and if there is to be the rule of law in international
affairs, the U.S. should seek the solace and support
of the international community. Despite differences
with U.S. foreign policy, especially in the conflicted
Middle East, nations around the world have been quick
to express their own outrage and willingness to join
with America to fight and reduce the causes of
international terrorism.

As Americans deliberate an effective response to this
tragedy and crime, we must first reject the call for
war. The gauntlet goading us to militaristic responses
that treat human life as callously as the terrorists
treated ours must be categorically rejected. As with
any other crime, the perpetrators and their accomplices
must be brought to justice - in the courts of law, not
according to the fundamentalist "eye-for-an-eye,
tooth-for-a-tooth" precepts. In recent years, we have
made encouraging progress in establishing and enforcing
international norms for human rights and crimes against
humanity. This is an opportunity to forge a broader
international coalition - bringing disparate nations
together in a common determination to fight against
such crimes against humanity.

A first principle, then, must be that we treat this as
an international crime, not an act of war, and that the
rules of law should guide international response.

A second principle that should guide U.S. policy is
that our investigation, pursuit, and prosecution
should as much as possible count on consultation with
and the cooperation of the world community of nations.
Any government suspected of harboring or otherwise
aiding these international terrorists should answer
to concerted international pressure, not just American
outrage. If indeed military action is deemed necessary,
it should carry the approval of the U.N. Security Council -
otherwise the U.S. too will be violating the basic
principles of international law.

Our politicians would dishonor the dead if they focused
the new security debate solely on issues of intelligence
reform and defense technology. More fundamentally, the
U.S. needs to take a hard look at the policies and
political structures that fan the flames of terrorism -
to understand why such anger in the Middle East and
elsewhere is directed at America. The task of forging a
security policy not just on our response capability but
also on addressing the new causal factors for war and
terrorism is surely America's greatest challenge - and
our success will be the true measure of our character.

*Tom Barry of the Interhemispheric Resource Center and
Martha Honey of the Institute for Policy Studies are
co-directors of Foreign Policy In Focus at

To read the complete essay written by Barry and Honey
go to:


W e b s c e n e

Where do journalists go to get the latest news,
resources, and follow-up on the September 11 attack?
Check out:


Where do you go for good background on Islam,
both in the United States and globally?
Check out:


Who is bin Laden and what is his network?
Check out:

               RESPONDING IN FAITH

For resources, reasoned responses, and statements
by churches, organizations, and individuals, visit
SojoNet's crisis response page at:


B o o m e r a n g

Stephen V. Riley of Sarasota, Florida, wrote:

Considering the recent attack on America, I
suggest reading  "Jihad vs. McWorld" by Benjamin
R. Barber. It is worthy of much reflection.


Martha Zirkle of Roanoke, Virginia, wrote:

I am not a subscriber; a friend in the
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia forwarded your
e-mail article. I hope and pray that our nation
does not act without absolute proof of guilt
of this dastardly act. Such horrible scenes,
as we have seen on TV, keep us in a numbing
emotional state of shock! We have viewed so
many reactions - from tears of a fireman to
clenched fisted youth saying "Go get them now!"
We all share these feelings, but we must act
with caution. How can we find them when there
is a "network?"


Lynn Barrington of Dallas, Texas, wrote:

Oh come on! This is ridiculous! What are we to do?
Contemplate while they continue to blow us up? We
didn't learn in 1993, these people will never, ever
quit this way of behavior. Just because you respond
in force, with force, does not mean you are responding
in hate. It means you are protecting your home.

At one time, I told people I could not shoot someone
even if they came into my home and shot me or my
family. I said that until I was shot at! Once that
happened, let me tell you I could and I would shoot


Diane Sekuloff of Canada wrote:

I am heartened by the voices of those who call for
restraint and are able to see the events of 11 Sept.
in light of the drawbacks of the "American Way."
We, who by good fortune hold 90% of the world's wealth,
have neglected our responsibility with respect to
the rest of the world. While this doesn't absolve the
guilt of those who resorted to senseless violence, in
the face of their own coloured perspective of the
world, it does call on Americans and their allies
to act responsibly and thoughtfully in return.
Retaliation will create an even playing field, but
not the one we might hope for - it will make us just
as cruel and arrogant as those who planned and executed
the attacks on Tuesday. Certainly the world community
must root out those who resort to such tactics, and
deal with them with the fullness of justice and law.


Susan Masten of East Lansing, Michigan, wrote:

I am immensely disappointed that your "Response
to Terrorism" was not stronger. I would have
hoped that you would have spoken out against using
any military force against innocent people.

I am asking you to implore President Bush and
Congress from taking any action that would harm
any other civilians in the world. As Bob Dylan first
sang many years ago, "How many deaths will it take
'til we know that too many people have died?" Well,
too many people have died here in the U.S. and

Let us seek a world in which security is gained
through disarmament, international cooperation,
and social justice, not through escalation and


Bruce Enns of Austria wrote:

Thank you for your wonderful newsletter. It brings
continual comfort and solace, and demands careful thought.
Like many here in Europe I mourn for the many who
have been cut down or severed from loved ones and
I will be ever mindful of the wonderful care that
America has shown in protecting those with less
power. However, in watching CNN and the barrage
of reaction, I am not sure that enough Americans
have heard the message. Sadly, the world is full
of people who would love to share "American values"
but have never had the privilege of enjoying the
benefits. The poor, dispossessed, and hopeless have
resorted to hate. Justice, yes, but please consider
that many who perform these terrible acts of hate
need to be heard, not just stamped out. No matter
how many ants you step on, somehow more always
show up on your doorstep unless you provide them
with an alternative. Money and national resolve have
not yet been sufficient to obliterate the mafia or even
gang warfare on city streets. This may be even more


Thomas Handy Loon of Bemidji, Minnesota, wrote:

Following are some proposals I've already e-mailed
to my representatives that I'd like to share. We
must be proactive towards peaceful solutions, or
we'll be overrun by the aggressors and the vengeful
among us.

*Negotiate with Pakistan, Afghanistan, or whoever to
induce them to turn over Osama bin Laden for a
legal trial in a world court, where hopefully
calmer heads could prevail.

*Offer them money and development aid that could
lift their people out of poverty and offer those
with extremist tendencies an alternative to finding
glory as suicide bombers.

*Announce an immediate moratorium on sales of
military hardware worldwide, including to Israel.

*Apologize for our past misbehaviors. (It would be
a long list indeed!) Show the world that even the
big, bad USA has a heart, and watch our circle of
global friends grow, instead of shrink.


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



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