The Common Good


Sojomail - September 19, 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.


++++++++++++++++++++ 19-September-2001 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
                  "From Delusion to Truth" 

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Muslim proverb

 M o r a l   V i s i o n
     *Running a fool's crusade

 B u i l d i n g   A   M o v e m e n t
     * SojoNet in The New York Times
     * International prayer vigil

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *The global rise of religious violence

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *'Cain't no one this day will end'

 P. O. V.
     *An American Muslim speaks to his co-workers

 R e l i g i o n   &   P o l i t i c s
     *President Bush visits D.C. mosque

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Hip-hop artists foresaw attack

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


Q u o t e  o f  t h e  Day

From delusion lead me to Truth;
From darkness lead me to Light;
From death lead me to Immortality.
             -  Muslim Proverb


M o r a l   V i s i o n
Running a fool's crusade

by Danny Duncan Collum

Anyone who has watched what's happened in the Middle
East since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 should see
that outside military interventions of any kind (be
they U.S., Western, Soviet, or Israeli) are the fuel
upon which Islamic fundamentalist resistance feeds.
Every time there has been an incursion, occupation,
or retaliatory strike, there's been a new wave of
suicide bombings. And every time there's been a
suicide bombing, dozens (perhaps now hundreds) more
guys have lined up to volunteer for the next one. So
say we bomb some suspicious-looking map coordinates
in Afghanistan and kill whoever happens to be there.
Then we send in troops to chase these guys up and
down the valleys. I have a powerful gut feeling,
based on a lot of history, that if there are 2,000
bin Ladenites in Afghanistan today, by the time our
soldiers land there will be 20,000. And every time our
soldiers enter a village there will be a couple of
hundred more. We are up against something that
military force will not deter.

One of the criteria for a just war is that it has
a "reasonable chance of success." I'm convinced that
the one Bush is preparing fails that test. If our
mission is to end Middle East-based terrorism against
the U.S., there is no reasonable chance of success
through military action. That's because we are
fighting a cultural impulse, a popular sentiment -
not majority sentiment, true - but a popular
one in a lot of places. A military campaign will
become a Tar Baby. The harder we hit it, the more
firmly we will be stuck. We went through this same
thing in the years 1965-75. The only difference I
can see is that we won't have to use defoliants in
the Middle East. As I think about this business
practically, it seems to mean the only thing that
will deter the terrorists (and God knows they need
deterring) is moral, financial, and political
pressure from within the Arab-Islamic world. And,
unfortunately, the U.S. seems to have zero credibility
to marshall anything like that.

Ultimately, this has all happened because for the
past 50-plus years our government has been on the
wrong side of history in the Middle East (as
elsewhere in the post-colonial world). And because
the geopolitical and ideological-cultural milieu
in the Middle East happens to be rich in
material for mindless and spiteful blood feuds.
That doesn't excuse anything the terrorists have
done or will do. Their "causes" have been bloodied
beyond recognition. Their acts are crimes against
humanity - just as much as any by Kissinger or
Milosevic. But if we really want to protect innocent
lives - Americans and others - we need to use at
least a modicum of sense. And I'm afraid our
president is leading us on a fool's crusade.





B u i l d i n g  A  M o v e m e n t 
SojoNet highlighted in The New York Times

Check out today's New York Times op-ed page for the ad
from responding to Jerry Falwell and Pat
Robertson. "Seeking guidance in this troubling time?
Seek other voices. The Christian ministry Sojourners
organized an ecumenical response to last week's terrible
violence. Its website offers links to many voices of many
faiths -" You can also see the ad at

Thirty-day international prayer vigil

Please join in an international prayer vigil that began
Tuesday, September 18, and will continue for 30 days,
through October 18. For five minutes each day - at
noon on the East Coast of the United States; 9 a.m. on
the West Coast; 5 p.m. in London; 7 p.m. in Cairo (see
more time zones below) - please pause for five minutes
of sincere and silent prayer. Let us open ourselves
to the wisdom and love of God, asking that God's will be
done for ourselves, for each other, and for future

Please pray: Dear God, may love replace all fear. May 
peace replace all violence. May You replace all else.

Time Zones
New York City               12 noon
Los Angeles                 9 a.m.
London                      5 p.m.
Paris                       6 p.m.
Cairo/Johannesburg/Istanbul 7 p.m.
Moscow                      8 p.m.
New Delhi               10:30 p.m.
Beijing/Singapore           1 a.m.
Tokyo                       2 a.m.
Sydney                      3 a.m.
Auckland                    4 a.m.


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
The global rise of religious violence

by David Batstone

One of my mentors in graduate school at Berkeley
was Dr. Mark Juergensmeyer. For decades Mark
has been studying the roots of religion and 
violence - how religious communities can adopt
violent means and find it wholly consistent with
their belief systems.

Last year Mark came out with a book called "Terror
in the Mind of God" (University of California Press),
wherein he documents interviews with religious
terrorists. He devotes an entire chapter to the
network of Islamic radicals responsible for the 1993
World Trade Center bombing. Osama bin Laden figured
prominently in that attack as well.

I'd highly recommend the book for anyone who thinks
of these terrorists as psychotic or irrational. In
interviews with Mark, they explain their vision of a
world ordered by Allah, and how they see themselves
as instruments for bringing this world into existence.
In that respect, suicide bombings are taken to be the
ultimate commitment and sacrifice for one's faith.

Mark also gives equal time to Christian terrorists
who also accept violent methods to usher in their
world order. Pick it up and read it to better 
understand the events of these days.


S o u l   W o r k s
"The Spiritual" (Cain't No One Know)

SojoMail wishes to thank Dr. Ysaye Barnwell for her
response to the publication of an altered version of 
her song "The Spiritual" (Cain't No One Know) in the
September 12 issue. The editors apologize for any
confusion over the lyrics to this profound and moving
work of art. The original lyrics are printed in their
entirety below. We ask all SojoMail readers to support
Dr. Barnwell's work and art at

Cain't no one know at sunrise
how this day is gonna end.
Cain't no one know at sunset
if the next day will begin.

In this world of trouble and woe,
a Member had better be ready to go.
We look for things to stay the same,
but in the twinkling of an eye,
everything can be changed.

Cain't no one know at sunrise
how this day is gonna end.
Cain't no one know at sunset
if the next day will begin.

The troubles of the world fill our hearts with rage
from Soweto, to Stonewall, Birmingham, and L.A.
We are searching for hope that lies within our hearts
as we fight against misogyny, race hatred, and AIDS.

Cain't no one know at sunrise
how this day is gonna end.
Cain't no one know at sunset
if the next day will begin.

From the book "Urban Scenes/Creole Dreams," by Y.M. 
Barnwell. (c)1994.


P. O. V.
An American Muslim speaks to his co-workers

As this long and horribly tragic week comes to an
end, I cannot finish my work here today without
expressing to this company some of my feelings.

As you know, I am an American citizen from an Arabic
origin and of Muslim faith. I have watched the media
paint the Islamic world as all hateful toward America
and all she stands for. Here in the land of the free
my wife has not left the house for fear of retribution.
My children ask, as Americans, are they going to be
safe too, just as President Bush promises? I know,
as a Muslim, there is nothing in my religion that says
it is okay to kill innocent people. So I am proud to
be part of this faith.

And then at noon today something happened that made
me even prouder to be a Muslim American. As on
every Friday around noon, I went to our weekly
service at the Fort Collins Mosque. All of the
Islamic females in the community have not been
able to attend this week out of fear.

When I arrived, I was completely touched by what
I found there. Our mosque was completely surrounded
by members of the Fort Collins community forming a
human shield with white carnations in their hands.
Tears came to my eyes, and I saw beautiful light
shining through the darkness that has covered us
this week. As we went in to worship, I said extra
prayers that we are so lucky to be living with
this kind of people. I have never felt as proud
as an American Muslim as I did today.

As goodness is not a monopoly for any one race or
religion, neither is darkness. As I grew up in
locations all over the world, and settled the
last 26 years in America, I truly know what a great
place this is to live.

*From a Muslim American who works as a facility
manager in Fort Collins, Colorado.


R e l i g i o n   &   P o l i t i c s
President Bush visits D.C. mosque

President Bush on Monday met with American Muslim
leaders in a first-of-its-kind event that included
a news conference in the prayer area of the Islamic
Center of Washington, D.C. Topics discussed at the
hour-long meeting ranged from the current cycle of
violence in the Middle East and the need for American
Muslim input on government policy, to ways in which
terrorism can be eliminated worldwide.

At the news conference following the meeting, President
Bush said:

"Like the good folks standing with me, the American
people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday's
attacks, and so were Muslims all across the world,
both Americans, our Muslim friends and citizens, tax-
paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just
appalled, could not believe what we saw on our TV
screens. These acts of violence against innocents
violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith,
and it's important for my fellow Americans to
understand that. The English translation is not as
eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from
the Koran itself: 'In the long run, evil in the extreme
will be the end of those who do evil. For that they
rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to

For more on Bush's visit go to

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Hip-hop artists foresaw attack

Well, this is scary: A progressive hip-hop group
produced a CD cover months ago that pictures the
September 11 explosions at the World Trade Center.
The CD cover shows the two members of the group
"The Coup" in front of the exploding twin towers.
The picture shows the blasts at about the same
floor level as the real explosions. The cover art
was produced in July.

Coup member Boots Riley said in a statement: "All
life is precious and this tremendous tragedy is by
no means taken lightly by The Coup. This is a very
unfortunate coincidence and my condolences go out
to the families and friends of the victims."

The intent, he said, was to use the World Trade
Center to symbolize the exploitation inherent in

               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

SojoMail reader Robert Baldwin wrote:

Re: "Let freedom ring" by David Batstone

What do you have in mind? That we walk away from what
we have to do to establish security in this country
and allow ourselves and others to be overrun by
those who hate us for their own personal reasons of
envy and greed? Sweetness and light is not the
thing that will make the difference. The price of
freedom is eternal vigilance, and we have certainly
not been vigilant in protecting our own shores
from political attacks from folks who think like
you do and the propaganda you spread under the
innocuous cover of this weekly e-letter.

If you are so certain of the correctness of your
position on freedom and security, set a speaking
date in New York to the survivors and widows and
children of the bombing. When you have bled a
little, suffered pain of the loss, and have had
the experience of these persons, you may be
qualified to rally whoever would be willing to
listen. But until then find what is constructive,
positive, and still within the limits of saving our
country, freedom, and our opportunity to still
worship freely.


Ruth Waterton of Manchester, England, wrote:

Thank you for challenging some of the British
stereotypes about Americans. I know you aren't all
driving around with "NUKE 'EM" bumper stickers but
it sometimes seems that way from over here. I have
admired the work of Sojourners for many years, but
truly this is your finest hour.


Roger Scott Powers of Oakland, California, wrote:

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September
11, 2001, I dug out the November-December 1998 issue of
Sojourners, which asks "Is Islam the enemy?" The answer
was "no" then, and I believe the answer is still "no."
As Charles Kimball put it in the cover story, "the
vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims are
as offended by a violent act carried out in the name
of Islam as most Christians are horrified by atrocities
perpetrated by Serbian Christians or the Real IRA."

Most striking to me was Jim Wallis' commentary "A
Better Way to Fight Terrorism."  Replace the phrase
"U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania" with "World
Trade Center and the Pentagon" and the article could
have been written today! The targets change and the
casualties grow, but the international context remains
largely the same. Injustice and oppression lead to
revolt (terrorism), which leads to repression (counter-
terrorism), and the cycle of violence continues. When
will we learn that there can be no peace without
justice, that terrorism will not end until its
underlying causes have been addressed?

*Ed. note: Thanks, Roger. For other relevant Sojourners
articles, go to:


Hannahzarah Avarraschild of Burlington, Vermont, wrote:

I have been enjoying the comments in the news-
letters you have been sending these last two
weeks. I have had several thoughts come into my

Be careful calling for Justice. She sees all
things clearly and judges by the standards of
The One Who Is. It is better to listen to
pray for mercy and forgiveness instead.

Our Ancient Enemy does not take sides. He does
not care in which camp hatred, violence, pride,
greed, and anger dwell. It wins no matter who
lets those things rule one.

If we let the events of these times deviate us
from our walk with The One Who Is, we will truly
lose our way.


Marie Connor of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, wrote:

I was in El Salvador in order to be a U.S. American
presence during some large marches and group
gatherings. Our presence deterred the military
from shooting into the crowds.  What if we got
several thousand American peacekeepers together
and created a presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan -
bringing food, medical supplies, and good will?
This would be our own set of "Ground Troops," which
might deter our own government troops from killing
innocent people. 


Kathleen Keefe of Seattle, Washington, wrote:

All week I've been searching for a way to show that
we as a nation need unity and a peaceful solution. I
want to wave a U.S. flag, but the past symbolism of it
being associated with war makes me think it's not
exactly what I want. I decided the flag I want to
wave is one that has the strips of all shades and
symbols of the different cultures that make up this
country. I want there to be crosses, stars of David,
and the Muslim crescent and star. I want Native
American art work, green Irish cloth, African cloth, 
Chinese cloth, and just every kind of fabric. I'll 
wave that one. We are all Americans. That is our flag.


Mtumiki Njira of Limbe, Malawi, wrote:

The following is a representative digest of things
I've heard here in the Third World that accurately
represent, I think, what the silent majority out
here feel.

1) Mourn for 5,000 Americans killed? After I mourn
for the 5,000 who've died in Malawi so far this year
of AIDS and the many thousands who have done so in
other African countries. After I mourn for the many
thousands killed in earthquakes, floods, volcano
eruptions, and the like this year, and the thousands of
Iraqis killed by American actions against Iraq.
Come on, America, stop whining. You've just
joined the real world. Are American deaths more
important than other peoples?

2) I abhor the killing, but what a masterpiece of
planning, organization, and execution! Maybe Americans
will now stop thinking of Third World people as
incompetent and ignorant primitives and start
listening to us once in a while.

3) Two buildings gone; that's a pity. I wish
they'd hit the IMF headquarters instead. Are
there ANY buildings left standing in Baghdad?

4) It's terrifying! America's a rogue elephant or
a loose cannon. Who can control her? Who knows
who she'll take into her head to attack next?

5) Well, I don't condone the attacks, but maybe
Americans will be just a little less arrogant and
condescending to other people as a result. Good
can come out of evil!

6) If America's been called to root out evil in
the world, they should start at home.

7) Here, when a person dies, the mourners sit quietly
allowing others to mourn for and with them. They don't
start shouting about how great they are!

Maybe these attitudes are unfair, but America needs
to take note of them. The world's negative attitude
towards America isn't rooted in jealousy, whatever
Bush may think, but in America's behavior in the
world. More bombs will not change it for the better.


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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