The Common Good

Speak the language of light

Sojomail - October 5, 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

++++++++++++++++++++ 5-October-2001 ++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++   "Speak the language of light"   +++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Flannery O'Connor: belief in things not yet seen

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *Let there be light

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Pakistani group courageously confronts conflict

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Love: a rock in the storm

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *Guatemala's past: the debate continues

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *Taliban violations once overlooked for sake of drug war

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

 T e c h   E t h i x
     *Will it be cash, check, or finger?

 P. O. V.
     *A fresh look at winning

 W e b   S c e n e
     *Where do journalists go to get their leads?
     *Healthy breast care
     *Arts journal
     *Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kenny Rogers?

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

Don't expect faith to clear things up for you.
It is trust, not certainty.

            -Flannery O'Connor, author


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Let there be light

by Jim Wallis

I recently spoke at an interfaith prayer service,
introducing a ceremony of lighting candles in a sign
of commitment and community. Here are my remarks:

Lighting a candle at an interfaith service is something
many of us have done more times than we can remember.
Speaking the language of darkness and light on
religious occasions and in liturgical seasons has
also become a matter of habit. But our darkness feels
very real and powerful in this moment - almost
impenetrable, and threatening to close in on us. And
the light we need is feeling almost urgent.

Old familiar spiritual words must take on a new reality
for us now - and a new sense of mission. Words like
"Let there be light!" and "The light has come into
the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."

So tonight, we don't just light candles, we make a
commitment. More than we knew before September 11,
there are many dark places in the world where
unspeakable violence against large numbers of innocent
people is being planned. Let those places be exposed
to the light of day and the violence be thwarted.

There are many other dark places in the world, where
grinding, miserable, and life-destroying poverty
carries out daily violence to other innocents - out
of the view of a fast-moving, affluent world. Let those
hidden places and people be exposed to the light of

There are dark places within us and in our nation
that might lash out from our deep woundedness, grief,
and anger, carelessly inflicting more pain on
innocent people. Let the light of compassion and
reason prevent us from spreading our pain.

There are dark places within and among us that might
retaliate from fear and revenge against even our fellow
citizens who happen to be Muslim or Arab American -
many of whom tonight feel the darkness of their own
fear. Let the light of tolerance and solidarity bind
us together and not let us be torn apart.

And tonight, most of us feel the darkness of our own
confusion about how this happened, why this happened,
and how to protect ourselves, our families, and the
world. Let us be illumined by the light of understanding.

So that we not just cling to old ways of thinking, but
go deeper than we ever have before to seek new answers.
So that we learn to carefully comprehend the connections
between the violence of the world, while never allowing
ourselves to tolerate any of it - ever again.

And let the light of courage equip us to face the
darkness that lies so thick and heavy before us.
Courage to heal the darkness in ourselves. Courage to
reveal the darkness in the very structure of our world.
Courage to confront the darkness in the face of evil
we saw on September 11. And let us remember that
courage is not the absence of fear, but resistance to it.

So now, let us light our candles as an act of
commitment. That the darkness will not overcome
the light.




B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Pakistani group courageously confronts conflict

The situation here in Pakistan is grim. The war
has been made a war in the name of the religion.
When President Bush called it a "crusade," it was
totally misinterpreted in Pakistan. The
orientation of the people here is deeply rooted
in religion and we read everything in terms of
religion. Muslims form the majority of the
population and Christian and Hindus are tiny
minorities. Islamic fundamentalists therefore
can use this situation for their own vested
interests in our country.

Christians are being threatened in the villages.
The Human Development Centre is working with the
Muslim and Christian communities for the promotion
of interfaith dialogue and social harmony. We fear
that there will be a social disaster in the name
of religion. So we have prepared a proactive
emergency program to address any such problems in
our region. We have formed peace committees that
are already active to address any conflict.

A network of Asian community organizations have
launched a Web magazine. They have published
stories from Pakistan which explain our work
and also explain the situation in Pakistan. Go to:

Just click on my picture there and you will find
the stories of our work. We need support from
people of good will everywhere.

Atif Jamil Pagaan
Human Development Centre



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S o u l   W o r k s
Love: a rock in the storm

What though the tempest round me roars,
I know the truth, it liveth.
What though the darkness round me close,
songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while
to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

         - traditional American hymn


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
Guatemala's past: the debate continues

Melinda Wallace of New Zealand wrote:

C'mon David [Batstone]. Great piece of drama, but my
friend Julie did not claim the death squads and violence
in Guatemala didn't occur. She is just questioning who
really was the source of them. Your own response notes
that some of these killings may have been carried out
by armed opposition groups. To equate Julie in the same
category of someone who denies the Holocaust is not
only unfair, but inaccurate considering what she wrote. 
Did you read it?
She says, "I can't say he never did anything bad.... We
will know in heaven.... If he's so bad, why hasn't he
had to run?" She is honestly questioning that what
she saw is different than what she's heard some others
say. But the evidence is not in such neatly defined
black-and-white or good-and-evil categories that you
might want to paint. Julie isn't trying to tell you
Rios Montt is a saint. She's just saying that when
she knew him, he didn't act like a cold-blooded, ruthless
killer. But she is broad-minded enough to admit that
it is beyond her being the one to judge, so she realizes
the truth might not be revealed until heaven. The
woman never "judged," yet you do and call her to the
carpet for poor judgment?

And when you allude to Youth With a Mission as a
fundamentalist Protestant group, you are way out of
the reality zone. And please, show me how Mr. Tom
Barry substantiates his "veteran" opinions. Did you
ever think of speaking to Loren Cunningham or YWAM
workers from that area before you published such
defaming remarks? Or did quoting a "veteran researcher"
automatically take you off that hook? This is just 
bad journalism.  

"For the sake of the indigenous people, we cannot
allow history to be rewritten," you write in your well-
rehearsed, melodramatic manner. Please, don't even try
to make it sound like Julie is "against" indigenous
people. I don't know anyone more passionate about the
rights of indigenous people than my friend Julie. 
The woman has almost died numerous times in defending
them and living with them.... And today she works in
America giving her life away amongst immigrants rather
than using her master's degree in linguistics to store
up personal wealth.   

Shame on you, David, for taking a potshot at someone
who dared to have a perspective different than you.


David Batstone replies:

I stand by what I wrote last week, Melinda: "I don't
doubt her [Julie's] sincerity, but I am chilled by
her poor judgment." I should indeed be "shamed" for
criticizing the sincerity of a woman who gave (and
gives) so much and risked so much for the indigenous
people of Guatemala. But it is "chilling" that she can
question whether Rios Montt was the cold-blooded
killer of so many indigenous people simply
because he was a born-again Christian and seemed
like a decent sort at church.

I hold the same measure to YWAM. I felt in 1983 and
onwards it was "chilling" poor judgment for YWAM
and other Protestant groups to collaborate with
the military government of Guatemala in the
construction of model villages. Again, I'm speaking
as an eyewitness who was there and saw first-hand
the human - and statistical - story of the military's
razed-earth policy on indigenous people. I'm not
simply a dispassionate journalist who got his facts
mixed up or didn't interview the right people.

I'm sorry if it makes me sound "melodramatic," but
genocide is a good/evil, black/white historical
judgment in my book. And we can't afford to wait
until heaven to see what God has to say about it.
I'm of the belief that God wants us to say something
about it now.


P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
Taliban violations once overlooked for sake of drug war

Robert Scheer, in an article published May 22, 2001, 
in the Los Angeles Times:

"Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S.
terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization
in your homeland, and the Bush administration will
embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as
an ally in the drug war.... That's the message sent
with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban
rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-
American violators of human rights in the world
today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary
of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent
aid, makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban
and rewards that 'rogue regime' for declaring that
opium growing is against the will of God."



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B o o m e r a n g

Roger Talbott of North Olmsted, Ohio, wrote:

Just want to thank you one more time for the daily
SojoMail updates. A friend of mine signed me up, and even
though I have had an incredibly busy week, I found
myself always making time to review SojoMail thoroughly.
I am so impressed by the thoughtfulness and openness
that each one exhibited. I know how hard it is to write
well and think deeply and soulfully. I can't imagine how
you reached such a level of excellence each day.


Mike Brislen of Djibouti, East Africa, wrote:

It saddens me to realize how much Christians are
influenced by ideological perspectives. I've heard
several evangelical missionaries from Guatemala
praise Rios Montt. His fellow evangelical Guatemalan
dictator Jorge Serrano also receives praise in books
about spiritual warfare. At times I feel embarrassed
to call myself an evangelical. Living in East Africa,
I don't hear what most Christians are saying about
the recent terrorist attacks on New York and
Washington, D.C. Most of my connections are through
the Mennonite church and pacifist groups. But I fear
that too many good evangelicals are probably jumping
on the bandwagon in favor of war.


SojoMail reader Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou wrote:

I am greatly disturbed by the letter put forth by
Charles Deemer and the overarching tenor of Sojourners
in response to our government's commitment to violence.
I find a position that supports violence over peace to
be diametrically opposed to the teaching of Jesus, while
betraying the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Jesus does not say love your enemy some of the
time. Would King have abandoned the principle of non-
violence? No. There are those of us who have had
our lives threatened for taking a position against
our government's commitment to violence.

This position is not grounded in liberal-left
discourse but rather it is the best of what my
grandmother taught. She loved Jesus and honored
King. So shall those of us who find ourselves both
misfit and prophetic. We shall then take our marching
orders from that Palestinian peasant and country
preacher and sing as grandmother sang, "We shall
not be moved."


Chris Brown of Glasgow, Scotland, wrote:

I feel that SojoMail has come of age since September
11. What has motivated my thinking was the open letter
to the peace movement by Charles Deemer. It's easy
to dismiss putting forward counter arguments but there
are things that need to be taken on board so as to
promote healthy discussion. Before the letter had
arrived, I went to the peace rally in Glasgow - as
mentioned in a recent SojoMail - looking forward to
hearing people stating truths and encouragement.
But I began to feel depressed, so I started to think
why: there were 1,000 at the rally but many more
thousands shopping. You see more people on the
sectarian Orange marches held in Glasgow.


Mary Alice Ailes of Washington, D.C., wrote:

I have been receiving SojoMail for quite a while and
am very challenged by the articles and contributions
that are included in each issue. But I am quite
concerned by the pacifist and even leftist (as
opposed to liberal or progressive) views that you
are publishing without much dissent. The views that
you are publishing since September 11 seem to me to
be indefensible unless we've been caught in a 30-
year time warp (the '60s all over again)....

I am distressed by those who are writing that America
will be bombing babies, and if we just understood 
these terrorists' reasons to hate America then all 
would be well. That is not historically the
pacifist view - that's a leftist view. Pacifists could
wholeheartedly support the goals of the American
government to stop terrorism, however our elected
government saw fit to do it, while not bearing arms
themselves. I would love to see SojoMail writing
about how we could support this effort by joining
the Salvation Army or the Red Cross or volunteering
our free time to help those in need - not by
denouncing America as imperial war mongrels or
potential baby killers. To oppose what the American
government is doing to fight further horrific acts
such as those committed on September 11 is, in my mind,


Thomas Baumgarten of La Paz, Baja California, Mexico, wrote:

I have only been with you for six weeks or so....
A retired physicist, still mentally quiet alert,
all my life scanning all the major religions and
thought-systems for their intrinsic meaning and
what I call "pearls."  I admit I have Buddhist/
Taoist-affinities. But in this short time now with
SojoMail, I have come to look at Christianity with
kinder eyes again. I just wish there were more
people like you around; hell, I'd even go to church
with you, sometimes, just for sharing our "being"
together with "The Power That is Above."

Just wanted to tell you that you are doing an
excellent job and that I admire your sense of taste
and your wisdom in these hard and trying
times for all our lives!


David Nybakke of Bloomington, Illinois, wrote:

We can succumb to the magnitude of this violence
and attempt to get back to life as usual, shop
till we drop, or we can bring hope through
perseverance, patience, and love to our day-to-
day existence. When we look at our lives, do
they teach peace? If they don't, what is the
lesson we are teaching our children and neighbors?

There are many groups that help to bring peace
to families, neighborhoods, and communities. Many
have been published by the folks at Sojo. Last I
checked, Sojourners had many booklets available
for everyday folks and community activists to
start peace campaigns in your hometown. I may
not be able to bring terrorists to justice, but
I can live life in faith and peace, so as not
to teach hatred, fear, and violence.

*Ed. note: Yes, David, we still do publish
study guide resources. Learn more about them -
including how to order them - at:


Dan Daniels of Tampa, Florida, wrote:

Many thanks to Susan Easton, the nurse/theologian
from California. Hers is a sane and very real
view of the ravages caused by "untreated" disease.
Yes, pray! Yes, seek peace among our neighbors
across the seas! But let the U.S. also eradicate
the disease by any means needed and let us stop
contemplating our navels and rise up to the
challenge. Peace, of course, but justice as well.


Lorne Bostwick of Needham, Massachusetts, wrote:

It was staggering to go through all the names
of people who had signed the "Deny Them Their
Victory" response to terrorism and realize that
we represent less than half of the people who
were killed on September 11.


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. The views expressed are not necessarily
those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice
heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:



T e c h   E t h i x
Will it be cash, check, or finger?

by Julia Scheeres

You've just been out for a run. You're sweaty,
thirsty, and have no pockets. What do you do? Pay
for that 32-ounce sugar water with your fingerprint.
Put your finger on the mouse and go to:,1367,47127,00.html?tw=wn20011001


P. O . V.
A fresh look at winning

by King Grossman

When I was a youngster playing YMCA football we had
a team that beat the other teams in our division
badly. Our coach would encourage us to play hard
and run up the score.  At first it felt like fun;
it was exhilarating to see the score in the third
quarter be 60 to 6.  And we still had our first
string in.  I was still in the game, in the thrill
of it. Invariably, in every game, as the fourth
quarter started, something clicked inside me. We
were garishly running up the score. I felt sick to
be a part of it. I shamefully looked upon our
coach with the zesty gleam in his eyes. He was
my father.

What happened to the kids on the other team?
They hated us, yet they did not have the might
to fight back. We kept on winning.
"What has caused this much hate in the world?"
I marveled as the children posed this question
to Peter Jennings during his gathering of youth
that first aired on the Saturday following the
atrocities. Some of the more seemingly patriotic
kids all but grabbed the mike to thwart the
uprising. The experts danced around the question.
Courageously swimming against the tide, many of
the children went back to the question, hungry
for an answer that made sense.

The experts seem to be together in telling us
that the region sees us as arrogant in wielding
our Western culture, bursting with excess, upon
them. They see us as a fairweather, erratic
influence in the region that protects our
strategic interests while partnering with
repressive regimes, too quickly turning our heads
from the needs of humanity once our economic
interests are satisfied. They see us as turning
a deaf ear to the killing going on between
Israel and the Palestinians.  They see us as
entrenched in a view of religious superiority,
scoffing at their faith. They see us as inhibiting
Muslims from freely worshiping in their central
Mosque. What else, I wonder? We can barely talk
with much of the Middle Eastern world.

What if I had gone up to my father, my football
coach, and asked him why we were pouring it on
our opponent so? What if he had said with pride,
"What do you mean? We have the best team in the
league. We are here to win." What if I had taken
him by his hand and had him peer into the hateful
eyes of the other coach, the desolate, downtrodden
eyes of the opposing players, then over to the
stands and the hissing and booing of the parents
and fans of the other team, then finally to our
team's boosters and their tentative gazes, unable
to hold the coach's eyes?

What if my dad had gotten it?  With all that fire
in his belly he would most certainly have listened
to the needs of the other coaches, he may have
formed a draft that ensured more parity on the
teams, he may have held coaching clinics, he may
have raised money for the league to purchase better
equipment. He may have apologized to his players,
their parents, and the other teams for his

I will never know.  I never said anything.

*King Grossman of Texas is a writer, investment
manager, and former Washington D.C. staff aide to
then-Senator Lloyd Bentsen.


W e b   S c e n e
Best of the Web

*Where do journalists go to get their leads?

Many U.S. journalists begin with The Associated Press.
Check in regularly for breaking developments from
this national news wire service. Go to:


*Healthy breast care

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month,
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Imaginis is divided into two sections - one for
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Go to:


*Arts Journal

This digest keeps readers up to date with the latest
developments in the worlds of dance, media, music,
publishing, theater, and the visual arts. Arts Journal
links to articles from top newspapers and magazines from
one convenient Web page. Go to:


*Kenny Rogers look-alikes

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It's all a part of what makes country star Kenny
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or not - with 25 photo galleries full of Rogers
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a look-alike or become one yourself. Go to:


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