The Common Good

Beyond warmongers and peaceniks

Sojomail - February 6, 2002



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+++++++++++++++++++++++ 6-February-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++++ Beyond warmongers and peaceniks ++++++++++++++++++++

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 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *If you don't know where you're going...

 P. O. V.
     *Beyond warmongers and peaceniks

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Bruce Cockburn: All the diamonds

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *SojoMail survey results

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Ethics for sale?

 B i z   E t h i x
     *Corporations behaving badly: The 10 worst of 2001

 S o j o C i r c l e s
     *Going in circles!
 B u i l d i n g   A   M o v e m e n t
     *Pentecost 2002

 R e l i g i o n   &   P o l i t i c s
     *The challenge: How do Jews, Muslims keep talking?

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Interview with creator of Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.

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


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

"Cheshire Puss," she began, rather timidly..."would you
tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That
depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the
cat. "I don't care where..." said Alice. "Then
it doesn't matter which way you go," said the cat.

               - Lewis Carroll in "Alice in Wonderland"

P. O. V.
Beyond warmongers and peaceniks

by Rose Marie Berger

I'm a card-carrying pacifist.
It's not an easy affiliation these days. In the best of
times I get a polite nod from the realists of the world.
In the worst of times - post-Sept. 11 fits the bill - I
get described in terms like those used by columnist Michael
Kelly in The Washington Post: "The American pacifists
are on the side of future mass murders of Americans. They
are objectively pro-terrorist.... That is the pacifists'
position, and it is evil." There's nothing like massive
displays of horrific violence to bring out the colors. In
the not-so-immortal words of sociologist Lewis Coser,
"[Social] conflict clarifies values and makes latent
values manifest."

The "kick-butt" party has got itself wrapped so tightly in
the American flag that it can't finish the job of jailing
bin Laden before it's moved on the next proving ground.
The "America: mostly wrong" contingent is busy re-stitching
the stars and stripes with hearts and peace signs to give
it the appropriately patriotic - but not too nationalistic -
message of one who would rather stall out in history than
act strongly for justice.

In true pacifist fashion, I'd like to throw down an olive
branch at the feet of America's just warriors to see if
we can cut a deal. You restore to just war principles their
original intent of limiting violence and we'll wash the yellow
stripes off our backs and put our pacifism on the front lines.
If we work together on this we can kick the front teeth out
of terrorists and dry up the sources of injustice that
supply their foot soldiers.

When the Romans adopted just war principles, Cicero called
it "the ethic for empires, the code for conquerors." It
defined the object of war as the vindication of justice and
the restoration of peace. Peace was held as the ideal and
war was viewed as failure to succeed in mediation. War should
be conducted in a way that does not preclude the restoration
of lasting peace. Hence, the conduct of war would have to be
restrained by a code. The innocent among the conquered were
to be dealt with mercifully because a liberal peace was the
sound basis for building an empire.

I challenge those in America who believe that the willingness
to sacrifice your life for your country is honorable to pick
up the olive branch. The true principles of just war do
bring honor to those who are willing to sacrifice. They also
provide viable standards for limiting violence and measuring
appropriate and effective military action.
Pacifists must design and implement non-violent approaches to
stopping terrorists and limiting terrorism. Practitioners of
pragmatic nonviolence have spent an intensive 20 years
developing principles of "just peace" that will eventually
become the primary ethic for managing conflict in the new
global reality.
A just peace ethic involves addressing root causes of violence,
not just symptoms; recognizing the role of all parties in a
conflict; taking independent initiatives to reduce violence;
engaging international forces; using force only to apprehend and
protect, not destroy; and increasing the capacity of civil
society organizations. These principles have been successfully
applied in deposing dictators, achieving national independence,
and reforming civil injustice. We must now push them to be
equally effective in stopping terrorism.
I think this country is big enough for both of us - pacifist and
just warrior alike. But America is changing. We are required to
meet new and difficult challenges; and our responses must change
to meet the times. Pick up the olive branch. America needs our
civility and our strength.

Rose Marie Berger is a Roman Catholic peace activist,
poet, and an editor at Sojourners magazine. She can be
reached at .
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S o u l   W o r k s
All the diamonds

by Bruce Cockburn

All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea
I ran aground in a harbour town
Lost the taste for being free
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
To carry me to sea
Two thousand years and half a world away
Dying trees still grow greener when you pray
Silver scales flash bright and fade
In reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining.


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
SojoMail survey results

Thanks to all of you who responded to our recent reader
survey! It was great to get a snapshot of the folks
who enjoy SojoMail - and your comments were especially
helpful in telling us how we could make it better.

Some stats (rounded results - may not equal 100% evenly):

SojoMail readers that live outside the U.S.    20%
Female readers                                 48%
Male readers                                   52%
Oldest reader                                  86
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Average reader age                             47
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I like having the option to comb through the material at my

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F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Ethics for sale?

Hottest item on EBay...

Enron Corporate Ethics Manual
Mint condition - never opened.


Need a great read? Check out "The Soul of Politics" 
and other timeless works by Jim Wallis at:



B i z  E t h i c s
Corporations behaving badly: The 10 worst of 2001

Yes, Enron made the list, plus nine other corporate
criminals indicted on Multinational Monitor's annual
hall of shame:

*Abbott: fraudulent drug pricing and marketing conduct
*Argenbright: lied to authorities about poor airport security
*Bayer: price-gouging on anthrax drugs
*Coca-Cola: sugar-addicted children and Colombian death squads
*Enron: um, read your newspaper
*ExxonMobil: is to global warming as Philip Morris is to death
*Philip Morris: tired of being byword for evil, changes name,
     experiments with reverse psychology marketing for kids
*Sara Lee: 21 dead, $200,000 fine for killer hot dogs
*Southern: big coal trades campaign cash for toxic ash
*Wal-Mart: sweatshops abroad, anti-unionism at home

For the full rap sheet, go to:


S o j o C i r c l e s
Going in circles!

SojoCircles are forming throughout the world as people 
are gathering together to discuss, study, talk, and pray. 
To see if they have been sited in your area, go to for a complete list of locations.

Our newest members are:

Park Forest, IL. Sally Hundley:
Underhill, VT. Rev. Rich Cooper:
Edison, NJ. Rev. Kathleen Cardy Tice:
Bedford, NY. Paul Seever:
Hagerstown, MD. Greg Wright:

Can't find one in your hometown? Please consider leading 
one yourself. For more information, contact us at or call 1-800-714-7474. 


The inaugural gathering of WORD AND WORLD: A PEOPLE'S SCHOOL 
will be held in Greensboro, NC, April 13-21, 2002. The main 
theme of this first school is the African American Freedom 
struggle as it shaped the second half of the 20th century. 
WORD AND WORLD is a popular institute designed to address the 
need for theological pedagogy "between the Seminary, the 
Sanctuary and the Street." 

Contact: Deborah Lee 
Tel: 520-670-9048 



B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Call to Renewal National Mobilization
Pentecost 2002
"Speaking the Truth About Poverty"

May 18-19 in your local community
May 20-22 in Washington, D.C.

In response to a growing domestic need and global
challenge, Call to Renewal is calling for a major spring
mobilization at Pentecost 2002. This is a critical year in
Congress for the "reauthorization" of programs that affect
poor working families - TANF (welfare reform), food stamps,
child care block grants - as well as crucial international
aid and debt decisions. These decisions will impact people
struggling to escape poverty more than any in years.

Call to Renewal invites churches and faith-based
organizations to act locally in their communities over
Pentecost weekend (Saturday-Sunday May 18-19),
then commission a delegation from every community to come
to Washington for a national Pentecost service of worship
and commitment and two days of presence and witness on
Capitol Hill (Monday-Wednesday May 20-22). The leaders of
national and grassroots faith-based organizations will
tell the nation and the country's political leaders about
the realities of poverty in their communities and how we
must all work together to practically help people overcome
it. We will also challenge the nation's media (local and
national) to be a part of the solution by reporting on the
face of poverty in America.

Call to Renewal invites you to join in this mobilization.
For more information, call 202-328-8745 or visit:


R e l i g i o n   &   P o l i t i c s
The challenge: How do Jews, Muslims keep talking?

by Salam Al-Marayati and Daniel Sokatch

While it is true that Muslim-Jewish dialogue groups around
the country, including ours here in Los Angeles, have faced
serious challenges since the Sept. 11 attacks, we
believe it is critical that we keep talking. In our group,
intemperate words have been spoken, trust shaken, feelings
hurt. Apologies have also been offered - both privately and

To read more, go to:

*********************New Online Forum*********************************

Hard Questions for Peacemakers:

If there is a good - and even necessary - purpose in
defeating terrorism, and if the lives of my neighbors
and my family are indeed at risk, how do I respond?

To accept any use of force is a very difficult thing for
those of us committed to nonviolent solutions. Is any kind
of force consistent with nonviolence? If so, what kind?
What limitations are required? What ethical considerations
must be brought to bear?

What do you think? Share your responses (or questions) at:


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Interview with creator of Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.

by Sharon Gallagher

Buzz Lightyear's alter ego and the director of Monsters,
Inc. talks about his work and his faith. An interview with
Pete Docter.

"I'm part of Buzz. He was the character I identified most
with, at least in the writing of the film, because I get
lost in my own world a lot of times."

To read the entire interview as it appeared in Radix
magazine, go to:


B o o m e r a n g

Matthew Quaife-Ryan, Chaplain at Central Queensland
University in Rockhampton, Australia, writes:

Jim Wallis, in his "State of the Union" reflection, noted
that Canadians were perhaps wondering why everything in
Bush's speech was about "American leadership, America's
role and America's responsibility...." I'm not sure
whether it's strictly correct to say that Canada and by
implication all the other countries of the world are puzzled
by such hubris. The rest of the world knows at some level
that we are living at a time in human history in which we
all, whether we like it or not, are a part of the American
Empire. And like the Roman Empire of 2000 years ago,
there are two set of laws - one for U.S. citizens and one for
the rest of us. We - ie., the rest of the world - are no
longer really dismayed or surprised when the U.S. ignores
various United Nations' rulings and then invokes U.N. rulings
when it agrees with them. We have more or less become resigned
to the fact that the only superpower in the world will do
what it wants, do what is in its own best interests. Every
country in the world's foreign as well as domestic policy
is dominated by how it relates to the U.S.

Having said this, I think that most of us, given a choice,
would prefer to be part of the American Empire rather than
say the Chinese or Russian Empire. The fact remains, though,
that we all belong to the Empire and all empires demand
absolute allegiance. Some empires like the current American
one will tolerate (as a public relations exercise) a certain
amount of dissent, but will move to crush any serious
questioning or resistance whenever and wherever it appears.
This is especially true when the resistance occurs in
smallish places at the far borders of the Empire. At this
point in human history it is very important for Christians
and all people of good will to work out what it means to
render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.


Arkle Bell writes from Bradford, United Kingdom:

Re: Jim Wallis' comments on the president's call to give
4,000 hrs. of service. Many of our churches talk of
sacrificial giving - usually this is in financial terms.
Like Jim, I too have for years been calling on Christians
to give time. At my church we support a range of projects
overseas. What if we all gave a tithe of time to the
mission of the church as well? What a difference a church
of say 100 members could make if each person was giving 4
hours per week in coordinated mission.


Bruce Lather writes from White River Junction, Vermont:

To Mr. Jim Wallis: Sir, you were absolutely right in your
analysis of the president's State of the Union speech.
Take away his false patriotism, his worshipping of the
military-industrial complex, his complete unwillingness
to go after the root causes of terrorism, and spending more
and more money for weapons, etc., while necessary social
programs rely more and more on volunteerism, and you will
find that our emperor wears no moral clothes.


Rev. Shawn Ankenmann writes from Minnedosa, Canada:

Thanks to Jim Wallis for an insightful and wise opinion piece
on President Bush's State of the Union address. But, as a
concerned Canadian, I must say that personally I do not
wonder why everything in President Bush's speech talks about
America this and America that.... The thing I wonder about
is when will the citizens of the U.S. realize that the world
cannot be defined only on the terms set by the White House
and transnational corporations?...
I weep for a world in which war-time popularity is used to
justify the imposition of one nation's agenda on the rest
of the world.
Where is the help for the domestic poor in the U.S.?
Where is the help for the Palestinian people enduring attack
after attack from U.S.-made weapons?


Richard Wigton writes from Middletown, Pennsylvania:

I love receiving Sojomail. I love your insightful,
balanced articles. I also enjoy Boomerang.
But one thing disturbs me. I noticed that a number of
people who wrote in are very unsympathetic to the
Palestinian cause. They act as if Israel is an innocent
victim in the current struggles and that the Palestinians
are nothing more than blood-thirsty barbarians. I find
such views to be very myopic. Granted, the Arabs have
used war and terrorism to strike at Israel and this must
be condemned in the strongest possible terms. However,
the Israelis treat the Palestinians as second-class
citizens. They forcibly take their land to make way for
Jewish settlements. They can detain them without cause and
all Palestinians must get permission from the Israeli
military to go from one village to another. Is it any
wonder that the Palestinians are angry?
On another note, Ann-Marie Hislop made the comment that
reporters should use the word "God" instead of "Allah"
since Allah simply means God in Arabic. I agree with that.
But then she went on to say that Muslims worship the same
God we do. I am sorry, but the God of the Koran is not
the God of the Bible. There are major differences in our
religions. They do not worship Jesus as the Savior who takes
away the sins of the world.


Argye Hillis writes from Waco, Texas:

Anne-Marie Hislop is so right that when we try to describe
Muslim beliefs in English we should use the English word "God"
not "Allah." When a Muslim friend came to speak to the
little girls in my (Christian) Mission Friends group, they
were amazed to discover that "Allah" is just the Arabic word
for the one Creator. It is much better to translate the Islamic
creed as, "There is no god except God and Mohammad is his
prophet," than the way it is usually translated. Actually,
don't most Muslim believers resist translations of the
Quran anyway?

Bob Douglas writes from St. Paul, Minnesota:

In response to Anne-Marie Hislop, we use the term Allah out
of respect to Muslims who do not regard Allah the same as
the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although many may
desire an ecumenism in using a universal term for Deity, such
as "God," it certainly would not reflect the beliefs of the
"faithful," whether Muslim or Christian. For instance,
Muslims do not accept the Christian concept of a triune God
and consider it blasphemy to consider Allah in any other
aspect but one. To quote the Quran, 17.39: "Do not
associate any other god with Allah lest you should be thrown
into hell, blamed, cast away."

Amrita Burdick is correct in claiming there is no use of
the word "perverted" in the Quranic description of Jews or
Christians. However, there is precious little grace extended
to unbelievers in the Quran. There are many references from
the Quran that could be referred to, but some examples
include 4.101: "Surely the unbelievers are your open enemy";
4.144: "O you who believe! Do not take the unbelievers for
friends"; and 40.70-71: "Those who reject the Book and that
with which We have sent Our Apostle; but they shall soon
come to know, when the fetters and the chains shall be on
their necks; they shall be dragged into boiling water, then
in the fire shall they be burned."

Sobering stuff not often mentioned in media.


Honey Judith Rubin writes from Marietta, Georgia:

If we substitute God for Allah in our translations, we
obliterate a precious and valuable difference in our point
of view. Most in the Judeo-Christian world understand God as
a being separate from us, and having power OVER us, which is
vastly different than being a source of power FOR us. In the
Muslim faith, most would say that "Allah is as close as my
breath."  Indeed, in my grateful understanding, Allah is the
very Breath that breathes me.

Perhaps if we continue to use the different word, enough of
us will be inspired to search within for the understanding
that the differences that show up in our physical experience
(which includes religious differences) are just texture in
a grand tapestry. They add. They are meant to be celebrated.
And when we look with a larger vision, we can see how necessary
and precious the differences are - how it all fits.


Francisco Herrera writes from San Francisco, California:

Re: "World's funniest joke?" [SojoMail 01-30-02]
Sorry hermanos y hermanas, but the funniest joke is the
world's funniest English joke. I guess no one has done
a study of the most requested jokes in other languages!
Other than that, I appreciate your work very much.
Excellent. Congratulations.


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:



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