The Common Good

Liberty and Justice for All

Sojomail - March 20, 2002



                       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

+++++++++++++++++++++++ 20-March-2002 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++++ Liberty and Justice for All +++++++++++++++++++++++++

SHARE THE GOOD NEWS - send a warm, generous message recommending
that your family and friends sign up to receive SojoMail:

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Florida mayor: No Satan here

 B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
     *With liberty, and justice, for all

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Batter up!

 R e l i g i o n   M a t t e r s
     *Controversies swirl: how to interpret the Quran?

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Burial Instructions

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Interactive map for U.S. 2000 census

 P. O. V.
     *The myth of the pedophile priest?

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Update: British opposition to war grows
     *Congress on threshhold of major reform

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *10 best characters in fiction

 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

"People call and ask me, 'Carolyn, is Satan there?'
And I tell them, 'Satan is only where we let him.'"

                - Carolyn Risher, mayor of Inglis, Florida,
                  who issued a decree banning Satan from


B a t t e r i e s   N o t   I n c l u d e d
With liberty, and justice, for all

by David Batstone

This past week I spent some time with Art Agnos, who served
as mayor of San Francisco from 1988-1992. He shared with me
a story that I had to pass along.

Halfway through his term as mayor, Agnos received a call from
an executive at Chevron Oil saying that the company wanted
to bring by his office a delegation of visiting Russian
government officials. Crude oil had been discovered in a new
region of Russia, but the country had neither the expertise
nor the technology to get it out. Chevron was courting the
government to win that contract.

Hence, this particular group of officials were brought to
Chevron's corporate headquarters to show off the company's
expansive refineries and technical capabilities. While the
delegation was in town, the company also wanted to demonstrate
the political clout they carried domestically - a Russian
delegation would be most impressed by a personal meeting
with the city's top-ranking government official, to be sure.

Agnos hosted the delegation in San Francisco's City Hall.
After exchanging pleasantries, the delegation described
to the mayor the purpose of the trip: to culminate in
reaching a contractual agreement with Chevron to drill
for the oil. One Russian then asked unexpectedly, "Do you
have any advice for us?" Agnos quickly responded, "Yes,
get all that you can." The interpreter translated his
advice, which left the delegation stunned. Gathering
their wits, they asked him to explain what he meant.
"Well, in the American system, you are about to enter into
a process that we call bargaining and negotiating. Don't
accept their first offer; your goal should be to get as
much as you can for your country and your people. That's
what we do here; it's the American way." A discussion
ensued, then the delegation thanked him profusely and
resumed their arranged tour.

Several days later the mayor received several heated calls
from Chevron executives livid over his advice to the Russians.
They charged that he was very unpatriotic in supporting
American business interests. Agnos replied, "I believe
deeply in the American values, but that requires me to
reach out to other people and make sure that we're all
treated the same way."

Agnos was pointing to a deep choice of values. Surely
that's the single most important issue surrounding
globalization; people in the underdeveloped world do not
feel as if they will get their fair share. We have a
double standard - fair trade and profit for us, the spoils
for you. It permeates big business assumptions about
value. A word of advice for the corporates: leave something
on the table so that everyone can improve their standard of


Have you read Sojourners (the paper version) lately? You ought
to check it out for yourself. Produced by the fine folks who
bring you SojoMail each week.

Get your own copy.


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Batter up!

Bob and Earl were two of the biggest baseball fans in
America. For their entire adult lives, Bob and Earl discussed
baseball history in the winter and they pored over every box
score during the season. They went to 60 games a year. They even
agreed that whoever died first would try to come back and tell
the other if there was baseball in heaven.

One summer night, Bob passed away in his sleep after watching the
Yankee victory earlier in the evening. He died happy. A few
nights later, his buddy Earl awoke to the sound of Bob's voice
from beyond. "Bob, is that you?" Earl asked.

"Of course it's me," Bob replied.

"This is unbelievable!" Earl exclaimed. "So tell me, is there
baseball in heaven?"

"Well, I have some good news and some bad news for you. Which do
you want to hear first?"

"Tell me the good news first."

"Well, the good news is that, yes, there is baseball in heaven."

"Oh, that is wonderful! So what could possibly be the bad news?"

"You're pitching tomorrow night."


R e l i g i o n   M a t t e r s
Controversies swirl: how to interpret the Quran?

by Alexander Stille
To Muslims the Quran is the very word of God, who spoke
through the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad: "This book is not
to be doubted," the Quran declares unequivocally at its
beginning. Scholars and writers in Islamic countries
who have ignored that warning have sometimes found
themselves the target of death threats and violence,
sending a chill through universities around the world.

Yet despite the fear, a handful of experts have been
quietly investigating the origins of the Quran,
offering radically new theories about the text's
meaning and the rise of Islam. To read more, go to:
(registration required)


S o u l   W o r k s
Burial Instructions

by Anne Kennedy

I don't want to be cremated,
my clothes sent home in a bag,
my ashes sifted from the furnace grate
for my Claddagh ring
and gold fillings.

No, plant me,
like my Grandmother's blazing dahlias
in the subsuming earth,
where I can be lifted,
where there's a chance of resurrection.

How about the hump-backed hill
beyond Barna
riddled with Celtic crosses,
or the sun-shot meadow on Orcas
facing steaming Mt. Baker.

On second thought
Westwood is best,
beside my mother
where the mocking-bird sang
the night she was buried.

You might know the spot
because that's where they placed
Marilyn's ashes
in a pale marble crypt
looking across at our family plot.

They say it's Joe
provides the perpetual rose,
but no one knows for certain.
Be sure you put me in the ground
where I will have a chance to rise.

Selected from "The Dog Kubla Dreams My Life"


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Interactive map for U.S. 2000 census

Contrary to impressions of the U.S. as a mobile and
rootless society, new Census figures show that most
Americans are geographical homebodies. Not counting
immigrants, most Americans don't live far from where
they were born, according to the new figures.

In a government survey of 700,000 households, 67% of
native-born Americans say they are living in their
state of birth.

The Census Bureau has recently released new
demographic profiles with detailed gender, age,
race, and housing data for every state in the
United States. To access the handy "interactive
map," go to:


"When the hour came, he took his place at the table."

Easter is the highest and most holy day of the Christian year
and "Living the Word" is a great resource for personal
devotion or pastoral reference for this time when we celebrate
the mystery of faith.

To order "Living the Word: Reflections on the Revised Common
Lectionary," call 1-800-714-7474 or visit:


P. O. V.
The myth of the pedophile priest?

by Philip Jenkins

Every day, the news media have a new horror story to
report, under some sensational headline. Newsweek,
typically, is devoting its current front cover to
"Sex, Shame and the Catholic Church: 80 Priests Accused
of Child Abuse in Boston." Though the sex abuse cases
have deep roots, the most recent scandals were detonated
by the affair of Boston priest John J. Geoghan.

Though his superiors had known for years of Geoghan's
pedophile activities, he kept being transferred from
parish to parish, regardless of the safety of the children
in his care. The stigma of the Geoghan affair could last
for decades, and some Catholics are declaring in their
outrage that they can never trust their church again.

We have often heard the phrase "pedophile priest" in
recent weeks. Such individuals can exist: Father Geoghan
was one, as was the notorious Father James Porter a
decade or so back. But as a description of a social
problem, the term is wildly misleading. Crucially,
Catholic priests and other clergy have nothing like a
monopoly on sexual misconduct with minors.

My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates
no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate
clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct
or abuse than clergy of any other denomination - or indeed,
than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to
see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge
is just unsupported.

To have the entire article sent to your email by Zenit, go to:

B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Update: British opposition to war grows

by Adam Johannes, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom

As an encouragement to activists in the U.S., I am writing
to report on the massive anti-war movement that has
developed in Britain. Across the UK in every town there
are peace vigils, teach-ins and marches since 9/11.

Despite the British media (more "objective" than CNN,
but still distorted) and its attempts to ignore our movement
(and even pretend that it doesn't exist,) we have had three
massive demonstrations in London: In October, 50,000 people
marched; in November 100,000, and this month 20,000. What
has been encouraging about these demonstrations has been
their diversity: Peaceniks, socialists, Quakers, trade
unionists, members of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament),
Muslims, students, Palestinian solidarity organisations,
Colombian solidarity organisations, and ordinary people -
black and white, young and old - have all united to
try to stop the war.

At the most recent rally in Trafalgar Square, speaker
after speaker spoke out clearly against possible attacks
on Iraq and Somalia. Quoting from memory, George Galloway
MP [Minister of Parliament] said, "There IS an axis of evil!
It begins at the White House and runs down to Jerusalem."
Tony Benn (retired MP and Christian socialist) made an
inspiring call for militant civil disobedience and direct
action in the event of an invasion of Iraq. He said, "I
am an old man. I don't want to die thinking, 'I could
have done more.' We have a minute of silence every year
to remember those who died in World War I; we could be
on the the brink of World War III. Starting on the day
of a major attack on Iraq or Somalia, I want everyone
to engage in one hour of nonviolent resistance to the
government every week. If you're working when they invade
- stop working. I want to see trains and buses stop running.
If you're at school - walk out of school. Walk into the
middle of the road and stop traffic carrying peace
banners. Chain yourself to the Houses of Parliament....
I've never said this before!"

All the other speakers at the rally were surprised at Tony
Benn's call, but it has now been generally accepted as a
new strategy in our movement. If Bush and Blair escalate
this war, we will escalate our protest.

Congress on threshold of major reform

By the time you read this, the Senate will have voted on the 
most important campaign finance reform legislation in a decade 
to break the link between big money and power in our democracy.
We are at this point in large part because this nation's religious 
leaders and congregations put their hearts and energies into a 
historic effort that required great faith to achieve - breaking 
the nexus between big money and political influence in this 
country. Church Women United, the Episcopal Church, the National 
Council of Churches, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 
the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, NETWORK, 
the Catholic social justice lobby, the United Church of Christ 
and the United Methodist Church all were part of our Americans 
for Reform coalition.

For the latest information, visit


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
10 best characters in fiction

"Book" magazine asked authors, actors, editors, and
book reviewers to name the Best Characters in
Fiction since 1900. Here's the top 10:

1) Jay Gatsby ("The Great Gatsby")
2) Holden Caulfied ("Catcher in the Rye")
3) Humbert Humbert ("Lolita")
4) Leopold Bloom ("Ulysses")
5) Rabbit Angstrom ("Rabbit Run")
6) Sherlock Holmes ("Adventures of...")
7) Atticus Finch ("To Kill a Mockingbird")
8) Molly Bloom ("Ulysses")
9) Stephen Dedalus ("Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man")
10) Lily Bart ("House of Mirth")


B o o m e r a n g

From a disgruntled SojoMail reader:

I cannot seem to get a handle on what your ideological
positions are. Please remove my name from your list and
do not send me any more SojoMail.

*Ed. note:  Sorry, we'll try to be a bit clearer with our


Tony Neeves, vice president of international development
for Compassion International, writes:

I REALLY enjoy and appreciate SojoMail; please continue
sending me the helpful and profound insights.


Bernard Adeney-Risakotta writes from the International
Institute for Asian Studies in Amsterdam:

We all have a different God, no matter what name we use.
Our God is displayed in how we live, not in what we say or
how we address our prayers. The God above all Gods is one
(and three, I think). But most of the time we mortals are
content with idols of our own making, whatever our religion.


Molly Rush writes from the Thomas Merton Center in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

Jim Wallis, thanks for putting my thoughts into words so
succinct and real ["Remembering Heroism," SojoMail 03/13/02].
I'm reprinting it to hand out at our civil liberties forum
in Pittsburgh. We've a fine coalition of students, Islamic
folk, and many others in our Mobilization for Peace.


SojoMail reader John Ghormley writes:

A hearty "hear, hear" to Jim Wallis and his comments on 9/11
and how we should and should not respond to that level of
violence. I, too, am dismayed and alarmed to hear that there
are those in my country's leadership who would seriously
consider uncorking the nuclear genie - with all the
ramifications of taking such a step. In this regard, I am
reminded of the comments made by President Nixon during the
Vietnam War. In a section of the White House Watergate tapes
just made public, Nixon is heard suggesting to his national
security advisor Henry Kissinger that perhaps the U.S. should
use nukes on North Vietnam. Looks like we're in for more of
the same madness from the current occupant of the White House!

Clive Perrett writes from England:

Thank you, Jim Wallis, for your comments. I want to echo what
you say about nuclear weapons. Those who survived the nuclear
attack on Hiroshima - the "hibakusha" - used to say that if
the arms manufacturers and politicians who advocate the
further use of nuclear weapons could have experienced - just
for one second - the true horror of the aftermath of a
nuclear attack, they would wish to throw all nuclear
weapons to the bottom of the sea and never countenance
their use again.
Those who experienced the 9/11 attack had a glimpse of
that sort of horror, but the horror of nuclear weapons
is, as Wallis writes, "unthinkably" worse. Because we
cannot "think" it we cannot feel it. We can only imagine
it. Imagine a horror a million times worse than Sept 11.
That would be the horror of a nuclear attack. If we seek
"revenge" of that kind we will be neither Christian nor
Muslim. We will make ourselves inhuman, and we will
make hell on earth.

Beth Rockwell writes from Lakewood, New York:

I agree that even thinking about the use of nuclear weapons
against ANY nation is shocking and appalling. I was dismayed
when the U.S. government finally admitted the nuclear possibility.
While doing everything possible to stop such madness, remember
that the U.S. has and is now conducting nuclear war: the Gulf
war, Iraq, Serbia/Kosovo, and wherever "we" choose to bomb.
The use of depleted uranium to harden the tips of missiles
of all types is spreading death and destruction for years to
come all over the globe. I'm afraid the U.S. public doesn't
realize the extent of this horrific practice.


Emily Maloney writes from Santa Cruz, California:

The Bush plan to use nuclear weapons against certain countries
and "as an emergency might require" is outrageous! Someone
needs to step up and file a petition for conservatorship
before he becomes any crazier and more out of control.
Alternatively, we should follow the advice given by James
Lawson at the Shadow Convention in Los Angeles, and start
the march to Washington to shut the government down! Is
everyone ready!?


Roger Nehring writes from Whitter, North Carolina:

Consider terror in the light of history. Having experienced
several terrorist attacks in the last several years by both
internal and external enemies, we may be sensitized to a point
where we can more fully empathize with the devastating trauma
wrought upon the Native peoples of this continent by our progenitors.

As an example, I offer the Cherokee death march, usually referred
to as the Trail of Tears. In 1836, after having won a Supreme Court
decision in their favor, the Cherokee people were wrenched from
their homes. They were forced to march through the winter from
Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina to Oklahoma - many with
only the clothes on their backs. They suffered disease, hunger,
exposure, and brutal treatment at the hands of many of their
guards. They lost their homes and livelihoods and were forced to
settle in an alien environment. It is estimated that one of
every four Cherokee died during this forced immigration. If
the United States were to suffer an equivalent mortality rate
now, we would see well over 60,000,000 dead. This was only one
tribe. Some suffered even greater losses.

The point is this: I am concerned for many people around the
world. I hunger and thirst for justice for all oppressed peoples.
But there is no place to begin like in our own home. The Native
peoples have many needs, many issues. We must begin to get
serious about redressing the wrongs done to the victims of
our terror and theft. It is not in the past. We live and
thrive on the spoils of that terror and theft to this very day.


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:



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

  David Batstone                               T 415.422.6660
  Executive Editor                         

  Jim Rice                                     T 202.328.8842
  Managing Editor                              

  Molly Marsh                                  T 202.328.8842
  Assistant Editor                            
  Rose Marie Berger                            T 202.328.8842	
  Assistant Editor                           

  Ryan Beiler                                  T 202.328.8842
  Web Editor                                 

....................... A D V E R T I S I N G ....................
  Larry Bellinger                              T 202.328.8842
  Advertising Manager                     

......................... T E C H N I C A L ......................

  Bob Sabath                                   T 202.328.8842
  Chief Technologist                         

  Jodi Hochstedler                             T 202.328.8842
  Internet Assistant                          

........................... S 0 J O N E T ........................

  Sojourners                                   T 202.328.8842
  2401 15th Street NW                          F 202.328.8757
  Washington, DC 20009          

  To make a secure donation to support our work,
  go to

  For more information, e-mail us:

...................... L E G A L   N O T I C E S .................

  Copyright (c) 2002 Sojourners. All Rights Reserved.

  SojoNet material may be freely distributed, as long as it
  bears the following attribution:

  Source: SojoNet 2002 (c)

.......................... A R C H I V E S .......................

              For a history of SojoMail, visit

..................... S U B S C R I P T I O N S ..................

     SojoMail is published weekly. Subscriptions are free.

                     SUBSCRIBE online at:
               or by e-mail:

                    UNSUBSCRIBE online at:
              or by e-mail:

            ---- SOJONET IS A SPAM-FREE ZONE ----
  (SojoNet won't trade, sell, or give away your address.)