The Common Good

Lessons for Life

Sojomail - October 23, 2002


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+++++++++++++++++++++ 23-October-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++++++++++++ Lessons for Life ++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *War and peace

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *Lessons for Life

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *My doubts, my fears, are creating walls

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Contact the United Nations

 P. O. V.
     *How do we make sense of Bali?

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Iraqi opinion poll on Saddam Hussein

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *U.S. planes rain confusion on Iraq

 S o j o C i r c l e s
     *Fill the missing links

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *New baseball book on baseball and religion

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

 W e b s c e n e
     *Who else is violating U.N. Security Council resolutions? 91 cases
     *Send a peace prayer to world leaders
     *It's the great pumpkin site, Charlie Brown
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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

Peace is the harvest of love
as war is the fruit of hate.

        - Joan Walsh Anglund
          poet, "A Slice of Snow"


H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
Lessons For Life

by Jim Wallis

Last Saturday I participated in a memorial service for Chuck Matthei in Providence, Rhode Island. Five hundred people from across the country came together to remember, celebrate, and say goodbye to one of the most remarkable persons that most of us have ever known. Chuck was a founding board member of Sojourners and, for me, a beloved friend for the past 25 years. If you don't know Chuck and his work, see the Web site of Equity Trust (

Let me say here that Chuck was the best and clearest thinker I ever knew on the critical issues of land, labor, and capital (see Chuck's articles in Sojourners on all those topics), and especially on the moral values of economic life. Chuck was the consummate "moral economist," after the manner of his mentor Mahatma Gandhi. But his interests were wide-ranging: Peacemaking and nonviolent strategies for social change, simplicity as a way of life, community, hospitality, agriculture, alternative practices in food and nutrition, opera, camping and hiking, hitchhiking, thrift-store shopping, garbage picking, and faith and finance.

Chuck had been fighting thyroid cancer for many months and was only 54 when he died just over two weeks ago. I was in Belfast when I heard Chuck had taken a severe turn for the worse and likely had only a few days left to live. I got to him as quickly as I could and was blessed to spend the last hour of Chuck's life on earth with him. He couldn't speak anymore, but was responsive as we had our last talk together. One of the things that most preoccupied Chuck at the end of his life was some "life lessons" he wanted to pass on to his niece and nephews - young people that were very important to him. I promised I would help him to do that, and it was Chuck's lessons that became the substance of my contribution at the memorial service. They came from my notes of an extended conversation we had in Boston a few months ago. I'm working with others to expand these words of great wisdom from other conversations with Chuck, but below is the summary of the lessons that I "passed on" - in his voice - to his niece and nephews and to the rest of us gathered at the memorial service.

Four Lessons For Life 1. Choice. You can always make a choice. No matter what is done to you, no matter what people think, you have choices. Illness is like being in jail [Chuck had been to jail often]. You can think about what you've lost - but you'll go crazy. Or you can say: Here I am, what do I do? [He invoked Victor Frankel's book, "Man's Search for Meaning," about how Frankel both survived and remained human in a Nazi concentration camp.] There is never a time when you can't make a meaningful decision. You can choose to be grateful [here Chuck invoked Dorothy Day's wonderful phrase "the duty of delight"]. I don't want to tell my niece and nephews what their choices should be but, rather, to help them recognize they can always make a choice.

For the other three lessons, click here:


Sojourners has been nominated for a 2002 Utne Independent 
Press Award in the Spiritual Coverage category. The awards 
honor "the best of the independent press."


S o u l   W o r k s
My doubts, my fears, are creating walls

O my Beloved, though I have turned from You,
continue to enfold me with your love;
Be gracious to me, Heart of my heart,
for I am sad and weary.
Surround me with your healing Light,
that my body, mind, and soul might heal.
How long must I wait, O Love?

I open the door of my heart to You,
my Beloved,
Enter in and imbue me with your steadfast Love.
I shall remember You all my days;
I shall sing praises to You throughout the

I am tired of so many fears;
I cry myself to sleep at night;
grief and feelings of guilt
bedim my eyes with tears;
All my doubts, my fears, are creating walls
so that I know not love.

Depart from me,
you enemies of wholeness,
for the Beloved is aware of my cry;
Love has heard my prayer;
and hastens to answer my call.
Though my fears are running for cover,
yet they shall be transformed
by Love;
All that was in darkness shall come
into the Light.

- From Nan C. Merrill, "Psalms for Praying"


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Contact the United Nations

Although it is not customary to "lobby" the United Nations, as the Security Council prepares to debate a resolution on Iraq, it is appropriate for us to express our concern to them. We urge you to use the following as a guideline and fax or e-mail it to the ambassadors of the five permament members.

Dear ______,

Recently a group of more than 60 church leaders from the United States and the United Kingdom released a statement saying that while Iraq must be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction, alternative courses to war should be pursued. The church leaders concluded that a pre-emptive war against Iraq would not be justified, and urged that diplomatic cooperation with the United Nations in renewing rigorously effective and thoroughly comprehensive weapons inspections, linked to the gradual lifting of sanctions, could achieve the disarmament of Iraq without the risks and costs of military attack. I urge you to read the statement at

As a U.S. citizen, I support this statement and have been working hard to restrain my country from escalating its economic and military campaign against the people of Iraq.

I now ask you to oppose any Security Council resolution that would allow for a military escalation against Iraq.



Ambassador S.E M. Jean-David Levitte
Permanent Representative of France to the U.N.
Fax: 212-355-2763

Ambassador Sergey Lavrov
Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the U.N.
Fax: 212-628-0252

Ambassador Wang Yingfan
Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the U.N.
Fax: 212-481-2998

Ambassador Sir Jeremy Quentin Greenstock
Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the U.N.
Fax: 212-745-9316

Ambassador John D. Negroponte
Permanent Representative of the United States to the U.N.
Fax: 212-415-4053

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P. O. V.
How do we make sense of Bali?

"Don't blame the West," writes Clive James
The Guardian (U.K.)

The Australian casualty list is lengthening even as I compose this opening paragraph, and by the time I reach a conclusion the casualty list will be longer still. I owe it to my dead, wounded, and bereaved countrymen to say straight away that I have no clear idea of what that conclusion will be. This is no time to preach, and least of all from a prepared text.

Some of Australia's commentators on politics might already be realising that. Now they, too, must feel their way forward: The bomb has done to their certainties what it did to the revellers in the nightclub. Before the bomb went off, the pundits had all the answers about the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. In the year and a bit between Sept. 11, 2001, and October 12, 2002, they had, from the professional viewpoint, a relatively easy time. One didn't question their capacity for sympathy: Australian journalists pride themselves on being a hard-bitten crew, but most of them could imagine that being trapped hundreds of feet up in a burning building was no fit way to die.

According to the prepared text, the attack was really America's fault because of its bad behaviour elsewhere in the world. For insular Americans, the attack was a salutary illustration of what the Australian pundit Janet McCalman called their "lowly place in the affections of the poor and struggling."

Australia, unashamedly America's ally, was effectively an oppressor, too. If you took into account the behaviour of the Australian government when faced with the crisis engendered by the arrival, or non-arrival, of a Norwegian container ship full of Afghan refugees, Australia was even more guilty than America. Australia (perennially a racist country, as John Pilger's historical researches have incontrovertibly proved) was a flagrant provocation to the wretched of the earth. Imperialist America was not only treating the helpless Middle East as its personal property, it had racist Australia for its lackey. No wonder al-Qaida was angry....

Let us allow, for the moment, that the mass outcry against American hegemony is the voice of the true, the eternal and the compassionate left. Allowing that, we can put the best possible construction on its pervasiveness. Not just the majority of the intellectuals, academics and schoolteachers, but most of the face-workers in the media, share the view that international terrorism is to be explained by the vices of the liberal democracies. Or, at any rate, they shared it until a few days ago. It will be interesting, in the shattering light of an explosive event, to see if that easy view continues now to be quite so widespread, and how much room is made for the more awkward view that the true instigation for terrorism might not be the vices of the liberal democracies, but their virtues.

To read the entire (provocative) essay, go to:,3604,812670,00.html


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Iraqi opinion poll on Saddam Hussein

The Iraq Institute for Democracy and Al-Ahali newspaper - both based in Erbil, the capital of the region Iraqi Kurdistan - conducted an opinion poll in Zakho, Duhok, Erbil, Ainkawa, and Suleymaniah of 3,500 men and women at random with different ages, professions, religion, and from different communities.

The Iraq Institute for Democracy is a foundation with NGO status that was established in 2000 for the creation of civil society inside Iraq. Al Ahali is the only independent newspaper published in Arabic inside Iraq.

The question:
"Do you want Saddam Hussein as president of Iraq?"

Yes - 1.8%
No - 94.5%
No opinion - 3.7%


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F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
U.S. planes rain confusion on Iraq

The United States used drone aircraft yesterday to drop thousands of Samsung VCR manuals on Iraqi troops in the no-fly zone as part of an ongoing psychological warfare campaign, the Pentagon revealed today.

The decision to drop the perplexing, poorly written VCR manuals on Iraqi troops represents an upping of the ante in the U.S.'s psychological warfare campaign, which had previously consisted of dropping intimidating pamphlets on the troops.

But the VCR manuals may have been more effective than the scary pamphlets, Pentagon officials said, as satellite photos showed Iraqi troops suddenly dispersing, presumably to go home and try to program their Samsung VCRs.



S o j o C i r c l e s
Fill the missing links

Demonstrations throughout Europe have drawn thousands of people in the past week who are making their opposition to the war in Iraq known in a very concrete way. This weekend, in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, thousands more will march for the same reasons. With such a plurality of voices speaking out, it is important to be a part of a movement of people who recognize the profound link between being a Christian and working for peace and justice in this situation. Designed to bring people together in community to explore the intersection of faith, politics, and culture through reflection, prayer, and direct action, SojoCircles are ideal for this kind of movement.

Our newest members are:

Milwaukee, WI. Carole Poth:
Canberra, Australia. Doug Hynd:
St. Paul, MN. Alissa Clark:

For more information about starting a group at your college campus, church, or in your local community, please contact us at or visit our Web site at for a complete list of those groups already formed.


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
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"The Faith of Fifty Million: Baseball, Religion, and American Culture," edited by Christopher Evans and William R. Herzog II, with a foreword by Stanley Hauerwas (Westminister John Knox Press).

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B o o m e r a n g

Asle Finnseth writes from Oslo, Norway:

Just to let you know of a Norwegian response to your campaign on war against Iraq: Since Monday this week, a small group of people from the Korsvei movement in the Lutheran Church of Norway have kept up a "point of resistance" outside the U.S. embassy in Oslo. We are allowed to stand there for only an hour per day, and have done so for three days so far, and plan on keeping up the "vigil." We distribute flyers, and for those interested hand out copies of the "Disarm Iraq without War" statement. We are also planning to make a tableau of flickering "memorial candles" for Iraqi children who have been casualties for years now, and would be among the first victims of a U.S.-led attack. Lately we have been joined by a young, church-based activist group called Changemaker, so we hope to be able to stay put for some time. One of our sympathizers is going to take our message to all the ministers in the Norwegian government when she meets them during this weekend. It gives us hope to know that people of the same heart and will are there in Washington, D.C. Thank you Sojourners.


Deepa Kandaswamy from Trichy, India:

Should the U.S. decide to go ahead with war, it will turn out to be a war of error for the following reasons:

1) Iraq is a sovereign country and not a person called Saddam Hussein. It has every right to possess WMDs as the U.S.

2) It will turn out to be a Third World war as people in these countries, including mine, are scared for we possess WMD, too. There is no guarantee that the U.S. government's paranoia of perceived threats won't extend next to communist China, Islamic fundamentalist Iran, unstable Pakistan, irresponsible India, crazy Korea, risky Russia, etc.

3) By invading Iraq, the U.S. only will be strengthening the hands of Osama bin Laden, as he will get new recruits.

Also people in the Third World are already asking - How is Saddam Hussein more dangerous than Osama bin Laden?


Rev. Richard Weinhagen writes from Pompton Plains, New Jersey:

Re: Tom Blodget's WWJD in Iraq [SojoMail 10/16/02]

Considering the exaggerated opposites of what the Beatitudes did not say is not the most useful way to begin considering them. However, if we really want to look at what Jesus "did not" say and what the Beatitudes "were not," let's continue:

*They were not an address to Roman soldiers. We do have a record of Jesus telling his disciples to disarm. No such record of that advice was given or applied to soldiers.
*They were not an address given to the Roman Senate. We do have a scriptural record of Jesus meeting with Roman officials. Absent is any suggestion that they have no right to enforce law.
*They were not an address to the religious rulers of Israel. We do have record of such meetings, as well as Jesus speaking in the synagogue. Nowhere does Jesus advocate abandoning the law or abolishing the right of rulers and government to enforce the law.
*They were not given as an address condemning the law and the prophets. Elsewhere, Jesus says plainly, "I have come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it."


Rev. Peter M. Calabrese of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine writes from Lewiston, New York:

While I agree with you that war is a terrible thing and needs to be avoided, if you really want to persuade those who are for an attack on Iraq you must show something very different. The attack that the president contemplates IS NOT a PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE. We are already at war. The fact is Hussein has not fulfilled the conditions of the ceasefire from the raping and pillaging war he waged against Kuwait and indeed all the world. Against every U.N. resolution he has been deceitful in dealing with inspectors, and the evidence is that he continues to violate the ceasefire agreement. In addition, he has given shelter and help to those who have bombed the U.S. territory. He STARTED the war - he continues it. You should have been sending your petitions to Iraq for the last 10 years, urging Saddam Hussein to be peaceful. It is hypocritical to talk now about exhausting diplomatic measures. Nothing has been done by the U.N. or anybody for 11 years, so now we risk being held hostage by a dictator who answers to no one. When you send a petition to Hussein asking him to resign and really allow inspections and disarmaments, then I'll sign. As long as you send them only to one side, you are not really interested in peace; you are only being ideologues.


Alan Thornton writes from Newcastle upon Tyne, England:

Re: Last week's Boomerang featuring a Costa Rican invasion of the U.S. Not many people (in the U.K. anyway) know that Costa Rica doesn't have an army. It's kind of crucial to finding this "funny."


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:



W e b s c e n e
This week's best of the Web

*Who else is violating U.N. Security Council resolutions?

Ninety-one Security Council resolutions being violated by nations other than Iraq. Get your "foreign policy in focus" at:


*Send a peace prayer to world leaders

Names are being added to the peace prayer before it is sent to President Bush and other global leaders, hoping they will join us in praying the prayer for peace. The prayer was drafted by Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Read the prayer and add your name at:


*It's the great pumpkin site, Charlie Brown

Ever wish you could publish your pumpkin poetry, make pumpkin-flavored chili, and connect with other pumpkin lovers? Your search is over! Click over to the Pumpkin Nook:


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