The Common Good

Micah and Paul

Sojomail - October 30, 2002


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+++++++++++++++++++++ 30-October-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++++++++++++++ Micah and Paul ++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Jimmy Durante: Life's unexpected ladder

 H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
     *Micah and Paul

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *A Picasso moment

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Make a stand: Take a walk

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Review of "Bowling for Columbine"

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Political views of Hispanics

 P. O. V.
     *Tamin Ansary: War won't end terrorism

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Poetry: Moveable darkness...

 S o j o C i r c l e s
     *Making sense of current events

 C a m p u s   L i n e s
     *Our new section for college readers debuts!

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

 W e b s c e n e
     *Because the earth needs a good lawyer
     *Everything you wanted to know about war with Iraq
     *Make a self-portrait with virtual Legos
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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

Be nice to people on your way up because
you might meet 'em on your way down.

                   - Jimmy Durante


H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Micah and Paul

by Jim Wallis

The biblical prophet Micah famously said: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid."

Several millennia later, Pope Paul VI paraphrased Micah when he said, "If you want peace, work for justice." The insight that the possibilities for peace, for avoiding war, depend upon everyone having enough - having a little vine and fig tree - is both prophetic and practical. If all of us had just a piece of the global economy, if the tremendous imbalances of this planet could be leveled out - just a little - nobody would have to be afraid. Micah knew it was the great imbalances and fears that lead to war.

We lost a Micah this week, and this one was a United States senator - Paul Wellstone. "Paul," as he wanted everybody to call him, always reminded me of an Old Testament prophet. I remember the night in Los Angeles that we spoke together at the "Shadow Convention," an alternative assembly to the Democratic National Convention in 2000. I was preaching the politics of overcoming poverty to a large crowd of mostly young people, and then introduced the speaker who would follow - Paul Wellstone. I recall saying something like, "The next speaker is a U.S. senator, but he sounds more like a Hebrew prophet. Come preach to us, brother Paul." And he did. Chopping the air with his right hand, as he always did, Wellstone lifted up the forgotten ones in American politics - the poor, the homeless, low-income families not making enough to get by, family farmers losing their way of life, workers left behind by the global economy, women and children abused by domestic violence, and people marginalized by various forms of discrimination. Then he called us to peace in all the conflicted places of the world. Most recently, Wellstone was the only U.S. senator in a close political race to vote against the authorization of force against Iraq. Paul understood Micah.

For days now, his fellow senators across the political spectrum, who agreed and disagreed with his political positions, have spoken of how widely Paul Wellstone was respected and, yes, loved. Elevator operators and Capitol police officers called him by his first name, and reported being taken home for dinner by "Paul." In an emotional tribute to his friend at Paul Wellstone's memorial service, Senator Tom Harkin said, "nobody ever wore the title of senator better, or used it less." Harkin also called Paul Wellstone "the soul of the Senate."

Paul Wellstone was a progressive populist in the U.S. Senate - a rare phenomenon these days. But he also was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather who exemplified the kind of deep family values that motivate many conservatives. A former college professor and community organizer, Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila (who died with him and their daughter in the tragic plane crash) were the ultimate "volunteers" for public service. And the number of volunteers, especially young people, who were inspired by Paul Wellstone is beyond counting. For a new generation of young activists, Wellstone was a hero and role model, much like Robert Kennedy was for people of my generation. When I saw Paul Wellstone retrace the tours of American poverty that Bobby Kennedy took four decades ago, I knew this senator from Minnesota was something special.

Paul Wellstone understood the crucial connections between faith, spirituality, and social justice, and was always warmly supportive of magazines like Tikkun and Sojourners. It was fitting that a large delegation of clergy from many faith traditions began the memorial service last night in Minnesota. Paul was, indeed, a contemporary Micah, a true political leader who united an infectious love for people with an overflowing passion for social justice. We will miss his easy smile, his boisterous laugh, and, most of all, his prophetic voice. But as thousands pledged at his memorial service, the legacy of Paul Wellstone will live on in the countless numbers that he touched. Micah will find new voices now.

**************JOB OPENING AT SOJOURNERS************

Communications Manager/Organizer

The Communications Manager/Organizer oversees the
coordination and implementation of all Sojourners'
communications efforts, including speaking events,
issue-organizing campaigns, press and public relations
efforts, and new media initiatives.

For a full description and contact information, go to:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Art imitates life

If my husband ever met a woman on the street who looked like the women in his paintings, he would faint.

- Jacqueline Roque, second wife of Pablo Picasso


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Make a stand: Take a walk

Pittsburgh Mennonite Church member and pastoral intern Peter Eash-Scott plans to walk from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., to protest President Bush's push to war against Iraq. He will leave on Monday morning, Oct 28, and hopes to arrive 2 weeks later on Sunday, Nov 10. During that time, he will eat the rations the Iraqi people have been subsisting on since the blockade began, as outlined by the United Nations.

He invites anyone who shares his concern about the possibility of war to walk with him for the whole trip, for a day, or for an hour - or to walk with him in spirit. More information, including the itinerary, daily scriptures, Iraqi rations, and how those who wish to contribute toward the expenses of the trip can do so, can be found at

Those who would like to participate in some way can contact Monica Hochstedler at Peter Eash-Scott can be reached at


Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition seeks Clergy
Organizer to organize interfaith clergy committee and local
church/mosque committees. Requires commitment to social
justice, five years interfaith organizing experience. Spanish,
familiarity with congregation-based organizing, theology
background preferred. Salary $35-40K, good benefits. Send
resume to or fax (718)733-6922.


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Review of "Bowling for Columbine"

by Michelle Chihara

Moore's [film] is not a treatise, it's not a presentation, it's not even really a single, coherent argument. Instead, Moore provokes, he searches, he even pokes fun. Regardless of what you think of the film, it seems almost impossible to leave the theater without turning to whoever is next to you and talking about it.

With war looming in Iraq...the film could not be more timely. Moore recognizes those events, but he's looking beyond any one news hook. "Forty people a day are shot and killed in this country," he said at a screening in San Francisco last Friday. The big question, for him, goes beyond the "geographically contained" bloodshed caused by one sniper. Why, he wants to know, is America so violent? Why do Americans shoot each other so much more than people do in other developed countries?

To read the entire review of "Bowling for Columbine," go to:

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B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Political views of Hispanics

Hispanics who consider themselves...
*Democrats: 49%
*Republicans: 20%
*Independents: 19%
*Something else: 7%
*Don't know: 5%


Which political party Hispanics think has the most
concern for their communities...
*Democrats: 45%
*No difference: 40%
*Republicans: 10%
*Don't know: 5%


Hispanics who say abortion is...
Unacceptable: 69%
Acceptable: 26%
Don't know: 4%


Hispanics who would rather...

*Pay higher taxes to support a larger government that provides more services: 55%

*Pay lower taxes and have a smaller government that provides fewer services: 38%

*Don't know: 6%

***Source: Pew Hispanic Center/Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation



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P. O. V.
War won't end terrorism

by Tamin Ansary

Directly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the war talk began, as if war were the obvious remedy for terrorism. The president vowed to "destroy the infrastructure of terrorism" and defeat "states that sponsor terrorism." By January, our quarrel was shifting from Osama bin Laden to what President Bush labeled an "axis of evil," compromising Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Now, apparently, the first of these states is in the crosshairs. But every time I hear about "destroying the infrastructure of terrorism" - the supposed justification for this war - I am troubled by the fact that terrorism doesn't need an infrastructure to succeed. Indeed, lack of infrastructure is the hallmark of terrorism and its key advantage. Historically, it is groups without state power who have resorted to terrorism, groups without trains and factories and government buildings, and without the capacity to field armies.

In this respect, terrorism is like crime, a parallel that ought to give us pause. Our military might, money, and technology can certainly defeat Iraq, but it couldn't stop one man from killing 168 men, women, and children with a fertilizer bomb in Oklahoma City; or a sniper from shooting dead [11] people just outside the nation's capital; or two high-school students from slaughtering 13 of their classmates at Columbine High School in a Colorado suburb. None of these criminals who terrorized and slaughtered others needed their own infrastructure. They used the infrastructure of the society they were attacking. So did the men who destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. They didn't have their own airplanes. They used ours. They didn't even make box-cutters. They bought the ones we made. If we had obliterated Iraq before 9/11, would we have weakened their ability to carry out their terrorist project? Of course not.

To read the entire essay, go to:


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S o u l   W o r k s
Moveable darkness...

by Ron Houchin

Often in the brown cell of winter,
where, like a monk, I expect
only to see light someday,
but that gets buried by stone work,
time, and snow, and I don't
look up for weeks, knowing that
all I'll see is the wraith fingers
of trees, the gray grandfather
chin of clouds, and the few birds
zipping by like mud balls,
wet and unidentifiable;
but there is something starving
in the back of my head - thin chant
in the cemetery of the season -
as I walk along the aisles
of stone and trees noticing
how much mud has caked on the toe
of each boot to the suddenly
light blue egg shell that has fallen
into the brown and matted grass.

From "Moveable Darkness: A Collection of Poetry,"
by Ron Houchin. Available at:


S o j o C i r c l e s
Making sense of current events

Last weekend's demonstrations in D.C. drew thousands of people from all over the country; the anti-war movement is gaining steam. And for the first time in U.S. history, it is forming before any official declaration of war. This momentum is driven by a diverse coalition of people from many different platforms - including Christians - who are recognizing the deep connection between their faith in Jesus and the voice of peace and justice that this conflict demands.

Sojourners offers SojoCircles - small groups of people coming together in community to explore complex issues, such as the war in Iraq, through discussion, prayer, and direct action. If you are trying to make sense of the mounting war and want to be a part of a movement speaking out against it, check out SojoCircles.

Our newest members are:

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

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


C a m p u s   L i n e s
A new section for college readers!

*Editor's Note: This week marks the debut of a new section for college readers and campus leaders around the country. "Campus Lines" will spotlight issues, great Web links, organizing techniques, and stories about what other groups are doing. These timely news and notes are brought to you by our own Nate Johnston, SojoCircles organizer, receptionist, and all-around gatekeeper at Sojourners.[]


A man approached me at the anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., this past weekend and asked why I was against the war in Iraq. "Why is anyone against it?" I replied, surprised and flustered by a question that seemed so out of place at such a gathering. I spent the next awkward moments trying to justify my position - realizing how little I really understood. I had convinced myself that the war was wrong, that it was politically unwise, and that it was certainly not just, but I really wasn't sure why or how, or what the alternatives were.

The bit of conviction I had - regardless of how true it felt - was certainly not weighty enough to convince anyone that war in Iraq is not the answer. The truth is that we won't be able to stop the war if we don't know what we're talking about. So, inspired by my own humiliating ignorance, I gathered a few links of thoughtful alternative media resources that might offer some essential answers:

Sojourners magazine -
Common Dreams Newscenter -
Mother Jones magazine -
The Nation magazine -
Z magazine -
American Prospect magazine -


B o o m e r a n g

Bruce Holmes writes from Gurnee, Illinois:

I'm not sure how I got subscribed to SojoMail but I am eternally grateful. Though I may not agree with 100%, most of the communication reflects my attitudes and beliefs. I have passed it along to both of my children (at Penn and Harvard) and it awakens in me my own late '60s, early '70s struggles long dormant. Thank you for what you do.


Alex Araujo writes from Seattle, Washington:

Sojourners has obviously made up its mind to oppose acts of war against Iraq. It has obviously chosen to use its communication network as an instrument to rally opposition. In this it disappoints me, because it has clearly taken an ideological position that ceases to be an objective forum where ideas can be discussed and mutual learning can occur.

Statements to the effect that peace [is good] and war is bad are rather silly. First of all, I don't think you'll find anyone in the U.S. administration who would not agree that peace is good, or that war is not the first choice in pursuing solutions to conflicts. But to make such romantic things about war is to deny the heart-rending choices of people who have had to wage war for complex historical reasons, from the American revolution to the French revolution, to the Second World War.

I hope Sojourners will return to what I first knew it to be: A balanced forum for people who care enough to dialogue on the important issues of the day.


Bill Goodacre writes from Smithers, British Columbia, Canada:

It appears to have become almost compulsory for Americans, when discussing Iraq, to include a caveat: Sadaam is evil and a killer of his own people. This assertion is backed by the very real fact that he used chemical weapons during the war against Iran [and] against Kurdish nationalists in Iraq. What we fail to include is that this action was not only condoned by the Reagan administration, the technology and material used was supplied by the U.S. in the two years subsequent to this horrible tragedy. Sadaam was rewarded with $500 million and $1 billion in military and other aid the two subsequent years. This was after the U.N. condemned Iraq for the massacres, but the U.S. inquiry failed to find any fault with Iraq related to this horrible massacre.


Gerry Yokota-Murakami writes from Osaka, Japan:

I'm sure I'm not the first person to hit upon this analogy, but I don't recall having seen it anywhere, so let me run it up the flagpole here: Does anyone besides me happen to think that the logic of going to war against Iraq in order to disarm it is as absurd as the logic of using the death penalty to punish a person for committing a murder?


Lynn Jost, associate professor of biblical and religious studies, writes from Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas:

Today's newspaper brought reports that Congress has approved most of President Bush's military budget, an 11% increase over the previous military budget. Although the president criticized Congress for refusing to give him the additional $12 billion he'd requested as a blank check for discretionary military expeditions, the $30 billion increase exacerbates the unilateral arms buildup that already had the U.S. spending more than the next 25 armies of the world combined. If we agree with Dwight Eisenhower that every dollar spent on the military industrial complex is a dollar that cannot be spent on the poor of the world, this budget puts George W. Bush in line to be one of the most immoral rulers ever to head a military empire. Bush will cause the deaths of more innocent civilians than any other living leader. While many are in a frenzy to stop a war on Iraq, this record military budget will probably take more lives than the shooting war to remove Saddam Hussein. Shame on him and shame on us for failing to speak out more clearly against this outrage.


David Walsh writes from Toronto, Canada:

I have been receiving SojoMail for a few years and appreciate its prophetic statements, although I wish it wasn't so fixated on the Iraq situation and Sept. 11. These are important issues these days but we have to remember the gospel challenges us to respond to the needs of our neigbours more locally as well - housing, education, health, etc.


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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W e b s c e n e
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*Everything you wanted to know about war with Iraq

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