The Common Good

Micah's Challenge

Sojomail - September 24, 2003

Quote of the Week Albert Einstein: Not all things are relative
Hearts & Minds Jim Wallis: Micah's Challenge
Funny Business Reading test
Culture Watch Jesus Sound Explosion: Preacher's kid bangs the drum
Biz Ethics Liar, Liar: U.S. businesses have been lying their pants off
By the Numbers One-third of teens would act unethically to get ahead
P.O.V. Time for Dalai Lama to return to Tibet?
Boomerang SojoMail readers hit reply
Soul Works Litany of fire

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The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

- Albert Einstein

Micah's Challenge
by Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis

Advertise in SojoMail
QUERETARO, Mexico - Several hundred evangelical leaders are gathered here in this Mexican industrial city, from Christian relief and development organizations around the world, with a big and bold idea. From more than 250 agencies in many countries (and growing quickly), these evangelical poverty fighters from Africa, Asia, and Latin America (with allies from the U.K., Europe, and a few from the U.S.) are calling themselves the "Micah Network." Inspired by the ancient Hebrew prophet to "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God," they are about to issue a challenge to their own churches and to the government leaders in each of their countries, right out of the prophetic biblical tradition. They are calling it, appropriately, "The Micah Challenge," and are directing it straight to the heart of globalization and its impact on the poor. The backdrop of the failed trade talks in Cancun, not so far from here, was clearly on people's minds. I was here to speak to the "prophetic call" of our times, and to strategize with these brothers and sisters about what a global campaign might look like.

No longer willing to just pull the bodies out of the river, these evangelical Christians, mostly from the southern hemisphere, are ready to go upstream to find out what or who is throwing them in. Having worked in poor communities for many years (and won great credibility in doing so) these community development agencies have decided to now turn to advocacy as well - prophetic advocacy on behalf of the poor. And they have entered into a clear partnership with the World Evangelical Alliance (comprised of church associations in 120 countries - they're here, too). That partnership will unite evangelical churches around the world (now comprising 200-400 million Christians) with evangelical relief and development organizations in the common cause of biblical justice.

The Micah Challenge mission statement begins with a clear declaration that will warm the hearts of people across the world who long for justice. It reads simply, "The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Micah Network are creating a global evangelical campaign to mobilize Christians against poverty."

Their strategy is to first listen and learn from one another, promote "integral mission" - where the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel are deeply connected so that evangelism and social justice both have clear consequences for the other, and to prophetically call upon and influence the political leaders of the world to seek justice for the poor and rescue the needy as Psalm 82 instructs.

The Micah Challenge is taking direct aim at the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, agreed to by 147 nations, to cut extreme global poverty in half by 2015. The Micah Network believes that achieving those goals will require a "spiritual engine" that provides both moral energy and political accountability. They intend to raise a strong "evangelical voice" to political decision-makers in their own countries, in the wealthy nations, at the United Nations, World Bank, IMF, WTO, and other international bodies. Their advocacy will be local, national, and global, holding the nations accountable to what they have already said and agreed to. The Micah Network is ready to collaborate with others, whenever possible, but their strong appeal will be to and from evangelical Christians. Given the amazing growth of evangelical Christianity around the world, especially in the global south, the emergence of the Micah Challenge could be of great significance. As one delegate from a developing nation remarked quietly and prayerfully after today's morning session on the vision of Micah for today's world, "We could be starting history in this room." Indeed.

For more information, visit:


Ministry of Money
is a loving, prophetic Christian ministry that encourages all persons to become free from their attachment to cultural values regarding money and to live out joyfully God's call for their lives and resources.

Upcoming Money and Faith Retreats
October 10-11 1st Presbyterian Church, Bend, Oregon
October 10-11 Christ Episcopal Church, Wilmington, Delaware
November 7-8 Asylum Hill Congregational Church, Hartford, Connecticut
Upcoming Pilgrimages of Reverse Mission
April 12-28 Israel/Palestine

For information about Ministry of Money events, call (301) 428-9560 or email

Reading test

Aoccdrnig to rsrceeah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Petrty amzanig, huh?

Jesus Sound Explosion: Preacher's kid bangs the drum

Mark Curtis Anderson, a Baptist pastor's kid, grew up in a household where AM radio was forbidden (lest the neighbors hear) and in a church where it was widely believed that the backbeat of rock 'n' roll was the backbeat of the devil. He captures the rugged tug of war of his youth - between sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and the threat of damnation or the promise of salvation - in a heartfelt, funny, and offbeat memoir.

To read an interview with Anderson, link to:

Job Openings at Sojourners:

Director of Development
Seeking a highly-qualified development professional and fundraising generalist to lead the growth of Sojourners' development program, create and implement comprehensive strategy, and set objectives for four development staff. The successful candidate will have a track record of ethical fund raising including major and planned gift solicitation, special appeals, and online giving; knowledge of donor databases; and management experience.

Director of Major Gifts and Foundation Relations
Seeking a high-energy professional to assist the development team and the executive director in securing major gifts and foundation grants. Experience with major donor solicitation preferred. Strong interpersonal skills, facility for relating easily to donors, skills in proposal writing, and an ability and willingness to travel frequently required.

Both positions include moderate salary and excellent benefits. Women and persons of color encouraged to apply. Send cover letter, salary requirements, resume, and references to Development Search Committee, Sojourners, 2401 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 or

For more information, visit:

Liar, Liar: U.S. businesses have been lying their pants off
by Joshua Kurlantzick
Entrepreneur magazine

Helping families surf safely on the Internet
"Greed still rules the day. A lot of people in the executive suite are thinking the scandals will just blow over," says David Batstone, the author of "Saving the Corporate Soul." "Executives are focusing on compliance with ethics rules, but they haven't come out and tried to attack the root causes of the problem - the idea that if you're making money, any behavior is acceptable."

Small companies have hardly been immune to the continuing ethical morass. According to a recent survey of entrepreneurs by The Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics, small companies today are less likely to have ethics programs than larger businesses. In a study conducted by Batstone, 53 percent of employees in small and large companies said they would be willing to misrepresent corporate financial information if asked to by a superior.

There are several reasons why unethical behavior has become so ingrained - and so hard to combat. Corporate leaders have increasingly become divorced from workers as executive pay has multiplied, a problem at both large and small companies. As a result, Batstone says, many executives seem to have lost touch with bedrock ethical values.

But for the ethical climate to truly change, society as a whole must change. Batstone contends the general public needs to embrace the idea that the process is as important as the result, and that material success is not the ultimate determinant of self-worth and status. He argues that leaders in society need to show their organizations - and the general public - that they are contributing to society in ways other than providing a product, a good, or another material item. Meanwhile, Batstone says, leaders have to shed the idea that material success equals entitlement, including entitlement to take whatever actions - ethical or not - are required to achieve success.

Outside corporate America, the trend is apparent as well. "Popular culture has, over the past 20 years, had this emerging trend where success is craved at all costs, and even people who do dishonest things to achieve that success are celebrated," says Batstone. Indeed, several ethics specialists say, as American society has become more wealth-oriented and more socially and economically competitive, anti-heroes who deliver results but may play fast and loose with the truth have been celebrated.

Read the full story:,4621,310950,00.html

Job Opportunity at Call to Renewal

Call to Renewal, a national network of churches, faith-based organizations, and individuals working to overcome poverty in America, seeks a National Coordinator/Managing Director. The successful candidate must understand and be committed to the strategic vision of Call to Renewal, have a fundamental appreciation for and understanding of the relationship between faith and politics, and be able to move with a high level of competency in a variety of faith and political communities. The National Coordinator/Managing Director will be based in Washington, D.C., and will function as the chief operating officer of Call to Renewal, working closely with the president, Jim Wallis, and the Call to Renewal Board of Directors. Salary negotiable within Call's modest salary structure. Please email resume and cover letter as soon as possible to Yonce Shelton at, or mail to Call to Renewal 2401 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. No phone calls please.

For more information, visit:

One-third of teens would act unethically to get ahead

"Thirty-three percent of teens would act unethically to get ahead or to make more money if there was no chance of getting caught, according to a new Junior Achievement/Harris Interactive Poll...."

Full story:

P.O.V. ^top
Time for Dalai Lama to return to Tibet?
by Alan Nichols

Help Save Our Earth - Plant a Tree!
Open letter to his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama:

You live comfortably in exile and jet travel around the world promoting Buddhism and your books. You write and say you are happy. But still it must be hard for you to realize your policies for the last 50 years have failed to alleviate your people's suffering.

[Meanwhile] your people have suffered and are still suffering genocide, environmental catastrophe,population transfers, and marginalization - more than 1.3 million deaths from China's occupation (173,240 prison deaths by 1996); children (including 6-year-olds), women, monks, and nuns jailed, tortured and killed for their loyalty to you; 6,259 monasteries exterminated; 7.5 million Chinese shipped into Tibet (with only 6 million Tibetans); and denial of civil rights, education, and even employment for Tibetans.

For 50 years, your promises that the Chinese, their leadership, and their attitudes will change have been illusory. For 50 years, your worldwide public relations have not produced a single government or international organization that does anything to assuage your people's pain, but only creates false hope. For 50 years, your absentee ahimsa (nonviolence) creates no social change, but only encourages continuing Chinese outrages. Ahimsa is not a dogma in exile but a practice - the leader faces the same peril, the same pain as the sufferers from injustice: Gandhi on the march to the sea; Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma; Mandela in South Africa; Jesus in Jerusalem; even Mohammed and Arjuna in battle; and Martin Luther King Jr. in Alabama.

What should you do? If you won't risk yourself in Tibet, don't expect American troops to risk their lives or the United States, the United Nations, or any of your friends to rescue your people.

You must return home.

To read Nichols' entire letter to the Dalai Lama, link to:

SojoMail readers hit reply

Jo'Ann De Quattro writes from Pasadena, California:

In "Globalization beyond Cancun" David Batstone chose to spotlight one commercial conglomerate whose CEO appears to have the interests of the rights of workers as part of his corporate ethic. Perhaps Batstone should focus on the accusations to determine the culpability of the wealthy nations. His conclusion: "Now, everyone has lost" is not his to make. The delegates from Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean have nothing to lose!


Perry Butler writes from Atlanta, Georgia:

It was so refreshing to read David Batstone's essay on globalization. I tire of the glib commentary of anti-globalization activists who so easily denounce, but are unable to come up with, any models or solutions for global poverty. Batstone, on the other hand, points us in that direction. The meltdown of the WTO talks is no cause for celebration. The poor nations probably had no choice but to walk out...shame on the wealthy, industrialized nations for offering so little. But let's not pretend this puts the poor nations in a better place.


Edward Bak writes from Vancouver, Canada:

Beyond Cancun? You must be joking! Only recently have I begun to read your page and I was surprised and heartened - given its Christian connection - by its critical voice and honest perspective. That is until I read your piece [on the WTO]. Then the same old flotsum that I initially expected came washing in.

The success stories of globalization in the Third World have been, for the most part, stories of shameless opportunism and human degradation. Manufacturers from the industrialized world didn't set up shop in Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc., to spread the wealth, as it were, they went simply to maximize their profits by paying dirt wages, very often under deplorable working conditions, to some of the world's most desperately poor. But surely you knew that. The collapse of the Cancun conference was not a tragedy, as you see it, but a small victory of the poor over the brutal colossus that rules them.


Julie Millar writes from Penzance, United Kingdom:

[By] leaving the WTO table, the developing countries unveil the deception that world trade rules have anything to do with fairer trade or poverty reduction. They don't, and until the WTO is reformed, until there is honesty about intention, the lives of poorer people will be sacrificed so we can have cheap goods. If we believe that all human beings have equal value in the eyes of God, we cannot but oppose an evolving set of trade rules that have at their heart the reinforcement of inequality. We need fair trade rules, and the developing nations that walked out of Cancun have made clear that we won't get them at the WTO as it is currently constituted.


Bob Lee writes from Los Angeles, California:

Thanks for printing Johnny Cash's lyrics. Even 30+ years after he wrote them, the words still resonate deeply.


Kathy Berken writes from Central Iowa:

I live and work in a L'Arche community with four men with developmental disabilities. Our community has three houses like this and four apartments, and there are more than 120 L'Arche communities in the world. We live in regular homes with the poor, the broken, the outcast, the rejected. We try to live in peace and harmony, but that doesn't always happen because people with developmental disabilities often act out of their feelings instead of their rational minds, which are limited in scope. Nevertheless, we attempt to make each other aware of the face of God in each person, each situation. Tough love is at work as well, and that is one of my biggest challenges.

When I read "Man in Black," it struck me that Johnny Cash wore black for us, too. And I am proud of that. He reminded me that even the smallest shaft of light can eliminate even the darkest room.


Karolyn Sharp writes from Lamoni, Iowa:

I am saddened by the attacks of readers like Neal Schooley against Sojourners. Sojo writers are critical of Bush's actions both in economy and foreign policy, but why is it that telling the truth negates being Christian? When Schooley writes, "I view both [the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq] to be an extension of the war on terrorism and necessary because of 9/11," he proves just how deceptive the Bush administration has been.

People supported the war in Iraq because of fraudulent links that Bush (et. al.) made between Saddam and 9/11. They have since admitted no link exists, though they repeatedly link Saddam to the vague threat of "terror." Americans died because the president and his team told the world that Saddam had WMDs and that he would give them to terrorists. Where are the weapons? And if Bush is so concerned about weapons getting into the hands of terrorists, why didn't he purchase the enriched uranium from Russia (which is more of a threat to the world than weapons that our own sources tell us were likely destroyed years ago)? As evidence mounts of the Bush administration's willful deceptions, we hear only increasing rhetoric about "good vs. evil" and loaded pseudo-religious babble. When did truth become an un-Christian value? Why is it "hatred" to shout that the emperor has no clothes?


Alex Araujo writes from Seattle, Washington:

Some Boomerang responders recently questioned your objectivity on certain issues. You say many good things and espouse many good causes, but I find your political comments rather subjective and one-sided. I agree with your sober assessment of our policies regarding Iraq, but find it hard to support your judgmentalism and even cynical tone. Certainly Christians can speak the truth without violating objectivity?


Margie Dahl writes from Bendigo, Victoria, Australia:

There have been responses to Boomerang accusing Sojourners of espousing hatred and being anti-Bush. I would disagree. It is the role of Christians to be prophets, to denounce evil, and to point the way to God's justice and peace. This is exactly what Sojourners has been doing. A thorough Christian critique of President Bush's policies are not an attack on him personally. A cry for him to hear the voices of the bereaved, the injured, the dispossessed, and the distressed in Iraq is aimed at him in his role as president. I'm sure that he is basically a good man, but one whose thinking processes are limited and who has not surrounded himself with people who might give an alternative point of view. Keep up the good work, Sojourners!


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:

Litany of fire

Bob Childs writes from Riverview, New Brunswick, Canada:

It is so easy to lose hope in these times of such injustice. But Sojourners continues to give me hope. I want to give thanks to Jim Wallis on his recent article, "Make sacrifices? Start with Rumsfeld and the tax cuts." It takes great courage to speak out for the poor and to challenge this government whose motto is, "if you are not with us, you are against us." I recently attended an event where the worship service was entitled "Casting Fire." The "Litany of Fire" goes like this:

One: O Divine, Fiery Spirit,
When we subdue the spark of righteous rage,
When we submit to apathy,
When we smolder in self-destructive prisons;

All: Teach us to cast fire once more!

One: When we forsake the torch of justice,
When we forfeit the power of anger in the work of love,
When we forgo the tending of truth's flame;

All: Teach us to cast fire once more!

One: When we choose propriety over prophetic action,
When we cling to structures which are sterile,
When we close the doors to dreams and possibilities.

All: Teach us to cast fire once more!

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