The Common Good

A Tribute to a Healer and Prophet

Sojomail - April 21, 2004

Quote of the Week Love your annoying neighbors
Hearts & Minds A tribute to Rosemarie Freeney Harding: Healer and prophet
By the Numbers State of the dream
On the Ground Christians in Burma: 'We feel we are known by no one'
Action Alert Update School of the Americas: New evidence, same verdict
Iraq Journal Civilian casualties in Fallujah
Values for Life Recipes for livin' la vida local
Religion and Politics Christianity and Islam: Collision or convergence?
Web Sitings Unspinning economic coverage | Deconstructing racism |
Boomerang Readers write

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Christ didn't say, "Love humanity as thyself," but, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," and do you know why? Because your neighbor, by definition, is the person nearby, the man sitting next to you in the underground who smells, perhaps, the man next to you in the queue who maybe tries to barge ahead of you; in short, your neighbor is the person who threatens your own liberty.

- Luciano De Crescenzo

Source: Daily Dig

A tribute to Rosemarie Freeney Harding: Healer and prophet
by Jim Wallis

Sometimes a memorial service turns into a camp meeting, with testimonies that simply can't be stopped. That's what happened at the service last Saturday in Denver for Rosemarie Freeney Harding, who died on March 1, 2004, at age 74, of complications from diabetes. Rose was a teacher, activist, social worker, counselor, writer, wife, mother, and friend to untold numbers of people. Hundreds of them gathered in the Great Hall at Iliff School of Theology to remember and celebrate an extraordinary life. With her husband, Vincent Harding, Rosemarie was deeply involved in the freedom movement in the South and continued at the center of struggles for social justice, peace, democracy, and racial reconciliation for the next 40 years. Yet it was her deep spirituality - which undergirded virtually everything she did - that made Rosemarie beam with life, faith, and hope. Most recently, Rose and Vincent were the co-founders of the Veterans of Hope Project, recording the living stories of leading figures from the civil rights movement and other freedom struggles around the world.

Rosemarie Freeney Harding was a healer and a prophet to multitudes of people. I am blessed also to have known Rose as an elder and spiritual guide for the Sojourners community and me. She and Vincent often came to lead us in retreat and to literally help shape who we are. And I would often stay or visit with the Hardings when I was in Denver. Rose was one of the most intuitive and attentive people I have ever met. Her gift of spiritual discernment was rare indeed. She would always seem to sense what was going on in a meeting, in a conversation, in a room. She seemed to know what was happening in people's hearts and souls, because that was the level on which she always operated. Rose was so deeply caring of people that her compassion almost seemed stunning.

The most common words of the four-hour service were, "I thought I was the only one." So many felt the love of this woman, yet each one felt they were special to her. They were. Rose had a way of making everyone feel that they were the only one. Greeting the world and many of us in it with that amazing smile, those dancing eyes, and always open arms made everybody want to run into Rosemarie as often as possible. To witness such an outpouring of love and gratitude for a life well-lived makes each of us examine our own lives and the legacies we will leave.

I remember a little thing, but such a Rose thing, one night in the Harding home. I was staying there, speaking at Iliff and other places around town. The schedule was very demanding. Vincent and I were discussing many issues one night, but Rose seemed to be worried about me. "You need a massage," she insisted. I felt awkward getting a massage from an elder! But we all know how determined Rose is. She laid me down on the living room floor and began a healing massage that so utterly calmed and relaxed me that it put me to sleep. I woke up warm and peaceful with soft music surrounding me. I felt at the time, but never said so until now, that it was like being a disciple who just had his feet washed by Jesus. Rose's heart was so big it would have healed the world if it could.

The truth is, she healed more of it and more of us than she ever knew.

Read more commentary by Jim Wallis at:

Honor your mother and those you love on Mother's Day. When you make a secure online gift to support Sojourners' ministry of peace and justice, your designated loved one will receive a special Mother's Day e-card acknowledging your gift to Sojourners. It will be sent on Friday, May 7, to let them know you have given a gift on behalf of or in memory of your loved one.

Go to:

State of the dream

Since the civil rights movement, the ending of legal segregation, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, things have gotten better for African Americans, right? By many major indicators, there has been some improvement. But as a recent study indicates, the gaps between blacks and whites on many important indicators of economic well-being are equalizing at a snail's pace. At current rates of change, it will take years to reach equality on the following factors:

*High school graduation rates: 9 years

*College graduation rates: 71 years

*The black-white poverty gap: 150 years

*The gap in per-capita income: 581 years

*Gap in homeownership: 1,664 years

Read more at:

Read in Sojourners magazine why MLK believed that America needed a "revolution" - not just reform - at:

Call to Renewal's Pentecost 2004

Call to Renewal's Pentecost 2004"Join us in Washington as we tell politicians and the nation that reducing poverty is a religious and electoral issue in 2004. Our convictions on other issues do not prevent us as Christians from uniting to overcome poverty." - Jim Wallis

Join Us For a Pentecost Show of Unity
May 23-25, 2004
Washington Plaza Hotel, Washington, DC

* Plenary Panels * Washington National Cathedral Worship Service featuring Rev. James A. Forbes * Keynote Luncheon with Bill Moyers * Congressional Prayer Breakfast and more! Register at:

Christians in Burma: 'We feel we are known by no one'
by Benedict Rogers

The Chin people of Burma, who number more than 1 million, and the Kachin, are both estimated to be 90% Christian. As a result of their Christian faith, they face persecution from the ruling military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), on three fronts - ethnicity, politics, and religion. Yet most of the outside world is unaware.

Burma is ranked among the six worst violators of religious freedom by the U.S. State Department. No Christian, for example, can rise to the rank of head of department in the local government, or be promoted beyond the rank of major in the Army. Printing the Bible is prohibited in Chin State, and so the Chins smuggle in Bibles printed in India. In 2001, it was reported that the SPDC seized 16,000 Bibles and burned them all.

Read more at:


Born with cerebral palsy, Sam has received services from Easter Seals for 19 years. Now a college student, he wants to give back to the organization that has given him so much.

Click here to watch his inspiring short film and donate online to help him reach his goal. When you give, Mass Mutual will match your contribution dollar-for-dollar up to Sam's goal of $50,000. Help us spread the word - tell your friends, colleagues, and family about Sam's campaign!

School of the Americas: New evidence, same verdict

New information and recent investigations compiled by School of the Americas Watch provides more details about the superficialities of reforms at the school, the implausibility of real reform in the future, and the continuing pattern of support for human rights abusers in Latin America. Their report makes the following assertions:

*None of the fundamental issues raised around the need to close the SOA has been addressed in the renamed WHISC [Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation] - not its training methods, nor its lack of oversight, nor the school's record of graduating human rights abusers.

*The record of U.S. military training in Latin America raises questions about the quality and emphasis in the vast array of other training programs for other countries.

*Human rights abuses and the problems with civil-military relations are not, unfortunately, a thing of the past in Latin America.

Read the full report at:

SOAW's spring lobbying campaign continues to build momentum with five new co-sponsors to a bill that would close the SOA! Take action and contact your member of Congress today at:

Clergy Leadership Institute

Alaskan Cruise and Appreciative Inquiry Training
From Seattle, WA. August 22-29, 2004

Come and enjoy the wonders and beauty of the Alaskan coastal region and complete 20 hours of professional development in Appreciative Inquiry (AI). This is an incredible opportunity for clergy and their partners to share in the appreciative identification of those things that give them life that they may work and love from and within these life-giving resources.

For registration and information about our other Appreciative Inquiry based programs:
Clergy Leadership Development, Interim Ministry, Coaching, and Appreciative Soul Friending
please visit us on the web at: or by phone at 503-647-2378.

Civilian casualties in Fallujah

While the mainstream media focuses on the actions of militants and the U.S. military in the ongoing standoff in Fallujah, reports from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT),* through contacts with Doctors Without Borders, describe the toll on civilians. Hospital workers reported 518 Iraqis killed by U.S. fire, including at least 157 women and 146 children. Of the children, 100 are under age 12 and of those, 46 are under age 5. More than 1,200 have been wounded. Though Marines granted volunteers permission to evacuate wounded persons, women, children, and the elderly from houses, they were told that the U.S. forces would be going from house to house to capture men of fighting age and any weapons. They described men of fighting age as "anyone under 45." Jo Wilding, one of the volunteers, later told CPT, "Not all men are armed and not all want to fight. Still, they are trapped."

Read more at:

*CPT has since had to evacuate its Baghdad offices due to deteriorating security conditions and growing anti-American sentiment.


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Recipes for livin' la vida local

Mennonite Central Committee's More With Less and Extending the Table cookbooks have been treasured well beyond Mennonite circles for their insistence that simple living does not have to be boring or bland. MCC is now planning a new cookbook, focusing on the good stewardship of eating locally produced, seasonal food. Stories and information about contemporary food issues will be interwoven with recipes that invite readers to make choices that offer security and health for our communities, for the land, for body, and spirit. And because they're welcoming contributions from the broader Christian community, anyone can submit their reflections and recipes featuring local, seasonal foods at: .


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Christianity and Islam: Collision or convergence?

Excerpts from an address given by Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, at the Gregorian University, March 25, 2004:

What of the relationship between church and mosque? It is important to know what Islam stands for - its strengths and weakness. But it is far more important to know some Muslims and befriend them. We shall find then that they have the same fears about us as we have of them. ...

We must deepen interfaith cooperation and understanding. Religion is not going to go away. We may talk of a postmodern world but certainly not post-religious. But religion may be used for bad as well as good purposes. In the hands of evil people religion is sometimes used as a weapon to kill and to suppress as it has been, from time to time, in the long history of Christianity. But religious leaders have an important role to play alongside political leaders. There is still too little comprehension in political circles of the power of authentic faith and the possibilities of harnessing the religious imagination and energy for peace.

We must focus on root causes of unrest where religions clash and seek to heal the wounds of the past. We must confront the deep sense of injustice felt by ordinary Muslims in much of the developing world where people see the tyranny of their own leaders, the growing gap between rich and poor and what they see as the massive support of the West to regimes inimical to Islam. ...

Read the entire speech at:

Read the Sojourners magazine article, "Is Islam the enemy?" at:


by Charles Dickinson

If Christianity - without losing its soul - is yet to avoid losing touch with the world, it must constantly update itself by dialogue with all the intellectual currents of today. To this end, the author proposes a necessary two-way dialectic between theology and the world, an ongoing dialectic ultimately essential to both church and world. $25 hardcover. To order call (313) 624-9784. Dove Booksellers, 13904 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, Michigan, 48126.

Unspinning economic coverage

The economy affects all of us, but the corporate media's coverage of it is often one-sided at best, and wildly inaccurate at worst. Each week Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, tells it like it is as he critiques key stories from leading media sources:

Deconstructing racism

Complementing the PBS series Race - The Power of an Illusion is this interactive Web presentation exploring the history, science, and implications of the powerful myths surrounding issues of race and racism:

For a simple, no-frills collection of articles on current events and issues of interest to the progressively minded, visit:


This Mother's Day, skip the flowers and candy. Honor the special woman in your life by making a gift to Women for Women International in her name. Your gift will help women in war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo get the skills and training they need to rebuild their lives. Find out how at:

Readers write

Martha Curry writes from Albany, New York:

Thank you, Sojourners, for the Easter Good News edition [SojoMail 4/14/2004]. I needed it, and I'm going to follow my own Via Lucis from now until Pentecost.


Ruth Worman writes from Guadalajara, Mexico:

Thanks so much for the uplifting edition of Sojomail. It does feel so much like Lent in the world.

A small correction to the article "Via Crucis, Via Lucis": there are 50 days of Easter, not 40. It is 40 days from Easter day to the Ascension, but 50 days to Pentecost (the word Pentecost actually comes from the 50 days between Passover and the Jewish festival of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks). The 50-day Easter season is a message to us from the earlier church that our Lenten solemnity should be surpassed by our Easter joy!

[Ed. note: We've corrected this error in our Web version of the 4/14/2004 issue of SojoMail].


Ernie Pierik writes from Woodstock, Ontario:

Under the editor's comments I noticed this phrase: "signs of the in-breaking of God's upside-down kingdom." Why not change the "upside-down kingdom" to the "right-side-up kingdom?" The present situation is abnormal and "upside-down" because it is substantially shaped by Satan and sin's influence. What God put in place in Eden was normal. That was right side up. With sin came abnormal reality with its chaos, pain, and brokenness in all of life. Despite today's upside-down and abnormal reality, there is the breath of God that upholds the present from becoming totally hellish. And as Christians respond to reclaim this present world for Christ the king from Satan's grasp - through guerrilla warfare, as C.S. Lewis puts it - we can clearly see the "signs of the in-breaking of God's right-side-up kingdom" of peace, grace, and shalom.


Larry Riedinger writes from Marion, Wisconsin:

I just read a "boomerang" about Michael Novak [SojoMail 4/14/2004] and I feel much the same way, although I do not think capitalism "unthinkingly" makes itself an idol. On the other hand, it is sometimes hard to separate "the spirit of capitalism" (a la Max Weber) and the generalized pursuit of profit. The latter was around for all of history prior to modern rational, calculating, capitalism.


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views that do not necessarily represent those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Include your name, hometown, and state/province/country in a concise e-mail to: . We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.


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