The Common Good


Sojomail - January 14, 2000

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Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Lech Walesa on winning

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Jim Wallis talks work and meaning at Harvard

F u n n y  B u s i n e s s
    *Ed Spivey ruminates on turning 50

T h e  L o n g  V i e w
    *Snapshots from the year 2042

C a l l  t o  R e n e w a l
    *Are there solutions to poverty beyond welfare?

O n  the  W i r e
    *SojoNet in the national media

C o n s t r u c t i o n  R e p o r t
    *Building a network

R o a d  S h o w s
    *We're coming to a city near you


Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k

"Victory can be achieved by various means. It can be gained
with tanks and missles, but I think that one wins better with
truth, honesty and logic."   -- Lech Walesa


H e a r t s  &  M i n d s

Dare to Dream
By Jim Wallis

In the Fall of 1999 Jim Wallis taught a course on
"faith and politics" at the Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University. Below are excerpts from a letter he
wrote to students at the completion of the semester.

Dear Class Members:

You are a bright, gifted, and committed group of students. There
are probably many people who tell you about your potential, and
they are right. You are people who could make a real contribution
to the movement for social and economic justice that we dreamed
about this semester.

In that regard, I would encourage each of you to think about your
vocation more than just your career. And there is a difference.
From the outside, those two tracks may look very different or very
much alike, but asking the vocational question rather than just
considering the career options will take you much deeper. The key
is to ask why you might take one path instead of another--the real
reasons you would do something more than just because you can.
The key is to ask who you really are and want to become. It is to
ask what you believe you are supposed to do.

Religious or not, I would invite you to consider your calling,
more than just the many opportunities presented to graduates of
the Kennedy School. That means connecting your best talents and
skills to your best and deepest values; making sure your mind
is in sync with your soul as you plot your next steps. Don't
just go where you're directed or even invited, but rather where
your own moral compass leads you. And don't accept other's notions
of what is possible or realistic; dare to dream things and don't
be afraid to take risks.

You do have great potential, but that potential will be most
fulfilled if you follow the leanings of conscience and the language
of the heart more than just the dictates of the market, whether
economic or political. Rather than merely fitting into systems,
ask how you can change them. You're both smart and talented enough
to do that. That's your greatest potential.

One of you told me as we said goodbye last night, "When I started
this course, I was cynical. I'm not cynical any more." Nothing could
make me feel better about teaching this course. Cynicism really comes
out of despair, but the antidote to cynicism is not optimism but 
action. And action is finally born out of hope. Try to remember that.

Jim Wallis is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners magazine.
He has authored many books, most recently The Soul of Politics.
Keep an eye out for his new book, Faith Works, which will be
released by Random House in March 2000.


50 people will be randomly selected from email responses to receive
an advance reader's copy of Jim Wallis' forthcoming book, Faith Works.
It is part memoir, part inspirational game plan for transforming our
lives and our society, and part primer on how faith communities are
changing their neighborhoods.

To become eligible for a FREE advance reader's copy, e-mail
Greg Durham, Include in the body of the email
Your interest in receiving a free copy, your name and mailing address.


F u n n y  B u s i n e s s

Surely There Must Be Some Mistake
by Ed Spivey

I hate that turning 50 means you have to start getting complicated-
sounding tests that end with the word "probe." Knowing that this
could unnerve some patients, my own health provider has designed a
simple screening questionnaire for us older men:

1. Do you feel better than Boris Yeltsin?
2. If you answered "yes," please leave.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not implying that HMOs don't want you
to live a long, healthy life. But if you can't, then please die
quickly and don't bother them.

See the complete H'rumphs column at:

Ed Spivey is Art Director of Sojourners magazine, and resident
funny guy. His H'rumphs column appears in each Sojourners issue.




T h e  L o n g  V i e w

Dateline: January 14, 2042
          2041.12.23 ShengXiao: Year of the Rooster
          San Francisco, Republic of the Americas
by Sam Mendoza
Hong Kong Media Network

The eyes and ears of the world will be closely following
next week's summit in Beijing. Both Chairman Chang of China
and President Albertini of the Republic of the Americas will
make every effort to persuade officials from the PacRim Holding
Corp to increase their investments in potable water generation.
PacRim executives meanwhile are clearly wary of mass producing
goods for which few - least of all nation states - can pay. PacRim
CEO Julian Chin summed up his company's reluctance: "The scarcity
of drinkable water is a growing global crisis. But our business
is not about solving problems; we make products for those who
already have figured out how to help themselves."

What likely will be overshadowed amid the high drama of these
talks is yet another critical issue that Chairman Chang and
President Albertini will take up behind closed doors: How many
of us will get to cheat death?

It's been seven years since bioengineers at the California
Institute of Technology successfully manipulated telomerase enzymes.
They showed it is possible to arrest the aging of chromosomes that
hold our genetic bundles together. The most recent research coming
out of CIT suggest that a subject who undergoes telomerase therapy
may live a healthy and mentally alert life of up to 144 years.

Meanwhile the Eternity Corporation is beta testing a molecular chip
that can monitor even slight changes in chromosome health. Eternity
has plans to market the telomerase therapy and the molecular
chip in a package called Methuselah early next year.

Albertini promises to block mass commercialization of Methulselah,
and he will seek to convince Chang to support him in the ban. Surely
that won't be too difficult a feat. China already has too few resources
for its current population curve.

It's a pitiful scene, really. Albertini and Chang will puff up like
blowfish and threaten harsh measures, but the life of the sea will
carry on with its own logic. The Eternity Corporation already has
opened negotiations with eager parties in the Altantic Axis to serve
as distribution centers. And consumers from around the world are
queued up on waiting lists to buy Methuselah regardless who the seller
might be.

We all know who will drink fresh water and wear tight genes.
Scarcity is the curse of the many and the privilege of the few.

David Batstone, aka Sam Mendoza, recently joined SojoNet as Executive
Editor. From 1997-99 he was a founding editor of Business 2.0 magazine,
and host/executive producer of the National Public Radio series, What
Does It Mean to Be an American? His latest book is The Good Citizen.




C a l l  to  R e n e w a l

Getting people off welfare is not the same as getting people out
of poverty! It's time to go deeper than welfare reform. It is
time to focus on poverty.

Like to find out how? Attend the Call to Renewal's national summit:
Poor No More. Featured Speakers: Jim Wallis, Mary Nelson, Wallace
Charles Smith, Yvonne Delk, Ron Sider, Eugene Rivers, Tony Campolo, and
many more.

The summit will be held in downtown Washington, DC, February 13-16.
Early registration ends January 15, so act now. For more info,


O n  t he  W i r e:

In case you missed SojoNet in the national media....

"Show Me the Hungry" in Arianna Huffington's nationally syndicated 

While the governor [George W. Bush] was catching up on his state's
Poverty stats and the DNC was promptly blast-faxing his incredulous
remarks, I was reading the galleys of ``Faith Works,'' a remarkable
book by the Rev. Jim Wallis, to be published in March. In it, Wallis,
a preacher-activist and leader of Call to Renewal, a national movement
to overcome poverty, identifies three kinds of poverty: material,
spiritual and civic.

See the full story at:

"Bradley Touts Good for Goodness' Sake," LA Times, Dec. 22, 1999

...Can [Bill] Bradley win an election preaching goodness? "That's a
tough political question," said [Jim] Wallis. "What happens often is
you speak of this and a cynical media will scream 'New Age,' soft

See the full story at:

"The WTO and the Common Good," A MSNBC column by Jim Wallis

Grassroots movements around the world are suggesting something new
as we enter a new millennium: the global economy cannot be exempt
from our moral and religious traditions.

See the full column at:


C o n s t r u c t i o n  R e p o r t

Sojourners is seizing the opportunity provided by a communications
revolution and a changing cultural environment to extend its
message and its community. With SojoNet, we are transforming our
stand-alone magazine into a media network.

Here are a few of the projects we plan to launch over the next year:

*Weekly Netletter - SojoMail...and you just got it!

*SojoNet Radio - a weekly radio program that will feature guests from
                 the world of politics, religion, and entertainment.
                 SojoNet Radio launches on January 30, 2000.

* - a website with multiple uses. Search archives for features
            that have appeared in Sojourners magazine and on SojoNet
            Radio. Connect and chat with other folks who share your
            interests. Find out how to plug into the activities of 
            faith-based movements in your local area.

*Op-ed syndication - we plan to partner with an established syndicate
            to disseminate to newspapers across the country a steady
            flow of op-ed pieces on politics and culture.

*The NEW Sojourners magazine - Expect to see in 2000 a new edition of
            our historic magazine. Not only will you appreciate the 
            re-design but our mix of ground-breaking reporting,
            striking photography, personal essays, profiles, interviews
            and commentary from some of America's top thinkers.

So jump on the network and stay tuned for regular updates! And
please, forward this netletter to any friends who may want to
be a part of this exciting movement.


R o a d  S h o w s

You're invited to meet members of The Sojourners Network
personally at these upcoming speaking engagements.

January 9, 23, 30   Burlingame, California
David Batstone will teach a three-week series on Barbara
Kingsolver's NY Times bestseller, The Poisonwood Bible, and
its implications for Christian missions.
Contact: The First Presbyterian Church of Burlingame,
(650) 342-0875

January 17   Topeka, Kansas
Jim Wallis will speak at the annual Martin Luther King Day
Contact: Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, (785) 232-4388


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