The Common Good


Sojomail - February 4, 2000

              ****S O J O   M A I L****

      Promoting values at the crossroads where
      spirituality, politics, and culture meet

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++++++++++++++++++++  4-Feb-2000 ++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *John Hancock wouldn't always sign on the dotted line

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *"New Politics" in New Hampshire

N e t w o r k  N e w s
    *U2 show designer on SojoNet Radio

C u l t u r e  W a t c h
    *John Coltrane church in peril

T e r r a s c o p e
    *Murder in space

P. O. V.
    *Person of the Millennium

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

O n  the  W i r e
    *SojoNet takes ethics to the Web

C a l l  t o  R e n e w a l
    *National summit draws near

W e b  S c e n e
    *Coolest siting of the week


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

"Some boast of being friends to government; I am a friend
to righteous government founded upon the principles of
reason and justice; but I glory in publicly avowing my
eternal enmity to tyranny"

                                    --John Hancock, 1774


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

"New Politics" in New Hampshire
By Jim Wallis

Tonight, I'll be a guest at a Washington, D.C. dinner for the
media "talking heads" (the annual Congressional Correspondents
Dinner) and will they be talking! They'll all be buzzing about
what happened this week in New Hampshire, the nation's first
presidential primary race. Republican insurgent John McCain
trounced frontrunner George W. Bush with a clear message of
political reform, and change-minded Democratic challenger
Bill Bradley came from 17 points behind to run respectably
close to Vice President Al Gore. What does it all mean?

I don't agree with McCain and Bradley on all the issues, but
there's no doubt that each is a crusader for "new politics."
In his New Hampshire acceptance speech, McCain actually talked
about a "national crusade" for political reform and taking the
government back from the special interests. Bradley too speaks
in spiritual terms about the necessity of fundamental reform
in the way politics is done and adds the moral issues of
poverty and race to his new politics agenda.

Each man brings passion back into politics, and evokes that
response from voters. A woman looked McCain in the eye last
week and told him how important it was that a president tell
her the truth, which turned into an eye-watering pledge from
McCain to do just that. Another woman brought Bradley to
tears when she told him her young son apologized to her for
being sick because it was going to cost the family so much
money. Few doubt that McCain is serious about challenging
the moneyed special interests control over politics; indeed,
his Republican colleagues are terrified at the thought of
him winning the nomination of their party. And no candidate
has been willing straightforwardly to put issues like child
poverty and healing the racial divide at the top of their
political agenda like Bradley has, despite the fact that
neither turns up as leading issues in poll data and focus
groups. Democrats know that he too would make campaign
finance reform a top priority.

Current political reality suggests that neither will
ultimately triumph against the entrenched political power
and money controlling both major parties. And both insurgents
have their own weaknesses, errors, contradictions, and
tactical mistakes. But the point is more the message than
the messengers. Finally doing something about money and
politics on the one hand, and healing the divides of
poverty and race on the other, form the heart of a future
agenda. McCain and Bradley are the first signs of that.

Who knows how far either will go in this election? But
their messages have the potential to go much further.
In electoral politics, such causes seldom win right
away (witness movements for civil rights, abolition of slavery,
women's' suffrage etc.), but over time have their effect.


We received hundreds of e-mails vying for
the chance to win a free advance reader's copy of Jim
Wallis' forthcoming book, Faith Works. The 50 winners
will be hearing from Random House in the next week.
Thanks for your enthusiastic feedback.

The book is due to reach bookstores in late March.
Want to grab a sneak preview of the book? Go to:


N e t w o r k   N e w s

On February 6, Willie Williams visits SojoNet Radio.
Williams is the show designer for a few local club
bands; perhaps you've heard of some of them: U2,
REM, Bryan Adams. Willie began running the lights for
U2 just after the release of its album "War." He has
gone on to be the key creative genius behind the last
two U2 tours, ZooTV and PopMart.

SojoNet Radio airs every Sunday morning at ll:30 a.m.
Eastern Standard Time (USA). D.J. Alvin Soedarjo
from Indonesia lays the backbeat and host David Batstone
-- in 1998 host and executive producer of NPR's "What
Does It Mean to Be an American? -- interviews guests
who are making a difference in the world.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can
set your radio dial to KUSF 90.3 FM (that's at 8:30 a.m.
PST, of course). Anywhere else in the world, you can
listen in live over the Internet.


C U L T U R E   W A T C H

Requiem for a Church Supreme

After three decades of feeding the homeless, the church
that made John Coltrane its patron saint now finds itself
without a home. SF Weekly writer Jack Boulware tells the
tragic story:

"Since 1971, the St. John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox
Church has...[been] holding weekly services, feeding, clothing,
and counseling the homeless, and teaching music and computer

But a peek inside the photocopied program for this service says
something else is going on behind the scenes. A note from Bishop
King, the founder of the church, warns of a 'great transition,'
and asks his congregation for financial support. In an increasingly
familiar San Francisco scenario, another business is about to be
evicted, because the building in which it had been leasing space
has been sold. The business' new landlord has doubled the rent,
making it impossible for the business to continue."

See the full story at:

To learn more about the spiritual legacy of John Coltrane, check
out Aaron McCarroll Gallegos' tribute to 'Trane in a recent issue
of Sojourners magazine:




T e r r a s c o p e

Dateline: February 4, 2042
          2042.1.14  ShengXiao: Year of the Dog
          San Francisco
          Republic of the Americas
by Sam Mendoza
Hong Kong Media Network

The first birth in space four years ago grabbed our
attention and held it captive for some time. I don't
think any of us will ever forget the image of a newborn
floating in zero-g while still attached to her mother by
the umbilical cord. The whole event seemed so primal,
as if we were witnessing the coming forth of our
solar system itself.

I suppose we should have expected that it would only
be a matter of time before our competing impulse for
destruction made its grand entrance in outer space as
well. The murder this week of Julian Chin, CEO of the
Pac Rim Holding Company, came as a shock all the same.
Space seemed so pure until now. Perhaps subconsciously
we all believed that violence would remained trapped
within the bounds of our atmosphere. But the
burning passion for power was all the rocket fuel
it needed to reach into orbit.

The author of the crime remains unknown.
Investigators of the Outer Space Bureau continue
to comb through every personal detail of the 115
passengers and 45 crew members aboard the lunar-
orbiting cruiser at the time of the attack. But
there is little doubt that this wasn't simply a random
act of violence. The problem, as Pac Rim Holding
VP Jack Simpson said, "is to figure out which of
Julian Chin's many enemies got to him first."
Suspicion immediately fell on the Mother Earth
terrorist ring, of course. But no word was heard
from the band, and it has shown itself to be
meticulous about claiming credit when credit is due.

It now appears that the prospect of star gazing lulled
Mr. Chin into a false serenity. Other passengers
report seeing him wander freely around the cruiser
from the moment they left the Paradise Space Resort.
As they neared the moon's surface, Chin freed his body
guard to visit one of the telescopic viewing rooms.
OSB investigators now have determined that Chin was
hit over the head with a blunt object in his cabin,
then carried to an out-of-the-way airlock from which
he was jettisoned into space. While the killer's
obvious familiarity with the cruiser's floor plan
pointed an early finger at members of the crew, reason
dictates that just about any fool with an Omnicom
link could download sophisticated drawings of the
cruiser's architecture in a matter of seconds. How
the killer managed to avoid the cruiser's multideck
vidcams remains the biggest mystery.

What a supreme irony. While the rest of the well-
heeled space travelers stood marveling at the new
horizons open to our race, some brute with a club hunted
down his prey, killed him, then dragged him out of the
cave to hide his tracks. At this rate, we may yet
evolve into hominids.



P. O. V.

Elvis, Stalin, or Francis of Assisi?

Time magazine, as anyone who reads the papers knows,
spent months gathering votes for its highly publicized
Person of the Century. The magazine's criterion--the
person who for good or ill has made the greatest
impact on the world--allowed for some quite unsavory
selections. Hitler and Stalin were near the top of
the list, and the legion of Elvis fans stuffed the
electronic ballot box (to little avail).

But what if we were to broaden our scope to the last
thousand years? What individual stands out as having
had the most impact on our millennium? We might find
it an even more fruitful exercise if we were to ask
the question, Who has had the most effect for good
over the course of the past 10 centuries?

While the usual suspects would include those who
wielded political, economic, or military power,
leading conquering armies or sitting on the thrones
of rich and far-reaching empires, people of faith
might bring a radically different set of criteria.
Applying gospel values instead of worldly ones,
the most fitting candidate for person of the
millennium might very well be -- surprise --
Francis of Assisi.

Read more about the campaign for Francis at:


B o o m e r a n g

Messages we've received from SojoMail readers:

Carl Briggs from Philippi, West Virginia, wrote:

I did not feel self-righteous for clicking on the
Hunger Site. In fact, since we have plenty of poverty
right in my county, I can feel self-righteous by
giving old clothes to our local United Methodist
sponsored social service organization.

Rather, I do feel self-righteous because I have never
seen an episode of the horrid "South Park," and do
not let my faith get polluted by linking in any way
to sacrilegious, blasphemous tripe like that show.

Why promote that wretched excess of the culture? Quote
some real columnist, if you wish, but, please, don't
plug evil TV. There...I do feel self-righteous, now.

And the Hunger Site is for real. Real food helps real
people.  Don't slam the site.


Want to raise your voice? Send Boomerang emails to
the editor:

O n  t he  W i r e:

In case you missed SojoNet in the nation's media.... (the electronic arm of INC magazine) is hosting
David Batstone's course, Ethics in the New Economy.
readers engage in discussion with David's University of San
Francisco students. Here's a brief course description:

"Much of what we receive is out of context, untrue,
and knowingly fraudulent. We can manipulate images in
photographs and videos and create seamless sound, all
clearly testifying to events that never took place in
the real world. We can join a chat room on the Internet
and mask our true identity, never being quite sure if
during our conversation we are relating to other masked
identities. We can get a free computer in exchange for
giving marketers a complete profile of our personal lives."

These dilemmas and an ethical framework to meet their
challenge are the focus of the course. Join in the
debate at:,6279,CHL11,00.html


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.

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, D.C., February 13-16.
For more info, visit:


W e b  S c e n e

Cool siting of the week....

The White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia is known for
its unusual blend of award-winning cuisine and social
activism. The cafe features events throughout the
year that please palates while raising consciousness.
The White Dog Cafe is a great model for community
cafes everywhere.

Learn about its sister restaurants around the world,
join a community service project, take a stand on a
social issue, or take a virtual tour of the Black Cat,
its eclectic gift shop. Go to:


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Jim Rice                                      T 202.328.8842
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