The Common Good


Sojomail - February 25, 2000

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++++++++++++++++++++  25-Feb-2000 ++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e o f t h e W e e k
*Millionaire bride waxes on sacred vows

H e a r t s & M i n d s
*Church finally unites...on poverty

F u n n y B u s i n e s s
*Undefining reality

B u i l d i n g a N e t w o r k
*Saul Alinsky Goes to Church

P. O. V.
*Pavel Curtis on cybersex

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

T h e L a u g h i n g S a l m o n D i g e s t
*Bad things happening to good people

B o o m e r a n g
*SojoMail is creating a global community

C u l t u r e W a t c h
*What drives Carlos Santana?

W e b S c e n e
*Let's hold our next meeting in Paris!

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

"I didn't really feel like I was married because we didn't
get married in a church."

--Darva Conger on her made-for-TV marriage
(and subsequent annulment) to multi-millionaire Rick
Rockwell (oh, and she gets to keep the
$100,000 and Isuzu Trooper)


H e a r t s & M i n d s
Divided No More
By Jim Wallis
A new covenant to overcome poverty was announced
on the East steps of the U.S. Capitol February 16 by leaders
of the nation's churches and church-based organizations,
who then committed themselves to a 10-year campaign
to implement it.

This event was not conceived just a few weeks ago,
but was the culmination of 5 years of discussion
convened by the Call to Renewal. Unity is not easy
to find in the churches, but we had now found it on
this issue. I asked the media - which likes to report our
many differences and divisions - to now report our unity
of commitment and purpose.

The statements from every sector of the church were
concise, clear, and compelling. John Carr of the U.S.
Catholic Conference said, "Today, the Christian
churches come together across denominational and
ideological lines to insist we will measure this
(election) campaign by how it treats the least of these."

Rich Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals
said, "I believe by the groups standing here that
the Cold War among religious groups over the poor is

The new General Secretary of the National Council of
Churches, Bob Edgar, concurred by saying, "It's not too
late for people of faith from all traditions - liberal,
conservative, and moderate - to covenant together to
make sure that within the next few years that no child
in America has to live in poverty."

Wallace Charles Smith spoke for the Progressive National
Baptist Convention and testified to the God the black
church knows who is "inside the furnace with the poor, the
oppressed, and the afflicted."

Mark Publow of World Vision called for "an army that's
committed as people of faith to their biblical responsibility
to serve the poor."

Bread for the World's David Beckmann said that overcoming
hunger and poverty was much more a matter of moral and
political will than a lack of resources, "It's very possible;
let's do it!"

And Sharon Daly of Catholic Charities USA spoke from the
trenches in the fight against poverty when she said, "I
hope this will just be the beginning today of roll after
roll, wave after wave, of people from all religious groups
coming here to make this commitment."

Calling this a "historic moment," political commentator
Arianna Huffington concluded, "This is the true litmus test
of public morality: Where do you stand on the issue of

Finally, the poor have brought us together. Hundreds of
grassroots faith-based organizations and churches had
come to the Call to Renewal's National Summit and
this time the leaders of their churches and national
organizations - 57 of them in all - were ready to lead.

Here's what Sen. Alan K. Simpson, now teaching at the Kennedy
School of Government at Harvard University, has to say about Jim
Wallis' new book, Faith Works:

"Provocative, powerful, poignant, persistent, and practical writings
from a committed man of faith. Thank you, Jim - for the renewal
of faith."

You can preorder your copy of Faith Works at a 30 percent
discount from the Sojourners Resource Center:

Call 1-800-714-7474 or visit
F u n n y B u s i n e s s
Altered States
The Washington Post asked readers to take words
from the dictionary, add, omit, or change one
letter, and supply a new definition:

Hipatitis: terminal coolness.
Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic
wit and the reader who doesn't get it.
Reintarnation: coming back to life as a hillbilly.
Glibido: all talk and no action.
Inoculatte: coffee taken intraveneously.

Any clever SojoMail readers out there with your own
entries? Let us know at ""
B u i l d i n g a N e t w o r k
Saul Alinsky Goes to Church
by Helene Slessarev

The origins of community organizing are generally
traced to the pioneering work of Saul Alinsky,
who built the first community organizing effort
in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood in
the 1930s. Alinsky created the early community
based efforts by organizing existing groups
into collective action around particular issues.

Today faith-based community organizing is taking
off - with benefits for both community and
church. The only way to build long-term
power is by organizing people and money around
a common vision.

See the full story at:


P. O. V.
Intimacy in Cyberspace
SojoMail editor David Batstone interviews Pavel Curtis.

Pavel Curtis is a legendary Xerox Parc programmer
who was the prime wizard behind LambdaMoo, one of the
Internet's most famous MUDs (virtual communities
where participants can engage with each other via
prose). MUDs were the primary channel for
interaction on the Internet starting in 1979.
Chat rooms came to replace MUDs round about
1995. Curtis went on to co-found

Batstone: Have you reached any conclusions about
behavior in virtual environments?

Curtis: There's a different truth to the interactions
that happen....You can certainly hide behind your
persona, but a weird thing happens. You get into a
conversation online and within 10 minutes you're
revealing intimate secrets of your life with someone
on the other side of the world. And that may be the
reason why you're willing to tell them. But there's
a kind of truth in that interaction that certainly
is not going to come up in the coffee shop.

Batstone: You're married, right? Let's say you get
into a conversation online that is sufficiently
intimate that it would be considered crossing the
lines of fidelity that you've established with
your spouse. Is that betrayal? Or do we just say,
"Oh, honey, it was just virtual?"

Curtis: Is it really "just virtual?" Those are real
humans standing behind those words that appear on
screen. And those real words have the power to harm.
So I don't think it's legitimate to say, "Oh honey,
I was just playing around; don't take it serious
since it was just virtual."

Rather, we must say, "I was trying something out,
absolutely; whether that's ok with you is another
matter of negotiation." Is it interesting that you
are willing to talk about these things with an
online persona and not your spouse? Again,
absolutely. We don't discount phone sex, which
is just as virtual, as meaningless in the physical

See the entire interview at:^5987@.ee6da9f
O n t he W i r e
In case you missed SojoNet in the nation's media...

"My Boy and Mr. Mandela," by Jim Wallis

Luke Wallis was only two weeks old when his father
took him to see Nelson Mandela. Certain kinds of
connections cannot be forged too early.

See the full story at:


"The Pitch: Ad It Up," by David Batstone
Business 2.0, February 2000

When Barbara Walters interviewed Monica Lewinsky on
prime-time television early in 1999, the ABC network
leveraged high viewer interest into extravagant
advertising rates. The viewers themselves, of course,
did not participate in that earnings bonanza.

AllAdvantage member David Steinberger argues we have
been duped into believing that the media can work in
no other way. But the Internet now gives us a way to
see how those rules can change. "That's why I like
AllAdvantage so much; it's bringing together a union
of consumers who demand a share of the value they

See the full story at:
"Sowing in the Corners," by Ryan Beiler,,
originally published in Sojourners magazine

First Bethany Bank & Trust's success is due,
in part, to its socially centered policies.

For example, the bank donates $10 to charity for
every hour each employee gives in community service.

See the full story at:,6378,ART17001_CHL11_CNT56,00.html
T h e L a u g h i n g S a l m o n D i g e s t
Molly Ivins
Ruckus-raiser Molly Ivins has breast cancer. "An
outstanding case of it, from which I fully intend
to recover," she says in the January 21, 2000, Texas
Observer. My favorite boot-stomping, butt-kicking,
might-as-well-dance, bleeding heart radical says
thar's more than gold in them thar hills.

If anybody can mine out that malignancy, she can.
This is just another (as if any of us needed another)
reminder that disease, disaster, and dysentery fall
on the just and unjust alike. And an almost Hebrew
prophetic reminder that it's not what ya got, but
what ya make of it that counts.

Ivins message to the sisterhood is simple:
Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Now.

--The Laughing Salmon
B o o m e r a n g
Ah, shucks. SojoMail readers send kudos from
around the globe

John Hirt, chaplain at Sydney University, Australia,

SojoMail is the best thing since sliced bread!
Thanks muchly for keeping me informed and giving
us all a chance at hearing something other than
the System's rave.
M. Cecilia Broadous from South Africa wrote:

Thank you for SojoMail! Last year I moved to South
Africa to work with a church group; I do not receive
Sojourners magazine here, so I am VERY excited to get
the e-letter.
Jose Vincent Rojas, a leader in the Seventh Day
Adventist Church in North America, wrote:

Thank you for sending SojoMail. I am blessed and
challenged by each piece.
And, finally, let's not forget our raging
controversy over The Hunger Site!

Lee Alley from London, England, wrote:

The question hasn't been asked yet why more
organizations, particularly commercial and
allegedly Christian ones (Word, Zondervan,
Alliance Music, etc.), don't sponsor, raising the amount of
click-throughs, thus the overall efficacy
of the site to the hands of the hungry?

I have a job to do, my own Christian mission
and a family; I can't go to Pakistan or Zambia
but I'm very happy to participate with
The Hunger Site every day and do my part. I also
discovered, a very cool site that
sells art and other items from individuals
in the Third World under fair trade conditions.
I'll be buying items for my home and office
from there. Rather than rubbish those who are
doing a good in a very creative way, I say why
not drum up more support from users and sponsors?
James Tally, from Salina, Kansas, wrote:

Is The Hunger Site inefficient charity? Perhaps so.
But how can we trust the numbers? Factoring in online
service fees is a spurious indicator, as most of us
have Internet access in order to do many things quite
apart from the Net. If in the course of surfing the
Net we take a moment to donate food by proxy, how can
we quantify the cost? Thirty seconds of labor? At what
wage? Versus what alternative for opportunity cost?

Further, there may be a multiplier effect, especially
from the site's hunger map. Staring at that map only
for a few moments presents a powerful message and can,
I imagine, contribute to a raised consciousness about
world hunger. If said consciousness leads surfers to
seek out more "efficient" means to fight hunger, then
quantifying the costs and benefits of the site becomes
problematic indeed.

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


C u l t u r e W a t c h
What drives Carlos Santana, winner this week of
8 Grammies? He revealed his personal manifesto in a
1993 Guitar magazine interview:

What I'd like to do before I die is bring people closer
to the same reality that John Coltrane and Bob Marley
were trying to bring people to - no borders, one race,
just one body, and we all take responsibility so nobody
starves to death tomorrow morning. If you could do that
with music, that's more important than becoming Jimi
Hendrix or Beethoven. Because you cause and affect the
whole wheel of life in such a way that even though you
are one person you made a difference, like Martin Luther
King or Mahatma Gandhi. Then, songs become like windows
for people to look inside or look outside....So I'm
more clear now as to why I'm doing everything. It's not
just to make people happy or make them dance - it's to
change things: change myself, the people in my band,
change people all around so we can have a clearer vision
about life and about ourselves, so there won't be as much
disharmony in the world.

See Aaron McCarroll Gallegos' review of Santana's
award-winning album Supernatural in a recent Sojourners:


W e b S c e n e
Cool siting of the week

MyPlaceware is a fabulous "setting" to hold
a meeting on the Net. Five participants from
anywhere in the globe can meet together,
showing slides and graphics to each other they've
prepared for the meeting, or review a Web site
together. You still have to make the conference
phone call, but it's great for networking across
distance. Best of all, it's *free* for groups
of 5 or less. Groups of up to 25 can use it at
no cost for one month, but thereafter the meter
starts running.

Placeware was the creation of Pavel Curtis
[see interview with Curtis in SojoMail above].

Go to:


R o a d S h o w s

Meet members of SojoNet personally at these upcoming
speaking engagements.

March 1, 7:30 p.m. Emory University, Atlanta

David Batstone delivers a public lecture titled
"Citizenship in a Network Society." He will also
lead an afternoon workshop on ethics and the Net.
Contact: The Center for Ethics, Emory University,
(404) 727-3064


................. E D I T O R I A L .....................
David Batstone                              T 415.422.6660
Executive Editor                        

Jim Rice                                    T 202.328.8842
Managing Editor                             

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