The Common Good


Sojomail - July 14, 2000

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 14-July-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Sir Walter Raleigh on...the new economy?

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *Buzz builds for Shadow Conventions

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *Signs that you've had too much of the '90s

S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s
    *U2's Bono: "David was...the Elvis of the Bible"
    *Novelist Jonathan Keats reviews the Pocket Canons

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

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
    *Greek Christians battle over ID cards

H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
    *CCDA joins the Call to Renewal

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

O n  the  R o a d
    *Jim Wallis in Davis, California


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

Whosoever commands the trade of the world commands
the riches of the world and hence the world itself.

                      - Sir Walter Raleigh


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

Buzz growing on Shadow Conventions
By Jim Wallis

It's not often that a press conference ends with
laughing, joking, and everybody having a good time.
But that's just what happened at the Shadow Convention
media briefing in New York City. The press turnout was
strong and enthusiastic. I suspect it's because the
party conventions scheduled for Philadelphia (Republicans)
and Los Angeles (Democrats) are looking soooooooo
boring. Apparently, ABC is deciding to run an exhibition
football game instead of covering one of the political
conventions, maybe fitting in a little coverage at
half time. Now that's a fitting commentary on our
political process.

In New York, the conveners of the Shadow Conventions
spoke to some of the key issues that the party
coronations (sorry, conventions) will not be covering.
Nick Nyhart of Public Campaign spoke about the
promise of real campaign finance reform. More than
200 candidates for elected office in Vermont, Arizona,
and Maine are already running their campaigns with
public funding instead of big private money (made
possible by successful grassroots referendums). He
called them campaign finance "pioneers." The Shadow
Conventions will tell their moving story of taking
politics back from the special interests.

Ethan Nadelmann of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy
Foundation said a bus load of poor children whose
parents are incarcerated for nonviolent drug
offenses are also coming. Apparently they've
formed a choir! He asked why the drug war focuses
in such a disproportionate way on low-income
offenders. Arianna Huffington called the failed
drug war the "new Vietnam," which we continue to
escalate even though we know we're losing.

Chuck Collins of United for a Fair Economy quoted
former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who
said we can have concentrated wealth or democracy, but
not both. UFE, along with Call to Renewal, is convening
the Shadow Conventions' focus on poverty in the midst
of prosperity and on the growing wealth gap. I suggested
that when you have a record breaking economy and rising
inequality at the same time, it is not only a threat to
democracy, social stability, and economic equity --
it's also a biblical and religious issue.

For more info on the Shadow Conventions, go to:

Let us know what you think.

Ed. note: Jim Wallis was interviewed this week
for the Pacifica Radio Network weekly newsmagazine,
"Between The Lines." A RealAudio file of the
half-hour program can be found at
(requires RealPlayer).


Jim Wallis' newest book, Faith Works, is available
at your favorite online or local bookstore, including
the Sojourners Resource Center, 1-800-714-7474,

Here's what Elizabeth Eisenstadt of the Philadelphia
Inquirer has to say about Faith Works:

"[It's] a treasure trove of well-seasoned advice:
Sage words lurk on almost every page of this
ambitious book....I finished the book feeling
remarkably encouraged."


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

Signs that you've had too much of the '90s:

* You just tried to enter your password on the microwave.

* You haven't played solitaire with a real deck of cards in years.

* You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

* Your daughter sells Girl Scout Cookies via her Web site.

* You chat several times a day with a stranger from South Africa, but
  you haven't spoken with your next door neighbor yet this year.

* Your daughter just bought a CD of all the records your college
  roommate used to play.

* You check the ingredients on a can of chicken noodle soup to see
  if it contains echinacea.

* You buy a computer and a week later it is out of date and now
  sells for half the price you paid.

* The concept of using real money, instead of credit or debit,
  to make a purchase is foreign to you.

* Cleaning up the dining room means getting the fast food bags
  out of the back seat of your car.

* Your reason for not staying in touch with family is that
  they do not have e-mail addresses.

* You consider second-day air delivery painfully slow.

* Your idea of being organized is multi-colored Post-it notes.

-- Sent by SojoMail reader David Monson
   of Albuquerque, New Mexico



Tell your friends how much you enjoy getting
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S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s
U2's Bono on the Psalms

David was a star, the Elvis of the Bible....

Years ago, lost for words and [with only] 40 minutes
of recording time left before the end of our studio
time, we were still looking for a song to close
our third album, War. We wanted to put something
explicitly spiritual on the record to balance the
politics and the romance of it; like Bob Marley
or Marvin Gaye would. We thought about the psalms...
'Psalm 40.' There was some squirming. We were a very
'white' rock group, and such plundering of the
scriptures was taboo for a white rock group unless
it was in the 'service of Satan.' Or worse Goth.

'Psalm 40' is interesting in that it suggests a time
in which grace will replace karma, and love replace
the very strict law of Moses (i.e. fulfil them). I
love that thought. David, who committed some of the most
selfish as well as selfless acts, was depending on it.
That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers,
cowards, adulterers, and mercenaries used to shock me,
now it is a source of great comfort.

'40' became the closing song at U2 shows and on hundreds
of occasions, literally hundreds of thousands of people
of every size and shape t-shirt have shouted back the
refrain, pinched from 'Psalm 6': "'How long' (to sing
this song)." I had thought of it as a nagging question -
pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence
we glimpse only when we act in love.

How long...hunger? How long...hatred? How long until
creation grows up and the chaos of its precocious,
hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it
odd that the vocalising of such questions could bring
such comfort; to me too.

But to get back to David, it is not clear how many,
if any, of these psalms David or his son Solomon really
wrote. Some scholars suggest the royals never dampened
their nibs and that there was a host of Holy Ghost
writers. Who cares? I didn't buy Leiber and Stoller...
they were just his songwriters. I bought Elvis.

***Excerpted from Bono's Introduction to the Psalms
in the Pocket Canons, published by Grove Press.


"The Pocket Canons are the most radical approach
to the Bible since Gutenberg. Or at least Ginsberg."

                       - Jonathan Keats


If you'd like to read a provocative review of the
Pocket Canons, read novelist Jonathon Keat's review
in the May-June issue of Sojourners magazine. Here's a

I meet Grove/Atlantic editor-in-chief Morgan
Entrekin at his downtown Manhattan office. What
with his unshorn blond hair, Morgan could be a
figure from the Bible, an Old Testament prophet
perhaps, albeit one in new testament jeans. In
addition to the Pocket Canons, this season Grove
will publish books by William S. Burroughs, Dennis
Cooper, and Darcey Steinke - hardly Pat Robertson's
bedtime reading - and it seems almost obligatory
to ask him what Matthew, Mark, and Luke are doing
in such company. "I try to publish quality books,"
he says. "This is probably the best book of all
time." I ask him how it fits Grove¹s market. "The
market for the Bible is everybody," he tells me.
And the Pocket Canons? Are they targeted, as most
books are, at a specific subset of everybody?
Morgan tells me a story about sitting on a airplane
next to two nuns. He says he was minding his own
business, reading a Pocket Canon. The nuns got
interested. They wanted to see. They wanted to
know where they could get some Canons of their

What Morgan says is true: Everybody is smitten
by these books. (He's no exception. When, at the
Frankfurt Book Fair a couple years ago, the editor
of Canongate - the British publisher of the Pocket
Canons - showed him the first rough mock-ups, he
bought American rights on the spot.) Nuns are
not Grove¹s core audience. Nor are Christian
bookstores. But the orders keep coming. It was
Morgan who first called the Pocket Canons "the
most radical approach to the Bible since Gutenberg."

Read more of Keat's review at:



The Utne Reader recently listed Sojourners as
the 20th most-cited magazine in its 16-year

Why does the Utne Reader love Sojourners? Sign
up for a FREE ISSUE and find out for yourself.

Go now to:


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

Marilyn Pasqual of San Francisco, California:

I really look forward to getting SojoMail. I'm so
glad that it comes on Friday. I print it and take
it home to read over the weekend.

Last week you mentioned a new book by Sr. Joan
Chittister -- "Life Ablaze: A Woman's Novena." So
far I have not been able to find it anywhere, even on
the Internet. Is it so new that it is not readily
available in bookstores? I really would like to
get a copy of it as soon as possible.


Ed. note: Chittister's book is published by Sheed
and Ward, 2000. We suggest buying it directly
from the Benedictines at:

355 East Ninth Street
Erie, PA 16503-1107
Phone: 814-459-5994, fax: 814-459-8066


John Jostad of Fort Collins, Colorado:

As a father of three, I enjoyed Jim Wallis'
observations about Luke, and have experienced
them myself....

In my case, my youngest child and only daughter,
Brooke, continues to teach me about racism and all
of our visual conclusions about people. Brooke is
now 9, and she was born blind. She continues to
have difficulty understanding racial differences.
One year during our discussion of Martin Luther King
Jr., she was surprised to find out that she was a part
of the race that enslaved Afro-Americans. When told
that she was white, she paused in disbelief, and
said, "I am?"

Yes, we should strive to be like a child in this
and many other ways. But as for racism, rather
than "and the blind shall see" maybe it will be
that "those of us who see, will be blind."

Keep it up. I look forward to my e-mail letters,
and will always continue my monthly contribution
for Sojourners' efforts.


Brian Vosburg of Minneapolis, Minnesota:

I'm responding to Kenneth Conklin's e-mail on
his confusion over the U.S. government's apology for

I recall from the history that I learned in school
that many of the people in leadership of the U.S.
government were slave owners themselves and directly
(and handsomely) profited from the stolen laborers.
While they may have not directly traveled to Africa,
they did pay slave traders to take the people from
Africa. The U.S. government may have not directly
endorsed slavery, but the laws to make slavery easier
and more profitable speak louder than any national

While you and I may have not directly have had anything
to do with slavery, the fact that you and I have
benefited in every way from slavery while African-
Americans are still suffering today from the effects
of slavery is reason enough to apologize. A
forthcoming book from Oxford University Press authored
by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith titled
"Divided by Faith - Evangelical Religion and the
Problem of Race in America" proves this point much
stronger than I could.


Eric Anglada of Washington, D.C.:

It would be interesting to see an article
exploring the relationship between ecology
and spirituality. Thanks!


Ed. note: We're on the same wave length, Eric.
The November-December 2000 issue of Sojourners
magazine will feature a look at the current
theological and cultural state of Christian
churches and the environment.


SojoMail reader David Plumb intends to keep
us on our toes:

Interesting quote of the week:

All truth passes through three levels:
First it is ridiculed,
Second it is violently opposed,
Third it is accepted to be self-evident.


...but where did it come from? None of my
Shakespeare expert friends recognize it.


Ed. note: Can any SojoMail readers help us out?
Were we duped?


Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang
e-mails to the editor: ""



Help SojoNet build a network.


C u l t u r e   W a t c h

Greek Christians battle over ID cards

Removal of religious designation from cards has
church up in arms

by Anthony LoBaido
Trouble revolves around the recent proposal of Greece's
socialist government, led by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, to
strip all references to religion from the new national ID card.

Over 97 percent of Greece's native population has been baptized
into the Orthodox church, and all Greek citizens have been
carrying this identity card since the mid-1930s, when the
then-military government instituted the system. The ID cards
must be carried at all times by Greek citizens over the age of

For Greek Christians, the religious declaration on the ID card
is a symbol of faith and pride. Whereas, for secular-minded,
pro-European Union Greeks, it is an outdated icon of the
Christian past. Privacy advocates want to see the religious-
affiliation label stripped from the card, along with
occupation, spouse's name, thumbprint, and nationality - all
of which will be stripped from the new cards, if and when
implemented on a mass scale.

"The socialist government wants to drive a wedge between the
church and the state," Nicolas Apostolides, a Greek medical
doctor on vacation in Cyprus told WorldNetDaily. Characterizing
his government as favoring "allegiance to the European Union,
gay rights, one European currency, unlimited immigration,
legalized drugs [and] sex legalized between adults and
children," Apostolides concluded, "We must stand now, or there
will be nothing left to stand up for."

See the entire article at:


H e a r i n g  t h e  C a l l
New to the network

The Christian Community Development Association
(CCDA) has just joined the Call to Renewal. The
CCDA includes nearly 400 member organizations in
more than 100 cities and 35 states across the
United States.

The CCDA is a living example that black, white,
yellow and brown, rich and poor, can be reconciled;
that we can make a difference, and that ghettoes
and barrios of this nation can be rescued.

Read more about the CCDA and their transformative
work at:

Then read about how and why you, your
church, and/or your national organization can
join the CCDA in the Call to Renewal network:


W e b  S c e n e
Getting the facts straight on inequality

Need fast, reliable facts about the U.S. economy
in order to convince your Uncle Herbert that
there´s an inequality problem in the U.S.A. after
all? Want to hear the latest and greatest
opinion and reporting on inequality? Want to
be the first to know when inequality experts
and training sessions are coming to a city near

You can find it all in one place at:

The Web site is chock full o´ facts, some proposed
solutions, and lots of connections and information.


O n  t h e  R o a d

Davis, California
Friday, July 14, 7 p.m.

Jim Wallis will be speaking at the Alliance
for Democracy's Fourth National Convention
at U.C. Davis.


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