The Common Good


Sojomail - August 11, 2000

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

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 11-August-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *Spike Lee: The power to be racist.

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *More bang in the boom times.

S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s
    *Take our pop quiz on heroes.

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
    *Political manual for 21st century citizens.

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *Have a friend with bad breath? Send an e-tip.

P. O. V.
    *What FBOs can expect from a Bush presidency.

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

T e c h   E t h i x
    *Monsanto: Return of the rice Christian?

B u i l d i n g  a  N e t w o r k
    *Putting a foot down against Iraq sanctions

H e a r i n g   t h e   C a l l
    *Shadow Convention coming to L.A.

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


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

"Black people have never had the power to
enforce racism, and so this is something that
white America is going to have to work out
themselves. If they decide they want to stop
it, curtail it, or to do the right thing...then
it will be done, but not until then."

                -- Spike Lee, film maker

Source: "Crossing the Racial Divide: America's
struggle for justice and reconcilation." Check
out this study guide and other resources from
the Editors of Sojourners at:


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

A Boom For Whom?
by Jim Wallis

Last Thursday, in a lead editorial titled "A boom
for whom?" the Boston Globe wrote:

"The Republican Convention is a performance on
three stages:the official events at the First Union
Center; the streets of Center City, where 350 noisy
protesters were arrested Tuesday; and the University
of Pennsylvania campus, where a Shadow Convention is
providing a counterpoint to the first and the
intellectual capital for the second."

"The scruffy, disjointed bands of activists opposing
everything from the death penalty to welfare reform
to genetically modified foods skirmished with police
in front of the posh hotels where the Republican
delegates are staying.  The Shadow Convention, featuring
academics, community workers, and faith-based
organizations, could translate the protesters scrambled
message if anyone would listen."

"'When we have unprecedented growth in this country but
one in five kids is poor, something is wrong,' said
Jim Wallis, director of Call to Renewal, a national
federation of churches working on issues of race and
poverty." Read the entire editorial at:

The Shadow Convention now moves to Los Angeles for
the Democratic Convention. Our day of program on
"Poverty and the Wealth Gap" is Monday, August 14,
from 10:00am-3:30 pm. Speakers include Rep. John
Lewis, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Rev. Jim Lawson, Rep.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Angelica Salas (Coalition for
Immigrant Rights), and Rabbi Michael Lerner.

Panels will address "Poverty and Inequality in the
New Global Economy" and "Building a Movement to End
Poverty."  Panelists including Rev. William Campbell
(CLUE), Juliet Beck (Global Exchange), Mary Nelson
(Bethel New Life), Skip Long (Jobs Partnership),
Diana Jones Wilson (N.C. Rural Economic Development
Center), Harold Dean Trulear (Public/Private Ventures),
and other community activists, will particiapte.

If you're a SojoMail reader in the Southern California
area, please attend. The Shadow Convention will be
held at Patriotic Hall, 1816 South Figueroa Street.
Our day in Philadelphia was memorable, and a good
turnout in L.A. will help send a further message
to the media.

If you can't attend, the Shadow Convention web site
will be webcasting live audio coverage and video
highlights.  During the week of the Philadelphia
Shadow, nearly 100,000 people visited the web site
and about 8,000 tuned in for the audio webcast.
See "Hearing the Call" below).

As we move west to also challenge the Democrats
on poverty -- join us if you can and participate
online if you can't.

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

See also:

S p i r i t u a l   P r a c t i c e s
"We are the champions, my friend"...Queen

Pop quiz:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for
best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series

How did you do? The point is, few of us remember
the headliners of yesterday. These are no
second-rate achievers. They are tops in their
fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish.
Accolades and certificates are buried with their

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a
difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel
appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have
inspired you.

Easier? The lesson...the people who make a difference
in your life are not the ones with the most credentials,
the most money, or the most awards. They are the
ones that care.

*Sent by Gene Wilkins of El Granada, California


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Political manual for 21st century citizens

You probably won't see this platform at
either of the political conventions being
held in the U.S., but David Batstone lays
down 20 essentials for citizens in his book,
The Good Citizen.

1) Community will not save you. "Net" is a more
meaningful metaphor. What matters are the forms
of intelligence to whom one is linked, the
practical support those connections afford, and
the costs those connections exact.

2) Fight for your right to party with your guests
of choice. Free association and assembly
democratize society.

3) Challenge systems that wield centralized and
hierarchical power.

4) Push the process, not the agenda. The democratic
process needs renewal, not legislative deliberation.

5) Declare a war on ignorance. Reappropriate two-
thirds of the defense budget and a healthy slice of
the capital gains tax to education, and pay teachers
a level commensurate with skilled labor in other
information sectors of the economy.

6) When you hear an intellectual forecast the
disapperance of work, assume that pundit has
tenure at a university. Tomorrow's work likely
has not yet been born.

7) Discrimination weakens your society. Whenever
significant segments of a body politic are denied
equal access to nets of their choice, it weakens
the entire net.

8) Believe in democracy, but don't look to the
government to solve all of your problems.

9) The flow of information should not move solely
in one direction. The privacy debate comes down to
who has access to data.

10) Your grandchildren will carry two passports. In
the network society, borders are permeable,
regulations are malleable.

You'll have to read the book to discover the
other "10 essentials." The Good Citizen also
includes essays by Cornel West, Robert Bellah,
Michael Lerner, and Barbara Christian. Look for
the book at your local library or buy it directly
online at:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Tipping off a friend

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Below are a list of frequently asked questions
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The recipient of a tip receives an email message
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And if you're sensitive to criticism, you
can block justatip messages from your email

So visit today and start improving your friends:


P. O. V.

What FBOs can expect from a Bush Presidency
by Thomas Wakely

As the Executive Director of a faith-based
organization [FBO] in Austin, Texas I have first-
hand experience with what Catholics can expect
from a Bush presidency.

Our organization, though interfaith, has
strong ties to the local Catholic diocese
as well as a number of churches. Our involvement
with the Texas Department of Housing and Community
Affairs, one of the few state agencies where Gov.
Bush appointed not only all the members of the
Board of Directors but the Executive Director as
well, has been nothing short of a headache from

On more than dozen occasions over the past
several years, we have been told directly
and indirectly, that Catholics were not welcome
at the table. We have endured harassment and
retaliation from members of the Gov.'s staff
and employees of this agency; all because we
are Catholic. And we are not alone. Dozens
of other FBO's with Catholic ties have also
felt the same strong hand of intolerance from
the Bush team here in Texas.

While I am a strong supporter of FBO's,
I fear a Bush Presidency.

Thomas Wakely
Executive Director
Corporation for Affordable Housing and
Community Economic Development


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

Amy Mathis from Albuquerque, New Mexico wrote:

I've enjoyed SojoMail tremendously in the
past few months. I would like to caution
Sojourners, however, about their support
for Charitable Choice and other government
partnerships with faith-based social service

I speak as a former director of a religious
charity here in Albuquerque, and also as a
supporter of church-state separation. Our
agency, the Baptist Neighborhood Center, did
partner with several state-funded organizations
and allowed them to rent space. There are
indeed many opportunities for partnership and
cooperation, and I'm definitely in agreement
with Jim Wallis that FBO's in the long run do
the best job of helping people to get back on
their feet.

But I'm concerned that in our eagerness to
help FBOs we might be entangling church and
government too much.  Also, the pastor of
the Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia
(mentioned in the article) went so far as to
endorse George W. Bush from the pulpit, and
this is really inappropriate for any minister
to do, no matter who's being endorsed.

Just as I'd prefer not to see tax money going
to support parochial schools, I'm very
uncomfortable with public funding for churches
and other houses of worship. Not only does it
potentially hinder the organizations with red
tape, it also violates the principle that there
should not be an establishment of religion in
this country.

I'm bringing up these caveats not to be a wet
blanket, but to warn about keeping our focus


Ed. note: Charitable Choice is a hot topic that
will only get hotter as we near the elections.
For more on the Charitable Choice debate see:


Also see Sojourners recent Charitable Choice
article by Holly Lebowitz:

And the Sojourners' pro and con articles:


Rev. Dick Viney  Branson, Missouri wrote:

In response to the Bible Answer Machine
highlighted in the "Funny Business" section of
the August 4 edition of SojoMail--

Lee Alley from London, England wrote:

The Bible Answer Machine sounds an awful lot like
the lyric sheets I would get with my contemporary
Christian music tapes and CDs in which every
line of lyrics would have an appropriate (or not)
Bible verse from whence came "the inspiration" for
that line. What would be interesting is whether
the machine can be reprogrammed to come up with a
relevant Bible verse to refute fundamentalists
(evangelical, Catholic, or whatever flavour) or
others who like to overwhelm people in conversations
with stacks of loosely relevant Bible verses.

If the machine could have voice recognition
software bundled in so that it could do this in
real-time then send me answers via text or WAP
messages on my mobile phone or PDA--that would be

David Mycoff from Black Mountain, North Carolina wrote:

Here's a brief reply to Steve Hayes' message
in the August 4 "Boomerang":

While I understand why Eastern Orthodox Christians
would place particular emphasis on the iniquities
committed by the Clinton administration and its
international supporters in the Balkans, and while
I agree that Clinton's military and foreign policy
in general have been criminal, still Steve Hayes
passes rather too lightly over the actions of Mr.
Bush the Elder--the gratuitous bombing of the
retreating Iraqi columns, for instance; the
invasion of Panama; and support for ongoing
"low-intesity" warfare in Central America, not to
mention his hand in the Reagan administration's
various adventures. And Mr. Bush the Younger's
rhetoric of "sharpening the sword against all
the evil that still exists in the world" is
scarcely comforting.

I myself am going to vote for Nadar, despite the
rigging of the electoral process in favour of the
two "major" parties that will probably make it
necessary to write him in in North Carolina.
The US certainly needs viable political parties
other than the Republicans and Democrats, somewhat
on the model of the British Parliamentary system,
though the military record of Mr. Blair's New
Labour is hardly a source of reassurance, either.


Marie Lacoste Krajci from Felton, California wrote:

Does Mr. Hayes know that George W. Bush, as
governor of Texas, is responsible for an
average of one execution a week in his state?
Texas executes more persons than all the
other states combined.


Jeff White from San Francisco, California wrote:

Thanks for your informative article on Indian
engineers coming to the US [by David Batstone
in the August 4 SojoMail]

Perhaps you can help me with a question I
have been mulling regarding the importation
of trained engineers, etc., from 3rd world

Specifically, it has occurred to me recently
that this practice may be a form of American
Imperialism, that 3rd world countries
expend their best resources to provide post-
secondary engineering training to their "best and
brightest" students only to see them run off
to spend the next 40 years contributing to
the increase of American wealth and shareholder

On the one hand, it's been great for my
investment portfolio and I am accordingly
grateful. On the other, it seems to me
that it may not be in the best long-run
interest of America or of the 3rd world country
thus "donating" their trained talent. One could
argue that America's long-run interest would
best be served by creating greater numbers 1st
world trading partners (if for no other reason
than to reduce our gargantuan trade deficit)
and drawing down a country's productive talent
is no way to insure this.  One could also argue
that one way to enhance the worldwide campaign
for 3rd world "debt forgiveness" would be to
allow 3rd world countries to enjoy the fruit of
their educational output, the concomitant
increase of infrastructure and industry, rather
than perpetuate the cycle of 3rd world debt and
dependence by depriving these countries of
their "best and brightest" at their time of
greatest need.


Ed. note: You raise a complex issue, Jeff.
Check out this recent article to further
increase the complexity:

Upside Today
"Creating Wealth in the Indian Community"

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T E C H   E T H I X

Monsanto: return of the rice Christian?
by Kristen Philipkoski

Genetically modified foods giant Monsanto says
it will offer its vitamin A-enhanced rice
technologies for free in an effort to improve
nutrition in developing countries.

Monsanto, which has sued farmers for allegedly
using its seeds improperly, announced the move
at an agricultural biotechnology conference in
Chennai, India, on Thursday [August 3rd]. The
company also said it has launched a new website,, where researchers can
mine a database of the rice genome, which
Monsanto decoded in April....

The offer of a free license will allow
researchers in developing countries to use
Monsanto's proprietary technologies to create
their own crops of genetically modified rice.
According to some, the gesture is an "important
step in the positive involvement of the
private sector in international rice research,"
said Ron Cantrell, director general of the
International Rice Research Institute.

But there appears to be some doubt. A lack of
vitamin A can lead to blindness and even
death. But critics say the apparent altruism
could be dangerous.

"A magic-bullet solution which places beta-
carotene into rice with potential health
and ecological hazards, while leaving poverty,
poor diets, and extensive monoculture intact,
is unlikely to make any durable contribution
to well-being," said Dr. Miguel Altieri, an
agriculture expert and professor at the
University of California at Berkeley.

Instead, Altieri suggests that leafy green
plants rich in vitamin A, as well as other
missing vitamins and nutrients, are readily
available in and around rice paddy fields
in many developing countries and should be
re-introduced into the diet of impoverished

For more debate over Monsanto's "good-will
gesture" go to:,1282,38043,00.html?tw=wn20000805

For information on organizing on issues of
genetically altered food go to:



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.

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B u i l d i n g  a  N e t w o r k

Putting a foot down against Iraq sanctions
by Rose Berger

Hard to believe it's been ten long years since Bush
the Elder initiated sanctions against Saddam and
Iraq. By all accounts the sanctions approach in this
situation has been an abyssmal failure. Saddam still
rules the roost and  more than half a million Iraquis
kids have died for lack of clean water and decent
medicine. As the closing to the Fellowship of
Reconciliation's National Days of Conscience in
Washington, DC, 104 people were arrested at the White
House demanding an end to the economic sanctions
against Iraq.

To find out about F.O.R.'s Campaign of Conscience go to:


H e a r i n g  t h e  C a l l
Are you frustrated with political conventions
that have little to do with the real issues facing
our country? Then maybe you should go to
the OTHER convention! Shadow Conventions 2000

August 13-17, 2000
Join the Call to Renewal for Poverty and Wealth
Gap Day, Monday, August 14, 2000
Patriotic Hall
1816 South Figueroa St.

To register or volunteer for LA, call
213) 346-9558 or go to:

Add your name to the thousands from across
the country who want to make poverty and its
solution a NATIONAL PRIORITY. Sign the Covenant
to Overcome Poverty at:



Help SojoNet build a network.


W e b  S c e n e
Classic literature online:

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