Forces Protection

ROSE MARIE BERGER’S Commentary “Conduct Unbecoming” (September-October 2000) was a provocative and thoughtful piece. My back– ground in the military, and my dislike of the current commander-in-chief, caused me to grab on to this as another facet of the corruption of the military by Clintonism. In addition to the destruction of morale, via increased tempo of operations and cutting personnel and logistical support, comes this identified ethical corruption as well. Suffice it to say, as I (inspired by this article) was rearing up to this noble task of pointing out the reliance of the Clinton administration on technology and “protection of forces” (so he could do whatever he wished), I thought of two words: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I’ve seen the museum in Hiroshima. Horrible destruction, thousands of civilians and school children cut off from life that day. And the justification? Protection of forces. But, in all fairness, we must note that in an invasion of Japan the cost of human life for both sides would have been horrific. We played Cyrus that day, and a nation was judged. May the Lion of Judah come soon to end the evil that is so costly in human misery and untimely death. We desire a New Heavens and Earth and “groan”-waiting to see the children of God revealed.

Mike Mitchell

Boring, Oregon

The Bruce Discovery

DANNY DUNCAN COLLUM’S article, “To the River Together” (July– August 2000) about his Springsteen concert experience with his young son was marvelous! Seeing an article about Bruce in this publication reaffirmed my conviction of Springsteen’s Whitman– like talent to see, feel, and convey everyday American experiences in a way that truly crosses age and socioeconomic lines.

I enjoyed the Charlotte concert with two of my cronies (50s) and my about-to-graduate-law-school daughter. Like Duncan Collum, we all equally applauded the amazing talent we had witnessed. Like Christopher, I had fairly recently become obsessed with the music and the message; however, I was in my 40s when I made the Bruce discovery. Although I am not really into rock music, something about his energy and his ability to convey universal messages through specific examples always makes me stop to listen,

Linda Blue

Gastonia, North Carolina

AIDS in Africa

THANKS VERY MUCH for your thoughtful, comprehensive treatment of the AIDS epidemic in Africa in your July-August 2000 issue. I learned a great deal about the causes and extent of the problem from your articles. Two aspects were missing, however, which need to be treated.

One is the way the U.S. and other First World governments have blocked cheap AIDS-fighting medicines from being imported by the African countries. As I understand it, the Group of 77 nations of the developing global South had demanded that intellectual property rights, reflected in pharmaceutical patents, be subordinated to international human rights, especially when it comes to access to medicines for AIDS treatment at lower prices. They further appealed to the ethical responsibility of providing life-saving medications at accessible prices for developing countries and populations living in poverty. But the representatives of Western nations, influenced by the transnational drug companies, have thus far denied this request, under the neo-liberal legal legislation of the WTO.

The second matter is the absence of specific information about faith– based organizations and agencies that are effectively addressing the problem.

No doubt many of your readers would like to be a part of the solution by contributing to such groups, so names, addresses, and descriptions of their ministries would be much appreciated.

Doug Wingeier

Waynesville, North Carolina

The United Methodist Church’s AIDS Ministry Network (http://gbgm-umc. org/programs/aidsafrica), the World Health Organization (www.aawhworld health.org/WAD99/resources-org. html), and the Medical Missionaries of Mary (www.medical-missionaries.com) all have helpful information on African AIDS ministry. -The Editors

Are the Christians Coming?

RYAN BEILER’S Commentary “It’s A Start” (July-August 2000) identified the members of the human family that were responsible for the IMF/World Bank protest in Seattle and D.C. Students, union members, and people who love a clean environment made up the bulk of the protesters. But what struck me was the fact that the fundamental opponent of the IMF/World Bank was nowhere to be seen. Nowhere was a Christian presence evident in any of these activities. True, some avowed Christians were present, but no official Christian church was anywhere to be seen.

Today’s free market is diametrically opposed to the Christian gospel, as much as sharing is opposed to greed. Yet free marketers have neutralized Christian opposition by successfully identifying their message with the gospel. Financial stability for the clerical church has rendered most church leaders blind and deaf to the real effects of neo-liberalism.

We might ask, as Martin Luther King did when he surveyed the magnificent churches of Mississippi and the rest of the South, “What God do these people worship?” Larry Boudreau

San Antonio, Texas

Catholic Worker Key Chains?

DOROTHY DAY is fine where she is (“‘Don’t Call Me a Saint,”‘ by Rose Marie Berger, July-August 2000). Look what we’ve done to Francis of Assisi-he’s ended up in a bird bath! No to canonization-it’s a completely corrupted process.

Mary McDonough Harren

Wichita, Kansas

Live Like a Lily

I WOULD LIKE to respond to some of Ann McClenahan’s concerns regarding the “simple living movement” (“Lives of Compassion and Meaning,” JulyAugust 2000). First, while it is true that there may be some marketing and faddishness going on in this area, a number of authors have been writing about these themes for a long time. An authentic simplicity is always connected to issues of justice. The way we live, think, what we buy or make, all has an impact on our neighbors.

Thus Wendell Berry speaks of both “marketing resistance” and productive, community based economics as opposed to globalist greed. Martin Luther King Jr. writes about his concerns regarding an idolatry of technology and materialism. Gandhi thought simplicity was not only a just and healthy way for the wealthy, but psychologically and financially healthy for the poor. The abolitionist John Woolman was an early American promoter of fair trade, responsible consuming, and freedom for slaves. All of the above were following the biblical call to “consider the lilies,” to “seek first the Kingdom,” and also to condemn idolatry.

Finally, an authentic attitude of simplicity will not be “nostalgic,” but it will look with a critical eye on each new thing promoted by the corporate media. It will be both a spiritual and economic choice to desire what is truly needed and real. Jeffrey R. Davis

Durham, North Carolina

Unsustainable Lifestyle

I HAVE BEEN a reader of your magazine for many years. I was therefore disturbed by Jim Rice’s Commentary on the threat to U.S. workers of competition from China (“A Blank Check for China?” May-June 2000). This would be entirely appropriate in a workers’ union magazine but seems quite out of place in Sojourners. High wages inevitably lead to high levels of resource use. Our planet is already being seriously damaged by having 15 percent of its population earning annual incomes of $9,000 or more. The world cannot possibly support a major part of its people earning American workers wages. Just imagine the impact on the atmosphere of 3 billion more refrigerators, 2 billion more automobiles, and 1 billion more air conditioners for the 8 billion people who are due to occupy our planet by 2020.

If therefore only a small privileged elite of workers can ever expect to earn American-level wages, what should be the Christian response? I am sorry that Sojourners appears to favor the protection of that elite from competition from the bulk of the world’s population. This attitude sits uncomfortably with your article on Jubilee 2000 later in the same issue (“An Irresistible Force,” by Martin Wroe) with its focus on alleviating world poverty rather than protecting the unsustainable lifestyle of the American worker.

The May-June issue gives the impression of being little concerned with the 3.6 billion people who have incomes of less than $2 per day and rather more concerned about preserving the privileges of the minority who earn more than that every hour.

Stephen J. Carr

Zomba, Malawi

The Tie That Binds

I AM AN EVANGELICAL who was raised in one of the “united” denominations. I made a real, conscious decision in my late teens to make that change. I have had a hard time making myself read the articles in your magazine. Maybe it’s fear, I don’t know.

Chris Rice’s “Grace Matters” about gay rights (May-June 2000) was not really “about” gay rights. He only seemed to be raising questions more than giving answers. His firmest contention seemed to be that the body of Christ is deeply divided over this issue. The interesting thing was that it seemed like his own opinions did not differ much from the ones I have read in conservative evangelical magazines and heard from my friends. Let’s pray together that we can keep opening lines of communications between Christians of all flavors. The bottom line to me is “Christ in you-the hope of glory.”

Pam Meyer

Long Beach, Washington

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Write to “Letters,” Sojourners, 2401 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009;fax (202) 328-8757. E-mail: letters@sojo.net. Please include your name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be edited for space and clarity.

Copyright Sojourners Nov/Dec 2000

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