Day 10  Feb. 6, 2003


1. Names. Start Color Purple Tuesday; four days on that, again, revised response schedule. Roughly a quarter of the book for each time, though I encourage you to read ahead; your responses needn’t be limited to the pages for each day, though if you’re in C and D I will not be impressed by responses to the first ten pages.


Reminder of the ICPF conference Feb. 21-22, Juhnke speaking at 1:45 Friday the 21st.


I got most of your placements/intentions last time—I’ll pass that around again if you were missed. Journal guidelines.


Collect topic statements.


Today, I want to take some time for questions, comments, responses. Here’s a slip, write whatever you want, anonymous or not.

2. On Ch. 13, and “peace with the land.” My little conversation with A.D. about rain and how it didn’t do him any good . . . The problem with ecology is that it seems so distant, doesn’t it? But as J/H suggest, the threats of military disaster and environmental exhaustion are not really separable. The military has just asked for exemptions from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, so that they can operate more freely on military reserves.

The awareness that nature is something we can use up is, historically, kind of a new idea. Much of American history is based in the assumption that development is good, that “wild” nature is there mainly as a resource for us.

The Rule of Unintended Consequences, and the Dust Bowl. The steel plow made it possible to plant crops all across the Midwest and the Great Plains. As far west as, say, mid-Kansas this has worked out pretty well, so far. But where there’s not enough rainfall, crops failed and the loose soil ended up all over the place; the Dust Bowl disasters of the 30’s were economic as well as environmental. Grapes of Wrath.

The rise of environmentalism, with Silent Spring and Earth Day. Agent Orange and the devastation of Vietnam, and U.S. veterans with lingering health problems. The EPA and continued controversies about the proper role of environmental regulations. Some progress has been made: the Cuyahoga River that runs through Cleveland hasn’t caught fire in years, as it did in June 1969. Photos at The Clean Water Act.

Environment and Nuclear Issues: J. Schell’s The Fate of the Earth made phrases like “nuclear winter” and “a republic of insects and grass” current. The movement for controls of nuclear weapons, ending above-ground testing, and non-proliferation went well into the 1980s, dissipated with the collapse of the USSR.

Now the issues are global warming, overpopulation, ozone depletion; do we despair, or hope? Many things have begun to change. It is possible. There’s continued resistance, and legitimate debate about just what actions make sense. But it’s still possible that there will be a planet left for you folks to wander around when you retire . . . Of course, it’s also possible that it’ll be a very different planet.

3. Epilogue, history and hope. The language of “master narratives” and “revisionist history.” Is there something between “triumphant nationalism and radical criticism,” kill-everything-that-moves violence and do-nothing passive pacifism? Well, as J/H have been trying to show all along, of course there is. Really none of us believe in always being violent nor in absolute nonresistance. And from there it’s really a matter of strategy and tactics. How important do we think the means we use are? Is it possible to “use” violence and then go back to being peaceful afterwards? What does war do even to those who are on the winning side? How much attention do we need to pay to the rest of the world, if we have the weapons to do whatever we want?,6903,882459,00.html

And what about our other priorities?

H e a r t s   &   M i n d s


Budgets are moral documents


by Jim Wallis


A budget is a moral document. It clearly demonstrates the priorities of a family, a church, an organization, or a government. A budget shows what we most care about. This week, President Bush sent his budget to Congress - a budget he said reflected his most important priorities. So it is worth paying close attention to.


The president's budget of $2.23 trillion dollars proposes a record deficit of $300 billion, speeds up billions of dollars of tax cuts that provide most of their benefits to the wealthiest Americans, includes huge increases for the Pentagon, and slashes domestic spending - including core government programs that create affordable housing, curb juvenile delinquency, hire police officers, bring aid to rural schools, help make child care available to low-income working mothers, and guarantee children's health insurance. There are the Bush priorities.


The deficits increase each year and run up to $1 trillion dollars over the next five years. The Pentagon budget is increased by 4.2 percent to $380 billion, beyond what was already the biggest military buildup since the height of the Cold War defense budgets under Ronald Reagan. Most of the increases are not directed to counteracting the new threats from terrorist cells all over the world, but for weapons systems guaranteed to leave no defense contractor behind. And the cost of the impending war with Iraq isn't even in the budget! Administration officials estimate that cost on the low side at $50 billion, and on the high side at $200 billion (other estimates run as high as $300 billion). The president says the cost of a war with Iraq will be submitted to Congress as an "emergency measure." Emergency indeed.


There is no money in this budget for the states, which are confronting huge deficits and the prospect of draconian cuts in social services, mostly to the poor. In fact, the administration suggests states could meet their budget challenges with the "flexibility" to cut programs like health insurance for the nation's poorest children.


George W. Bush now sees himself as a war president. But in a time of war, there are no sacrifices for those most able to make them. This budget is not a choice between "guns and butter," as the traditional language goes, but is a budget full of both "missiles and caviar," as commentator Mark Shields so aptly put it. The rich get huge tax breaks, the military gets the big increases, and the poor get left behind.


The president should be commended for increasing the funding for combating AIDS in Africa. He apparently has been listening to the pleas of international aid organizations (many of them faith-based) and perhaps to U2 lead singer Bono, who has relentlessly lobbied this administration to address the AIDS pandemic. But even that increase, reports The Wall Street Journal, comes from shifting funding from a development-aid initiative for poor nations.


The rest of the programs for mentoring and volunteering laid out in the president's State of the Union speech, while good, are relatively low-cost and ultimately more symbolic than substantial. Without the crucial funding for programs that directly and effectively reduce poverty, "compassionate conservatism" is now in grave danger of becoming compassionless conservatism. And as far as the much-heralded faith-based initiative of this administration (which I have supported), equal access to funding for faith-based organizations (which I also have supported) has now been seriously undercut. George Bush's faith-based initiative has been reduced to equal access for religious organizations to the crumbs falling from the table. What a tragic outcome to the promise and rhetoric of the early days of the Bush administration.


Budgets are moral documents, and this one reveals the administration's true priorities.


What might it mean to make constructive nonviolence, rather than redemptive violence, our master narrative? To make mutuality and interdependence, rather than America First and a great war between American Good and Foreign Evil our master narrative? To consider every person in this country—or even the whole world—when we’re deciding how to distribute our resources—which are huge, even in bad economic times such as these?

To do so would not, surely, mean throwing all our weapons away tomorrow. It would take decades, maybe centuries, to come to pass. It’s a big job. Maybe it’s not ever going to be finished. But it won’t ever be finished if we don’t begin.

4. Collect questions, go from there . . .