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A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

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Blue Gold

A book review:

The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water

By Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke

The New Press, New York, N.Y. 2002, 278 pages

Reviewed by Alfred T. Davies, Cincinnati, Ohio

Fresh water is finite. But, because water and sewer services are so available and inexpensive for us it is difficult to realize the realities about which this book speaks. So, listen: "Available fresh water amounts to less than one-half of one percent of all the water on earth. The rest is sea water." . . . . The hard news is this: "humanity is depleting, diverting, and polluting the planet's fresh water resources . . . that every species on earth . . . is in mortal danger " (page 5). The urgent, and new, question raised in this book is, does fresh water, now so scarce, belong to the earth, that is , to "the commons," part of the public domain, or is it a commodity to be owned and sold for profit? What has brought this question to the forefront is the 21st century phenomenon of economic globalization which considers everything for sale.

The first part of the book describes "the Water Crisis" created by the exploding world population, increased per-capita consumption, water intensive industry including irrigation on a massive scale, pollution and over-exploitation of the river systems. The picture is bleak!


Enter the transnational corporations, several of which have targeted water as a commodity. Ten global water lords are described. Support for their ambitions is provided by powerful global organizations such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. The authors describe how water can be moved from water-abundant parts of the world to water-starved portions. Pipe lines, super-tankers, grand canals, huge water bags, and what is already common - bottled water everywhere. If these huge enterprises were motivated out of humanitarian concerns to make the whole world a better place to live and more fair for all living things, we might rejoice. But, not so. The motive is profit.

In the third part of the book the authors outline ways citizens and communities can - and must - fight back. They present the ethical questions to consider, followed by ten principles, and finally offer ten steps to water security. Undergirding all of their argument is the principle that "water belongs to the earth and all its species."

This crisis, so little known today, is far more urgent than "the black gold" (oil) crisis because "blue gold" (water) is essential for survival. That may sound over-stated, but the story presented in this book makes a very compelling case. I recommend it.

For more information and action on water rights issues:

The Water Rights Project of the Polaris Institute (a Canadian organization) carries on critical research and analysis on the world's largest water corporations, their most influential lobby groups, and the for-profit water agenda and strategy they shape at a global level. The project has published Inside the Bottle, a book detailing how four large companies - Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Danone - dominate the growing bottled water industry. They pay little or next to nothing for the water they take from rural springs or public water systems; turn "water" into "water" through elaborate treatment processes, to produce a product that is not necessarily safer than tap water; market it to an unsuspecting public as "pure, healthy, safe drinking water," and sell it at prices hundreds and even thousands of times more costly than ordinary tap water.    [1-19-05]



GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries, confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We provided resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest have been:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which  removes the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.  Approved!

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.  Disapproved, because as an amendment to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not receive that.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which  adopts the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.   Approved.

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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