Sunday, September 11, 2005

Are We to Believe God?

A friend of mine was angered and upset by an e-mail she deemed "hate mail" because it cited Biblical prophecy that the writer applied to New Orleans.

She chastened the writer as follows:

Katrina did not cause destruction to the Gulf coast because the people are ungodly. Katrina was a force of nature that could have hit anywhere; it could have just as easily hit [our community]. Events like Katrina, 911, Tsunami's, etc. are the fault of no one. Rather, they are "of the world" because of original sin. Lots of bad things happen to good people who don't deserve it. Good, caring and loving people can get cancer and suffer so much. To become judgmental and point fingers may be a knee-jerk response coming from fear. It may also be a response taken by those who need to feel superior spiritually and in other ways to their brothers. Hate is not the solution here.

Here is an excerpt of the comments that angered my friend:

Was hurricane Katrina an act of nature, or an act of an angry God? There's no way to prove either way. One can, however, state that New Orleans had turned its back on God, and was the most crime ridden and sin ridden city in the U.S. . Witchcraft, Black Magic, and everything you can imagine was taking place there. What city will be next? Only God knows the time and place.

The question was asked: "Was hurricane Katrina an act of nature, or an act of an angry God?" Is asking this question "hate?" I don't think so. Is quoting Old Testament prophecy and trying to understand how it might be applied to our time "hate?" Diligent preachers try to make the connection all the time. Is it true that many in New Orleans who promote or participate in corruption and the sleaze that made that City famous have "turned their back on God?" I think so. Call me judgemental - or call me observant and discerning. Certainly God doesn't want us to lose our discernment, does He?

There are several points that I believe my friend is missing:

God is a God of mercy and a God of justice. Most Christians understand that Jesus made a way for us to receive God's mercy and eternal life. But the bad behavior of so-called "Christians" as well as pagans, Muslims, Jews, aetheists, and secularists will not "save" them despite what they might say with their voices. One of the biggest lies we are told is the "faith alone" lie, that is, declare your trust in Jesus Christ and go on sinning; continue asking for forgiveness and keep on showing the same disregard for the commandments of God. Continue disliking your neighbor, indulge yourself, and think you will be blessed by God.

Here is my take on Katrina and New Orleans:

Some folks endorse the "supernatural punishment for sin/intervention of God" interpretation of Scripture and declare that Katrina was God's punishment to a wicked people. I cannot go that far. They base their interpretation on the Sodom and Gomorrah Old Testament story (for those of us who believe it really happened - I have no reason to believe it didn't). Preachers and ministers all over our nation preach that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was God's punshment for the evil of those people. I have recently come to supplement my understanding of the cause of the demise of those cities in two ways.

One: There have always been natural disasters - earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, pestilence, etc., just as my friend explained. People throughout history have reacted to and prepared for those disasters in various ways. Those who become self-absorbed in their sins will not be as prepared or care about the coming destruction as those who are diligent and responsible. Picture the drunken "hurricane party" that you often hear about. Are those people prepared? Do they care? There will be many more casualties among those who don't care or who are ill prepared than those who are prepared. Likewise, the governments that tend to be less responsible or more corrupt will be less effective in good disaster preparedness. The government of the City of New Orleans bore this out. In this county, the government is the people. Katrina demonstrated that the "relatively corrupt" government of New Orleans failed its people in many ways, not just during Katrina, but decades before as well.

Two: The natural disasters that God allows to take place impact the righteous and unrighteous alike. All have an equal chance to exhibit their righteousness during such times. Some choose to plunder and loot. Others choose to rescue and repair. Job of the Old Testament is an example of this universal truth of God's workings. Job was tested as severely as anyone on earth. He could have blasphemed God, or he could have remained faithful. He chose the latter. He remained faithful. He passed the test. He grew in strength and faith.

These two points being made, it remains my understanding, based on many passages of Scripture, that God judges, both here on earth and in the life to come. I agree it is not for us to judge. But those who think that God does not NOT judge blaspheme God. They are simply in error. Those who deny that God judges through natural events deny the power and discretion of God. Perhaps more accurate: What God allows He allows so that we may judge ourselves by our actions. We may respond with prudence and faith and love, or we may respond with imprudence, doubt, and hate. It is these actions that will be ultimately judged by God.

One final point of doctrine: Original sin. My friend declares natural disasters exist because of "original sin." I do not believe this to be true. We are responsible for our own sin, not the sin of others several thousand years ago. It is so convenient to blame another person - even more convenient to blame another person who lived so long ago! A lot more of God's children today need to claim responsibility for their own actions. Doing so, we are likely to be a lot more diligent and successful in anticipating, sensing, and responsibly preparing for natural calmity.

I have a bad feeling that New Orleans still doesn't get it. The prevailing chatter on New Orleans talk radio, one week after the storm, is their committment to their next Mardi Gras in February. Wouldn't it be more pleasing to God (not to mention the lives of people whose government they too often depend on for their very lives) to get their flood control system in order - to discuss rebuilding their City to a less vulnerable status? The beat goes on.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Nawlins: A Twisted Fate

The article below reflects the aspect of human nature that is so maddening to me, and one reason why I tend toward being religious. It describes the allure of New Orleans to so many people, with that allure so clearly vested in corruption, decadence, filth, and the vilest aspects of human nature. This City reflects a seductively self-destructive human tendency- our love of "culture" on the fringes of accepted human decency.

Note: Words in [brackets] are my editorial comments.

Profile of New Orleans, Before Katrina
By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer Sat Sep 3, 2:31 PM ET

Beneath the frantic and putrid abyss of looters and bodies and desperation that New Orleans became last week, there's a decadent city of crawfish bisque and sparkling jazz, a ferocious city that beat back the British army, a tenacious city that has survived plague and fires, a seductive and sultry and sweet place beloved by many.

It is, quite simply, one of a kind. [Shouldn't we be grateful?]

"In terms of the big cities of this country, New Orleans is clearly one of the cities with the most unique character," said Paul Farmer, executive of the American Planning Association. "What's happened goes well beyond the devastation of one city — it's a national tragedy."

[The aspect of this event that comes closest to a "national tragedy" is the exposure of decades of decadence manifesting itself in miserable human judgment and behavior. I do not believe for a moment that the loss of the "culture" of New Orleans is a national tragedy. There is obviously a point when "cultural diversity" can go too far and becomes destructive to human survival, if in fact survival is a universal good.]

Its singular ways date back to its French and Spanish history, its Caribbean character, its geographic diversity of lake and marshlands.

The city was born in 1718, a swampy French-Canadian outpost next to the mouth of the Mississippi River. In the ensuing years it would be held by both France and Spain before becoming the largest and richest city in the Confederacy, thanks in large part to its bustling international port.

But its location also made it vulnerable to attackers on sea. In the brutal 1815 Battle of New Orleans, French and Spanish settlers joined soldiers, slaves, militia, Indians and even some pirates as they sheltered behind stacks of logs and cotton bales to defeat British invaders.

Soldiers weren't the only threats. A plague of yellow fever, spread by mosquitoes, struck summer after summer in the mid-1800s, killing thousands of residents. Fires have all but leveled the city as well, and there have been deadly hurricanes and floods, although none on the scale of this week's disaster.

Despite it all, New Orleans has always been a city that entices [just like aberrant sex and addictive drugs entice], and those who come often stay [I guess they needed the drugs!] It has more native-born residents than any other major American city, and it's not uncommon to meet families who have been there for five generations — along with their neighbors.

Those who come for short durations — and there are more than 10 million visitors a year, and 3,000 business meetings and conventions — come to experience an exotic place that has been called America's only European city [go figure].

There's the pre-Lent revel of Mardi Gras [too bad a Christian tradition (Lent) is associated with debauchery (Mardi Gras)], which generates a billion dollars in revenue every year [decadence for dollars!!]. There's the naughty fun of Bourbon Street [naughty is nice - "call evil good and good evil"]. And fine restaurants. And magnificent jazz — at the annual Jazz Fest, at jumping joints, even after funerals. [Ya don't need the crap to have fine restaurants and good music.]

In fact, much that New Orleans flavor has been exported. Mardi Gras parties are ubiquitous now; dishes like gumbos and po'boys and jambalaya are featured in restaurants everywhere. And the music — from Louis Armstrong to B.B. King, from Fats Domino to the Neville Brothers — is the soundtrack for our lives.

But beyond the historic architecture, the spice-laden cuisine and the beguiling voodoo underground, live close to 500,000 people, mostly poor (more than a quarter live in poverty), mostly black (more than 66 percent), clustered into 73 distinct neighborhoods.
Crime, even before the hurricane, was high. The murder rate has come down in recent years, but remains 10 times the national average. Last year, researchers had police fire 700 blank rounds in a city neighborhood one afternoon. No one called to report the gunfire. [Can you figure out the reason?]

"Maybe New Orleans should be nicknamed The Big Un-Easy, due to a high violent crime rate and a high unemployment rate. There's also a significant number of suicides and divorces," said Bert Sterling on his Best Places web site.

The city's school system is a shambles. The district almost went broke this past year — teachers nearly missed a paycheck — and 55 of the state's 78 worst schools are in New Orleans.

Dozens of school employees are under indictment for corruption. But then, corruption in New Orleans is nothing new — politicians, judges, the police have all been caught.

[Now we're beginning to see the consequences of a beloved culture gone awry!]

Still, New Orleans did not lose its luster. It had higher education (Tulane, University of New Orleans, Xavier). [In spite of all the crud. Think how great the City might otherwise have been!] It had the port that made it a city in the first place (fourth largest in the world, by gross tonnage).
[The port is a quality of its economic geography, not its culture. It is an independent strength, in spite of the failures of the greater local society. Does a port need corruption to be great, or does corruption stifle greatness? How much better would it have been if the ignored qualities of honesty, integrity, fair dealing, and a community-building spirit were predominant?]

And it still had that quality that inspired its unofficial motto — "Laissez les bons temps rouler" (Let the good times roll). [Leave it to the French]. Though it's too tough to remember now. [Not really. Maybe it is for those who are internally confused about principle and what is good and right.]

Pableaux Johnson, a food and travel writer from New Orleans, could only reminisce about his beloved city in the past tense as he watched the destruction on television with family and friends in a nearby city where they had evacuated. [Yeah, like there goes my livelihood. All the hookers said the same thing.]

"It was a human-scale metropolis," he said. "It had its own really vibrant set of cultures, of food and music and literature and people. It had an amazingly rich tradition and it had a good solid funkiness. [A good, solid funkiness? - This is like having a good, solid nose bleed. "Funky": The word the deceived really get off on. Label any form of deviancy "funky" and you have a great dollar-generating tourist attraction.]

You could get absolutely spiritual food for three bucks, listen to absolutely amazing music in the equivalent of house parties." [Nothing wrong here. But why does it take a society and culture of deviancy, lawlessness, and corruption to enable these things? I don't think those are essential ingredients. Or do the really "artsy" among us require that culture to thrive? Do we really have a human tendency of "artsing ourselves into oblivion" as the Big Easy culture tended to do, requiring the "artsy-poor" in the nation to come to their rescue?]

Joe Lastie, a drummer with the legendary New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band, holed up in an Atlanta hotel with his family, somberly waiting to hear from clarinetist Ralph Johnson, pianist Rickie Monie and trumpeter John Brunious.

Lastie's band, named after the venerable music venue in the heart of the French Quarter, is known for its spirited shows around the world where Lastie and his bandmates, blowing their horns and clashing their cymbals, dance right off the stage and into the audience to lead a rollicking, joyful march around the theater.
"I go around the world sharing the joy that is New Orleans," he said. "And because of that joy, I know my city is going to survive. The New Orleans people are the type of people, well, you can't keep them down. Through the joy of the music and the spirit of the people, we're always going to bounce back."
[I hope that aspect survives while they clean up their act.]

Friday, September 02, 2005

Buses, Anyone?

Here are your buses, Mayor, in the heart of New Orleans. Your buses.

Where are the buses, Mayor? Why weren't they dispatched to help transport the evacuees out when you were calling for evacuation on Saturday and Sunday? Why blame others, Mayor?

May the City of New Orleans Never Be the Same

The Mayor of New Orleans was speaking on WWL radio this afternoon...he was venting about the disaster, the dead bodies, the destruction, ragging on the lack of assistance from the federal and state government, and how "the City of New Orleans will never be the same."

Let us all hope and pray that the City of New Orleans will never be the same...

  • That their rampant corruption will change
  • That their blind tolerance of grossly decadent behavior will change
  • That their failure to plan for natural disaster will change
  • That the greed of their largest industries (tourism and petroleum) will change
  • That their continued existence in a 7' to 10' below sea level basin in a hurricane prone area of the Gulf of Mexico will change

Yes, may the City of New Orleans never be the same.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Southern Decadence Festival in Big Easy Postponed by Katrina

For those who didn't quite get the previous post regarding Nawlins, here is a followup - a reprint of a current article in World Net Daily...

IN KATRINA'S WAKE - Hurricane hits just before homosexual event
Posted: August 31, 20054:38 p.m. Eastern
© 2005

Hurricane Katrina walloped New Orleans just two days before the annual homosexual "Southern Decadence" festival was to begin in the town, an act being characterized by some as God's work.

Southern Decadence has a history of "filling the French Quarters section of the city with drunken homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets and bars," says a statement from the Philadelphia Christian organization Repent America. This year's 34th annual Southern Decadence festival, which drew 125,000 revelers last year, was set to begin today in the Big Easy and run through Monday.

As writer John d'Addario explained in "Southern Decadence 2005: A How-To Guide" posted on

Parades and non-stop parties aside, Southern Decadence may be most famous (or infamous) for the displays of naked flesh which characterize the event – which is only fitting, since New Orleans in early September is generally the closest thing you'll ever experience to walking around in a steambath outside of a health spa. While police have started to crack down on public lewdness and pressure from a local crackpot conservative religious organization has caused the five-day festival to become a little more sedate than it was in years past, the atmosphere of Southern Decadence has stayed true to its name and public displays of sexuality are pretty much everywhere you look.

Of course, the massive flooding of the city and evacuation order from Gov. Kathleen Blanco has forced the event's cancellation.

Repent America says three former and current mayors of New Orleans have issued official proclamations welcoming visitors to Southern Decadence.

Be sure to check out the underlined links in the article. Maybe God does make a distinction between "right" and "wrong" afterall. But of course that distinction matters only to those who believe there is a God.

But don't despair. I'm confident Southern Decadance will resume next year. Your federal tax dollars are hard at work!