On that Katrina Monday, I was relieved to know that my bloggy friend, St. Casserole was safely away from the hurricane. I had an eye on the coverage, but I was also back to work after vacation and a reading week, and I had a lot of other things on my mind, too.
By the next day, when we began to see pictures of a bared Mississippi coastline and a flooded New Orleans, other thoughts disappeared.
Two Sundays later, I told someone I felt my church had paid me for two weeks to think about how to think about the hurricane.
Theodicy and the Idiotic Interpretations of Certain Right Wing Religious Groups
Global Warming and the Impact of Higher Water Temperatures in the Gulf
The Apparent Lack of Caring on the Part of our Executive Branch
The Amazing Inability of an Entire Government to Air-Drop Bottles of Water in Our Own Country
The Socio-Economic Factors in the Building and the Breaching of the Levees
The Broken Hearts of People Who Lost Family, Homes, Everything Familiar
The Animals Left Behind
The People Who Died Rather Than Leave Their Animals Behind
The Callous Comments of People Who Assume Everyone Has a Vehicle and a Credit Card
Oh, God, It’s Not Just About Race. It’s About Poverty.
I was just getting started.
Why, Oh Why, Isn’t God a Micromanager Who Stops This Kind of Thing From Happening?
I didn’t start to feel my thoughts gather in a meaningful way until I asked a question later in the week.
Where Would Jesus Be?
We’re limited. We’re limited. I am, certainly. I can sit and watch
the coverage and contemplate the deaths and the social injustice and
talk about and read about it and even blog about it, but, oh my God, I
go to bed and lie there like a stone because the God I have come to
believe in is so detached from us, too much a scientist looking down on
a lab full of rats, too much a big boy with an ant farm, too much and
too little and I know I am limited in my understanding.
Then, thank God, I remember Jesus. I can talk to Jesus. When I look
at the looters and wonder why they took so many sneakers, I stop and
think of Jesus. Would he be sitting down to dinner with the governors
and senators and cabinet secretaries? Would he be looking out the
window of Air Force One at overflowing New Orleans and storm-shredded
Biloxi? God, no. Oh, my God, no.
Jesus would be on the balconies with the families waving their
pillowcases, or at the Superdome with the frightened old folks and the
hungry children. Jesus would be walking the debris-strewn roads with
wives looking for their husbands, comforting the man who saw his
neighbors drowned bodies in the water as he hung on for dear life.
Jesus would be in a neighboring state with the people who were smart
enough and well-resourced enough to get away, but who are suffering now
as they hear of the destruction back home and wondering how they can
help when their homes and workplaces are gone, too.
Jesus is in all those places. And believing that, I can pray.
People who were quicker or better equipped than I figured out how to get there early and help. It took me a few months, but I went, too. A lot of my readers probably self-identify as Christians, but some of them do not. They may think of religious people as being like the nutcases who published statements about the radar picture of Katrina looking like a fetus. But I want to say people of faith did an incredible amount to help in the aftermath of the storm. That’s not to say that people of good heart weren’t there, too. But people of faith were there sooner and longer and deeper and wider than agencies and armies and principalities and powers. They’re still there, going and making plans to go. I’m proud of my people, the people who understand where Jesus would be.
I’m not proud of my government. I hear excuses and excuses and excuses. I hear justifications. I hear absolute crap, and I hear it over and over and over again. I’m sorry, but the prevention of levee breaches needs more than Faith-Based Initiatives. It needs the attention of smart brains to unique problems, and the application of human muscle and complex machinery to prevent disaster. The reversal, if that is even remotely possible, of our descent into drastic climate change needs a ruthless honesty and commitment to the common good unthinkable to the selfish occupants of the Executive Branch. Waking up to the economic and racial reality of our USA caste system requires humility unimaginable to the ruling class. And altering it? Requires those of us who care to be part of a revolution.