Tuesday, September 04, 2007

you have to read this book!

On the anniversary of the great flood, my good friend Cam had recommended Brinkley's The Great Deluge. It is a compelling account of the serial disasters under the name Katrina---the hurricane, the flood, the governmental negligence...and yet there are heroes and saints within the narrative as well. Brinkley spares neither Bush, Fema nor Nagin---indeed their inattentiveness led to unnecessary death and abuse...and yet he places the event in a larger context, one that includes us all, as Americans, as Christians, as human beings.

Our church participated in a number of ways---assimilating families, participating in the local civic response, ministering to evacuees at the coliseum, gathering housing supplies and furnishing; we attempted to keep up with some of these families, and to this day have some relationship with a few of the individuals; we continue to send teams to Biloxi. There was some visceral need for a response, but the awareness that the response needed to help the situation, and not add more complexity to it. In hindsight I am amazed at the outpouring of compassion and intelligence. We were struggling with questions about the needed Christian and humanitarian response, and beginning to question what all of this meant for us as citizens of a powerful nation with vast resources.

The UMC is hosting a gathering in New Orleans at the end of this week. There will be a tour of the 9th ward and a focus on the entire gulf region (Brinkley helpfully places his focus there as well). Reading Brinkley reminded me that "Katrina Fatigue" and moving on to the next crises are postures that will leave a number of American citizens behind, permanently, through no fault of their own. The story also questions the coherence of our nation, the ways some regions are valued and others not, and calls forth, at least for a Methodist, he importance of a renewed connection of churches and structures, for the long haul.

I commend The Great Deluge to anyone who lived through these events and wants to reflect on the aftermath that remains after the waters have subsided.


Post a Comment

<< Home