Sunday, September 04, 2005

Personal Ad

If you are the woman who yelled at a vacationing Condi Rice in a shoe store a few days ago, admonishing her that getting her Manolo on was perhaps not The Thing To Do while New Orleans sank into the water and while offers of aid poured in from other countries.... e-mail me, and I will find a time and place to hug you.

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16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word! Can I be next in line to hug the woman who's "For Shame!" nudged Condi's head out of her parallel universe vacation. maybe her "Shame on You, Imelda II" will puncture Condi's self-induced amnesia about the family she left behind in Alabama and go return to her roots. [I might plug Rice's parents' civil rights roots, upon whose fine reputation Condi first stepped up, then stomped over to seize her underserved crown - highest ranking African American U.S. government official

Broke as I am, I'll spot you money for another personal ad that finds the blogging heroes who circulated pictures of the perpetually vacationing president. Check out these shameful pics of Wubya strumming his fingers to *his* song, fiddling tone-deaf to the world around him while killing us ALL softly. UGHGHGHGH!
http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_08_28_corner-archive.asp#074771.

Be sure your ads offer an extra reward to bring along Cheney's golf clubs, Condi's 4" healed Manohlo's pumps, and Bush's guitar (be sure its THE presidential guitar, carrying the 'Commander in Chief' insignia)... so that we can grab these WMD, queue up, and WACK them all upside their heads. Yeah, WACK 'em like a bloated pinata at Mardi Gras party, WACK 'em out of the complacency they insist on playing, while the rest of my people are dying.

((Hugs)) WACK!! ((Hugs)) WACK!!

Yep, I'm startin' to feel better already.

Fugly with frustration and anger,
- srr

4:00 PM, September 04, 2005  
Blogger summer m. said...

oh yeah. i don't really give out hugs, but i'll def give a big ol hug.

1:01 PM, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this a joke? This is the problem when people are so dependent on large federal government. Ugh. I am so unimpressed with all of the complaining. People, step up to the plate...stop waiting for other people to solve problems for you. Goodness. When disaster strikes, it is the job of the local and state communities to get the process started, THEN the larger governmental agencies step in. That said, it is truly the responsibility of citizens to help their fellow countrymen...whether they be private citizens, churches or other organizations. Now is not the time to jump on the negative bandwagon and lambast those who are actually doing something...albeit not at the pace that you expect or demand. I am personally holding a working dinner in my home in Texas tonight to work out the logistics for a trip to one of the hardest hit communities in Louisiana. The elderly need help cleaning the muck out of their houses. Trees need to be moved off the streets so that the electric company can get the electric power up and running again. We have 500 families moving in just a mile or so from my home and my church has already filled up (and sorted out) a gym with donations ranging from clothing to toiletries and everything in between. Use all the negative frustrations and turn it into positive action!

1:22 PM, September 05, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

@srr and Summer: This is getting to be a crowded date, but I'm still all for it.

@Anonymous, who sounds familiar: The actions that you are coordinating sound extraordinarily generous, pragmatic, and helpful. And you're right that turning complaint into motivation and actually acting on principles is a skill that a lot of people, myself included, need to improve on. I'm glad that you live close enough to the Gulf Coast to make and coordiante the trip(s) you are describing. Through sending money to reliable caregiving organizations and offering to host displaced friends for as long as they need to stay, I'm trying to do my part from far away.

I would insist, though, that "complaining" is not an adequate term for being active and attentive about the history, role, and attitude of our national government, who even by their own account have not worked hard enough or quick enough to accomplish the most basic tasks of emergency relief, much less the most basic tasks of safeguarding against such an emergency. And it's not fair to plead the federal/state dichotomy when this pro-"small government" administration has a) wildly outspent any administration in U.S. history, both destroying and reversing the financial reserves left in 2000, b) strapped the nation desperately of money, people, and other resources while pledging all the while that it is "protecting" us, and c) slashing the monies that used to go to notoriously poor states like Louisiana and Mississippi so that they could afford to (for example) reinforce their levees and respond to copious scientific warnings about this very situation.

I'm sure people do take the federal government for granted all the time, and I think more of your can-do attitude (backed up by genuine action, in your case) would do us all a world of good. In those ways, you make yourself an example. But exemplary private citizens do not obviate the responsibility of a national government to do its part and demonstrate some integrity and leadership. It'll take a lot of working dinners and group caravans to finance multi-million dollar protection campaigns which, overnight, turned into a multi-multi-million dollar reconstruction campaign, largely due to a government that refuses to believe in global warming, any type of climate change, international cooperation, rudimentary science, conscientious spending, social welfare (I'm not even getting into private welfare), or in financially equipping states and counties to actually govern and safeguard themselves according to the ostensible ideals of the Republican party.

2:07 PM, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick: You have probably made an accurate guess as to who Anon #2 is. (Although I said nothing about Republicans!) Anyhow, you know that I respect you tremendously and enjoy popping over to your blog every now and then to see what you're up to. Congrats on the doctorate, by the way! Anyhow, since you have figured out who I am, you know my background and can understand how I might be a little frustrated, too...just from a different perspective! Do I think FEMA was a little slow to action, sure I do. However, we both know that it takes a good number of hours and a heck of a lot of coordination to get military men and women moved into place. Can't just snap one's fingers and get them there. Ugh! I have a good number of family members who have been directly affected by this disaster. Since I am pregnant and running after a two-year old, I am not able to make the trip over myself, but I am doing what I can. There is not time to express anger now...let's get the hard work done now then reflect on what was done poorly and what was done well. Hope you received my letter a year or so ago. It was fun to find it and pass it on!

2:37 PM, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Anon #2: Abbreviated response because I must must must grade papers, which BTW I have neglected all week as I've pushed aside my own work to investigate ways that I, too, may help out in Hurricane Katrina Relief efforts (Tomorrow at 6PM, for all those CU grads who got AEW's email yesterday).

No, my comments were not a joke. Last I checked, indifference was no joking matter. And genuine expression of concern was FREE, an attribute I'd expect of ALL federal, local, and state officials regardless of political party orientation.

I presumed Nick aimed his original post at a citizen who unabashedly chastised Condi Rice for a self-absorbed shopping spree while a national disaster was occuring. (Category 1 or 5, Doesn't matter.)

My fury at government officials whose initial responses seem time and again out of touch and insensitive to their constituency IS positve and produces mobilizing action.

FYI The outrage at Rice's lack of concern provoked (or shamed) her, and our other elected public servants to extract themselves from their vacations, and serve our public desires for attention. Even if this domestic crisis did not fall under Rice's job description.

Should I depend on my federal government leaders to vouch their emotional support, to pause from their daily affairs to dignify my suffering with a timely acknowledgement that my local environment has become hell on earth? Yes. Even if their sympathies are staged for the news cameras.

Yes. I depend on my leaders to evince immediate unscripted emotional concern. And here's the rub: the appropriate sensitivity I require would not cost a penny.

- srr.

P.S. An addendum for that original Personal Ad: Don't try to soothe my immediate shock at national tragedy by reading me a children's story. That 9 minute rendition of "My Pet Goat" failed to make me feel any better last time; so, spinning me another fairy tale as your first response won't do much good now either

10:28 PM, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anon #2 said...

You are right. I was rude and I am sorry. I was out of line. As for Condi's vacation...maybe she should be given credit for keeping it so short in comparison with the president's stay in Crawford?! Honestly I think it is good that she has a constructive way to destress. Goodness, I can't imagine the pressure she is under every single day. Let her take some time to buy some shoes.

I did want to address the issue of concern with our governmental officials. Honestly, we have it so good here in the States. When I was in Central Asia last year, I was horrified by the daily living conditions of many of the people there. Wait, that is not the example I want to use.

"No matter what I told you about Sudan, it would be a lie. It is far more horrible than I could ever describe. Ad if I were to tell you even a little, you would not sleep this evening." This is a quote from Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian who worked closely with persecuted people groups. I have friends here in Dallas who are some of the Lost Boys of Sudan. The Northern Sudanese went down to their homes in the South and slaughtered their parents and raped and tortured and took into slavery their sisters. My friends were young boys, no older than 15 and some were as young as three and four. They were forced to walk, as refugees, over a thousand miles and find a sort of safety in Kenya. They drank their own urine. They ate leaves that were toxic to humans. Some died due to exposure. Others were eaten alive by hyenas, lions and alligators. I am not kidding. They had no government to protect them at that time. In fact, if any of them were to go back to Sudan now, they would certainly be killed.

These men are hard workers. They have even started a foundation for other Lost Boys with the resources they have earned here in the States.

Another friend of mine is from Rwanda. She is half-Tutsi and half-Hutu. She lives down the street from me know because she had to flee her country because neither of the above-mentioned tribes would take her in...they would have killed her.

Kim Il Sung covered the North Korean countyside with statues, monuments, memorial halls, "towers of eternal life" and one statue that cost an estimated $800 million. That was by the time he was 80 years old. Then his son, Kim Jong Il, came to power and the situation for the North Korean people has gotten even worse. He spends millions and millions and millions of dollars on himself, indulging in every imaginable luxury, while the North Koreans starve to death. Starve. It is thought that about 1 million North Koreans are performing hard labor in death camps throughout the country. The man is ruthless. Some of the prisoners have referred to themselves as tailless animals.

Ugh. Do I think America's elected leaders are perfect. No way. They are as prone to making mistakes as the rest of us are. Should they be held to a higher standard? I don't know. At first thought that sounds right, but I don't want to lower my expectations for myself in order to raise them up. My point is, as frustrated as we get with our government, it isn't anywhere near as bad as it could be. Does that excuse bad decision making or poor performance? No. I just think that we need to look through a different lens. Pause for a moment and think through our actions before making a knee-jerk decision. (That is, I believe, why President Bush took a little extra time to finish the story. It wasn't because he wanted to know how it ended, but because he wanted to respond well...and it knew that he needed to plan first.) I am thankful that we have a leader who is willing to take the time to think through how his decisions and actions will affect the people of America. I am also glad that we have a Secretary of State who is willing to limit herself to spending only a few hundred dollars on herself (her money, not taxpayer) instead of millions.

Please accept my apology for being rude in my earlier post. I am sorry.

9:07 AM, September 06, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I've been thinking about this line of comments a lot in the past couple of days, and I feel compelled to throw in a couple of points:

The fact that governments are worse, and that human nature may run more vastly amok, in other parts of the world by no means and by no stretch of the imagination should allow any of us to get complacent or overly permissive about what our government and our people do (or don't do, or refuse to do) on our soil. It would be one thing if any of this had been a genuine surprise, though even then, I would want to see a less bumbled coordination of federal, state, and local officials. But all of the stars were there, and the constellations were even picked out by sagacious watchers, years ago. It's been a problem since the department of homeland security formed up that no one really knew who would be in charge in case of an actual emergency. Listening to Brown and Chertoff speak on TV is a stomach-sinking experience; I cannot imagine any way to put a positive spin on what these guys are trying to say about what they knew and didn't know, when we were all watching--even those of us without TVs, and without job descriptions that make us responsible for knowing these kinds of things--as that huge storm churned across the gulf. How this kind of blatant, utter, deadly incompetence isn't getting called down unanimously as immoral and as the diametrical opposite of compassion, when we've had such an outcry about morals and compassion for the past 11 years (and longer), is utterly beyond me. And no, failures of federal government don't get people on the ground off of any hooks, just as failures on the ground don't really excuse incompetence further up. But honestly: FEMA now has firefighters sitting in Atlanta, getting trained in first-aid; its disaster people were given 48 hours to get to New Orleans, when they were finally summoned up last Tuesday, so that they could get training and vaccinations. This kind of preparatory stuff really could have been happening sooner, had the people at FEMA and Homeland Security actually listened to the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans when they *first* started asking for help, two days before the hurricane made landfall. No, you can't make thousands of people materialize halfway across the country like magic, but you can work on streamlining the process and getting everything essential out of the way before a disaster hits.

The reason we can't let this stuff slide here is that carelessness, thoughtlessness, self-centeredness, rampant individualism, shortsightedness, overweening self-interest, and unthinking patriotism/nationalism are all, in different measures, behind most of the bad shit that's going down somewhere in the world right now--including that toxic flood water that's pumping back into Pontchartrain.

Anon #2, this isn't aimed at you in particular, since I don't know who you are, and by invoking self-interest, &c. in this previous paragraph, I don't mean by any stretch of the imagination to demean the personal efforts you and your community are making to help refugees. Of course personal efforts are crucial, and real, lasting moral changes and movements don't get imposed in a top-down way. But when the guys at the top seem not even to be able to *put on a good act* of caring about disasters, much less actually to care about them, it's all too easy for lots of individual people to get the message that hey, it doesn't matter what I do, or what I say, because we're all just really here to have a good time, or to do what pleases us--and we're all really responsible for ourselves, in the end, which means, hey! I don't have to help take care of that suffering guy over there, and thank God it didn't happen to me! The doctrine of "personal responsibility" has gotten pretty dangerous in my lifetime, and I'd argue that situations of natural disaster, worsened by systemic governmental failure, help point up how empty so much of that doctrine really is of any meaning, particularly any potentially compassionate one.

10:57 PM, September 07, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

And also? is there ever an excuse for shoes that cost multiple thousands of dollars, even when there's not a hurricane on?

11:00 PM, September 07, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

I bet everyone agrees that those of us posting to this blog enjoy privileges and exercise freedoms tha are unheard of in many other nations (and, it must be said, in many parts of our own deeply stratified nation). This doesn't mean that it hurts to be reminded, though, and Anon #2, I really do hear you and appreciate your reminders that voices of critique and dissent can sometimes overlook or underestimate our own precious foundations in freedom of speech, public forums, and a culture where higher standards of conduct and community are even imaginable, much less expressible. Of course I try not to, but of course I still wind up taking these privileges for granted all the time.

However.

However, I really have to reiterate the impassioned points made by srr and Dr. S that - as hard-fought and hard-won as our freedoms have always been in America, rarely more so than in the last five years - it is absolutely vital that those freedoms not be taken for granted in the opposite way: i.e., taking the fact that we "have" these freedoms as a polite check or a good-taste restraint against really exercising them. By no stretch is George W. Bush the spitting image of Kim Jong Il, nor does the USA equal North Korea, but I do think that it trivializes and even perpetuates the massive wrongs of our own society and of this administration to simply dismiss them as negligible in comparison to crueler, more obviously totalitarian regimes.

It would be one thing (and horrifying enough) if FEMA were simply too slow or too disorganized in its intervention into the Gulf Coast disaster. The fact that FEMA is turning away supply trucks and other resources as a way of testifying to its (false) control of the situation is despicable. The fact that FEMA lacks control because this government has eviscerated its structure and slashed its budget in order to prop up a Dept. of Homeland Security with no clear protocols or command system is worse. The fact that well-documented, heavily predicted, feasibly prevented calamities like Katrina were espoused by both FEMA and Homeland Security for years, but that our government denied them the means to act on these warnings—and then Bush lies and says no one foresaw the collapse of the levee system—and he only does that when he finally, after several days, finally arrives in the region (beginning, wouldn't you know, at Trent Lott's house)... I just don't see how any of this is remotely pardonable. Even the Republicans are having a hard time claiming that it is pardonable. And it is not coincidental... for crying out loud, the Republicans in Congress and in the Senate want to vote on another higher-income tax cut next week! Having just observed how their head-in-the-sand impoverishment of America has prevented the rescue of thousands and thousands of citizens—all of them now stranded or sick or dead—they want to figure out how to fund federal outfits even less.

Hugo Chavez starts socializing his country, distributing oil wealth more deeply into his own country, and making a concerted pitch for a more united front in Latin America—moving to recover from decades of the kind of thuggery, corruption, and murderous leadership that Anon #2 describes in her post—and now Venezuela is offering oil to its most impoverished nations free of charge, and Pat Robertson calls for his assassination, literally on TV. And then he says that he didn't say it, despite everyone's we-were-all-there video footage that he did. And then nobody in the White House even makes a public statement to denounce what Robertson said, despite Bush's ongoing chumminess with him? What is going on??

There isn't a democracy in the world that expects grassroots, local, or even state/provincial entities to be the engines behind natural-disaster recovery.

Given what's happening in the Middle East, given the escalation (rather than the diminishment) of terrorist recruitment and activity, given the increased disparity between the wealthy and the poor in the US every year, given the now-obvious fragility of anything like "homeland security," given the evaporation of our fiscal, military, and diplomatic reservoirs, and given the flippancy, tardiness, non-specificity, and flat dishonesty (WMDs? Downing St? what levee failure? what ties to the voting-machine manufacturers? Valerie Plame? what electronic device coaching Bush through his debates?) of the administration's conduct, over and over, I don't see how we can afford to extend the benefit of the doubt that when Bush & Co. delay, postpone, and retreat, they are "taking the time to think through how his decisions and actions will affect the people of America."

I am a huge believer in benefit of the doubt, in standing in another person's shoes, in accentuating the positive... but in this climate, under this administration, this kind of trust or credulity has proven time and time again to be a literally fatal mistake. It's just taken Katrina to finally get the bodies, the poverty, the institutionalized racism, etc., into the egregiously filtered media landscape.

Not that people aren't still trying: not only why did Laura Bush elect to visit the strandees in Lafayette rather than the refugees in the Superdome, but why was the Lafayette crowd forced to wait over an hour to eat hot food—much less hot by the time they got to it—so that it wouldn't all be served up before Laura arrived, and the photo-op wouldn't be lost? Everyone's account agrees that this is what happened. I haven't read one denial that this happened. What we're debating is whether this is okay...but how and why is this possibly debatable? And how can we risk playing into this regime's hand once again by agreeing not to call them on their arrogant, disconnected, and life-endangering tomfoolery in the moments when it's happening?

9:55 AM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anon #2 said...

There is no excuse. You are right. A week or so ago I listenend to a professor from LSU explain that he and his team mapped out this EXACT disaster...ONE YEAR AGO!!! Egad!

I do agree that this is not being handled well at all. Too little, too late.

You know, though, with all the disdain that is expressed toward the Republican party, I do have one question about one group's response to the disastr. Can anyone explain to me how the people who celebrated "Southern Decedance" found that to be appropriate? I read about it on 365gay.com and was kind of, well, confused. Seemed odd to me.

Oh, by the way, I am a total jeans and Birks kind of gal, so high priced shoes is not my bag, either, dr. s.

12:33 PM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anon #2 said...

My apologies for the spelling mistakes! Yes, I know that 'decadence' does not contain '-dance' in it! Oh and I meant disastEr! Sorry!

12:37 PM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

@ Anon #2: I'd like just to acknowledge first that you're being a very good sport and a very admirable person for continuing in this conversation and keeping it going, putting more into it, even among so many of us who are coming from a different political or ideological place. As much sharp disagreement as there has been in this conversation, I'm glad that no one is making this personal or signing off.

As far as the Southern Decadence event, I assume you mean the one in the French Quarter on Sunday, enacted by about two dozen people, and not the displaced version in Lafayette, LA, where hundreds of marchers and more than a thousand spectators re-enacted their own "exiled" version of the normal New Orleans event. But please correct me if I'm wrong.

As far as why... I can't really speak for the drag community or the New Orleanian gay community, since I neither belong nor have ever attended them. Without much to go on in terms of images of the parade, it's hard to know what tone was taken. I can imagine that to many eyes, any kind of drag parade or gay-pride event must look like pure frivolity, and from that standpoint, the very idea of some kind of spangly celebration in the post-Katrina French Quarter might seem insultingly trivial. I'm not sure if this is what you meant by "inappropriate" or "odd," Anon2, and I don't wish to put words in your mouth, but I'm just guessing as to how I can imagine this event being seen.

I guess I would say that in the full context of the article, with an event that has drawn up to 100,000 people year after year as one of the few times & places in the South where gays and lesbians, drag queens, transgenders, and others feel safe and celebratory in a very public way, this must be part of what New Orleans meant to them (i.e., what they fear they may have lost, and are trying not to lose), and when I think about what it means for 24 paraders (a handful of people, in any event) who are sticking it out through famine, lack of electricity, risks of disease, etc., I realize how much this annual event must mean to them to be that unwilling to let it go. I'm sure they see it as a continuation of a communal tradition, and not as gratuitously dancing and singing while the city rots, though I wouldn't be surprised if many people saw it that way. Makes me think it's another reason why there needs to be more language and dialogue about what the experience of being a sexual minority is like, how these groups have different histories & traditions depending on when & where they live, etc.

If the news is correct that New Orleans won't be legally habitable for over one or even two years, I wonder what will happen during Mardi Gras season in the upcoming springs... will people attempt to celebrate it elsewhere, either by infiltrating the city or not?

I guess I'd say, too, that as a gay person, watching Gov. Schwarzenegger veto the California legislature's passed bill allowing for gay marriage, listening as people like that Mike Marcavage quoted in the article blame the disaster in some spiritual way on gay and lesbian people (and not in some practical, provable way on all the watchdogs, "experts," and politicians at every level who could actually have prevented the disaster), I am reminded of how exceedingly difficult it is to be gay or transgendered or minoritarian in any way in this country without the harshest upbraiding.

Am I certain that I would have been comfortable with the style or manner or timing of the celebration? I can't say, especially not having seen it. It's not usually my kind of thing, but I can relate to the basic foundation of feeling socially marginalized and trivialized all the time by a majority culture that sure gets upset when it feels like it's being trivialized.

This might be an interesting way to consider these issues: Anne Rice (thanks, Damion) wrote an impressively articulate and palpably angry editorial in the New York Times. As a longtime New Orleanian, she is not only angry at what she feels was the abandonment of her city in its greatest time of need, but at the way in which she feels that New Orleans' customs are constantly misunderstood and denigrated by those of us who have never been to the city, or who only go as tourists, getting high off of how "weird" it all is and how easy it is to get drunk, etc. Rice frames her argument mostly with regard to the city's incredibly rich storehouse of African-American cultural legacies, much of which has doubtless perished in the flood. She explains why that history was important, and why New Orleans meant so much to the black people who lived there; I think it's not too hard to imagine a similar argument on behalf of the unique gay/transgender/drag culture there (terms, by the way, which do not mean anything like the same thing, but which I'm lumping together for convenience).

I think what's most deeply lost in moments like this is not just the survival of the traditions and the evidence of those traditions, but the opportunities they might have afforded to make different cultures and communities more legible to each other, so that we wouldn't always misunderstand each other all the time. I bet the Southern Decadence event really rubbed you the wrong way, Anon2, and I hope you'll feel free to say that and explain why if you want to... but the fact that you're at least phrasing a question and asking for input or second opinions is, I think, a very exciting and hopeful thing in and of itself.

Maybe in return, I'll ask my own question--and, in the same way as you did, not because I think you are these people, but because you might have more insight than I do into how they think and what they mean. What am I to think when a group like Repent America blames an event like Katrina on the sin of homosexuality? Discomfort with or disapproval of homosexuality is something I can at least understand, even though it makes me incredibly sad whenever I hear about it or encounter it, and even though I think it's deeply wrong. But I can understand it, whereas I cannot understand using a major and grievous natural disaster as a platform for mounting a hate campaign - especially when that rhetoric obscures so many of the direct reasons and exonerates so many of the direct contributors to the disaster?

4:31 PM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Oh, and Anon #2, I make spelling mistakes all the time on this blog, and it's my own blog, and I'm a literature professor, so you'd think I'd know better. No apologies necessary.

4:32 PM, September 08, 2005  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Nick, the part of your post about continuing a communal tradition actually makes me think about a photo I saw of a Catholic mass being held where a church once was, in Mississippi, I think, even though the church itself was in rubble and people had to bring their own chairs. In times of crisis, people turn to their communities--some of which are religious, some political, some kinship-based, some rooted in a shared self-identification. I can't find the pertinent article on 365gay.com, so I'm not sure exactly what happened this year. I am, however, more willing to cut slack to people who are on the ground suffering through the loss of so much of New Orleans than to those who are paid money to do everything they can to ensure the safety and well-being of this nation and its people. And I don't think that I mean that in a partisan way, even though it may sound as though I do. But when a party has so much control over the federal government, and something goes wrong at the federal level, then that's where the criticism is going to go. I really want to believe that if the democrats were screwing this up, I'd be railing against them, as well, and as it is, I'd like to be hearing more fighting words coming from the top, regarding what should happen next to people who were ostensibly in charge of coordinating disaster relief.

5:03 PM, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anon #2 said...

Just at this moment there is only one instance where I can remember God using a natural disaster to wipe out sin...and He had Noah prepare adequately for it.

Do I agree with those people who said that God was wiping out NOLA with this flood as punishment? No way. God is a God of judgement, yes. And of mercy.

Is NOLA considered, even by me, to be spiritually 'dark'? Yes. It is palpable there. When my Dad was stationed in that area for a couple of years, I spent a good deal of time in the center of town...not in debauchery...just taking in the sights and sounds. Oh, and the smells...not all of them appealling! I have to confess that there is a real sense of seperation from God there...not on His part, either. It's as if people feel they have no need for Him.

You know, I appreciate your comprehension of how it feels to be misunderstood. As you already know, I seem to be miles apart from the other people on this site politically and otherwise! As a follower of Christ, I feel mocked and made fun of and belittled every day. It justs manifests itself differently than the criticism that those practicing homosexuality (and the like) do.

Here's the quickest picture I can paint for you that may help to show my stance on things. I have volunteered and/or worked in a crisis pregnancy center for three years or so now. Am I pro-life? Absolutely, but let me tell you what that means. I am pro-LIFE...for the mom, for the dad, for the baby, for the siblings...LIFE! It's not about telling 14 year old girls that they have to keep their babies and then kicking them out the door. No way! It's about treating them as Jesus Christ would. Loving them. Crying with them during a tough time. Helping to meet their material needs...maternity clothes, diapers, housing referrals, gas for their cars...the list goes on. We even have a 3-D sonogram machine that we use so the girls and women can see their babies as they develop. The heart begins to beat at 21 days, but we usually wait until about seven weeks or so in order that the clients may see a better image of their child. We also share hope with them when life seems to be spiriling in on them. Everything we do is free. One of the most important things we give them, as I am sure you can appreciate, is factual information regarding fetal development, STDs, RU-486 and the other different types of abortion procedures.

Abortions are sold, not given. It is a lucrative business. It makes me sick to my stomach to know what happens to the women (and their partners) who purchase abortions during the process. Women are not allowed to look at the sonograms...can you imagine if she actually saw her child 10 weeks post-conception--with all his or her body parts intact, just needing to grow? Surgical abortions have been performed on women who are not even pregnant. Egad! Post abortion syndrome is REAL. Oh, it hurts my heart so to see the effects of abortion on everyone touched by it's nasty talons.

You'll notice, though, that I talked about loving the people who made decisions different from those that I would make for myself or that I would even want them to make for themselves. I am sickened by abortion, not by the people who choose to purchase them. It is hard for me to hear the words "God will forgive me for having an abortion." Not because I don't believe it. No, God has made clear that "if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That is why Jesus Christ died on the cross...He literally took on all our sin (don't think Mel quite captured that in the Passion!) and died for it. Just like He said, "It is finished." That said, consequence for sin is still real and does happen. It affects us all.

I don't know anything about the group Repent America. Like their name, because it is the truth...I need to be on my knees each and every day, too. Hate campaigns are ridiculous. They are typically directed at people...if a person disagrees with an issue, then focus on the issue, not the people. God's going to hold ALL of us accountable for our actions when the time comes.

Oh...about judgement. Yes, I do believe that it is acceptable to judge an individual's actions...as long as it is done so in accordance with the Bible. And what does It say? Basically, before you deal with the small speck of sand in another person's eye (sin in their life) make sure that you have dealt with the log in your own (sin in your life).

Let me leave you with one other story. I teach at a homeschool co-op here in the Dallas area. During a conversation I was having with a parent, I wanted to relate my philosophy on politics with her by explaining a learning experience I had at a dinner party in my home not too long before then.

My married friends Andi and Rick (names changed!) mentioned that they had voted differently than I did in the November elections. Truly, I had to ask three times if they were kidding because I honestly thought they were. (Sometimes people like to try and raise my ire!) I wasn't upset with them, nor did I make disparaging remarks. I was honestly confused. We attend the same church (even went to a Messianic Jewish temple once...it was awesome!) and have very similar theology. I didn't understand how we could have made such different decisions when it came to electing our officials. (No jokes about their votes not counting because they were cast in Texas!) So...

Since I was confused, I ASKED them to tell me more about their decision making process. I was truly interested. Andi talked about the need for better health care and taking care of the poor. It was good to hear what they had to say. During our discussion, I shared that I felt it was not the responsibility of government, but of the people...especially the church (not just our local body, but believers in general). We never fully agreed, but that was okay. Nothing to kill a friendship over!

So I related this incident to the mom and the first words out of her mouth were "Anyone who votes for a national democrat is a murderer."
(Pause for effect.)

I was stunned. My jaw dropped and my temperature rose. I could not believe she had just said that.

"Mam, you can't say that. It's not true."

"Yes it is."

Never did I think anyone would actually say those words. I was aghast!

That response...one of hardheartedness...really makes me question whether or not that person is a true follower of Christ. Yes, God is a God of judgement, but He is also a God of mercy. (As I mentioned earlier.)

There is an old song whose chorus goes "...and they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love."

I am registered as a Republican so that I can vote in the primaries and because my views and their platform intersect a few more times than with any other party. That doesn't mean that I serve them or agree with them all the time. I do not worship man. However, it is my responsibility to be an active citizen and I try to do that as best as is possible...not just for me, but for all of us.

Sorry for the rambling...my son is not feeling well and my morning sickness is in full swing with baby #2.

Nick...thanks for taking it easy on me. I know that you don't have to!

Did you ever find Quiche Lorraine?!

3:47 PM, September 09, 2005  

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