Saturday, September 10, 2005

More Amazing Comments On New Orleans

Just when you thought no one could say anything dumber, more racist, or just plain scarier than what has already been reported, along comes Jimmy Reiss, who according to Wonkette, is the head of the New Orleans Business Council, as reported in the Wall Street Journal Online (subscription only folks), "The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. 'Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically,' he says. 'I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out" (emphasis mine).

It isn't hard to get the subtext of Mr. Reiss' comments. Poor blacks will not be welcomed back to New Orleans, and if they are, people like Mr. Reiss will leave...which will no doubt raise the I.Q. level of the city substantially. Seriously, how do you ensure a new demographic in a rebuilt city? Will Mr. Reiss and others lobby for legislation outlawing poor black people from returning to New Orleans? Will there be litmus tests for re-entry? The naked racism and class hatred exhibited by such civic leaders is alarming.

Then there's the fun folks over at Repent America, who place the blame for Katrina on homosexuals. Specifically on the 125,000 men and women who were set to attend a gay celebration called "Southern Decadence" on August 31. Repent America director Michael Marcavage said, "Although the loss of life is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city." This is the language of the "smiting God" of fundamentalism. A few years back, Pat Robertson took credit for praying a hurricane away from godly Virginia Beach, directing it instead to sinful Fire Island, where it damaged Calvin Klein's home. Once I heard Reformed theologian John Gerstner say that God was so angry at Jonathan Edwards for leaving the ministry to assume the presidency of Princeton University, that he smote him (his words!) with smallpox, which took his life. That showed him!

Is this the kind of God we want to teach our children to worship? I've grown increasingly uncomfortable with attributing catastrophe of any kind, large or small, to God's wrathful vengeance. I'm not saying God cannot exercise judgment, but where do you draw the line? What is the criteria for such smiting? Why didn't God smite Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etal? Why doesn't God smite Disney World for permitting "gay days" at its theme parks? Was God smiting me when I was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago? I think we need to be careful with this kind of language, and the theology which lies behind it. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8).

Let us pray that wiser and more compassionate heads prevail in the reconstruction of the gulf region, and in the religious discourse of our society. I know I certainly have much to repent of in this matter, and pray that God forgives the ugly rhetoric of my past.


Blogger Julio said...


Just when you think you've heard it all, along comes the latest member of the Ignorant Tight-ass Club! Thanks for passing this along.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Julio said...

PS: And aww, come on: if the venerable Dr Gerstner, of thrice-blessed memory, was upset with his main man Jonathan Edwards of the Rational Biblical Theology for becoming the president of Princeton at the expense of his ministry, surely the Almighty was as well! ;-)

4:47 PM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Your Vulcan logic is impeccable Julio... ;)

7:42 PM  
Blogger homo unius libri said...

I believe the "aristocrat" Reiss is a Democrat...apparently classism has no political party.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Idiots abound in all parties...

2:35 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Don't let kooks drive us away from asserting God's sovereignty over all things. See Amos 3:6.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Gina Burgess said...

I've grown increasingly uncomfortable with attributing catastrophe of any kind, large or small, to God's wrathful vengeance.

I couldn't agree with you more! I think it is the "blame game". No one is comfortable when it looks like God has left the building and it's on fire. We want Someone in control and it has to be God, but the problem is, we cannot fathom how His purposes work!

I am struck with the thought that there are thousands of people that are being ministered to right now that would never have been if this disaster had not happened. Besides, this is just temporary housing here on earth. Houses, furniture, clothes are just things that invite moths and rust.

7:50 PM  

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