Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I Wish I Was in New Orleans

I can see it in my dreams.

Members of Congress, soon returning home for the holidays, will get a stark message on Tuesday that tens of thousands of this city's people are still unable to do so.

A full-page advertisement - set to appear in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, paid for by former residents of the ravaged middle-class Lakeview section and billed as a "Message From Homeless New Orleanians" - pleads with Congress to pay for stronger levees.

It also reminds the lawmakers that things are far from normal in a city where block after block remains ghostly and dark.

"Since the breakdown of the New Orleans flood protection system on August 29, 2005, we have lived like refugees in our own country," the advertisement says. "The residents of Lakeview and countless other displaced New Orleans communities are sending you this holiday wish in one voice - 'We want to go home.' "

The advertisement was born of desperation, said Nancy McSwain, who helped put it together. Ms. McSwain, whose Lakeview home took in over eight feet of water and has been looted three times since, is now living in a one-room apartment in Jackson, Miss.

"Our lives are on hold right now," she said. "I feel so cut off from everything familiar."
The "sense of place" in the South is stronger than almost anywhere else in the country. In part this is,I think, due to the Celtic influence (the Scots-Irish who settled mostly in the South in the 18th and 19th centuries). "Holy ground" is not a concept unique to the Celts, but it is peculiarly strong in their culture, and it is from them that we get the phrase as it is commonly used today.

New Orleans may not be on the "radar screen" of the White House; but then, they missed Katrina's impact the first time, too.

Bush's bubble is worse than he can begin to imagine.

What makes it worse: solutions are available.

One more reminder that giants used to walk the earth; and that we merely stand upon their shoulders.

And that Christology begins in the material world.

"The glory of God is a living person and the life of each living person is the vision of God."--Iranaeus of Lyons, 2nd century.

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