The Issachar Report<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
1 Chronicles 12:32
Dennis A. Wright, DMin
Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink!
Water, water, every where,And all the boards did shrink;Water, water, every where,Nor any drop to drink
The stanzas from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) literally describe the chaos that is New Orleans following the onslaught of massive Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent breach of several of the levees that surround the city. The utter destruction of The Big Easy is almost beyond comprehension and the helplessness of her citizens touches the hearts of all Americans. Most who once lived within Orleans parish have lost absolutely everything, for even the homes left standing will almost certainly have to be bulldozed because the toxic waste in the floodwaters will make them permanently uninhabitable.
Why would anyone want to live in a city that is seven feet below sea level? Critics began to ask that question almost instantaneously. But that is a good question, so let me weigh in with my answer, for I am one who once lived in New Orleans --- and loved it!
My sojourn began in August 1971 when I arrived to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I loved the seminary --- and still do, even though I completed my Masters and Doctoral degrees at other seminaries --- and I loved the city. Sure, the crime rate is ten times the national average and there are dangers lurking everywhere, but there is much beauty and culture in the city. I spent every Monday evening on Bourbon Street along with several other seminarians as that was our field ministry assignment. Yes, debauchery was everywhere, but what better place to attempt to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?
But one block away is Royal Street, where one can find exquisite antique shops and fabulous restaurants. Most seminarians had not the funds to dine at Brennan's (one of the few five-star French restaurants around), but an occasional Breakfast at Brennan's was a possibility. Nearby is Antoine's on Rue Saint Louis as well as some of the most fabulous oyster bars anywhere in America. One has not lived until one dines upon an oyster loaf sandwich (a dozen fried oysters arranged upon a bed of lettuce and tartar sauce served on French bread)!
Many were the times we would end our Mondays at Café Du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets. We would go to the Farmer's Market and buy oranges fresh off the ships from Florida for $3 a case, or go to the fish market and get just-caught shrimp for just pennies per pound. Sigh!
But what about New Orleans today? My beloved seminary has sustained heavy damage and severe flooding. The faculty and students are scattered and will have to complete the fall term at the extension campuses or via the Internet. The professors who lived near the campus do not even know if their homes are still standing. I have a dear friend who is a professor of philosophy and theology at the seminary and, while I know that he and his family are alive and well, I have no idea where he is or what the future holds for them.
The city itself faces a long and difficult route to recovery. Many questions need to be asked --- and answered --- concerning the levee system and the possibility of hauling in enough dirt to raise the land above sea level. Should people continue to live in an area that is below sea level? I would like to remind you that much of The Netherlands is below sea level as well. Remember the dikes? So, could New Orleans do it? Yes, but the levees as they currently exist are obviously inadequate.
In the meantime, the good people of America are opening their hearts and pocketbooks in an attempt to give aid and comfort to the displaced. Texas alone is already hosting almost a quarter of a million and will take more. Many other states have stepped up to the plate as well. This is a time to work and pray and give --- it is not a time to play the Blame Game!
Dennis A. Wright, DMin, is Founder and President of Understanding The Times Ministries. An accomplished writer and educator, Wright has spoken in churches and conferences all over America on spiritual counterfeits and Christian Worldview topics. He can be emailed at Dennis@UnderstandingTheTimes.org and his new website can be found at www.UnderstandingTheTimes.org.
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