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New Orleans Shotgun
November 30th, 2005 under Katrina, New Orleans, Photos. [ Comments: 4 ]

Shotgun House
This is my first attempt at art that is an attempt to honor New Orleans. Please let me know what you think. I’ve never done anything like this before. Suggestions are welcome.

Adrian Rogers Update
November 28th, 2005 under Baptists, Politics, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 1 ]

RogersI wanted to update you about my previous post on ABPs coverage of Dr. Adrian Rogers’ death. I have received two emails from Robert Marus, the article’s auther. His emails were very polite. The second one was a personal Thanksgiving greeting. In the first one, he explained that there had been discussion as to whether the Sherman quote was appropriate. He admitted that there had been negative reaction to the quote. He included it because of the relationship between Sherman and Rogers and fact that as a news source, ABP provides various perspectives on stories that are relevant to Baptists. Certainly, Rogers’ legacy and role in the “takeover” is important to Baptist history and presenting a one-sided view would not make for good reporting (insert Fox news joke here).

Marus cited stories of Ronald Reagan at the time of his death that provided both positive and negative assessments of Reagan’s presidency. I appreciate Marus taking the time to send a detailed email explaining his position. I don’t disagree that a perspective on Rogers’ legacy from moderate Baptists was warranted. However, Sherman’s quote was pretty tacky.

Mom, Watch Me on the Telly Tonight!
November 28th, 2005 under Baptists, Humor, Politics. [ Comments: 3 ]

Mom, Watch Me on the Telly Tonight. I’ll be sitting next to the Queen!


Alabama Bird Dawgs

I don’t know why Southern Baptists boycotted Disney

November 25th, 2005 under Friends, Holidaze, Howie Jr, Katrina, New Orleans, Shirley Jr, Walking Like Jesus, Xavier. [ Comments: 3 ]

PickleThanks to Joe Kennedy for reminding me I’ve been too negative lately. Returning to New Orleans for the week has done that to me. It’s true that in many cases New Orleanians love to b*tch and are often not thankful when they should be. So here goes—

I’d like to thank the nice ladies in Clarkesville Tn at the Red Cross center for providing me with a listening ear, a possible place to stay in Nashville, and a white credit card! Y’all were so wonderful. I’d like to thank the folks in Houston Co. TN for being so nice to my family. Both my kids (the oldest was at the University of Florida) were welcomed with open arms to their schools. Howie Jr got to play on the football team. #71 rules! Shirley Jr was invited to a sleep-over and my family there was great! The ladies at the library were also very helpful to me as I tried to continue my research. There was even a man at church that slipped Howie Jr a $20 bill. Everyone wanted to help so bad!

I’d like to thank the Baptists folks from Missouri that are STILL feeding folks every day at the church down the street! Thanks for the National Guard guys and gals that stayed in the school across the street from me. Thanks for protecting the neighborhood from looters. Thanks for cleaning up my yard and the school yard. Sorry that the soldier in your company spent 14 months in Iraq only to come to New Orleans and lose his leg. (Got infected while rescuing folks.) Sorry y’all couldn’t drink the beer I offered you! BTW thanks to the guys from Germany that camped out a block away from my house so that the pumping station would continue to run! (They didn’t turn down the beer! Sorry guys, Bud was all I could find!)

Thanks for the MREs, the water, and the ice. Thanks for the free meals, free beer, free prayers. Thanks to all those in Nashville who have made me feel loved and cared for. Thanks to all my friends who have called, emailed, and offered me everything from jobs to places to stay.

I’m thankful for my brother and his wife, My wife and kids, and my former colleagues at Xavier. I’m most of all thankful to my God for providing for me and demonstrating to me that I am loved.

Joe Horn and Saints Feel Abandoned by Tagliabue
November 25th, 2005 under Friends, Holidaze, Katrina, New Orleans, Sports, Xavier. [ Comments: none ]

I was saddened this Thanksgiving Day to read about the terrible plight of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn. In todays’ edition of the Times-Picayune, Horn recounts his hurt feelings of abandonment from NFL commisioner Paul Tagliabue. Several players joined Horn as he lashed out because the Saints players have not had a meeting with Tagliabue.

“Guys are pissed off that Mr. Tagliabue hasn’t said, ‘I’m going to New Orleans, and I’m going to hear their frustrations, and I’m going to hear their pain, so at least when I leave and get back on that plane and go back to New York, they will say I was man enough to come there and confront them.’ That’s what the players want.”

Saints tight end Ernie Conwell called Tagliabue an “absentee father” and said many feel the league has “abandoned” them.

The story is especially upsetting because it was printed on Thanksgiving. The fact that one of my best friends is living in a FEMA trailer in his driveway while another of my friends is 1000 miles away pales in comparison to the Saints’ ordeal. The fact that my income will cease this May and that I’ve been forced to live in Nashville, away from my family, for months seems so trivial now. The dozens of my co-workers at Xavier who’ve lost their jobs and their homes will eventually be able to support themselves and be able to have shelter again. But, Horn and his buddies may never recover from the humiliation of being let down by the NFL (in spite of continuing to receive their million dollar salaries).

So pray for the Saints. It’s got to be really hard for them. I may ask the person who donated her bike to me if I can send it to Joe Horn’s kids for Christmas. I know it will be appreciated. Thanks Joe for helping me get my priorities straight!

A Hurricane Ruined Our Christmas
November 24th, 2005 under Friends, Holidaze, Katrina, Politics. [ Comments: none ]

Homan CardBelow is a poem written by my friend Michael Homan. It is printed on the inside of his Christmas card.

A Hurricane Ruined Our Christmas
by Michael M. Homan

Dearest Santa soon
you’ll be riding in your sleigh,
but when you come to blue-tarped-roofs
you’d ought to stay away.

Fair New Orleans is not safe
and we’re afraid you must restrain,
for there’s asbestos dust and toxic mold
where sounds of jazz once reigned.

Our roof it leaks, our house is racked
our chimney has decayed,
and wafting smells of putrid fridges
scare even birds away.

Breathing masks won’t fit you Santa
for your beard is much too full,
so you’d better use the mail
for filling stockings up with coal.

A “heck of job” did Brownie
a fashion god while thousands weeped,
and some corrupt engineers
claimed pylons were plenty deep.

And don’t look to busses for salvation
if your reindeer wind up shot,
and then some Cajun in the bayou
puts the carcass in a gumbo pot.

The boys and girls of the Gulf Coast
are scattered throughout the land,
and FEMA checks don’t buy good gifts
so you need to change your plan.

Because a hurricane ruined our Christmas
and we’ll miss you Santa Clause,
and though the Big Easy’s hard for now
please come back for the Mardi Gras.

Note to U.S. Government from New Orleans
November 22nd, 2005 under Katrina, New Orleans, Politics. [ Comments: 1 ]

This is an editorial from the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. It pretty much explains why New Orleans needs to be rebuilt.

An Editorial: It’s time for a nation to return the favor
Sunday, November 20, 2005

The federal government wrapped levees around greater New Orleans so that the rest of the country could share in our bounty.

Americans wanted the oil and gas that flow freely off our shores. They longed for the oysters and shrimp and flaky Gulf fish that live in abundance in our waters. They wanted to ship corn and soybeans and beets down the Mississippi and through our ports. They wanted coffee and steel to flow north through the mouth of the river and into the heartland.

They wanted more than that, though. They wanted to share in our spirit. They wanted to sample the joyous beauty of our jazz and our food. And we were happy to oblige them.

So the federal government built levees and convinced us that we were safe.

We weren’t.

The levees, we were told, could stand up to a Category 3 hurricane.

They couldn’t.

By the time Katrina surged into New Orleans, it had weakened to Category 3. Yet our levee system wasn’t as strong as the Army Corps of Engineers said it was. Barely anchored in mushy soil, the floodwalls gave way.

Our homes and businesses were swamped. Hundreds of our neighbors died.

Now, this metro area is drying off and digging out. Life is going forward. Our heart is beating.

But we need the federal government — we need our Congress — to fulfill the promises made to us in the past. We need to be safe. We need to be able to go about our business feeding and fueling the rest of the nation. We need better protection next hurricane season than we had this year. Going forward, we need protection from the fiercest storms, the Category 5 storms that are out there waiting to strike.

Some voices in Washington are arguing against us. We were foolish, they say. We settled in a place that is lower than the sea. We should have expected to drown.

As if choosing to live in one of the nation’s great cities amounted to a death wish. As if living in San Francisco or Miami or Boston is any more logical.

Great cities are made by their place and their people, their beauty and their risk. Water flows around and through most of them. And one of the greatest bodies of water in the land flows through this one: the Mississippi.

The federal government decided long ago to try to tame the river and the swampy land spreading out from it. The country needed this waterlogged land of ours to prosper, so that the nation could prosper even more.

Some people in Washington don’t seem to remember that. They act as if we are a burden. They act as if we wore our skirts too short and invited trouble.

We can’t put up with that. We have to stand up for ourselves. Whether you are back at home or still in exile waiting to return, let Congress know that this metro area must be made safe from future storms. Call and write the leaders who are deciding our fate. Get your family and friends in other states to do the same. Start with members of the Environment and Public Works and Appropriations committees in the Senate, and Transportation and Appropriations in the House. Flood them with mail the way we were flooded by Katrina.

Remind them that this is a singular American city and that this nation still needs what we can give it.

Christians Sue Public School for Encouraging Kids to Pretend to Be Muslims
November 19th, 2005 under Christianity, Church and State, Politics. [ Comments: 3 ]

Stories like the one below are really problematic for me. Christian parents sued a school district because a teacher encouraged students to pretend to be Muslims for three weeks. I’ve written on this issue several times, but this case provides a real example of why my Baptist brothers and sisters need to make a stand for the separation of church and state. Debates about whether or not we are a “Christian nation” are really irrelevant to this discussion. The fact is that in theory, we live in a democracy. I’m not getting real technical here for a reason. Anyway, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. In fact, nearly 80 percent of the more than 1,200 mosques in the U.S. have been built in the past 12 years. What happens if there become certain areas in this country where the dominant religion is Islam? Can Muslims in that area impose their religion on the “minority” religions?

I think the answer to this problem is to listen to the teaching of Jesus (go figure). Remember Matthew 7:12? “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Seems so easy for me. I know that some Christians would be outraged at the story below. Their children should not be forced to act out another religion! Why is it OK for Christians to do that to others?

SAN FRANCISCO – Christian students and parents cannot sue a school district where some seventh-graders pretended to be Muslims for three weeks during a course in world history, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the role-playing game was not a religious exercise that violated anybody’s constitutional rights.

The decision was issued one day after the U.S. House of Representatives chastised the 9th Circuit for ruling earlier this month that parents can’t sue public schools for providing information about sex. That decision “deplorably infringed on parental rights,” said the House resolution.
Thursday’s decision came down in an unpublished memorandum, indicating the judges considered it routine.

They reviewed the method used by one teacher in Byron, Contra Costa County, four years ago to teach the unit on Muslim history, culture and religion that is part of the state’s seventh-grade history curriculum.

Brooke Carlin encouraged her students to play at being Muslims – adopt Muslim names, recite a line from a prayer and give up candy or television to simulate fasting, for example. Students were permitted to opt out. On the final exam they were asked to critique elements of Muslim culture.

Jonas and Tiffany Eklund sued, along with their children. San Francisco U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton dismissed the suit two years ago, saying Carlin was merely teaching and not indoctrinating. Hamilton found that the students did not engage in actual religious exercises.

The 9th Circuit upheld her decision in a five-sentence ruling, saying only that the activities weren’t “overt religious exercises” that would raise concerns under the First Amendment prohibition of “establishment of religion.”

Senior Circuit Judge Dorothy Nelson of Pasadena and Circuit Judges Johnnie Rawlinson of Las Vegas and Carlos Bea of San Francisco signed the decision.

The unpublished memo format indicates the appellate judges did not believe they were breaking legal ground. Unpublished decisions cannot be cited in future cases.

But Edward White, who represents the Eklunds on behalf of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., called the ruling “an opinion without any precedent.”

He said the judges overlooked arguments he made about parental rights and freedom to exercise the religion one chooses.

Thanks to Stop the ACLU for this story!

Sell My Clothes I’m Goin’ to Heaven
November 17th, 2005 under Baptists, Food, New Orleans. [ Comments: 3 ]

Turducken!Just a couple of more days left till I head home to Shirley, the kids, and Chloe! I can’t wait to eat a plate full of Turducken from the Gourmet Butcher Block! For those of you don’t know what a turducken is: It is a boneless turkey stuffed with a boneless duck, that’s stuffed with a boneless chicken. Each layer has a different kind of dressing! It’s incredible! Hot Damn! I’ve been very blessed in Nashville in several ways. One of them is that my friends at the Crescent Cafe and Oyster Bar have taken good care of me. TC is a super nice guy and Sarah is also very sweet. Scott is one hell of a cook! He’s from Louisiana and his gumbo is great! I eat a shrimp poboy almost every time I go in there (which is a lot!).

Shirley emailed this article to me. Louisiana Baptists elected Bill Robertson, from Temple Baptist Church in Winnsboro. He defeated the candidate supported by the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship, a fundamentalist group that has been very powerful among Louisiana Baptists. Not only that, “the messengers rejected the convention leadership’s plan to dissolve the independent trustee board that supervises Baptists’ statewide newspaper, The Baptist Message.” Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Before I was able to read Shirley’s email about Louisiana Baptists, I received a call from the front desk at Scarritt-Bennett where I’m currently staying in Nashville. Debbie told me that I have to move to Gibson Hall. I can’t wait because it has high speed internet and a TV in the room! YES!

Life is good!

Response to Katrina Disaster Mirrors U.S. Problems Ecology and Poverty
November 17th, 2005 under Politics. [ Comments: none ]

Joey DMRGO, or Mr. Go to cool people like me, is an industrial canal built in 1963 as a short-cut between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. It has been responsible for the destruction of thousands of acres of wetlands since it was constructed. But, that’s not really important is it? The important issue is that experts agree that Mr. Go was a contributing factor in the flooding of St. Bernard parish during Katrina.

Two options are being debated. One would be to install a floodgate on Mr. Go to keep the floodwaters out. St. Bernard Parish President Henry “Junior” Rodriguez supports this approach. St. Bernard Parish Council President Joey Difatta (Yes, St. Bernard parish meetings sound a lot like the Sopranos!) wants to close off the canal. Junior doesn’t want to hurt the businesses in east New Orleans that would be impacted by the closing of the canal. (Yeah, right!) Junior’s plan is to build larger locks on another waterway so that the east New Orleans businesses wouldn’t suffer and (Hmm, I think I see the real reason coming!) an industrial district will be built on the canal in….(you guessed it!) St. Bernard Parish. What happens if the floodgate doesn’t hold?Junior

Anyway. This argument reflects the argument used by conservatives all the time that protecting business interests is of vital importance. It’s an argument that makes sense, kind of, but is it truly valid? My friend Toddie writes about this approach in her book In Search of the Good Life: The Ethics of Globalization. According to Toddie, this approach has three underlying values—individualism, prosperity, and freedom (more on this later). You really should get this book. My undergrad degree is in economics and Toddie does an exceptional job describing the American economic mindset. The picture that we as Americans have of “the good life” is impacted by this economic mindset of unrestrained capitalism. Often, we believe that persons should be (or are) autonomous and independent and by seeking the good of myself, I will also advance the good of all. I’m really not explaining it to well here, but here’s how it relates to the above debate about Mr. Go. Since Ronald Reagan’s promotion of the “trickle-down” theory of economics, many have believed that restricting businesses will hurt all people. Giving money to the rich is more beneficial than spending government dollars on the poor because rich folks will invest in the economy and make things better for the poor (after all, they just spend money on food). Thus, if you hurt business, all will suffer. In fact, the Bush administration and Congress are planning to cut as much as $50 billion in government relief funding to ensure $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans continue.

The only problem with this assumption that putting business first helps all people is that it isn’t true. “In 2004, the average CEO of a major company received $9.84 million in total compensation, according to a study by compensation consultant Pearl Meyer & Partners for The New York Times. This represents a 12 percent increase in CEO pay over 2003. In contrast, the average nonsupervisory worker’s pay increased just 2.2 percent to $27,485 in 2004. (source)”

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, during the recent economic recovery, corporate profits rose 47% while wages and salaries only rose 15%. This is especially troubling due to the fact that the average increase in corporate profits under other post-WW II recover periods was 21% while wages and salaries rose a whopping 49%!

Secondly, wouldn’t taking away a contributing factor in the flooding of St. Bernard during Katrina make good business sense too? Forget about the cost of human lives for a moment. Oh, yes. You weren’t thinking about that anyway! Wouldn’t another destruction of St. Bernard parish be bad for business too? SHEEEESH!

If the knuckleheads in St. Bernard don’t get this, how will the knuckleheads in Washington get it?

Not wanting to hinder business and hurt the economy is one heck of an excuse for not doing the right things to help our environment and the poor but it just doesn’t wash!

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