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High School Life in New Orleans
November 2nd, 2006 under New Orleans, poor. [ Comments: none ]

An article in the New York Times today describes life at John McDonough High School in New Orleans. I drive by the school every morning because I work two blocks from there. There’s always a police car with its lights on somewhere around the building.

Here’s a description of the school:

John McDonogh High School has at least 25 security guards, at the entrance, up the stairs and outside classes. The school has a metal detector, four police officers and four police cruisers on the sidewalk.

In the last six weeks, students at McDonogh, the largest functioning high school here, have assaulted guards, a teacher and a police officer. A guard and a teacher were beaten so badly that they were hospitalized.

The surge hints at a far-reaching phenomenon after Hurricane Katrina, educators here say. Teenagers in the city are living alone or with older siblings or relatives, separated by hundreds of miles from their displaced parents. Dozens of McDonogh students fend largely for themselves, school officials say.

“They are here on their own,” Wanda Daliet, a science teacher, said. “They are raising themselves. And they are angry.”

The principal, Donald Jackson, estimated that up to a fifth of the 775 students live without parents.

My Prayer
October 24th, 2006 under Christianity, Katrina, New Orleans, Politics, poor, Rant, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 4 ]

Loving God,
I’ve prayed this prayer many times:

Eph 3:14-21
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen me with power through his Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Well, It’s not working. I’m so full of anger. I’m mad about how many of the folks I see at KAT are suffering and ignored. How can we say we are a “Christian nation” and treat our elderly and poor children so badly? I’m mad at all the trouble my friends are going through because of ALLSTATE, contractors, and employers. I’m mad about my job situation. I’m mad about my gutters! I get mad every morning when I drive by John McDonogh High School. I’m angry at the violence in my city. I’m angry at folks who re-elected Nagin. Don’t get me started about the federal situation!

I’m angry most of all that I can’t seem to acquire the “peace that passes all understanding.” I want to regain the joy and innocence that I had when I first came to New Orleans and started seminary. My spiritual situation is not due to the slippery slope of liberalism! If anything, it’s due to the hypocritical judgmentalism of fundamentalism.

I pray that I’ll become thankful again. Hopeful again. I pray that I can start to care about others rather than focusing on the negative. I pray that I can once again find meaning and joy in my work.

I’m tired of the struggle. Help me to trust again.

Kanye West Was Right about Bush
October 9th, 2006 under Hypocrisy, Katrina, New Orleans, Politics, poor, Rant. [ Comments: 6 ]

kanyeI’ve joked about Kanye West’s comment about Bush not caring about black people. In fact, I’ve written a few posts that argue that Bush isn’t a bad guy. However, the latest news about FEMA really makes me wonder. Maybe someone needs to email him the Gomer Pyle “fool me once” quote. He obviously isn’t sure about the quote or what it means.

He appointed someone who was not competent to run FEMA and it resulted in quite a few deaths in my town. Remember Brown’s padded resume? But rather than admitting his mistake, Bush has gone against congress and has decided that he can continue to hire incompetent friends just because he is president.

The big story in the New Orleans newspaper saturday was: Bush rejects minimum experience to lead FEMA

Lawmakers from both parties criticized President Bush on Friday for saying he won’t comply with a homeland security law that sets minimum qualifications for future directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The law requires the president to nominate a FEMA director with “a demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management” and “not less than five years of executive leadership.” The qualifications are included in a spending bill the president signed into law Wednesday and aimed at the federal government’s ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina.

That response was initially overseen by FEMA director Michael Brown, who had only limited experience in emergency management before coming to the agency in 2001, initially as the agency’s attorney before being named by Bush as its top official in 2003.

Even those in his own party are outraged.

Here’s what Bush said:

… establishing minimum standards for the director of FEMA could rule out a “large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge” to run the agency. The president, he added, has the constitutional authority to supervise the executive branch and recommendations to Congress should be subject to “appropriate executive branch review and approval before submission.”

Here’s what he meant—

“Establishing minimum standards would both show that I care about what happened to citizens of New Orleans and show that I want to do a good job. I don’t really want to do either. Minimum standards will rule out a lot of friends I want to take care of. Heck, you all know that I really don’t care about doing a good job. Don’t y’all watch the tv screens or the internet? Look at what has happened to the Axis of Evil I talked about a few years ago. 1. North Korea has become a nucular power. 2. Iran is getting close to being a nucular power. 3. The US death toll in Iraq is the highest it’s been in 2 years!

Yep. Now I’m ticked at W. He’s more concerned with patronage and power than he is ensuring the safety of his citizens. Fool me once…

A Million Damn Dollars!
October 6th, 2006 under Friends, New Orleans, poor. [ Comments: 4 ]

IMG_3021Congrats to my friend Mark Gstohl! The million dollar grant he wrote for United Way in New Orleans was successful!

He’ll be throwing a party for himself soon. Keep an eye out for details!

Here they are:

Celebrate with me! On Friday, October 13 th (That’s right. I laugh in the face of bad luck.) I am celebrating the success of a million dollar grant I wrote for United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area. It was awarded by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services (OCS). The Assets for Independence (AFI) Project will assist low-income persons in the six parish region served by United Way in becoming economically self- sufficient. Project participants will learn about economic and consumer issues and will establish matched savings accounts ($4 to $1) called Individual Development Accounts (IDA) in order to save for a first home, a child care business, or automobile. This project will enable low-income persons to be actively involved in helping to rebuild New Orleans.

Hypocricy? Or Intentional Deceit?
September 8th, 2006 under Christianity, Hypocrisy, Politics, poor, Rant, Walking Like Jesus. [ Comments: 2 ]

superHypocrisy? No problem with right-wingers. Take for instance, Bill Bennett, author of The Book of Virtues (get yours for $0.39 here) and The Death of Outrage. He reportedly has lost millions of dollars gambling. I haven’t read his book on “virtues” but the first three chapters are “self-discipline” “compassion” and “responsibility.” I’m wondering which of these chapters can be taken seriously when the author of them lost millions of dollars gambling. Doesn’t look like Bill’s exercising self-discipline. Wouldn’t it also be both responsible and compassionate for the man who has this much discretionary income to put it to use helping those less fortunate?

I could point out other instances where the holier-than-thou religious right condemns sinners while engaging in some pretty awful activities themselves. However, my aim is not to engage in the same sort of rhetoric that folks like Bennett, Ralph Reed, and others engage in.

My point is that my biggest fear is that Americans have become so ignorant and uncritical that we really might experience the judgment of God for our atrocities! For instance, the Republicans have done nothing about immigration reform. Do you know why? They have held off on it so that they can use it as a campaign “issue.” They believe that it’s such a hot-button issue that they need to wait and use it later, not act on it now! It’s bad enough that conservative Christians are not concerned about the welfare of undocumented immigrants. It’s worse that they can’t see that they are being played by politicians again!

ABC is about to air a miniseries on 9/10 and 9/11 entitled “The Path to 9/11” that blames Bill Clinton for the tragedy of 9/11. Clinton is vilified for not killing Bin Laden, but Bush gets away with saying, “I don’t really think about him [Bin Laden] very much. I’m not that concerned.” I don’t get it!

BTW my son told me this morning that McDonald’s was taking a little heat for giving away little Hummers in its Happy Meals. What a country! In God we trust! Make your own McDonald’s sign!

My serious prayer for all of us is that we may allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the truth.

The above post was my first post to the Mainstream Baptists Blog on Wednesday. I received these comments:

So you judge Bill Bennett, put yourself on a pedestal by calling the rest of us ignorant. Then defend Clinton’s role in the lead up to 9/11 and criticize McDonalds for giving away toy trucks. Its like listening to a radio stuck on scan.

Bill Bennett is an extremely rich man. Him losing millions over the last how many years is the same as me losing five hundred dollars last month at Vegas. Yet I still believe in virtues.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say God could care less about carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and toy trucks from McDonalds Since it is the Lord who will bring the earth to an end I doubt it is possible for us to beat Him to it, even with our toy trucks.

Path to 9/11 is a movie based on the 9/11 commission findings. I think Democrats are afraid of it because in book form they never had any fear of democrat reading it.

from Rusty Shakelford (a fan of Ann Coulter)—Draw your own conclusions!

One question I have is what has led you to make the following statement:

“It’s bad enough that conservative Christians are not concerned about the welfare of undocumented immigrants.”

I am not aware of any conserted effort by conservative Christians to take any stand on illegal immigration. Heck, neither political party can come to a consensus within their own ranks on what should be done about this issue. One SBC pastor wrote an article not long ago on his blog discussing his own dilemna in ministering to those in his congregation who are illegals. This issue is probably one of the grayest areas of politics to come down the pipe in a long time. I don’t think silence by the Christian community equals a lack of concern, but more likely a lack of clear discernment. If anything I think Christians are slow to take a stand because they certainly don’t want to be persuaded by power politics, but rather informed by the Bible and reason. This is not an issue that one can jump to conclusions quickly on, for the implications of any new or binding legislation will no doubt be of great consequence.

-from D.R. (a friend of mine)—Draw your own conclusions!

“It’s bad enough that conservative Christians are not concerned about the welfare of undocumented immigrants.”

That seems to me to be an unsubstantiated claim. My guess would be that these same conservative Christians are the first in line to help these people with their basic needs.

-from Keith

I’m answering the comments here because I don’t want to look like I’m trying to dominate the Mainstream Blog. So here goes…..

Rusty–a radio stuck on scan. Pretty good. I am a little ADD I guess. Sorry to address three issues in one post. I thought the first two tied together and threw the last one in for kicks.

Dude. Millions of dollars is still a whole lot of cash. I don’t care who you are. Blowing that kind of money just doesn’t seem virtuous to me. If I sound like I need to get the plank out of my own eye I admit that. However, I don’t go around making huge amounts of money “preaching” about virtue and then blow millions of those hard-earned bucks. Seems a bit hypocritical to me. Just like FOX NEWS’s Bill O’Reilly trying to save Christmas and making sleazy calls to female employees and screaming at people to “SHUT UP!”

To all my readers that didn’t believe that there are Christians out there saying “to hell with the earth, Jesus is coming back,” SEE I TOLD YOU THEY WERE THERE!

The Exploitation of 9/11. OOOPS! The Path to 9/11 is not totally accurate! Here’s what Disney said:

“The two-part miniseries, scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday and Monday, is drawn from interviews and documents including the report of the September 11 commission. ABC has described it as a “dramatization” as opposed to a documentary.

“For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, and time compression,” ABC said in its statement. “We hope viewers will watch the entire broadcast of the finished film before forming an opinion about it.”

Translation: We made crap up just to make Clinton look bad.

I didn’t say there was a concerted effort. I’m just saying that the conservative christians I talk to get ticked when the conversation turns to Immigration. (Did you see that Spurlock show? It was very interesting) I get tired of hearing “send them home” “they’re getting better medical care than me” “I shouldn’t have to pay to educate their kids” etc.

Yeah D.R. and Keith—there are a lot of christians demonstrating the love of Christ to immigrants. But I get tired of hearing and seeing hatred when the discussion starts with many conservative Christians I encounter.

As usual, D.R. has raised an interesting point about the complexity of the issue. The reason I bring these things up is to stimulate discussion and thought. I agree that the politicized sound-bites from any side are shallow and not helpful for those seeking to hear the voice of God in this issue. Again, my prayer is that Christians will do that rather than forming their opinion based on folks like O’Reilly, Bennett, and of course Rush.

Thanks for adding to the discussion guys!

Bush and Jackson Square Speech: Lying then and Lying Now
August 31st, 2006 under Hypocrisy, Katrina, New Orleans, Politics, poor, Rant. [ Comments: none ]

Mommy The following is from Bush’s speech at Jackson Square after hurricane Katrina:

I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job, and for child care expenses during their job search.

And to help lower-income citizens in the hurricane region build new and better lives, I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery.

Here’s what he said at Warren Easton High School in New Orleans this week:

I take full responsibility for the federal government’s response, and a year ago I made a pledge that we will learn the lessons of Katrina and that we will do what it takes to help you recover. (Applause.) I’ve come back to New Orleans to tell you the words that I spoke on Jackson Square are just as true today as they were then.

It’s really strange. I haven’t heard anything about the “Worker Recovery Accounts” and the “Urban Homesteading Act” except that they are “stalled in Congress.” Isn’t this a Republican Congress? Why doesn’t W publicly chastize them for stalling? I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t you, Scummy, and Dick make up some incredible lie about how much it’s needed! Why not tie it to 9/11 or “terrrism” or something?

You’re right W. Your words are just as true now as they were back then.

McDonald’s: I Ain’t Lovin’ It!
August 30th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, Politics, poor, Rant. [ Comments: none ]

McDFor me, today is the real anniversary of Katrina. This is the day that I woke up to scenes of broken levees on CNN and said, “Oh, Sh!t!”

I had to jump off my car this morning so I thought that I could recharge the battery by going to McDonald’s for breakfast. REMEMBER…one year after Katrina and this McD’s didn’t flood! Looted yes, flooded no!

Anyway, I was told in the drive-through that they had a limited menu because, “The stove is broke.” I could buy the burrito and take it home to heat up. So I did. Yum!

These are the little things we still have to go through around here even on the “blessed bank.” I ain’t lovin’ it. Remembering how folks were stranded here for DAYS in the United Stated of Freakin’ America has raised my anger level again. (Can you tell?)

As I drove by Jackson Square yesterday and saw about 100 cops and numerous national guards I wanted to yell “Where the Hell were you last year at this time?” but I didn’t. I had forgotten my wallet and was afraid they’d arrest me.

Gotta run. I’m giving my old refrigerator to a lady who needs it to keep her medication fresh. One year later and she’s still being impacted by Katrina. We all are. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it makes me cry.

Katrina Anniversary Photos
August 30th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, New Orleans Music, Photos, poor. [ Comments: 2 ]

DSC05427 Here is one of my photos of the Katrina Anniversary Events. The set can be found here. I haven’t labelled them all yet. I’ll get to that tomorrow.

Calling All Baptist Teetotalers! Put These Clowns on the Wagon!
August 22nd, 2006 under Baptists, Humor, Katrina, New Orleans, poor. [ Comments: 2 ]

My friends Bart and Michael are willing to give up drinking in order to raise money for a library in their New Orleans neighborhood! Please donate to their worthy cause. I took the fabulous pictures on their website. Take a look at Boozocracy.com! If that doesn’t work, Boozocracy.org should.

I ask all of my Baptist friends that think drinking is a sin to donate to their cause. The result–Less sin in New Orleans and a well stocked library.

To all my Baptist friends that think drinking isn’t a sin—you can vote too!

To all my non-Baptist friends—VOTE!

BTW–Happy Birthday Joe Strummer! Buy Joe Strummer by Cowboy Mouth here.

Easy Way to Raise Money for Your Favorite Charity
August 16th, 2006 under Katrina, New Orleans, poor. [ Comments: none ]

GoodSearch smaller logo
GoodSearch is a good way to raise money for your favorite charity.

I’m now using GoodSearch.com to search the Internet. Every time I do, money goes to my favorite charity or school (United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area). I hope you’ll give it a try and support the cause that you care most about.

The site is powered by Yahoo!, so you’ll get the same quality search results that you’re used to. What’s unique is that they have developed a way to direct money to your charity or school with every click.

The more people who use this site, the more money will go to those in need. So please spread the word to your friends and family.

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