Second Baptist Church in Houston is organizing a volunteer effort to feed the 25,000 refugees from New Orleans now staying at the AstroDome. Christianity Today reports on a meeting that Second Baptist held with Houston religious leaders. According to CT, the meeting included "Christians from mainline, evangelical, and Pentecostal denominations, plus those from other faiths, including Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Bah'ai, and Unitarians." I hope there were Catholics there as well-the piece isn't clear.

A few more factoids from the piece:

  • Many of the refugees are expected to relocate permanently, as they "nothing to go back to."
  • Each of three daily meal-line shifts will need 240 volunteers., and the monthly cost for meals will be $4 million.
  • The refugees will be in the Dome for as long as 6 month.

And two money quotes, both from a suprising source—2nd Baptist Pastor Ed Young:

  • "All those sermons and passions you've generated, now's the time to put up or shut up for every faith or religious community here. Are you willing to coordinate and cooperate with other people and other denominations? If you're not, sit down."
  • Young quoted Gandhi: "'God dares not appear before a hungry man except in the form of bread and water.' We all have our religious agendas. You know mine. The first place to start is food and water," Young said.


When it come outs, go see this movie .

Terry Ryan's "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" , which the New York Times reviewed as "Fighting Eviction with a Jackpot of Jingles" relates how Ryan's mother raised ten kids on "twenty-five words or less" by winning promotional contest in the 1950s. It's proof that sometimes, real life is better than fiction.


Some thoughts from the New York Times on poverty and the New Orleans disaster:

  • "If Sept. 11 showed the power of a nation united in response to a devastating attack, Hurricane Katrina reveals the fault lines of a region and a nation, rent by profound social divisions."
    Mark Naison, Fordham University

  • "It's dangerous to be poor. It's dangerous to be black. It's dangerous to be Latino."
    Martín Espada, the University of Massachusetts

  • "Most cities have a hidden or not always talked about poor population, black and white, and most of the time we look past them. This is a moment in time when we can't look past them. Their plight is coming to the forefront now. They were the ones less able to hop in a car and less able to drive off."
    Spencer R. Crew, president and chief executive officer of the national Underground Railroad Freedom Center


Jeff Sharlett of the Revealer says the disaster in New Orleans is a story about sin. Not the Repent America kind but about the way "developers and politicians and patricians" left the city vulnerable for disaster.

Here's the meat of his story:

if this is a religion story, it's not about an act of God or the banal use and abuse of the Bible as substitute aid for people dying of literal thirst; it's about sin. And no vague, blustery "pride of man" stories about ill-preparedness or mistakes by the Army Corps of Engineers will address the original sin of this event.

We need theologically-charged, morally outraged, investigative historical reporting to tell us why and how the dead of New Orleans died, and when their killers -- not Katrina, but the developers and politicians and patricians who are now far from the city -- began the killing. It wasn't Monday, and it wasn't last week. We need journalists, not just historians, to look deeper into the American mythologies of race and money, "personal responsibility" and real responsibility.

This isn't a religion story because God acted, but because people acted. It's not about what they didn't do, it's about what they did do, under the cover of civic development and urban renewal and faith-based initiatives that systematically eradicate the possibility of real, systemic response to a crisis that is more than a matter of individual souls.

Someone else pointed out a more mundane reason for the human disaster--why people stayed behind and didn't evacuate the city. The hurricane hit on (the 29th) and people hadn't received their ends of the month paychecks. So they didn't have money to leave.


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