post

Thar She Blows!

Hurricane Katrina landed ashore this morning in New Orleans.

I don’t usually follow hurricanes. I figure that the world is full of tragedy and there’s little I can do about most of it, including the hurricanes. But Katrina caught my attention early because New Orleans is a little closer to home.

neworleans (2k image)I spent ten years headquartered in Mississippi, and New Orleans was close enough to be considered a neighbor. Part of those ten years was spent pastoring in northern Louisiana. A number of my sister churches were in south Louisiana and they introduced me to cajun culture; another point of contact with The Big Easy.

More recently, I spent a few days in New Orleans in 1996 attending the annual meeting of two organizations: the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. These are professional associations of religion teachers and scholars. In those days, they held their annual meetings jointly. I opined that this was so that the participants would have to endure it only once. I’m tellin’ ya, if engineers were this screwy, we’d still be living in grass huts.

I got to know the city a little better during that visit. I walked the old streets and, plumber that I am, I took note of the sewer system. Some of those manhole covers looked to me as though they were a hundred years old or older. I came upon some city workers who had dug a big hole exposing part of the system for repairs. This was like an artist being invited to tour the Louvre.

Very few people realize the critical role that plumbing plays in civilization. Without it, little would be possible. Instead, we’d be living in mud, walking in our own waste, and drinking polluted water–which was once the description of places like Paris or London.

New Orleans New Orleans Levee depends on pumps for drainage, since it sits below sea level. As I write these words, more rain is falling down there than the system can handle. It will flood, and the waste that was previously kept at bay by the plumbing system will be unleashed on the city.

That old system of pumps and levees will finally get the appreciation it deserves once this typhoon has blown over and the mess is getting cleaned up.

Speak Your Mind