The Bad Taste of Katrina

I know there will be barrels of electrons spilled today as we remember the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. There will be stories of the heroism that took place, the frustration that many faced, and the stories of the Next Big One will be there as well. Nothing like an opportunity to extrapolate the “what if” question into more fear mongering and hand ringing. I am OK with all those types of reports.

I think what bothers me most in my memories of Katrina was the way the tragedy was politicized. You may remember some of this. The first wave of politicized rhetoric came from the left as those who were bemoaning the government’s lack of response to the disaster and placing the blame for it on President Bush. There were even charges that he actually caused the hurricane to form and hit the gulf coast. I think most people discounted such charges. After all, Bush was just the president of the United States. The era of deifying our presidents had not yet arrived.

After the first wave of political rhetoric, came the second wave pointing out how inept the powers that be in New Orleans were. Fingers were pointed everywhere. This is what happens when you expect the government to take care of people when it was never designed to do so. This entire ordeal exposed the elephantine gap that exists between those of us on the right, who believe in self-determination and limited government, and those on the left who believe the government is there to hold our hands from the cradle to the grave.

On the right, we mistakenly think we have a right to self-determination. This view is actually godless. We plan our steps, but God directs them. We are dependent upon Him for even more than what the left claims for the people concerning government. And that latter point is the problem with the left. The left exalts government to a position that only God can occupy. I hope that some of you can see the real problem in what the left does. They are replacing God with Government, which ultimately makes the government anti-Christ in its nature. Government was never given by God in order to replace God to meet our daily or long-term needs. But the right replaces God with self and is just as sinful as the left. Both viewpoints are idolatrous in nature and both sides need to repent from such foolishness.

For those of us who believe in God, Katrina was not an accident of nature. God ordained the event from before the foundations of the world and, had He chosen to do so, He could have stopped Katrina from hitting the coast. By the way, have you thanked Him today for the hurricanes that have not hit the coast this year? Remember, He did not allow them to come into existence.

I know this seems harsh, but God is omnipotent, meaning, He is all powerful. If you wish to get your knickers in a knot over this reality, and sit in judgment of God, feel free. He will certainly allow you to do so until it comes to His turn to sit in final and eternal judgment of you.  The point is that the Triune God had His purposes in bringing the disaster to the Gulf Coast, just as He has in every disaster that strikes mankind. I cannot say what those purposes are since I do not know the mind of God in things which He has not expressed in His word. But I do have a few thoughts on the matter.


First, God allows such events to remind us that we are not home yet. We pray for heaven on earth, but that doesn’t mean heaven has arrived upon earth. For the Christian, we have not arrived and never will on this side of glory. Disasters like Katrina help remind us of this truth and reality.

Secondly, God allows such events to humble us. Whenever there is affliction of any kind, it is a reminder that we need to rely upon Him for all that we need. The reason there was such strife in the following days of Katrina, besides the grief over the destruction, is that far too many were trying to declare whose responsibility it was to rescue those who were hit by the storm. Very few were looking to God to provide, and He left us to ourselves. The entire ordeal is a deluge-size sticky note showing us what happens when we look to government or self-determination for deliverance from such events.

Third, and this one is difficult to swallow, God allows such events to judge the wicked. I’m not saying that all those who died in Katrina are numbered among the wicked. He can use such events to bring His children home just as He uses them to bring judgment upon those who are wicked (those outside of Christ). The believers who died have already had their sins judged, and paid for, on the cross by Christ. Those outside of Christ are now paying for their own sins in an eternal way. The underlying truth in all this is that God will judge both the quick and the dead. He will judge all mankind and all of creation. These events are small glimpses of the perfect judgment to come. God has to judge all creation, because all creation is sinful and has rebelled against Him due to Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. If God does not judge the wicked, then He is not just because He would be allowing those who deserve judgment to escape what they deserve. Yet, He is just and will judge the wicked. An event like Hurricane Karina is a reminder of that judgment.

Fourth, lest you think I focus on judgment too much, He allows such events to remind us of His love for us. Because of His great mercies, we who were spared the tragedy, are not consumed. He has shown all, who yet live and breathe, His great mercy and grace toward us. Since we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, deserving His condemnation, one more day without final judgment is one more day of His grace and mercy. For those who repent of their sinfulness and trust in Christ, condemnation has been lifted completely from us, and we rejoice in His mercy even more so, knowing the richness of that mercy in a more lasting way.


I do rejoice over all these mercies He pours out on us. But when I remember Katrina, the entire event, and the way so many responded politically, it just leaves the taste of raw sewage in my mouth. The response to the disaster from all sides was sickening. I know there were many good stories that took place. Many gave of their time and energy, at their own expense, to help get people back on their feet. But that entire event showed us how messed up our country truly was and is. May God have mercy upon us.

 

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From the Archives

Going through some photos and found this one, which was taken in December 24, 2011. Roswell received one of their largest snowfalls in decades and the boys made the best of it. It is also a reminder that December is coming. It will not always be August.

Christmas Eve 2011

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Velda Rose, Manipulation and Christian Science

Hammons103

It has been 10 years since my mother died. Had she still been alive today, she would have 80 years old.

She was called to meet her Maker while undergoing an MRI in a hospital in Lufkin. You can read more about that day here.

You may think this is one of those posts where I state how much I miss my mother. It is not and I don’t. I never really have missed her. Some have thought that it was because my heart is cold and unloving, but I don’t think that was it. It seems as though there is this unwritten rule that when your mother dies, you immediately deify her, give her angels’ wings, and spend the rest of your life praising her. The truth is, I don’t think many will praise her who really knew her.

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Half a League, Half a League

Half a league onward, all in the valley of death rode the six hundred!

I have to admit, I am duly excited about the prospects of teaching my sixth graders about Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. In the midst of the all the state requirements and the TEKS number, and all manner of muddled instructions from the state powers that be, I found something to get excited about since the poem is one of my favorites. That’s not saying much, since I’m not much of a poetry buff. I would say my list of favorite poems would be about two, unless you count the Psalms, then the number of favorite poems would be about 152.

But when it comes to Tennyson’s tribute to those men who bravely charged forward on that day in the 1850s… because they were told to, you have to admire the respect, courage and acceptance. I’m not sure if Tennyson was or was not a Christian. But the 600 men, were responding obediently to their superiors even to the point of death. In that, there is something noble and grand, which Tennyson points out in the last stanza of his poem, memorializing their charge into the Cossacks. The men, in one sense, emulated Christ who did the very same thing on a the cross 2,000 years ago. He went and laid down His life because someone told Him to. I’m not trying to spiritualize the poem, just noting the similarities.

LightBrigadeThe point is that I do look forward to sharing it with my students and I hope to encourage a few of them to memorize it (which in the state of Texas is a teaching sin, so I’ve been told). I’m not requiring them to do so, but will give extra credit to those who do memorize it on their first test. I checked with my department head and was told that this is perfectly acceptable.

I also plan on showing the following video to help them see the influence the poem still has today. This is from The Blind Side.

One of the reasons I included the videos here is because I cannot show videos directly from Youtube. But I can from my blog, so I’m actually doing school work while I write this… on my own time… not at school… so I’m not violating any rules. (Just want to be clear).

Here is the full poem:

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

 

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.

 

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

 

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
   Left of six hundred.

 

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
   All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
   Noble six hundred!
Hope you enjoyed that.

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Hate Comes Naturally, Love Is Learned

I know, my title is the opposite of the meme bouncing around the internet. As you can see, it says just the opposite and appeals to our emotions by showing two boys of different tribes hugging each other. Here, look at the photo.

HateNaturally

It truly is a sweet photo. But the message it bears if false when compared to what the Bible tells us about human nature. In fact, the message of the meme is rooted in the belief that we are born “innocent” and then somehow have to learn to be evil. This view is known as semi-Pelagianism, meaning that we are born as empty slates and that we end up being whatever it is that we learn. Full-fledge Pelagianism is the belief that original sin does not taint us and that we are born good, without a sin nature.

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Streams of Living Waters

The Scripture often speaks of “living waters” and this is because the original hearers understood the need for “living waters.” Living waters were those which provide life for us. We need living waters to survive, both physically and spiritually. It is the spiritual need that is the greater need. This is why Jesus said “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living waters.”

Those words are truly comforting because we find the need we have provided for us in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Only through Christ do we find true life. By this, I mean life that is eternal in nature. Everyone has “life” on some level. Only those in Christ have eternal life and are made new creations. He is the only avenue to find the living waters that our souls hunger for. This is why we go to Him and believe in Him, for our greatest need cannot be met by anything in the world. There is no place to go in order to find the living waters we need in which to drink. Only Christ can satisfy that need, the greatest need. We need to go to Him alone, and drink deeply.

Gentle streams

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Back to School

Yes, but as a teacher, not a student. Today I start back by reporting for “new teacher training.” The rest of the staff starts next week. I am excited about the new school year, and I know that in about a week, that excitement will fade, followed by disillusionment for several months, then acceptance, then… summer vacation. All a part of the process and hopefully, with lots of prayer and work, the students will learn to read gooder and spell write! Just kidding, couldn’t resist going for the punch line.

The first picture is me looking into my classroom, A107, and the other is of the hallway. I did look to see if they had a room number A 113, but the rooms only go up to A 112. This is a Pixar reference.

The building is the oldest in the district, and it doesn’t take long to figure out that for the most part, if you teach at the intermediate level (grads 6-8), you will probably be in the oldest building in the district. Districts like advertising new elementary and high schools… but seems to forget out middle school. Just an observation, not a complaint. It’s a neat building.

Drane 001

Drane 002

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