Kennedy's 'Postcards from
No straw after Labor Day
Jonal entry 917 | Friday, September 16, 2005
Today I'm taking one of the approaches to journaling that I've often praised vocally but failed to execute often enough or well enough; the pocketful of notes on random topics.
Talk of God's judgment through hardships, as a lot of people have been doing in the wake of Katrina, has given me a couple of second theoretical thoughts. If, as the Bible says, "those God loves, He chastens," should we not be thinking of our hardships as gifts and blessings of God rather than punishments? In every thing, give thanks. Some of the hardest times I've had in life have turned out to be some of my greatest blessings, even if it took me years to realize their main significance. Romans 8:28.
The fact that the French Quarter of New Orleans, also known as Southern Decadence Central, is the first section of the devastated city to be opening for business again seems to fly in the face of the "prophecy" many tried to promote, that Katrina was God's wrath against the most notorious sinners way down south. If so, why are they the first to recover when so many innocents, especially children, will be burdened by their lossesloved ones, homes, pets, and securityfor years to come? As Sallie Covolo pointed out so aptly on our forum, if God agreed to withhold his wrath against Sodom if 10 righteous people could be found there, He can't be seen as unleashing His fury on the Southeast as retribution. He sends his rain on the just and the unjust, and sometimes the rain is disastrous, as we greater-Johnstownians know too well.
Speaking of Johnstown, it was again in the national news as a result of Katrina. The Associated Press on Wednesday sent out a "top 10" list of American disasters. The 1889 Johnstown Flood still ranks third, with its more than 2,200 deaths. The Galveston (Texas) Hurricane of 1900 claimed an estimated 8,000 lives to be the worst American disaster of record, and the Great Okeechobee Hurricane in Florida in 1928, which killed more than 2,500, ranks second. Katrina is expected to be in the top 10, though the casualty count is still far from finished. At least one of the PBS outlets in my part of the country reran the Johnstown Flood documentary this week, probably inspired by the more recent flooding.
And this brings up another current national story with local roots and tentacles, the "national uproar," as the Tribune-Democrat called it on Thursday, over the choice of a Crescent, the Muslims' equivalent in their iconography to the Christians' crosses, to memorialize the site of the fateful end of Flight 93 in Somerset County. The T-D's Kirk Swauger gets weasal points for saying the National Park Office in Washington has been inundated by feedback on the cresent design, but, "Opinions are divided on whether the shape ' which calls to mind Islamic symbolism ' should be scrapped or supported" and then declines to mention how many callers are opposing and how many are supporting it...or whether he even asked. The good news is that the designer of the Somerset County memorial has renamed it from "Crescent of Embrace" to "Arc of Embrace."
The Katrina-Johnstown juxtaposition in my thinking reminds me of a favorite anecdote in The Johnstown Flood, David McCullough's excellent book about our county's main claim to historical fame. Many preachers and prophets of the time were also seeing the hand of God on Johntown for the many sins of its then-youthful exuberance. Responding to this, one of the members of the national press corps that was tenting on Prospect Hill and witnessing the steady stream of customers the brothels were serving on the hillside above the devastation, said that if the flood was God's punishment, He must have had bad aim.
Homiletical conclusion: Every disaster in my life is God's judgment on me and it behooves me to see His chastening in it. But I must never have an opinion on what anyone else's disaster means, to him, or from God's perspective.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy