Monday, September 05, 2005

Angry at someone

The last few days, I have been very angry at a certain commander in chief. If you need to ask why, find out here. (It's from September 3rd, but still relevant today.)

We need answers. While New Orleans choked on a rising tide of chaos, disease, and death, the Bush Administration took a collective vacation. Don't forget: people died because they didn't have it together.

I've been trying for several days to finish this post by meditating on the Christian view of anger (short version, anger is dangerous), but here's where I am: I don't think I should feel conflicted about gross negligence and stupidity, or about criminal indifference (the real kind that kills people, not the kind from the last episode of Seinfeld). I don't think I should listen to the angels of my better nature and refuse to play politics or the blame game at this trying time.

The Christ I confess actually cares about the poor lying facedown in the water, and dying of thirst in a government-recommended evacuation point. The Christ I confess cares that 700 wealthy tourists from the Hyatt made a whole bunch of black people at the Superdome go to the back of the bus. The Christ I confess would be wading in the muck right now, saving people from cholera and dysentery and diseases we don't even have a name for: New Orleans Syndrome.

In fact, I strongly suspect that Jesus would have thrown bricks through a window and looted a 7-11 for bottled water. The text is Luke 6.1-5:

[1] One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. [2] Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

[3] Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? [4] He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." [5] Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

The incident Jesus refers to is when David was running for his life from King Saul, who was threatening to murder him. On the way, he stopped at the tabernacle (there was only one), and asked for some food, but all they had was holy bread that had been sitting in the presence of God for a week, so holy it had to be eaten by a priest. The priest gave him some of the bread anyway. More on this issue here.

It is a crazy situation when a Grab Bag of Doritos looted from a 24-hour convenience store might save someone's life. And it's crazy to say that the incarnation of the living God would join in the looting at a disaster area. But when the powerful won't do their job, what is right and wrong? What is really ethical?

It wouldn't be the first time the carpenter took matters into his own hands.

Jesus, cutting his hands on the jagged edges of a plate glass window, rummaging through flooded-out shelves for Pringles with unbroken safety seals, running out of time to get meager supplies back to dying people; would he have raised his head to look at the helicopters milling around on those first several days, or kept working without respite or hope of relief? Would he have taken a moment to swear under his breath as a bus was diverted from evacuation, or just continued his endless slog through the streets? Would he have gone away to pray and rest, or died in the alley, taken by the sludge or exhaustion or thirst or disease?

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