I'ts a phrase I've heard so many times in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and now Hurricane Rita, that if I hear it again, my head might explode. I've talked to these nutcases on the phone; I've gotten e-mails from them; I've read their letters to the editor. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.
Since New Orleans happens to be one of my favorite cities -- really the only major city I feel like spending any time at all in -- it also royally pisses me off when I hear it.
New Orleans is a city full of sin, said one caller. God is cleansing his earth of that sin. So tell me why were the vast majority of those killed, those whose homes were completely destroyed, the poor people? Why, less than a month after the hurricane, are there bars open on Bourbon Street and strippers going back to work? The famous legs at Big Daddy's were swinging again only days after the storm, while the poor people of the city are living in shelters and FEMA trailers and wondering about family members they haven't heard from. Seems to me if God were really working his wrath on New Orleans, Bourbon Street would have been the first place wiped out. Instead, it went largely undamaged compared to the rest of the city.
An e-mail from an uber-conservative Christian group that somehow got my e-mail and blasts me with 10 or 12 messages a day said that it was God's punishment because abortion is legal. Huh? What could the two possibly have to do with each other? If that was the case, wouldn't it have made more sense for God to wipe out all the abortion clinics and leave everyone else alone? Even for those that consider abortion murder, it makes no sense. When a murder is committed, do we just randomly execute people? Then why would God do that?
Of course, these are the same people who popped up after the Tsunami, saying it was God's wrath. They said God was trying to get our attention, to send a message. Which raises the question, is a God that would kill thousands of people just to make a point, really one that's worthy of worship? Looking at it in that light, I can't understand why the people that believe that God is this angry, petty child, would continue to worship him. Because if they don't they'll go to hell? Well, if God truly is the deity they believe him to be, maybe, in the words of AC/DC, hell ain't a bad place to be.
Read my review of "My New Orleans," a collection of essays paying tribute to the Big Easy.