Pouring Rain In Georgia

Biblical proportions:

Police Car Guards Entrance to Flooded Azalea Drive
The View From Our Neighborhood

Click the above picture for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s photo-essay on current floods. Some of you may recognize this – this is Azalea Drive, where that little-park-by-the-river is, right by our house. This is looking south from Roswell Road just at the intersection where you turn left after you cross the bridge. If you look at the sign on the left side of the picture, you can see just past it one of those historical marker signs partially submerged. I would estimate the water to be about 3.5 – 4 feet deep right there. This pic is from the AJC, though we could have shot it out the window of our car this morning. However, if you think that’s bad? As far as Atlantans go, we were pretty lucky ’round here. This’ll give you an idea (from the same AJC photo gallery) of how bad it got in some parts of Atlanta:

A Completely Ruined House in Atlanta, 9/21/09

A Completely Ruined House in Atlanta, 9/21/09

No kidding, it’s pretty darn serious. For any of you out there in far-flung places who are worried about us, don’t be. Beth left early and is home for the day (and possibly tomorrow, who knows?!), and up here on the top of Tullmore Drive, we’re high enough up that no flooding is going to reach us — or, if any flooding does get this high, you’ll have heard about it in your state by then, too – we’ll be talking “Ark” proportions. But, short of that, we’ll be OK. Some of our fellow residents, though – not so much:

Four people have been confirmed dead after heavy rains have flooded many parts of metro Atlanta, closing highways, railroads and schools. Emergency crews across the region are searching for countless more reported missing amid the flooding waters.

I feel terrible for the people right in this community whose lives are being – literally – washed away. And I’m going to go see if I can do something to help. I couldn’t help thinking, though, about what a certain Christian evangelical minister of a westen mega-church said as New Orleans was drowning under the flood-waters released from Lake Ponchartrain in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:

I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment. And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

Who wants to bet me that there won’t be any piously tut-tutting conservative Christian ministers saying that the flood-waters and attendant deaths this week in Atlanta are “the judgment of God against the city of Atlanta?” Anyone? Bueller?

Of course they won’t. Why would they? In their eyes, Atlanta is not a “sinful city” – at least not in the full-bore way that New Orleans (in their eyes) is. If they even think about it in these terms at all, I’m betting that such ministers will simply dismiss this week’s flooding in my city as a terrible tragedy, one for which we all should have compassion, and we should all ask what, if anything, we can do to help out.

Why is it that the failure rate of any relationships that aren’t both heterosexual and monogamous is often touted as evidence that “alternative lifestyles/relationships just don’t work,” (or are against God and/or nature)…but the national divorce rate of nearly 50% doesn’t cause ANYONE – gay or straight – to speculate that it’s evidence that monogamous heterosexuality itself is flawed or a failure?

And why, for crying out loud – literally – can people like Pastor John Hagee not see that if my fellow citizens of Atlanta are deserving of his thoughts, prayers and whatever help he can offer during our time of crisis and flooding this week, then it was worse than a crime for him to sully the memory of the dead and the suffering of the living citizens of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina by suggesting that they somehow “deserved it” because they were about to hold a gay pride parade?

That’s right. Worse than a crime. It was a sin.

Human reactions to great calamities and crises always boil down to some point on the spectrum between the poles of love and fear. You either extend a helping hand, or you turn away out of fear, worry and maybe even hatred. But let there be no mistake – the difference is only in the eye (and the actions) of the beholder; the people themselves who are beset by tragedy are all the same. Just people in bad shape, who need help. And no matter what rationales we use to explain our actions, in the end, we either help or we don’t. When I was a kid, I grew up in a church that taught me that part of what it meant to be a Christian was that when people are in sudden need like that….you help, if it’s within your power. Pastor Hagee? What did they tell you about what Christians do, when you were growing up?

Not to put too fine a point on it, Pastor Hagee (and anyone else out there who has his type of certainty about what The Lord™ wants), but it’s never a good idea to be too sure you know exactly what God wants. When it comes to how you treat the victims of two nearly-identical (in details, if not in scope) natural disasters, if you choose one set of victims to succor and pray for and help out with material aid, and the other set to excoriate, refuse calls for help, and blame for their own circumstances because that’s what GOD wants, you might just find that when your own race is finally run and you go to what you expect will be your final reward, that you backed the wrong horse and that this God is the one to whom you should have been praying – and whose followers you should have helped and prayed for:

Doesn't look like the forgiving type to me...

Doesn't look like the forgiving type to me

I could be wrong, I suppose…but somehow, I don’t think he’s going to take it easy on you for having gotten it wrong all those years. Hope you won’t be too put out about having to spend all eternity being digested in the belly of a dead alien squid-God. Have a nice day… 😉