Katrina's Sheep Without a Shepherd

Paul Harvey

As the anniversary of Katrina nears, dwarfing (for me) all the patter of presidential politics, the Journal of Southern Religion is about to release its special Katrina issue (link will be up soon, as soon as everything is finalized). I wanted here to put up a couple of brief teasers, today and to be continued, to entice as many of you as possible to check out the issue. Originally we blogged about this project here.

We'll start with two pieces from Anthea Butler, our friend and editor of the North Star: A Journal for African American Religious History. Shortly after Katrina, Anthea issued this memorably blistering jeremiad for The Revealer.

Three years later, Anthea reflects further on her original piece for the Journal of Southern Religion -- and in case you're wondering, while she finds some reasons for hope, she's still righteously pissed off.

Three years after writing "As Sheep without a Shepherd" for the online journal The Revealer you might wonder if I am still just as angry about the response to Hurricane Katrina as I was back in early September of 2005. Have no fear, I still am. My anger has turned into disgust and bitterness tempered with occasional glimmers of hopefulness. Since the fateful landfall of Katrina and the breaching of the levee, the lives of thousands of people in New Orleans are changed. Some have not returned to the Crescent City. Others have, only to become discouraged with crime, poor living conditions, and the sadness that seeps around residents as they try to preserve a semblance of their lives in a town that will never be the same.

Anthea concludes by remembering the President's speech at the St. Louis Cathedral:

What stays with me now is the image of President Bush on the Square, in a city without electricity, the St. Louis Cathedral lit up with generators like a Disneyworld castle in the background. Not far from that spot is the port of New Orleans, where the slave ships rolled in. In the news footage of Bush's shameful performance, the strangely lit cathedral, beautiful in its own right, looked to me like a whitewashed tomb. And the darkness was deep behind it. To the slaves that came in on the boats, the church perhaps looked the same way. Then as now the promise of light seemed to beckon beauty, but the reality was a kind of death.

Read the whole piece here, and stay tuned for more in this series of posts on Katrina and the special issue of JSR.


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