An ancient lesson for Modern Ears

Once upon a time, there was a fellow named, of all things, Amnon. I say, “of all things,” because, ironically, Amnon means “faithful.” hmmm… Well, Amnon had a half-sister, and her name was Tamar (Tamar means “palm tree,” but this has no bearing on my story). Amnon got it into his head that Tamar was the only woman in all the wide world for him. His longing for her was so bad, he couldn’t eat, he just lay around mooning over Tamar. And a friend of his (with friends like this, who needs enemies?) helped Amnon lay a trap. He called for his sister Tamar to come bring him some supper and to feed him… and when she came to help him in his hour of need, he grabbed her and… he raped her.

And the Bible says, in 2 Samuel 13:15 — because this is a Bible story, in case you didn’t recognize our cast of characters — that after he had his way with Tamar, after he had used her to gratify his own selfish impulses, “Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”

Do you know anyone who ever wanted anything so badly that they just couldn’t think of anything else, except how to get that very particular thing? Think of kids, how they get fixated on a toy they just “gotta have!”… and they save their money and they whine and fuss and pitch temper tantrums until they get that toy… and two days later you’re walking through the living room and there sits that super-fantastic-terrific-totally-awesome-gottahave toy… abandoned. Forgotten. Nope! it wasn’t what the build-up made it out to be; time to move on to newer, brighter, bigger, better, more in-fashion, more explicitly guaranteed to make us happy, popular, cool…

What’s worse is that even adults can treat one another as Amnon treated Tamar. We can cozy up to someone, win their trust, their affection, then exploit them and abandon them in a fit of self-righteous contempt.

“The hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.” There’s a lesson in that for a lot of us, I think.

You won’t hear about this from Sharpton or Jackson

Cheers and God’s blessings on the Catholic people of Louisiana and Texas!

It is being reported that the dioceses hit by Katrina have been adopted by other dioceses in the region: the Archdiocese of New Orleans has moved to Baton Rouge, where the Archbishop is opening a chancery (offices) in an unused school. The Diocese of Jackson has adopted the Diocese of Biloxi; and the Diocese of Lafayette the Diocese of Homa-Thibodaux.

Schools in these dioceses have been warned to expect double enrollment next week as area Catholics provide refugee centers and take families into their own homes.

A Vietnamese Catholic convent in Houston, Texas, has also opened its doors to refugees, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Sister Hang Pham teased, “But don’t worry, we are not asking [the non-Catholics] to convert!”

A Lament for NOLA

New Orleans has been in my prayers all week long, and so have been some of the outlying communities, especially those in St. Charles Parish, where I lived for a few months in 2001. I see on the internet tonight that St. Charles has no power but little flooding and property damage and are letting residents return with the caveat that there are no stores open and little fuel.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, the federal government and particularly President Bush have taken some hard hits by loud-mouthed incompetents who are not up to thinking clearly or owning responsibility for their own mess. The fact is that NOLA administration has been revealed for the incompetent and corrupt mess I’ve often heard it locally joked about. Local law enforcement have walked off the job en masse this past week, some have participated in looting and been incredibly rude to locals trying to get help to leave the city or for sick family members. These shameful things have been abundantly reported by every major and minor news source I’ve looked at this week.

Moreover, the NOLA mayor and the state’s governor, unlike their Mississippi counterparts, delayed turning over management of the city until situation was out of hand. Louisiana National Guard troops were not requested in a timely manner, and many of the NG — now replaced by military units — have made statements that they were either not given clear orders as to what their responsibility was supposed to be, or that they were given instructions limiting their involvement to search and rescue in the City, effectively having their hands tied behind their backs and actively hindered from helping to bring about law and order so desparately needed.

Even more infuriating is the new upchucking rhetoric, led by the ubiquitous team of Sharpton and Jackson, that NOLA is being neglected by Washington (read: President Bush) because it is a city with an extremely large black population. They’ve conveniently ignored the fact that Mayor Nagin has been calling the shots that has led to this fiasco, and he is black! How many of you have seen the photos of NOLA school buses partially submerged in water in school parking lots? Why didn’t Nagin order those buses used to evac the city over last week-end? He could have saved lives and the city the money it’s going to cost to replace or repair those water-logged school buses. Instead of being pro-active and responsible, he’s letting Jackson and Sharpton set the tone of blaming the Bush administration for not bailing him out of his humiliation sooner.

President Bush is going to be blamed for everything in this one — from not sending federal troops in before they were asked for, for those troops applying force if necessary to restore order to the city, even for the fact that Katrina existed if the rhetoric can be made palpable enough. He needs our ongoing prayers, along with the residents of the city of New Orleans.