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Hurricane Katrina

Reveals our need for reconciliation

Hurricane Katrina blew the roof off of our collective complacency and denial, exposing the faces of poverty in our land. What better place to have an honest reality show than the Superdome, a coliseum that symbolizes our entertainment industry? Like the ancient coliseums in the Roman Empire, we have found our collective way to avoid facing the truth about our drugged and complacent social order. Our society keeps the poor hidden from view. Katrina stripped away our denials.

When we realize that our relationships with others are broken, it isn’t enough to simply give words of sorrow and regret. More is needed. Repentance, forgiveness and healing are all needed in order to make our relationships right and wholesome again. Our “hidden poor” need restoration of their social and economic rights, and they need to have their God-given dignity recognized and restored.

The process isn’t easy because it begins with an acknowledgement of sin, an admission of fault. Swallowing our pride is a tall order for many of us. Those who have an Imperial Self controlling their thoughts and feelings face the toughest challenge. The Imperial Self believes it knows all the answers and is always right. Our Imperial Selves need to be dethroned.

Once the acknowledgment barrier has been removed, sin and error have been openly admitted, and forgiveness both asked and received, another major obstacle is faced. Will there be a sincere and genuine attempt to change the way we will live and act with each other? Will the “firm purpose of amendment” be genuine or will it simply be words? Talk, after all, is cheap. Probation and behavioral change are costly. As bad as it hurts to admit we’ve wronged others, to admit that we’ve sinned, it is perhaps more difficult to actually change the way we act, to change the way we treat the ones we’ve wronged.

The temptation is to blame the victims. Another temptation is to lapse into finger-pointing and play the blame game. What is to be done after blame has been assigned? The blame game is simply another form of denial, another escape from reality, another block to the restoration process.

All of which ought to cause us to pause and reflect on the value and meaning of asking for forgiveness. Then we need to begin working at the restoration of our damaged relationships, both amongst ourselves as human beings and in our relationships with God.