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3 posts categorized "Enkidu"

October 18, 2005

God and Katrina

From Enkidu, Theologian-in-Residence (October 1, 2005)

Though I grew up in New Orleans and was distraught, to say the least, as she went under Hurricane Katrina’s waters, it did not occur to me at the time to question God’s role in the disaster.

A number of my relatives and friends felt differently.  “Why has God taken my home, my job, my known world?  What have I done to deserve this?”  Or, alternatively, “why was I spared when so many others, better than me, perished?”

Given God’s purportedly causative actions last Christmas in the eastern Indian Ocean and on an infinite number of occasions before, such questions may seem parochial, though they are unquestionably heartfelt.

A few groups of people, however, had no doubts about God’s intentions.

Al-Qaeda, in a broadcasted news item, announced that "the whole Muslim world was filled with joy" as God “battered New Orleans, city of homosexuals."

Some among the American Religious Right pronounced similar posthumous judgment upon my hometown.

Franklin (son of Billy) Graham explained that “God is going to use that storm to bring a revival. God has a plan. God has a purpose… I would certainly pray that the gay and lesbian movement, the people that have this lifestyle, will come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior and experience their sins being forgiven.”

Perhaps the American Religious Right and their Islamist counterparts worship the same deity after all? 

Then again, the less moralistic among the American Right offered a slightly different explanation for His destructive motives. 

“I truly believe that it was God’s intention to have Katrina come to New Orleans to eliminate the blacks from the city” my mother’s Republican friend told her. 

“This is God’s way of getting rid of the blacks” my dad overheard while having his flood-damaged car repaired.

“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them” noted Barbara Bush as she viewed the refugee camp in the Houston Astrodome.

Destruction and exile for the impoverished?  Specifically those impoverished by centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and oppressive social and economic policies?  Destruction and exile as the solution to black poverty?

I doubt the God of Al-Qaeda would be so racist.  He is too busy smiting Shi’a, Australian tourists and, of course, homosexuals, too bother with such things.

May 18, 2005

Wal-Mart in Vermont

A Non-Religious Query from Enkidu, Theologian-in-Residence

Sometimes moderate Republicans I chat with are surprised to meet an actual Liberal. Having grown used to considering all “liberals” to be Socialist, they are a bit stymied to find themselves faced by an ardent Democrat who argues in their own language.

My Socialist friends are less surprised by my Liberalism, but are equally frustrated when, on occasion, we differ on policy decisions.

A recent bill proposed in the Vermont Legislature is a case in point of the latter.  The issue at hand is the increasing difficulties experienced by country stores in the small towns of that state.  Apparently they are being under-priced by the Wal-Marts going up in every other county. 

As a devout Liberal who admires the gains of the labor movement over the past 150-odd years, my first reaction was “if these stores have the organizational capacity to lobby the state legislature, why don’t not pool their buying and advertising power to compete with Wal-Mart head-on in Vermont?” 

Alternatively, as a New Yorker who shops at their own corner store rather than trekking a few blocks to the Big Box on the avenue might propose, specialization rather than broad-product competition might be an answer.

Actually, however, the bill in Vermont imposes a limit on the size of retail outlets, and accompanies this legal dam with a $50 million dollars in state grants and loans to small-business owners. 

Readers: please advise me as to how this regulatory solution is in the interests of the citizens of Vermont, and how it is superior to the alternatives that I and my New Yorker counterpart recommend?

May 08, 2005

"The End of Big [Democratic] Government"

From Enkidu, Theologian-in-Residence (May 8, 2005)

Every now and then, I encounter Americans who self-identify as Buddhists.  "Mahayana or Theravada?" I ask.  They never know what I'm talking about.

Really, I don't know very much about Buddhism.  Not enough, anyway.  I know enough to know that I am not a Buddhist, which is more than my interlocutors can claim.

I also know that I am not a Libertarian, and I encounter Americans who self-identify that way even more often than erstwhile Buddhists.  These people almost always vote GOP.  In the past half-decade, a few of them have even accompanied their votes with passionate rants in favor of President W's gang or against the current Democratic party.

Do you know any similar "Libertarians?"  If so, here's a Mother's Day present that I hope you share with them.  It's the May 3, 2005 Policy Analysis from the Cato Institute, a Libertarian (for real!) think tank. 

Here's part of the Executive Summary:

President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson. Even after excluding spending on defense and homeland security, Bush is still the biggest-spending president in 30 years. His 2006 budget doesn't cut enough spending to change his place in history, either.

Total government spending grew by 33 percent during Bush's first term. The federal budget as a share of the economy grew from 18.5 percent of GDP on Clinton's last day in office to 20.3 percent by the end of Bush's first term. The Republican Congress has enthusiastically assisted the budget bloat. Inflation-adjusted spending on the combined budgets of the 101 largest programs they vowed to eliminate in 1995 has grown by 27 percent...

The GOP establishment in Washington today has become a defender of big government.

My own mother's not a Libertarian, by the way.  She's a "Buddhist."