Friday, September 09, 2005

Katrina vs. Vesuvius

I was in Pompeii several years ago, and amidst the ruined redlight district of the ancient city, I remarked, "Wow, God really brought his wrath upon this pagan place." A lady overheard and answered in a nasally nag, "You don't really believe that do ya?" Well, while stepping over the phallus-shaped arrows on the cobblestone streets which pointed to the brothels, I couldn't help but consider it.
Last night I spent several hours in the Pompeii exhibit at the Museum of Civilization. It is North America's first time to host this famed exhibition, and after Ottawa it heads to Chicago and then Tokyo. The event brought 100,000 spectators during the summer. Is it coincidence that the most preserved specimen of devastation, the most clear picture of a sinful society frozen forever in a moment of time and buried under 25 meters (82 ft.), is on a global tour for all to see during the worst natural disaster in America's history? Granted, Southern Italy in the first century was no more sinful than many places today, but I think New Orleans was worse. As an example, Pompeii, like all Roman cities constructed in a grid pattern, with their streets running N to S, E to W. Its redlight district, which imported (and enslaved) girls from all over the world, was on a street that curved through the middle of the town. The purpose? To conceal. You can't see down the street unless you go there. The revelry, although vast, was somewhat concealed. I'm not justifying it, but wanting to make a comparison to New Orleans. It is known that certain acts were performed in the streets in front of spectators all the time. It was a culture of public sin. People have sent video and photos to police and government which were ignored. I need not mention the rampant voodoo religion in the area, which immigrated from Haiti generations ago. Actually, the picture above is a detail of a Herculanean fresco from the "Villa of the Mysteries". The strange, and yet-to be-understood mural depicts a secret ritual of one of the Roman mystery cults. This poor girl is the object of some type of humiliation/initiation or abuse.
I saw a lady on the news in New Orleans crying out that this is a "wakeup call" from God and the people of New Orleans need to repent from their sin. I'm surprised the media showed her, but God bless that woman. Where are the prophets, where are the Elijahs and Jeremiahs? Who will interpret the signs which are so clearly in front of us, signs that blew across literally miles of our land? If a poor, black, ebonics-speaking woman is the one to stand up and cry out, than let it be so. God's people need to stand and comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Shepherd the Gulf Coast and the entire nation into repentance and righteousness.