MSNBC.com posted on 24 August the article “‘No compassion’ for Katrina loan applicants". It is a story about how employees in the SBA who were supposed to help victims of Hurricane Katrina were rewarded for closing loan applications quickly and penalized if they did not. Very often, applicants were required to fax in documents, sometimes with as many as 70 pages, within 48 hours. Remember, this was an area hit by a disaster, so the likelihood of even having all the right documents was small.
One thing it points out is that a huge centralized agency is not necessarily more efficient. While a catastrophe this size needs some assistance from outside, the net effect of a huge centralized organization sometimes just becomes a bottleneck.
God’s form of distribution of needed assistance within Israel was a lot more centralized, distributing the 3rd tithe “within thy gates” (Dt 14:28-29). In fact, God seemed to desire a flatter type of government overall, as the Book of Judges records no centralized government at all but regional judges sometimes serving at the same time in different areas.
Worse is the callous attitudes with which the SBA carried out its duties. It is very similar to how the banks have dealt with all the economic problems of the unemployed and those with high medical bills, callously foreclosing on properties while only 17% of people seeking assistance have actually received any.
Jesus said that because of iniquity, the love of many would wax cold (Mt 24:12). Some have argued that this only applies to Christians because the word is “agape”. I wonder, though. If even Christians are having difficulty with love, what about the world? Does this mean that Christians in the end time become lukewarm in love? Do they allow the world to change them rather them affecting the world around them?
I recall in the wake of Katrina, one COG Regional Pastor (who used to pastor the New Orleans church) said the city should NOT be rebuilt. He might have told survivors to go away and rebuild in Houston.
I think he based this on the "lay of the land" engineering aspects of the area. But I heard another COG minister calls N.O. "a very sinful city," which God was punishing. I responded to him by saying the U.S. has a LOT of sinful cities.
But Katrina also brought what I consider one of LifeNets' finest hours — going to the Astrodome to help transplanted survivors, no matter what their religious background. It would be nice to see LifeNets recapture that, but it's been silent about several recent major disasters.
@Richard: You know, I really don't think rebuilding New Orleans is such a grand idea from a practical viewpoint. However, we either need to aid them to rebuild it or help those devastated by it to rebuild elsewhere. It's just the right thing to do. It is the compassionate thing to do. I assume the unnamed Regional Minister would have said the same thing if given the chance to think about the impact of what he said (not sure who it is, and neither do I care to look it up, but I try not to assume the worst).
Your second example is a little more disturbing to me. It's almost as bad as that guy in Australia a couple years ago who claimed the brush fires were a result of God's displeasure at abortion. In either case, there seems to be a rather presumptive attitude that they somehow know exactly what God is thinking at a particular point in time.
When speaking in generalities, we do know that Israel will be punished for her sins in the latter days. However, until I see the words "Katrina" or "New Orleans" in the Bible, I will remain skeptical about those who apply that general principle to specific circumstances.
I'm not convinced that New Orleans is necessarily more sinful than any other major city in this country. I think a lot of things in this world happen because God says, "OK, you want to do it alone? You want to kick Me out of your governments, schools and daily lives? You think you don't need My protection? Here's what happens when I'm not around to intervene. You can choose My way or your own way, but it is your choice."
In fact, if anything, we should be reminded how important it is to stay close to God and ask for His protection. Maybe, just maybe, if enough in a city did that, He would spare the entire city. Maybe, just maybe, if enough in an entire state did that, He would protect the entire state. Maybe if an entire nation repented and turned to Him, it would be and stay the most powerful nation on earth.
While we are on the subject of lack of compassion, a couple of related (I think, at least) articles have made some attention:
CEOs lay off thousands, rake in millions – Business – U.S. business – msnbc.com.
Richest lawmakers grew wealthier as economy faltered | The Upshot Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News