Generous Orthodoxy  




Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Resurrection of New Orleans

Behind the Cathedral of St. Louis there is a statue of Christ with his arms upraised in a powerful gesture of blessing. At night it is dramatically lit with a spot that casts a shadow on the wall of the church behind it. The shadow is three or four times larger than the statue, an effect which exponentially multiplies the visual impact.

On one of my many trips to New Orleans a few years ago I took a literary walking tour through the French Quarter with Kenneth Holditch, who was a friend of Tennessee Williams. It was one of the best tours I ever took. Holditch said that Williams had taken a particular apartment on Toulouse Street because it afforded a view of the statue. Williams said the atatue was comforting to him because it seemed that Christ was stretching out his arms to the suffering world.

The French Quarter and the Cathedral survived the hurricane relatively unharmed. May our Lord lift up the city of New Orleans from the dead. A friend, the rector of All Saints River Ridge, wrote me that the Resurrection of the city would look like Mardi Gras!

There is much we can do, even from a distance, to give heart and soul to the rebuilding. Churches in Mississippi also need our help. Episcopal Relief and Development is one agency that is positioned to help, and the other denominations also have funds similarly ready to go to work with a minimun of administrative overhead.

"Everyone here is grand to me -- painters and writers; In the evening we gather somewhere and discuss the world and politics and art and death." -- William Faulkner, describing the French Quarter in a 1925 letter to his mother