Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Water Communion and Hurricane Katrina

This past Sunday was our congregation's Water Communion service where everyone in the congregation who wants to participate pours water with a special significance to them and their family into a common bowl to symbolize how many individuals become one body in mutual love and support.

Today, in the aftermath of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina I was struck by the many ways people are rallying around to help out the people who suffered from another sort of mingling of the waters.

In the book Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, author James M. Barry tells the story of a similar natural disaster and how it transformed politics and race relations for decades.

Comments about the book from Library Journal give more details:
In the spring of 1927, America witnessed perhaps its greatest natural disaster: a flood that profoundly changed race relations, government, and society in the Mississippi River valley region. Barry (The Transformed Cell, LJ 9/1/92) presents here a fascinating social history of the effects of the massive flood. More than 30 feet of water stood over land inhabited by nearly one million people. Almost 300,000 African Americans were forced to live in refugee camps for months. Many people, both black and white, left the land and never returned. Using an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, Barry clearly traces and analyzes how the changes produced by the flood in the lower South came into conflict and ultimately destroyed the old planter aristocracy, accelerated black migration to the North, and foreshadowed federal government intervention in the region's social and economic life during the New Deal. His well-written work supplants Pete Daniel's Deep'n as It Come: The 1927 Mississippi Flood (1977) as the standard work on the subject. Recommended for public and academic libraries. -- Charles C. Hay III, Eastern Kentucky University Libraries, Richmond
Research shows that global warming is indeed contributing to the increase in severity of hurricanes, if not necessarily their frequency.

Perhaps lasting political change can come in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the trio of storms that hit Florida in 2004 like it did after the Great Mississippi Flood when African Americans were driven from the party of Lincoln and transformed into the backbone of the Democratic party.

We can hope that a natural disaster of this scale can help bring us together instead of fueling increased polarization. We're not Red and Blue anymore, just muddy brown.


Anonymous Robin Edgar said...

This reminds of a water communion I attended several years ago at the Unitarian Church of Montreal. A "church" member who was a chemist and in the line ahead of me went on and on about all the wonderful positive aspects of water. At one point she spoke about how "wonderful" it was that the solid form of water was lighter than the liquid form of water. When it was my turn to speak I felt obliged to pint out that the passengers on the Titanic and other ships that had hit ice bergs and sunk probabl y weren't so thrilled about that scientific fact and I reminded her and indeed the whole congregation that the 1998 ice strom hadn't been a whole lot of fun either. . .

12:43 AM  
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