June 1–Let the Hurricane Season Begin

Of course, it’s not like the storms are lining up in the eastern Caribbean waiting for midnight so they can start their westward trek. It’s only a date on the calendar, yet June 1 has loomed large in the minds of New Orleanians for nine months now, ever since Katrina sashayed through and left us on our knees.

This week so far has been spent in meetings. Monday was Memorial Day. Tuesday, Freddie Arnold and I had separate meetings with the summer intern with the Baptist Message, our state paper, followed by an all day session with several leaders from our North American Mission Board and the state convention, plotting ways and means of doing evangelism in this hurting city. Wednesday, our pastors and church leaders–some 90 of them–spent the day at Oak Park Baptist Church hearing Bob Vickers and Donna Long explain the processes of writing grant proposals to be submitted to big charitable foundations around the country. The afternoon was primarily given to helping the pastors apply for their share of the $20 million available for churches from the Bush-Clinton-Katrina Fund. Bob and Donna–and their families–are in our city for several of these lengthy seminars. Their organization goes by the dual titles of Artful Askers and National Bridge Alliance.

“You’re only going to get 35 thousand dollars at the most,” they kept telling our leaders, “and that isn’t much.” We had asked them to spend the bulk of their time helping our guys complete the Bush-Clinton applications, which they did, but they kept insisting there is a lot more money, bigger money, out there to help the churches if one knows where to go and how to ask.

I did not sense a lot of enthusiasm in our pastors about applying with other charitable foundations for grants to fund their programs, but if two or three churches benefit, it will have been worth the effort and investment. We were the guests of the Louisiana Baptist Convention today. And of the wonderful people of Oak Park Baptist Church, as usual. Running the sanctuary air conditioning the entire day is not cheap, and today was a hot one. In fact, when I was driving across the river shortly after 9 am, the thermometer was almost hitting 90. And it’s only May. A good group of volunteers at Oak Park turns out every Wednesday to prepare and serve lunch for our pastors and other leaders. At the same time, a church group from outside our area had arrived this week to do work at Oak Park. They’re staying in the bunk beds the church has built on the third floor of their ed building just for this purpose.

The front page of Wednesday’s Times-Picayune shows an exciting concept that is being presented to the city, a plan to revamp much of the heart of the business district. People who have attended events at the Superdome know how the Hyatt Hotel is connected to the dome by a short walkway, and the hotel is part of an upscale shopping facility known as the New Orleans Centre. Neither the hotel nor the shopping center have reopened since Katrina, and today we found out why.

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Some personal stuff about family…

This past weekend, our family on my mother’s side had its reunion, something we do on alternate Memorial Day weekends. The first one–1994–will always loom in my mind as the best. It was perfect in every way on Saturday, with over 100 relatives from many states arriving and enjoying each other all day, the nighttime bonfire with the family stories many had never heard, the worship service the next morning in our family church followed by a catered lunch my siblings brought in, and finally a massage by the family chiropractor, and an hour of rummy, all of it climaxed by the phone call. Margaret was calling from New Orleans to say that daughter-in-law Julie had been taken to the hospital to give birth to their first child. I was out the door for a 6 or 7 hour drive home. Grant Waller McKeever was born around mid-day, Memorial Day, May 30, 1994.

Here is how that event was described in my daily journal (which I kept for every day during the decade of the 1990s)….

“Sunday, May 29 Nauvoo. Mom and Dad rode to church with me. Sign in front congratulated Carl and Lois McKeever on their 60th anniversary. Service started 30 minutes early, at 10:30. Bill Chadwick sang, as did Mike Kilgore, and Debbie McKeever played a solo on the piano. Ronnie and I both gave 5 minute talks about the family and what this church means to us. Their pastor Mickey Crane (whom Ronnie teasingly calls Ricky Wayne) preached. Then all had lunch downstairs. Our treat. (Each of the six kids paid $100 for expenses of the weekend.) I drew several kids. Home about 2 pm. Sitting around in living room at Pop’s (Deedee, Mom, Ruby, Bill Chadwick, etc) Bill, chiropractor at Clanton, AL, said, “Who wants an adjustment?” 30 minutes later, I was lying on the floor, a completely relaxed blob. Then, he did Mom. They left about 3 or 3:30. Some of us went into the sun room and played rummy. Russell and I vs. Charlie and Pop. At 4:15, Margaret called and said, “Get here! They’ve gone to the hospital.” The call I’d been expecting. This morning, I called Neil and Julie (in Metairie). I asked Julie, “Any word from Grant or Abigail?” (Note: These were the baby names, depending on boy or girl, which was unknown to them at the time.) She: “No. They’ve been very quiet.” In 10 minutes, I’d loaded up and Mom had made me two sandwiches and I was on my way. Arrived at Lakeside Hospital in Metairie at 11 pm. Julie having a hard, slow time of it. Nurses say she’d not give birth before daylight. Margaret had already gone home. Ray and Betty Gatwood and Becky Poole (Julie’s parents and only sister) and husband Lance were there, along with Julie’s co-worker Paula something. Betty and Paula stayed all night. I left at 3:30 am. Had tried sleeping in waiting room, using a phone book as a pillow. After arriving at home, woke up Margaret and she decided to go to the hospital, since Neil had asked me to bring him a windbreaker (the hospital was frigid) and some antacids. I slept til 6, showered, and arrived back at 7 am. Later, Ray returned. At 11 am, we all went to Piccadilly cafeteria in the next block for lunch. My treat. $28. At 2 pm or so, Neil came in, said, “They say Julie is worn out. So they’re going to try the forceps. If that doesn’t work, will do a ‘C’ section.” Nurse Kay Magner from our church was with us. Said, “They’ll just try the forceps once.’ 15 or 20 minutes later, I was standing at the nursery window looking at babies. Margaret stepped out of the waiting room and said, ‘Come walk with me. Help me walk off this anxiety.’ So we walked. She wondered why we’d not heard from them. Shouldn’t take so long to try the forceps. At that moment, I glanced into the nursery window. Neil stood there in his green hospital garb, waving and pointing to a baby–his!–in the bed. A thrill. I ran to the waiting room and called to everyone, ‘Come see our baby!’ Grant was perfect. 8 lbs 14 oz. I’d feared more, which would have prevented a natural birth. 21 inches long. We all enjoyed talking and hugging. Matt Gabrielse (he and Ken had come) and I went to the gift shop and bought Neil a hat saying, ‘Proud New Father.’ And we made phone calls. I got Marty and Misha’s answering machine (in Charlotte NC). It said, “Hey, what’s the news? We’re anxious to know! Give us a call so we’ll know how to get in touch!” Margaret and I came home later. It must have been 7 or 7:30 when I got to bed. Dead tired.”

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“Lord, Anything But Normal, Please.”

Tuesday, speaking at the associational leadership planning conference in Alexandria, I began my remarks with a story of our grandson Grant, who turns 12 on May 30. Grant was 3 and a half when this conversation occurred.

He and I were goofing off at the church playground when I decided to see if he knew the four seasons of the year. I said, “Grant, what do we call it when the weather is very hot, too hot to go outside and play?” He said, “Summer.” “Right. Now, what do we call it when the weather starts getting cooler and the leaves turn brown and start to come off the trees?” He thought for a second, then said, “Fall.” “Good. Now, what do we call it when it’s really cold, too cold to go outside and play?” He said, “Winter.” “And what do we call it when the grass turns green, the birds come back, and all the flowers start to bloom?” He paused a moment, then brightened up and said, “Allergies!” A genuine New Orleans kid!

Some of the conditions we have traditionally associated with this city, allergies being one of them, are returning. We have a crime wave going on, with the latest murder being a woman walking the track at LaFreniere Park at 9:30 pm the other night while her son was jogging being abducted and found the next morning. Thursday morning’s paper says the prime suspect is a foreign construction worker who quickly borrowed his boss’s pickup truck and departed for parts unknown. Several murders a night is becoming the norm, just like the old days.

And political corruption. The uncle of former Mayor Marc Morial has pleaded guilty to swindling the Regional Transit Authority with which he previously had a management contract out of over a half million dollars. He will be required to repay the money and spend some time in jail, although a sentencing date has not been set. Thursday’s newspaper features an editorial and letters calling for the resignation from Congress of William Jefferson, our local U.S. Representative who is looking more and more like he’s headed for the federal pen, if the reports in the news media are to be believed. Whether he abused his congressional powers to feather his own nest or not, it appears that he took hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors to bribe African officials in countries where their businesses were trying to get established. Either way, it’s all illegal. Editorial cartoonists are having a field day with the ninety thousand dollars the FBI found stashed in his freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil and sealed in Tupperware. One day earlier, an investor had given him a hundred grand in a briefcase to purchase a few officials in Ghana or somewhere.

I’m not judging the man, merely reporting that this is the story against him in the news and thus far, he has refused to present any other interpretation of the events. People sometimes say, “He’s innocent until proven guilty.” Analyzing that, it makes no sense. If I take a gun and hold up a bank and flee, I am guilty whether it’s proven or not. Only in the court of law must I be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Big, big difference, but one which most people never think about long enough to catch.

All of the above, the crime and political corruption and everything else, are reminders of the great need to pray for New Orleans.

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And What Are You Doing This Memorial Day Weekend?

New Orleanians are now receiving reactions in the letters column of the newspaper to the re-election of Ray Nagin as mayor. The sentiment from those outside our area is: “I can’t believe you did that; you deserve what you get.”

The paper says Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco have made up, more or less. The governor says the mayor says all these inflammatory things, but when they meet is all contrition and humility, and that both are willing to try again to stand united in getting this city and the region the help we have to receive.

The Democratic congressional leadership is pressuring local U.S.Representative William Jefferson to step down from membership on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He refuses, saying he has not been indicted of any crime and that New Orleans needs his representation on this committee to help in the rebuilding of the city.

A Two-Part Diversion:

Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas died this week. Our paper ran a short bio, mentioning the one incident everyone remembers, his famous 1988 putdown of Dan Quayle in the vice-presidential debates. In response to Quayle’s invoking comparisons with himself and President Kennedy, Bentsen said, “I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was my friend; Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.” I came out of my chair in perfect unison with an uproar from the live audience hearing the debate. It was the perfect putdown, no matter whose side you were on, and one that Mr. Quayle will never outlive.

What the newspaper did not say was that in 1976 Senator Bentsen ran for the democratic nomination for president, the year Jimmy Carter won. I have a personal reason for not forgetting that event.

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Nagin Re-Elected; Life in New Orleans Resumes

The headline in Sunday morning’s paper announced: “IT’S NAGIN.” The incumbent mayor took 52% of the vote to 48% for Lt. Governor Landrieu. Polls closed Saturday at 8 pm and by 10 pm Landrieu had conceded. To my surprise, voting in this runoff was up 1% over the primary.

I suppose it reflects my personal feeling about this contest that I went to bed at 9 pm without bothering to check the results on TV, then got up at 2:30 am for an hour or more–I’m 66 and this is not uncommon, they tell me, unfortunately–without a thought to finding out who had won the election, but during which I worked on Psalm 1, colored a drawing I’ve done for the folks back home, and read my Robert Whitlow novel, before turning out the lights. No matter who won the mayor’s election, I decided, I would be disappointed. No one man is going to heal this city.

My own observation is that Mitch Landrieu has only himself to blame for losing this election. He could never make a real differentiation between himself and the mayor, and since the voters couldn’t either, they just could not find a good reason to try the “other guy.” The paper says New Orleans has a 60-year tradition of re-electing its incumbents to the mayor’s office. Rather than reflecting satisfaction with the guy in the office, it probably means people prefer the “devil you know to the one you don’t,” as the old saying puts it.

Nagin had a good quote at his victory party. “As Gandhi once said, ‘First, they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. And then you win.'” Christians through the centuries can identify with that.

Here are two paragraphs from this morning’s Times-Picayune.

“Arguably the most important election in New Orleans’ history, Saturday’s vote played out beneath the long shadow of Katrina, which unleashed floodwaters into about 80 percent of the city and scattered evacuees to nearly every state in the union. By election day, more than half of the 462,000 pre-Katrina residents remained in exile, including as many as 200,000 registered voters.”

“Given the vast diaspora, Saturday’s turnout could be considered brisk. Returns showed that 113,591 people cast a ballot for mayor, or about 38 percent of the city’s 298,512 eligible voters. Nearly 25,000 people–almost one-fourth of those who cast ballots–mailed or faxed in an absentee ballot or voted in person at one of the 10 balloting centers set up around the state for early voting. Turnout was 1 percent higher than in the primary.”

More and more, the most thoughtful take on the local situation is an op-ed column by staff writer Stephanie Grace. Her column this morning was headed, “Mr. Mayor, time to get to work.” She congratulated Nagin for winning when so many had written him off. “Still,” she said, “don’t take it as a sign that things at City Hall are fine. They’re not. If they were, you wouldn’t have attracted so many strong opponents.”

Grace says to the mayor, “You might be tempted to read your narrow victory as vindication for how you’ve handled your job over the nearly nine months since Katrina. I don’t. I read it, rather, as an expression of hope.”

What kind of hope? Stephanie Grace says voters hope that he will be more willing to level with his constituents now that he’s not running for the office, to tell them the hard truths instead of saying what the group he’s with expects to hear. Hope that being a lame duck mayor, starting today, will allow him to throw off the political considerations that bug him so much and to follow his gut instincts. Hope that he will find a way to work with other politicians and not be a lone ranger. And, she says, “hope that most of all, you will finish what you start, or talk about starting.”

Grace analyzes Nagin’s win as “widespread affection for you, quirks and all; of sympathy over all the heat you’ve taken since your city was hit with the worst disaster in American history; of trust that you want to do the right thing.”

Grace has several suggestions for Nagin. “How about not declaring deals are done until they actually are?” Let some of the defeated candidates who later endorsed him get involved with their energy and ideas. “And think about bringing in a fresh team to work at City Hall.”

She ends with this: “It may well be true that nobody could have done a better job handling the hurricane than you did. At this point, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the voters have taken a leap of faith, and given you a second chance to get a handle on the aftermath. You owe it to them to make the most of it.”

A leap of faith. Brings to mind what happened Friday night.

At the wedding rehearsal for Jennifer Screen and Renato Costa at the FBC of Kenner, a transformer blew outside and we were plunged into darkness. Using only a couple of flashlights, we went on with the rehearsal. Later, we teased the couple about how marriage is a leap of faith, a step into the dark.

A full house attended the nuptials Saturday at 2 pm. The wedding party was young and beautiful, and almost all were music majors, I found out, which fits considering the calling of the bride and groom. Remember this name–Sarah Jane McMahon, who sang “The Lord’s Prayer.” A longtime friend and Loyola classmate of Jennifer’s, Sarah Jane is an opera singer with a wonderful future. She recently sang with Placido Domingo and just did a Handel opera with the New York City Opera. She’s a fine Christian young lady with an incredible voice and movie-star looks, and we’re excited for her.

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On the Day Before the Biggest Election in New Orleans’ History

Probably the biggest. I wasn’t around for most of this city’s elections, so I must not be too dogmatic about this. I mean, the city was founded in 1718!

Everyone says it’s a toss-up, that Mayor Nagin and Lt. Gov. Landrieu are too similar in their positions for the voters to have a clear choice, and that a large percentage of the electorate will not decide until they enter the booth. Both candidates have full-page ads in Friday’s paper. Nagin’s has color photos of himself looking presidential, and of three of the defeated candidates endorsing him. Underneath is a long list of people who have endorsed him, including the mayors in the National Black Mayors Conference. That one is somewhat puzzling. You have a white guy running against the black guy, and the Black Mayors organization endorses…which one? I wonder, have they ever, in their history, endorsed a non-black for anything? I don’t know; just raising the question of what weight their approval carries.

On this day when “The DaVinci Code” movie opens all across the country, Religion Writer Bruce Nolan found that local churches and ministers are “too weary to worry about (the) film.” He quotes our Dennis Watson of Celebration Church: “For most of us in New Orleans, we’re so overwhelmed it’s not even on the radar. This (controversial film) is far more important to people in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles. But in New Orleans, we’re still just struggling to survive.”

My son Marty–webmaster of this site, husband to Misha, and father to the wonderful Darilyn and Jack–says author Dan Brown was smart picking on Christians in his “DaVinci” book. Had he picked on some other religions of the world, the leaders would not be answering him from their pulpits with truth and logic, but putting a price on his head and sending assassins his way. The word on the “DaVinci” movie, however, is that Ron Howard and Tom Hanks soft-pedaled the controversial portions of the story, robbing it of its zip and making it less interesting. No matter. That’s one movie I will enjoy not seeing.

I like the suggestion of somebody, a nun, I think, who said we all ought to go see “Beyond the Hedge,” the computer animated children’s movie that also hits the screens today, and let the “DaVinci” folks see the power of this portion of their audience.

One more thing, and it’s the last thing I plan to say DaVincially. There’s a good side to all this. Think of the multitudes who are asking thought-provoking questions about the foundations of the Christian faith. That can only turn out one way, if they will stay with their quest long enough to find the answers. And, think of the thousands of pastors in pulpits everywhere proclaiming the authenticity of the Scriptures, the deity of Christ, and the solid rock on which the Christian faith rests, all as a result of the attack made on the faith by Dan Brown’s book. My hunch is no one who truly believes will have their faith shaken by Brown’s attack, and a lot of people who took these things for granted will be asking the ultimate questions now. And finding ultimate answers.

One of these days, Satan will figure out these schemes of his have a way of back-firing. One of the aspects of being a Christian I treasure most is that we have truth on our side. Jesus said Satan is a liar and the father of lies.

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Seen Any Angels Lately?

When Freddie Arnold stood before our pastors meeting today, he told of certain people who have ministered to him and to us in remarkable ways. Then he asked, “Who has been blessed by an angel lately? Stand and tell us.”

Lynn Rodrigue of FBC Port Sulphur told how a Georgia church is manufacturing a modular church building for their use. “When it’s finished,” he said, “it will be large enough for worship on Sundays and for us to house visiting groups during the week.” Port Sulphur is some 30 or 35 miles downriver below Belle Chasse, in devastated Plaquemines Parish. “We have one store in our town and one gas station,” Lynn said. Gas is over three dollars a gallon.

“We’re handing out food and water and supplies to some 500 or 600 people a week,” he said. “It must weigh 40 pounds and takes a wheelbarrow to bring it up to the car.” They have accumulated the names and addresses of several thousand residents who have received supplies. “As soon as I’m able,” Lynn said, “I plan to knock on their doors and say, ‘Hello. Remember me?’ and talk to them about the Lord, invite them to church.”

Where do the supplies come from? “From angels.” All over. Lynn said, “We never know who’s going to send what. But they keep arriving and we keep handing them out.”

Lynn told us how he searched for his missing boat for several days. He finally found it, squashed, lying underneath a neighbor’s house, a house that is now sitting in Lynn’s backyard. Not one house in Port Sulphur survived the storm. How depressing is it living and working amid such destruction, I asked. “I’m doing fine,” he said. “I’m excited about this opportunity God has handed us.”

Opportunity? Lynn and his wife and four children live in a FEMA trailer, all of 240 square feet. “We go back to Baton Rouge a couple of days a week, to remember what normal is all about,” he said. God bless them.

Lionel Roberts of the Saint Bernard Mission, next door to the vacated housing project of that name, said, “We are having church in our sanctuary. In fact, it looks better now than it did before the storm. We started out great on Easter Sunday, but have been declining since. Then, this past Sunday, Mother’s Day, we had a houseful, including 19 mothers. I suppose that means we had at least 19 families present.”

Lionel said, “Our angels have been the Adopt-a-Churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. We have been smothered in love and kindnesses. Our church has been so blessed.”

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Or, A Mantrip Ride Might Be Just the Thing

Cherry Blackwell asked me to get word to all pastors’ wives in the New Orleans area, that a retreat/conference has been scheduled for you this Thursday and Friday, May 18 and 19, at Williams Boulevard Baptist Church in Kenner. Call Cherry for information: 504/451-9333.

We’re also trying to get word to every pastor, every minister, every church leader in this area whose church was severely hurt by Katrina and who wants some of the Bush-Clinton-Katrina money to assist in your rebuilding. On Wednesday, May 31, Donna Long, a professional advisor on grant-writing, will be leading a free conference at Oak Park Baptist Church for you, beginning at 10 am. Normally, she charges $125 to attend these day long conferences, but between her generous contribution of her time and talent and the Louisiana Baptist Convention picking up her expenses, there will be no charge. On the 31st, registration starts at 9:30 am in the church sanctuary, the conference starts at 10, lunch is provided, and in the afternoon, she will assist each one in writing their application. We understand the Bush-Clinton folks are giving $20 million to assist churches damaged by the hurricane.

Today over lunch in the cafeteria of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Dennis Cole told of his pastor, David Arceneaux of Gentilly, coming down with cancer. Like Brother Dave needed some other stress in his life. Lost his home and his church, relocated to Houston, and now this. Pray for him, please. And while you’re at it, others of our pastors would love to be on your prayer list. Pastor Benny Jones of Destrehan’s First Baptist Church is ill. Pastor Wayne Scholle of Jean Lafitte’s Barataria Baptist Church resigned last Sunday. He and Lara have a new baby, their second daughter. Thank you for lifting to the Lord David, Benny, and Wayne.

You wonder about some people. First, I read in the paper that the two mayoral candidates had meekly caved in to All Congregations Together and signed their pledge, agreeing to a retreat with them within 45 days of being elected, to meet with them bi-monthly, and to run all major appointments by them. I wrote a letter to the editor of our paper commenting on the lack of backbone they exhibited and wondered who else they may be caving in to. Couple of days later, some writer picked up on the theme, said I was on target and he wonders who the ACT people think they are? A bunch of ayatollahs in Iran? So, today’s newspaper ran an answer, of sorts.

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A Train Ride Might Be Just the Thing

A psychiatrist friend said this week, “Everyone down here is depressed. The traffic is terrible. You have to wait in long lines for everything.” A therapist agreed and said, “Many doctors have moved away to Houma and Baton Rouge. They just can’t take living here any more. If you’re going to live here,” she said, “you need to get out of the city and find some beautiful scenery from time to time to keep your sanity.” A friend commented, “There is no beautiful scenery in this city or within an hour’s drive in any direction.”

When I go to another city to speak, our host will often say something like, “Thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to be with us today. I know it was a sacrifice.” I feel like saying, “I came for myself. I needed to get out of the city for a while.”

Memorial Day weekend, our family will have what we call a “cousins’ reunion” at our maternal grandparents’ old homeplace out from Nauvoo, Alabama, and on that Sunday I’m preaching at Zion United Methodist Church in Jasper. Driving home on that Monday. Everything about it will be therapeutic. (Or as Barney Fife says, “Thera-pettic.”)

In the middle of June, the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Greensboro, North Carolina, a first for that middle-sized city. Since son Marty and family live near Charlotte, this will be a great time to visit then and to enjoy this lovely part of the country. In the late 80’s when we lived there, Margaret and I would burn up an entire off-day cruising country roads, turning down one without a clue as to where it would lead or where we would end up. Sometimes, we would leave home early and drive to Ashville just for the privilege of taking those mountain roads through the Smokies. The best line I ever came up with in those days was, “I feel so sorry for the people who live up here. They don’t know what they’re not missing.”

Therapy is where you find it. Today, Saturday, it’s having lunch with my wonderful cousin Dr. Nelda Schultz of Dallas as she drives through New Orleans heading east, then attending a “Churchill” program at the National D-Day Museum downtown. (Disappointment: Nelda just called and cancelled.)

A pastor told me this week, “I’ve been at this church nearly three years and have never taken a vacation.” A deacon said, “I cannot fault our pastor for his work ethic. He is a workaholic.” When I was younger, I would have been impressed. No longer. There may be exceptions to this, as there are to most rules, but the minister who never takes time off is hurting himself, neglecting his family, and doing his church no favor.

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“Where’s the Backbone?”

That’s the title above the letter to the editor that appeared in this (Thursday) morning’s Times-Picayune. Here it is, all three paragraphs.

“Nothing depresses me about the future of our city more than learning from Wednesday morning’s James Gill column that our two mayoral candidates meekly signed the All Congregations Together pledge, agreeing to a retreat with the group’s preachers within 45 days of election, agreeing to meet with them on a bi-monthly basis thereafter, and agreeing to run all major appointments by them in advance.

“I don’t blame the preachers for asking for it, but am absolutely amazed by the lack of backbone in Mayor Ray Nagin and Mitch Landrieu in agreeing to such.

“God help us. I wonder who else they are caving in to?”

The letter was signed, not only with my name, but underneath with my title, “Director of Missions,” and under that, “Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.” That’s what gave me pause when it showed up on this morning’s editorial page.

Maybe I should have just signed my name and let it go at that. After all, in no way was I speaking for all the Southern Baptist churches of the area, not even in a representative way as their leader.

I recall something from a friend of mine a while back.

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