Well, Bob Dylan is sure right for these days:
“Ain't no use jiving
Ain't no use joking
Everything is broken.”
(From “Everything is broken,” on his album, “O Mercy.”)
It is a city I have loved and in which I found the glory of young adulthood after a long stretch of zits and braces. It was the city where I first understood the wild reach of politics and the lessons of history revealed. It was the city of my first faith, my first love, and my enduring love of poetry and art. It was also the city of my encounter with the familiar side of Mafia, anti-Castro crazies, the beginnings of the beat life and regular paid up
The city began in the trust that there was money to be made and spent no matter the fact that no one in his or her right mind would actually want to build a city there. Commerce, the many varied modes of human intercourse (from gentile living to bawdy rascality) and of course the sometimes wild political, social and interpersonal requirements of the danger of such living, all merged into what in recent years has been called, “The Big Easy.”
The city has survived many things. When the passage to the Gulf was made reasonably secure the city had come far enough along to be the port of entry. Even after all the years and countless calamities due to the damn water, the politics, the slavery trade, the saints and sinners that mixed so well, the hurricanes and fires and pestilence, the city survived.
But now, everything is broken, or so it would seem.
There are those who are suggesting New Orleans now be simply allowed to be the lake it now seems to be and a new city built on “higher ground” to replace it, a new New Orleans, no longer precariously balanced between the needs of commerce and the forces of nature. This suggestion assumes the death of the old
Whatever might be proposed in its stead will not be
The matter of the dikes or levees is key, and it is a key that can be turned. If what is needed is higher sides to the bowl, then construct them. It is a practice that more and more cities are going to have to learn, for the waters are rising. But to suggest the city is finished because it is flooded is to think of cities as disposable. Is
Most of the essays on this blog concern the future of the Anglican Communion. Why write this note here? Because the despair in believing New Orleans a dead way of living out civic life is not unlike the despair of believing the Anglican Communion a dead way of living out Christian community and spiritual life. There are those who believe the Anglican Communion is broken beyond repair and that what is need is a new improved Anglican Communion. They too confuse the cracked and warn realities of life together for death. They confuse being left for dead with being dead indeed.
I believe we should not too soon put the bodies in the ground; perhaps they are only asleep, or in need of repair, or perhaps they are just fine, but living on the edge where the poets, thieves and saints are mostly to be found.
Everything is broken; but there is life.