flooding

Have faith, Houston: Looking forward to more God stories after 'rains of biblical proportions'

Have faith, Houston: Looking forward to more God stories after 'rains of biblical proportions'

No words.

Sometimes, there really are no words — no adequate words anyway — to describe a given set of circumstances.

The flooding in Houston stemming from Hurricane Harvey is one of those times.

"It's catastrophic, unprecedented, epic — whatever adjective  you want to use," National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Blood told the Houston Chronicle, describing the 29 inches of rain unleashed on the nation's fourth-largest city.

Amen!

At times such as these, journalists — particularly local ones such as the Chronicle staff — play such a vital role in keeping their hard-hit communities informed and helping them rally and recover.

Forgive me for saying so (because I know it's a cliché to do so), but my thoughts and prayers are with the countless reporters and photographers putting their own lives on hold to dedicate themselves to their friends and neighbors. Yes, I know they are not alone (think first responders and other public servants on the front lines), but the news media's heroic efforts should not be ignored. We can save discussions of "fake news" and media bias in coverage of politics and social issues for another day.

I read today's Chronicle with an eye toward pointing out any faith angles that I came across.

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Red Cross won't let Louisiana cop pray with flood victims? Please, news media, tell us more

Red Cross won't let Louisiana cop pray with flood victims? Please, news media, tell us more

In flood-stricken Louisiana, the American Red Cross has got trouble — with a capital "T."

Rebekah Allen of the Baton Rouge Advocate outlines the issues in an excellent news story.

Among the general concerns are claims, which the Red Cross denies, that the organization has kept donated supplies from evacuees and even allowed victims to go hungry. You really need to read the full story to understand what's happening.

But the nugget that drew our attention surfaces about two-thirds into the in-depth report.

Beyond the questions over meals and supplies, yes, a religious freedom question arises.

Check out these three paragraphs:

Capt. Clay Higgins, a reserve Lafayette city marshal who is running for Congress, posted a video of himself on Facebook saying he had tried to visit with evacuees and pray with them at the Heymann Center in Lafayette and was asked to leave by the Red Cross.
"Red Cross people here are great, but they have Red Cross rules they have to follow," he said in the video. "A man can't walk around the shelter and offer love and prayer for people who have been displaced." 
(Nancy Malone, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross) acknowledged that the organization does have a policy intended to be respectful of all faiths, but she said if Higgins had approached managers they would have accommodated him. 

A hat tip to Rod "Friend of this Blog" Dreher, who first posted about this story on his blog at the American Conservative:

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After that devastating flooding in Louisiana, there's hope — but apparently no faith

After that devastating flooding in Louisiana, there's hope — but apparently no faith

In the wake of the Louisiana flooding, a number of my Facebook friends posted about that Deep South state's heroic people coming together and showing their resiliency amid a major disaster.

But here's what I was curious about: how to mesh that totally appropriate narrative with the recent racial protests and violence in that same state.

I wanted to see journalists explore the big picture in Louisiana.

So here's the good news: The Washington Post did exactly that in an 1,800-word takeout on Sunday's front page. Well, sort of.

And that segues to the bad news: The more I read, the more something seemed to be missing. Something big. Something that just might have to do with all those evangelical Christians and Catholics who make up such a large proportion of Louisiana's population. 

Holy ghosts, anyone?

Let me share the crux of the Post story — dateline Baton Rouge — and then explain what I mean:

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