This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Sins of Biloxi and New Orleans

The events of last week raise a few issues.

From a Christian Left perspective, the most obvious issue is whether New Orleans "deserved it" due to the sinfulness of the French Quarter. Certain conservatives have said so and they should be ashamed. First of all, Katrina did not hit New Orleans dead on, it hit Mississippi. Of course, one could counter that this is because of the gambling industry at Biloxi - which would raise an interesting debate on whether the Lord disapproves of gambling more than sexual excess. I would think a lot of church bingo parlors would take issue with that assertion, however. One could even point to the sins of slavery and the exploitation of the share cropper, although the Civil War is said to be punishment for the former while most in the south have repented for the latter - although certainly not completely.

I am not denying the sinfulness of gambling, rampant sexuality or drunkenness (especially in combination). What I am denying, based on scripture, is that God punishes cities for these evils. Jesus said, when asked of the sinfulness of the thirteen people killed by the Tower of Siloam that all have need of repentence (Luke 13:1-5). We must repent more for our sakes than for the Lord's. God is infinitely happy. He gives us morality not for his pleasure but so that we may live more happily in this life. When we are mastered by sin or the spiritual sickness of addiction we are already living in Hell. The key to understanding the salvation of the cross is that it is the Son of God experiencing the separation from God that the sinner feels and in doing so brings us back from Hell. I say much more about this on my web page at and

I do not believe that personal vice lead to the human tragedy of stemming from Katrina. Indeed, most of those who engage in this vice are tourists rather than locals. Nor do I believe that global warning is the cause since New Orleans and Biloxi have been under water before in the last century. Rather, the sins of these cities are bad urban planning - locating cities and gambling casinos in flood plains and floating them on the water. This is similar to the real sin of Sodom and Gomorah, which was located near volcanic sulfur springs. Hot springs and geysers erupt. The plain around those cities is covered with evidence of the detris of such an eruption.

Now that we know of the sin, it is the responsibility of those of us who are funding their rebuilding to repent of the sin (which is all of us). We must insist that those neighborhoods that are below the channel be raised up before being rebuilt. The ruins of the city can be used as fill as can soil dredged from deepening the navigation channels and the river itself, which should have locks and dams installed so that the water is lower than the neighborhoods. Some of this soil will have to be centrifuged to take out heavy metals, but this type of cleaning is necessary anyway due to the nature of the disaster. Not to do so is inviting a similar disaster and would not only be a sin, but would be bad government. As for Biloxi, the casinos should be built more inland and wetlands along the Gulf restored. This goes for most of the Gulf Coast, especially those areas devistated by Katrina.

Rebuild we must, however, and not only for the rich folks who got out early but the poor who were displaced. To permanently exile the poor who would wish to return would be a sin. They must be made whole, if only as a reparation for not effectively dealing with their impoverishment and for the African American poor as a reparation for slavery and sharecropping. This new city must also have the social infrastructure to provide education for all those who require it for their professional and human development. Any who are not literate at the tenth grade level must be educated to that level and must be paid while they are pursuing this education. I talk about how to do that on my web page at For more on reparations go to

Catholic Charities, USA is organizing long term recovery efforts, including human development. If you would like to contribute to that go to


Anonymous T said...

Good post. My pastor posted something along the same lines but very different that you might appreciate reading (here's the link).

Thank you for opposing the ugliness of hatred in the name of Christianity.

2:57 PM

Blogger Michael Bindner said...

Thank you.

I think its great that your pastor has a blog!

1:09 PM


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