A Pelican for a Pelican

Dear BP,

I want to congratulate you on your successful capping of the oil well—and even getting a little cement in there. I just hate that it took so long the spill became five times that of Exxon Valdez.

I am encouraged by the dispersion of oil in the water and thankful that there are microbes to help you fix what you broke. And I am hopeful that what you say in your advertising these days is true—that you will be there to clean up the mess and restore the area.

Given the location, good luck with total restoration.

I’m not even sure how you put a price tag on all that. The US government certainly couldn’t post-Katrina—which people are still working to restore.

But perhaps a price tag—at least in some respects—isn’t what’s needed. How do you put a price tag on a pelican? A dolphin? Any number of fish? Shrimp? Other wildlife in the Gulf?

That’s almost like asking you to put a price tag on your own child.

You kinda can’t do it.

But what you can do, BP, is give us a pelican for a pelican. A dolphin for a dolphin. A one for one replacement into the ecosystem that you have destroyed for the foreseeable future. You’ll still come out all right in the end on that one—for the body count will likely never be exact. But replacing what we CAN count is a good faith start.

In addition to plugging the dang leak.

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Disaster and Recovery

It’s the first day of June…and the first day of hurricane season. We’re 5 years post-Katrina and 5 weeks into the nation’s largest oil spill in history.

Once again, our attention turns to the Gulf and the state of Louisiana. Once again, the media is discussing the clean-up in the Gulf region. Once again, our government finally gets their boots on the ground to assess the damage and the on-going clean-up process.

And it wouldn’t surprise me if, once again, we fall short of finishing the job.

I say again because New Orleans still has 70,000 homes in need of repair–and it looks like Presbyterians are the only Christian group still seeing the work through. Thankfully, someone is still in New Orleans, trying against what I can only imagine to be great odds, to bring restoration to a people displaced by disaster. It’s a business you’d think Jews and Christians would understand well. Both groups have a history of being displaced and restored.

Granted, our attention in the Christian community has turned toward Haiti and Chile where, earlier this year, disaster struck in the form of earthquakes, displacing countless individuals and families. Our attention should be there–but we should never forget to follow through and see the work to completion. If we fail to do so, what kind of God are we really representing? The kind of God who grows tired of the view in one place? The kind of God who is incapable of spreading resources around to make God’s presence known and bring about redemption?

My seester-in-love is in New Orleans this week and added a beautiful post to her own blog here. When she posted the fact that 70,000 homes are still in need of repair on Facebook, one person commented that if each church in the southeastern United States committed to rebuilding one home–just one–New Orleans would finally and truly know restoration post-Katrina.

I know Haiti and Chile are important. I don’t mean to diminish the relief efforts in either place and I think they should continue to be supported for a long long time. But one church building one house will not break the budget. It will not divert a massive amount of funds from relief efforts and organizations trying to aid Haiti and Chile.

It’s just one house. And it’s time for a homecoming for the people of New Orleans.