Katrina Cage Fight?

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He’s probably the mildest-mannered man I’ve ever known. I never once saw him lose his temper or even move in that direction, even in a really tense 1992 re-election campaign. I’m ashamed to say I once thought his niceness was a campaign liability. Even so, my old boss, United States Congressman Gene Taylor is in the middle of a fiery sparring match in the press with ex-FEMA head Michael Brown over the federal government’s handling of Hurricane Katrina relief.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Brown in an interview with Playboy (just read the Los Angeles Times piece) called the congressman “a little twerp” for questioning his competence in a United States House of Representatives hearing. Gene responded by saying that Brown is “an incompetent fool and everybody in south Mississippi knows it.”

Katrina may be over for the rest of the country. But emotions are still high for those who still live in the aftermath. Whatever the residents of the Coast think of FEMA, there is no question about competence and compassion when it comes to the kind of aid provided by the “little platoons,” mostly conservative evangelical churches. Who knows what kind of spiritual impact this will have on the Coast longterm? If the word “Brownie” can bring rage to the mind of a south Mississippian, the words “North Carolina Baptist Men” bring images of heroism and servanthood.

I’m not that worried that most of my hometown is cynical about the federal government. Whatever one might think of the FEMA response to Katrina, there are more important things afoot. This government, like all of them, will rise and fall. What I pray is that multitudes of them will see in the churches still there, providing aid and preaching the gospel, a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.