It seems strange, two years later, to reflect on the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Katrina across North America, but most memorably in New Orleans. As the years go by, it will be interesting to see how much coverage the continuing aftermath receives. Some believe that the coverage helps the city and the region, while others believe that the continued focus on the problems keeps the city and the region from returning to normalcy.
Of course politics will play a part in determining the story line. Democratic presidential candidates are naturally going to invoke the problems Katrina revealed and make promises to fix them. Barack Obama spoke to a congregation on Sunday and used religious language and doctrine to outline what he believes are the problems that, if elected, he intends to fix.
Here’s CNN’s Mark Norman:
“Getting ready to talk to you today, I recall what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount,” Obama said at New Orleans’ First Emmanuel Baptist Church. “He said, whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock.”
“The rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. But it did not fall, because it was founded on the rock,” he continued.
That rock, he said, was a principal of brotherhood exemplified by the church during Hurricane Katrina — but not the federal government.
“Something was wrong in America. Our foundation wasn’t built on the rock,” he said.
Obama blasted local, state and federal response to the storm, and touched upon ingredients necessary for the city’s rebuilding, namely more employment opportunities for residents to rebuild, community-based law enforcement to tackle the city’s crime epidemic, and improved health care.
The story could have easily been written another way, putting less emphasis on religion. Norman could have simply said that Obama blasted government officials for failing to respond to the storm in a way that exemplified the principle of brotherhood found in the Bible.
Politicians’ invoking biblical principles and stories is nothing new, especially when they are in a church on Sunday. Is it newsworthy that Obama is doing it in this case? Obama is known for using religious imagery in his speeches.
I’m not saying this story should not have been reported. What I would like to see is a better nut graph on why this speech is significant.