Last week, at Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, PA, the Rev. Lee Clark gave a sermon in which he decried the Fed's abysmal efforts to save the sunken city of New Orleans as racist. Before the all white congregation of Bethesda, this seemingly misplaced African American minister spoke a story often repeated in Black communities and often ridiculed in white ones. Black America, having often found itself victim throughout the history of the US, sees this as yet another chapter in a sordid tale of a downtrodden people. White people see the seemingly exclusively sea of black refugees, and can't seem to figure out why Black America is angry: "Well, those people lived in the ghetto half of town, which happened to be beneath sea level. Of course its all black." Read that rationale through several times, and ask yourself why you wouldnt be offended by every last word of it.
There was of course quite a flap, as Rev. Lee was on occasion a bit over the top. White Presbyterians, often supporters of our embattered President, don't like to be called racists. They aren't racists, and they shouldn't be called as much. The problem seems to stem from the fact that no one is a racist anymore, but not a damned thing is getting better. Do years of apathy qualify as racism? Therein lies the question that remains unanswered but will continue to fester for generations to come. In the end, feathers were smoothed, and a not-so-wealthy congregation ponied up $10,000 towards the relief effort... a monumental sum considering the church's paltry annual budget.
One mile away, at Round Hill Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Lowell Meek stood before his congregation, running his idiot mouth as he is wont to do. "Some have said that New Orleans was flooded by a vengeful hand of God, smiting our Modern Day Gomorrah. I can't say if they're wrong or right." Unfortunately, Round Hill sits too far above the Monongahela River for God to smite this modern day Pharisee by similar means. There was no outrage over this absurd statement as there was at Bethesda. Rev. Meek gave his congregation the opportunity to be smug, judgemental Christian Moralists whereas Rev. Lee challenged his to prove their Christian worth.
The congregation at Round Hill, significantly wealthier than Bethesda, is offering to send baseball-sized stones with their $1,000 check to Katrina relief agencies, so the remaining sinners can be dispatched in the old-fashioned way. At Bethesda Christians heeded the call of their faith, dug deep into their wallets and their hearts, and a little light was born.