New York City, my town, was just hit by the fiercest storm ever in its 400-year history. There are huge personal and material losses. Dozens died in the storm – men, women and children –and others saw their life-savings washed away by an ocean "surge." This Hurricane Sandy truly was an awesome disaster of "Biblical proportions." A whopping 40,000 lost their homes in the City alone, and thousands of businesses were destroyed, universities forced to close for a week, and millions of people were without heat or light for many days. In neighboring New Jersey the destruction was greater. Present estimates are more than $40 billion in property destruction, total in New York and New Jersey – and certainly not at all accounting for the many deaths, injuries and personal suffering, where there is no calculation or compensation.
Even for a City accustomed to doing things BIG, the Hurricane Sandy was enormously overwhelming. And the whole population of 25 million in the New York City metropolitan area is suffering measurably. With gasoline shipments delayed for days, it takes 4-5 hours waiting in line for people to get a few gallons of gas for their electric generators or cars – sometimes only to find out that that gas station has just run out of fuel again! People are on edge, stressed, at the ends of their ropes, depressed, despairing, and even dangerous. When I merely drove by a long line of dozens of cars waiting for gas station service – on my way to get a couple bags of ice to preserve some food at home – an officer of the law nearly had a heart attack when for a second he thought I might try to cut in line. It is like a bit of the "wild west" here in New York City, the Big Apple!
Natural disasters that are the toughest barriers for people to believe in the God of the Bible – the living God, the God of grace, compassion, and salvation. Within a temporal framework, people question how an all-loving God could allow for such levels of human danger and suffering. And yet, without comparison, the Bible is utterly realistic about this world. Unlike the scriptures of the various world religions, the Bible depicts a temporal world of stunning unfairness. Evil people often prosper. There is no "karma law" balancing out the good and bad; there is no suggestion that the best people never suffer. Often the Godliest people go through the worst physical trauma. Often, the good even die young – as even with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself. more >>
It has always been about image for our current president. He rode a wave of euphoria into office four years ago as a "Celebrity-in-Chief." The media and Hollywood have spent much time drooling over him. And this guy is now a pro at soaking up the adulation. Therefore, when he was invited by Gov. Chris Christie to tour storm damage in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy....well, it was a no-brainer. It would provide a measure of much-needed relief from the momentum which Mitt Romney had generated since their first presidential debate a month ago.
Whenever the president's glamorous smile breaks forth, I have to remind myself that I am not looking at Denzel Washington. Barack Obama knows how to play for the camera, in spite of his rather angry and grumpy performances in the debates. When he is not forced to discuss substantive issues with a conservative, he seems to know how to whip out the charm and play his celebrity role quite well. His all-star status among the elites is built around his persona....not around any real results during the past four years.
In addition to the elites, the many others who are swayed by this White House celebrity are generally people who don't realize the true financial and social implications of the Obama presidency. These "groupie-like" followers seem to be in a trance when they fantasize about this man. It is almost identical to the way people gawk over Hollywood celebrities. The less the public knows about the personal views of movie stars, the more the average American tends to be drawn to their performances on the big screen. That is the way many Americans like it. more >>
As New York and other states in the Northeast recover from Sandy, which has been recorded as the largest tropical system in the Atlantic Ocean, Pastor Tim Keller reminds Christians to follow the second greatest commandment in the Bible: love your neighbor.
"We have an opportunity to tangibly live out our current sermon series on generosity – to give of ourselves relationally, hospitably, and financially in life-transforming ways," said Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.
"Check in with your neighbors, friends and church members to see if they are in need." more >>
Despite the ongoing efforts to recover from the devastation Hurricane Sandy left in its wake throughout many areas of New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that the annual NYC Marathon will go on as planned — but some find the idea ridiculous.
With thousands of residents still without power and many of them homeless, New Yorkers, and observers around the nation, have balked at Bloomberg's intention to carry out the 2012 NYC Marathon this Sunday.
Stephen Gordon, a Virginia resident, tweeted sarcastically, "Good to see NY/NJ back on their feet. Resources, like water and generators, can now be moved to the NYC marathon where they are needed." more >>
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Bible tells the story of Noah and his experience with the flooding of the entire Earth and how he was spared death through an ark God told him to build. But reading about something that happened thousands of years ago, or even just seven years ago in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, could never compare to witnessing the devastation water is capable of producing in one's own backyard.
Nothing can prepare a human being for a 6-foot wave gushing down their street carrying what resembles gasoline from a tanker that could potentially burn the whole block down.
But for residents of Staten Island, N.Y., this is much of what we endured during the brunt of Hurricane Sandy this week. more >>
Hurricane Sandy has resurrected a debate about the proper role of government in disaster relief. Some argue that the disaster response proves the effectiveness of big government. Others say a federal role should be reserved for only the largest disasters, and, in some ways, federal government policy has done more harm than good.
An ideological split on the proper role of the federal government is illustrated this week in the debate over disaster relief by the editors of two of America's leading newspapers: the conservative Wall Street Journal and the liberal New York Times.
"A big storm requires big government," the NYT editors wrote Monday. They excoriated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for suggesting in a June 2011, primary debate that state governments and private organizations could provide effective aid at a lower cost than the federal government. more >>