Nineveh, New Orleans, and the City of Man
Author, Speaker, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Friday, September 16, 2005
"Cities do not last. Those built in precarious places collapse. The rest are doomed to decay or suffer humanly induced destruction." That is the assessment of historian Felipe Fernandez-Arnesto. He spoke those words with reference to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but his historical judgment would well apply to Nineveh, Tyre, Babylon and a host of cities long ago covered with dust.
The pictures out of New Orleans tell the story. Broken glass, twisted steel, sunken streets, and abandoned homes testify of the city's impermanence. And yet, the pictures of devastation wrought by nature paled in light of the picture of moral devastation that followed the hurricane. Lawlessness in the streets, rioting in the Superdome, and sniper fire aimed at rescue teams revealed the disorder and anarchy that lie close beneath the surface of human civilization.