Ain't no drownin' the spirit : the New Orleans civil religion and its role in Hurricane Katrina (thesis)
Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in the early hours of August 29, 2005, causing the levees surrounding the city of New Orleans to rupture. As flood water rushed into the city, many people questioned the justice of God. Religious journalist, Gray Stern, attempted to discover how different religious traditions answer the questions of theodicy in his book, Can God Intervene: How Religion Explains Natural Disasters. His work, however, failed to capture the reaction of New Orleans' citizens to Hurricane Katrina. Stern only interviewed the leaders of the religious traditions, not leaving room for a non-traditional interpretation of the storm. As I result, I will argue for the existence of a New Orleans civil religion. Using Robert Bellah's theory of an American civil religion, I will demonstrate how New Orleans has its own holy people, sacred rituals and sacred places that make up a unique civil religion. Moreover, I will argue that the New Orleans civil religion helped the people of New Orleans both conceptualize the destruction of their city and rebuild in its aftermath.
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