502: Prayers for New Orleans and a new Psalm for the city in the form of a film

Despite the cheery news from New Orleans’ tourism bureau, thousands of men, women and children who once called the Lower Ninth Ward “home” remain exiles or, worse—they’re ghosts of the city.
    Most Americans don’t know that hard truth as we approach the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on Saturday, because the Lower Ninth Ward remains largely hidden from view these days.
    Who sees? Who knows?
    Outside of New Orleans families, countless American college students know the truth because they regularly sign on to help with the ongoing rebuilding of that devastated part of the city.
    One of those students—a veteran of a volunteer work crew—wrote today’s prayer.

A Prayer for New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward(by Taylor)

    I pray that the music of New Orleans never goes quiet.
    That the culture never slows down.
    That the people and their faith thrive.
    And the love survives.

Then, there’s this new film, “Trouble the Water”
(a Psalm in the shape of a DVD)

    You may have forgotten about Hurricane Katrina and the tragically inadequate response by our government agencies. It’s been three years since Spike Lee’s devastating, 4-hour documentary series, “When the Levees Broke.”
    Perhaps all our anger is spent. Perhaps we assume the city has recovered.
    Or, perhaps it’s time for a Psalm crying out in film form: “Trouble the Water.”
    This is what Noah might have created if he’d owned a video camera—or what the ancient Psalmists would have produced in the court of King David, if hand-held digital recorders had existed back then.
    “Trouble the Water,” newly released on DVD today by Zeitgeist Video, is an excellent choice for stirring discussion about what it means to build and preserve a community in the midst of devastation—and what it means to truly have faith that thrives and love that survives.
    Here’s the simple summary: Kimberly Roberts and her husband Scott Michael Roberts lived in the Lower Ninth Ward. She sometimes performed as a rap singer, under the stage name Kold Madina, and was savvy enough as the hurricane approached to charge up her hand-held video recorder. The opening sequence of the 96-minute film is Kimberly’s stroll through her lively neighborhood just a couple of days before the storm laid waste to her world. This was a vibrant world of old people perched on front porches and children with bright ribbons in their hair riding bikes down the sidewalks. And, as it turns out, she was her neighborhood’s last chronicler before the hurricane.
    Remember, she’s a rap artist. She was so poor that she and her husband had no car and no way to flee the storm—but she did write and perform rap music occasionally. Warning: That means, she speaks with the full range of street language. So, expect some tough words as the film unfolds.
    It’s worth taking this journey with her, just as millions have taken the journey with Noah. And millions still read the ancient saga of poor old Job.
    As the hurricane sweeps into town, Kimberly narrates her “live” video footage in Psalm-like phrases:
    “We need something to get us through this hurricane,
    “Because God knows—people are afraid.”

    As the winds begin to moan, then to roar in her video clips? And, as the water suddenly comes coursing down her street? And, as it rushes up to the top of her high front porch? And, as it rolls through window frames—and, the downpours chase her family into their attic? She tells us:
    “When the Lord allows it,
    “I’ll be able to tell this story …”
    That’s her hope for the future as it looks like they might perish in their attic. But, realistically, she prays:
    “Lord, please protect me and the family.
    “Because, Lord, people gonna die out here, Man.
    “It’s like the Lord is upset—
    “Angry with New Orleans.”

    And that’s just the opening third of this film! Like Job, there’s more this couple must survive, even after the flood waters subside. Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal met Kimberly and her husband, one day, while visiting hurricane survivors. The two couples, one white and one black, eventually agreed to combine their video footage into this single, amazing film.
    To order a copy of this new film, which Zeitgeist is releasing today, click on the Amazon link at right.

What is your prayer for our cities? Email us.

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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)


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