Thursday, May 31, 2007

French Quarter Architecture 3

The Spanish were dominant here for only a 40-year period three centuries ago, but Spanish influence in the culture and architecture of New Orleans is so strong that debates still break out today over the question "Is this French, or is this Spanish?" Here's an extended discussion of these dual influences.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

French Quarter Archicture 2

Most of the ironwork in the French Quarter of New Orleans is cast iron, much of it dating to the 1850's when this type of adornment became popular. The French Quarter gained its Spanish architectural flavor, including balconies, when over 850 buildings, almost the entire French Quarter, burned down in 1788.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

French Quarter Architecture

La Nouvelle Orléans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste La Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. New Orleans was established as the capital of Louisiana and a fortress to control the wealth of the North American interior for the French. Many of the buildings feature elaborate ironwork.

Monday, May 28, 2007

New Orleans Bridges 2

How long will it take before the words "New Orleans" cease sparking instant memories of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy? For this unique city to become healthy again, it will need to develop--over time--a new identity not centered on its most traumatic moment.

People, too, can become known by their tragedies. Whether it's a self-identity or one of perception by others, the movement toward health requires new experiences and new milestones that move old tragedies from foreground to background.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

New Orleans bridges

The Greater New Orleans Bridges #1 and #2 were completed in 1958 and 1988. Together they're called the "Crescent City Connection," and are the 5th-most heavily traveled toll bridges in the U.S.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sugar Cane Field

Sugar cane takes a long time to mature--usually 12 months. Louisiana crops can mature in as little as 6 months, but in some locations it takes up to 24 months. I'm older than that, and I'm still not quite mature, but I'm working on it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sugar Cane Close-up 2

Sugar cane is just a grass with high sugar content. It's the source of sugar in all the world's tropical countries. It is propagated by planting sections of the stem. It is never started from seed. Wouldn't a species deteriorate over time if it's never renewed by seed?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sugar Cane close-up

God to a sinful people: "What do I care about incense from Sheba
or sweet calamus from a distant land?" { Jeremiah 6:20}

Calamus isn't sugar cane, though its appearance is similar, it goes by a variety of names today including Sweet Sedge, Sweet Flag, Sweet Root, Sweet Rush.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sugar Cane 2

One ton of sugar cane yields 170-225 pounds of sugar. One acre yields 20-30 tons in Louisiana and Florida, although Hawaii acres yield 90-100 tons. I think I'd rather be in Hawaii!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sugar Cane

Young sugar cane is emerging from its ridge in the Louisana soil. U.S. sugar cane is grown only in Louisiana, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas. Puerto Rico also grows sugar cane.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Shrimp Nets 4

The most extended use of "net" as metaphor comes from the prophet Habakkuk as he laments the evil deeds of the wicked and God's failure to stop them:

"You have made men like fish in the sea,
like sea creatures that have no ruler.
The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?"
Habakkuk 1:1-14-17

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shrimp Nets 3

"The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden."

Psalm 9:15

In the New Testament nets are physical things fisherman use. But in the Old Testament, "net" usually appears as a metaphor for "being caught" in passages of judgment. The passage above seems designed for the mess we've made in Iraq, don't you think?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Shrimp nets 2

Peter and Andrew and James and John would be fascinated by Louisiana, where families have boats like Midwest farmers have tractors. They wouldn't know anything about shrimp, but they would certainly know a lot about nets, and would certainly "ooh" and "aah" at the mechanical devices that control the nets on this boat. And I'm guessing that the bayou lifestyle is much closer to the Sea of Galilee lifestyle than it is to ours.

Tomorrow--"net" as metaphor.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Shrimp nets

On a working, floating shrimp boat, these aquamarine nets provide today's cross.

Pointe-aux-Chenes, Louisiana

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sunken Shrimp Boat 3

These images from the Gulf Coast are a reminder that the rebuilding from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita continues; it's going to be a process of many years.

In our own lives, too, rebuilding, renewal and healing is usually a long-term process. May God give you patience, hope, and joy in the meantime.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sunken Shrimp Boat 2

I love taking something ugly and transforming it into something beautiful. Though I'm just re-arranging pixels, I claim that delight as the image of God within me.

This sunken, rusty shrimp boat is sunk in the bayou at Pointe-aux-Chenes, Louisiana.

[ yesterday's hint: iris...fleur-de-lis...France...Louisiana ]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What Is It?

I have quite a few crosses of this subject, so I'm starting out by asking you to identify it.

Hint: There is a subtle connection with the purple iris of the last 4 days.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Purple Iris 4

The word "iris" is taken from the Greek word for "rainbow." Seems fitting, since irises today come in at least 200 colors and varieties. Hail to the iris!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Purple Iris 3

For thousands of years, the iris rhizome was used for medicinal purposes and for perfumes and cosmetics. For instance, in 1876, Italy shipped 10,000 tons of dried iriz rhizome to other countries, including the United States. Modern chemistry has elimated the need for irises in both the drug and perfume industries, so their only value today is beauty.

These days, perhaps beauty is in shorter supply than drugs and perfumes, so the need for irises is not diminished. In the same way, those who are aging or disabled are just as important to us as they were when they could work and be "productive." Perhaps each person's most valuable contribution to the world is just to "be."

By the way, this purple iris lives and blooms at the St. Louis Zoo.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Purple Iris 2

The fleur-de-lis ("flower of the lily") is actually a representation of the iris. It has long been a symbol of the French monarchy as well as of areas associated with France, such as Quebec and Louisiana.

For Christians, the "threeness" of the fleur-de-lis (evident in my original photo, but not in my cross) suggests the Trinity.

Flag of Quebec

symbol of Scouting

Friday, May 11, 2007

Purple Iris

Iris was a Greek goddess whose duty was to lead souls of women to the Elysian fields, a place of perpetual bliss on the western margin of the earth. In token of that faith, Greeks painted irises on the graves of women.

Though Christians would describe the details of the afterlife differently, we must admit that our words and images and expectations of the afterlife are also flawed, partial, and inadequate. But most of humanity seems united in the belief that beyond this earthly life, there is indeed something.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rialto Bridge 4

In the painting by Vittore Carpaccio above you can see the original wooden version of the Rialto Bridge. Carpaccio died in 1526, which is 65 years before the new stone bridge was completed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rialto Bridge 3

You won't find the word "bridge" in the Bible. But the concept is central to God's action and to our response.

In sending Jesus, God was building a bridge between heaven and earth, connecting divine grace and healing to our brokenness and need. For our part, we have been given the "ministry of reconciliation," the task of healing the rifts between people and God, people and people, people and the earth, people and themselves.

Sounds like bridge-building to me! And the results are even more beautiful and long-lasting than the work of Mr. da Ponte.

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