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ISSUE 119 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/3/2006

Parade celebrates city

By Amanda Swanson
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 3, 2006

It is highly doubtful, as College Pastor Bruce Benson said during Sunday services a few weeks ago, that anyone in today’s society would look at Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans and consider it an act of God. Certainly there are some fine folks who might disagree, but the majority looks back on what happened last summer with deep remorse for a tragedy, not a cyber-age Gomorrah.

As the time of Mardi Gras approaches, a few of us may jokingly change our tunes, but the question is not whether New Orleans will celebrate its grand tradition this year, but whether it is appropriate to do so.

I say, if we do not fear another act of God, if we are not condemning the citizens of this culture-rich city, then why should we even have to ask if the celebrations are appropriate? Go ahead and ask the question, but if you expect me or any small majority of the population of New Orleans to say Mardi Gras should be put off this year, clearly you were not around when the World Trade Center was destroyed in 2001.

America does not take devastation lightly. One thing we can always count on is our ability to bounce back. Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans for over 300 years, first by the French immigrants whose heritage to this day remains a large part of the city’s culture. Tied closely to Easter, Mardi Gras always falls exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday, the very extreme of “Fat Tuesday,” which is the French translation.

At services last Sunday, Associate Pastor Jennifer Koenig referred to the "Adios, Alleluias!" Chapel event as St. Olaf’s version of Mardi Gras, and I was reminded of Mardi Gras’ original meaning.

The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold, standing for justice, faith and power respectively. Mardi Gras may not quite represent “Fat Tuesday” as pious Christians see it, a rejoicing before the time of Lent descends and we mourn for 40 days.

But this year, Mardi Gras has the opportunity to be a true celebration of the justice, faith and power that the people of New Orleans found during their trials. Even the most spontaneous person would admit to being a creature of habit on occasion. A return to normal in even the smallest sense is sometimes the closest thing to peace we can find after suffering.

To New Orleans, its people and all those heading south as guests, enjoy the celebration that might have been impossible had Katrina and Ruth been any crueler last summer.

Even in raucous jubilation, we all deserve whatever peace we can find, and partying as you would any other year is the best way to turn the other cheek and prove that you will not be beaten down by hardship.

What better point to prove than the indomitable nature of the human spirit?

Staff writer Amanda Swanson is a junior from Detroit Lakes, Minn. She majors in writing and in Asian Studies.

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