The Parish Line

I grew up going to “West End” in New Orleans, which had both the Marina and a series of great restaurants (Fitzgerald’s and the Bounty are two that really stand out in my memory).  Today, one of our church elders was touring a visiting mission group, and I tagged along.  We returned to a spot I had been so many times in my youth.  The parking lot is there, but all the restaurants were washed away by the hurricanes.

In the middle of the parking lot, the parish line is marked.  The importance of this in years gone by was to note whether the taxes collected in the restaurant went to Orleans or Jefferson parish.  Today though, it is a curious relic of what was.  I doubt it’s much of an issue today which parish you are in while you stand in the empty parking lot.

I wonder how many “lines” exist like that in our minds. Lines that had a point (or seemed to have a point) but no longer do. How often do we do things out of habit when the information we have since learned makes all that irrelevant?

This past week a justice of the peace in Louisiana refused to issue a license to an interracial couple. His argument goes that such marriages do not last long and for the sake of future kids, he didn’t want to issue that license.  I remember hearing that logic growing up, and it made sense to me then.

But today, as I have traveled across the nation, I have found that ethnic lines are cross all the time (and really they always have been). I wonder if he considered the irony that when he was saying those words a man who is biracial was visiting New Orleans.  And he has achieved a measure of success.  He is our president.  Regardless of whether we agree with his politics or not, I don’t think we can say being the product of an interracial marriage hindered him. (It may even have helped him.)

I also have learned of my own hodge-podge background as my wife has helped trace my family tree.  I have a French, English, German heritage with a smattering of Scottish and Irish mixed in.  This isn’t unusual at all in our society.  Really it’s the norm.  As Bill Murray famously said in the comedy Stripes, “Americans, we’re all mutts!”

Beyond the story itself, I think we are all called to examine what beliefs we have within us that may no longer be very relevant or useful to us.

All the best and until next time,

Tom

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