Whenever Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, memories of playing hockey on ponds near my house where I grew up in Eagan (then a township) come back to me. By November 1st, most of my prayers consisted of praying for cold weather. If we didn’t have thick enough ice by Thanksgiving weekend, I was sure that God was punishing me for impure thoughts and related activities. My solution: saying a Rosary every day till we skated.
So I found it interesting this past week that weather-related prayers were in the news.
At the state capitol in Georgia Tuesday, the governor tried something different. On a partly cloudy warm fall day, hundreds of people from the region came to join Gov. Sonny Perdue in a prayer service for rain. “I’m here today to appeal to you and to all Georgians and all people who believe in the power of prayer to ask God to shower our state, our region, our nation with the blessings of water,” Perdue said.
“This was not 40 days and 40 nights of rain. This was perhaps 40 hours,” Krusemark said. “There were many people praying for it to stop raining, and that prayer was answered. So God is still listening and is still there as a comfort to us.
“Praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; we have lucked out much more than we deserve,” said Bill Lange, a scientist who led the service. “Dear Lord, thank you for sparing us again and thank you for helping all the people who needed the help.”
This idea of God above the clouds (at his computer?) with the ability to effect changes in weather when humans ask for it, is amazingly persistent. It’s only certain events that trigger our prayers, however: rain, snow, storms, fires, floods, volcanoes. The assumption seems to be that God can do something about these short-term events but El Niño and La Niña? Nope, out of his range. Earthquakes? Too unpredictable. If a group of people got together to pray that the earth’s tectonic plates stopped pressing together, we’d have them committed. Human-related causes? No way. Climate change? fergetaboutit!
It irritates me a little that reporters love to include quotes from people saying these goofy prayers in their coverage of natural disasters. It irritates me more that enlightened members of the clergy who don’t buy into this notion of God-as-the-Wizard-of-Oz flipping controls behind the curtain remain silent when it comes to labeling this type of praying as complete bullshit. It’s one of many reasons that I don’t attend church here in Northfield or anywhere else.