Friday, April 29, 2011

Dear Dad, Please Send Rain!

rain in a city, nick fedaeff, 2004

            It has become commonplace in the Southeastern US for our governors to declare Days of Prayer for Rain. The most recent DOPFR took place in Texas, which is suffering a severe drought that is causing fires in the state to burn out of control. Since science has yet to find a way to supply rain to places that need it, I suppose it is sensible to want to do something about the situation. However, do the DOPFR actually work?

In November 2007, Governor Sonny Perdue declared a DOPFR in Georgia. I have to admit that this action did indeed bring rain. Unfortunately, the devout in Georgia failed to be specific in their request, and the Midwest endured torrential floods while Georgia remained dry. I don’t think this can be counted as a successful test of the DOPFR. It remains to be seen whether or not it will work in Texas.

Of course, asking deities to solve our problems is not new. The Native Americans had rituals that were performed every year in the hopes of bringing rain. I wonder if they kept statistics on how often these rain dances were successful.  Perhaps they had better results than we’ve had using the DOPFR. If so, I vote for changing tactics.

In other parts of the world, people are taking action instead of simply relying on prayer. The Parliament in Kyrgyzstan ritually slaughtered seven rams before the start of their April 21st session in order to banish “evil spirits” that were keeping the members of Parliament from working together amicably. If we started sacrificing animals in order to effect weather change, surely the Powers That Be would take notice along with everyone else. The Old Testament spectacle of a ritual sacrifice on the Texas capitol steps would be bound to make it onto the 6 o’clock news, don’t you think?

I find it interesting that sophisticated and educated modern humans find it necessary to resort to ancient rituals when faced with a situation they can’t control. We can’t force people to get along with each other, and we can’t make it rain. DOPFR are ineffective, but what are we supposed to do? Ask sociologists and meteorologists to research these problems and find effective solutions? Don’t be silly.

Read about the 2007 DOPFR in Georgia: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21680340/ns/weather/