To say it's been dry in Georgia the past few years would be an understatement. Our reservoir lakes are now just mudholes, and you can't even ride an inner tube down many of the rivers in north Georgia, flow and levels are so low. Only about 100 days' worth of water is said to be available for the metro Atlanta area.
Or so they say. The Army Corps of Engineers denies that Georgia's water supply is in jeopardy.
Whatever the case, we need rain, and lots of it.
Georgia's governor George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue has invited religious leaders from around the state to attend a Pray for Rain prayer service next Tuesday.
"The only solution is rain, and the only place we get that is from a higher power," Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said yesterday in announcing the service.
The prayer service will be held outside the state Capitol building next Tuesday, November 13.
Gov. Perdue is, I've been told, a Freemason and is a Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the nation.
I was banned from a fundamentalist Christian forum a few months ago for daring to ask questions there similar to the ones I'm asking here.
Everyone knows when you have a problem, you can "take it to the Lord" in prayer.
But what, exactly, does that mean? What is prayer? How does it work? What are its mechanics?
Is there a Big, Bearded Anthropomorphic God taking 911 calls from prayer-petitioners, analyzing requests in nanoseconds, then dispatching angelic help if the request is deemed worthy?
Is God/Jesus/the Lord some cosmic Santa Claus?
Is prayer scientifically provable? Is prayer a form of meditation? Is it some quantum rearrangement of "The Force"? Do the words or thoughts actually travel anywhere, or just rattle around in your Bone Box or the church building?
Is prayer a form of "positive mental attitude," like that discussed in The Secret, which says that you will attract to you what you focus on?
Does prayer work better when many people are praying for or about the same thing? Is group prayer more effective? If so, why?
Is a recited, "scripted" prayer more effective than an off-the-cuff unscripted prayer?
Is prayer always about asking for something?
Gov. (and Bro.) Perdue's prayer meeting next week is for the purpose of asking a "higher power" to grant a favor. I would imagine that clergy from most of the mainstream religions in Georgia have been invited to attend, and that they, each in their own way, some quietly meditative, some red-faced and near-screaming, some pompously Falwellian, will offer up their prayers asking the Higher Power for rain.
This predisposes us to believe certain things: that there is a Higher Power; that this Higher Power pulls the strings of Nature; that this Higher Power is not always benevolent, or else we'd have had plenty of rain without having to ask; that this Higher Power can be begged, cajoled or convinced to give something that It has been purposefully or negligently holding back, rain, and that if It is asked enough, It will give in.
If soon after this prayer meeting, the skies open up and it rains for days and days, filling our lakes and putting us back above normal rainfall, does that mean the prayers "worked?" And again, if so, how did they work? Did Higher Power suddenly notice how dry it is here when the prayers reached Heaven, and say, "Oh, sorry... here ya go," like a pet owner when he realizes he forgot to feed his dog?
If it doesn't rain after this state-sponsored prayer meeting, and the drought endures, what does that tell us? Higher Power doesn't listen? Doesn't care? Is punishing us? Needs a bit more coaxing? Is ticked off that that one guy, yeah, you, over in the corner, didn't join in the prayer?
Do you have any answers? Can you explain this prayer thing? What is the nature and mechanics and purpose of prayer?
Prayer | Rainfall | Georgia Drought | Sonny Perdue | Burning Taper | BurningTaper.com