Curtis Dahlgren
Start preaching to yourself ("Who stopped the RAIN?")
By Curtis Dahlgren
March 27, 2013

"We are now in Connecticut, and never out of sight of a house . . . I do feel as if there had been religion in this country once, and . . . there may have been a praying ministry and people there, but I fear they are now dead." – a visitor to New England (quoted in "The Light and the Glory")

THE AUTHORS GO ON TO SAY, "The opening pages of this book mentioned some social indicators of the lifting of God's grace – the rapidly decaying morality, the disintegrating American family, the acceptance of rebellion and violent crime as the norm for modern life.

"But recent natural phenomena also seem to bear witness to it. There have been earthquakes, and droughts and floods; there have been untimely frosts, a slight but significant drop in the average mean temperature, . . more snow in northern Florida than on Cape Cod, and the worst winter in the east in our history."

GUESS: Those words were written in the 1970s by Peter Marshall and David Manuel (the book was published in 1977, when we had been in a period of steady cooling for about 30 years). The visitor to the northeast quoted above wrote his words in 1791. The subtitle of the book is "Did God have a plan for America?" Its focus is from Columbus to the Pilgrims and Puritans. The conclusion of the book opens like this:

"Two years after Washington assumed the Presidency, a Southern Methodist preacher named Francis Aspinwall made a pilgrimage to New England, where the groundwork of God's New Israel had first been laid."

Some of my readers will log out or change web sites at that point. You might call this my annual "passover" sermonette. Never mind if your house is "under water"; are YOU upside-down? Do you owe your Designer-Creator more than you're worth? There must be a lesson in there somewhere.

Speaking of lessons, I'll never forget a Thanksgiving Day at which the subject of the Dust Bowl came up. One man blamed poor farming methods – not enough hedgerows and too much turning of the soil. I bit my lip but wanted to say "But Who stopped the rain?" I hate it when people miss the point entirely!

The 1930s were a lot hotter and much drier than the 2002-2012 period. Such "phenomena" used to be called "Act-of-God storms," or droughts: Marshall and Manuel tell about one in Plymouth Colony the year after the first Thanksgiving.

The governor had scrapped the previous policy of communal crop-growing because it hadn't worked. Single men complained about working to feed other men's families. Wives begged out of the work in the fields, etc. Under the new policy of private corn plots, everything changed overnight. Men and women, young and old, married and single all planted as much corn (etc.) as possible. It was almost like the Dow Jones at 14,000 (irrational exuberance). They forgot that were still dependent upon God's grace for weather prerequisites.

The leaders of the colony noticed this slight materialism and called for a day of fasting and prayer during the horrible spring drought that had lasted 12 weeks into summer. The local Indians had been doing rain dances without results. After the day of prayer and repentance a gentle rain began to fall and it lasted for more than a week. The Indians were impressed. Amazed even. The second great Thanksgiving was much better than the first one.

"Right after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, New York mayor Bloomberg spoke out, saying, that 'climate change' was going to become the 'new normal.' Other politicians echoed his comments, making the assumption that increasing numbers of great storms will be just another consequence of mankind's poor stewardship of planet earth. REALLY?" – Editor of Tomorrow's World magazine [it's 1935 all over again?]

Speaking of Passover, you do know, don't you, that when Moses began bringing plagues on Egypt, that the Pharaoh's advisers all told him that there were "rational," physical explanations. His magicians duplicated the snake trick by turning a frozen walking stick into a snake.

When the frogs flooded the nation, Egypt's EPA probably put frogs on the endangered species list because people were killing them when they invaded their houses. When the Nile River turned to blood, the Sierra Club said, "SEE, SEE? That's what those greedy polluting capitalists will do to the country."

Don't you just hate it when people miss the point? I don't know what you think about Global Warming, but we're freezing out butts off up here in the U.P. of Michigan. Yoopers can still walk on water, and my car drove across the local lake on the fourth day of spring. We're looking forward to April Fool's Day which is our Groundhog Day and may tell us if spring is six weeks away, or more. And the 2012 drought's not over either!

Well anyway,
the question before the court today is "Who stopped the rain?" and whether there may be more than one explanation – not man-made "climate change"! Like Billy Sunday said, some people don't think they're good enough to go to Heaven, but they think God is too good to send them to Hell; but as Sunday said, hell, God's not running a half-way house for anybody!

I paraphrase him, but there are many reasons that combine to bring me to the conclusion that we don't deserve God's grace shed on thee. From "Sex week" to governmental corruption, it all adds up after awhile, but the most primal reason is

This week you can have a double-blessing if you go on to read part two of this column – one of my early columns at RenewAmerica. This one was a really important one.

January 20, 2004

Shades of Cincinnatus: a "farmer's" State of the Union message

"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you." – Pericles, 430 B.C.

JUST ASK THE "CITIZENS" OF THE SIBERIAN GULAG (1920-something to about 1989). In a new book by Anne Applebaum (GULAG, A REPORT, Doubleday), a woman is quoted: "Before my arrest, I led an ordinary life, typical of a professional Soviet woman who didn't belong to the Party. I worked hard but took no particular part in politics or public affairs. My real interests lay with home and family." – Chicago Tribune, 1/04/04, Books (Michael Marrus)

No living historian can tell us for sure how many such "working people" the politicians had taken an "interest" in, and who were sent to their deaths in Siberia or other slave labor camps ranging from the Arctic circle to the suburbs of Leningrad to Kazakhstan. "Depending on how and who one counts, and including the executed and non-Soviets," the dead may have numbered 10, 12, or even 20 million. I alluded to this in my last column, but didn't mean to just skim over it.

Having said that, let's back up a bit further. In baseball, a runner never backtracks unless he thinks he might have missed a base, so I wanted to go back and touch a couple of bases. One such topic is the weather (the networks and the people really seem to want to talk about the weather). So:

The Entitlement mentality seems to be extending to the weather, and I think I'm on to something. I'm writing these words before the President's State of the Union address, and someone said this morning that President Ford may have been the only President to give an objective one (he essentially said we could be doing better). Now earlier the President proposed some kind of a "grain bank" in case of world hunger.

I know, I know, at the present time we Americans are so hard up for something to complain about that people are "offended" over school nicknames, and will sue at the drop of a coffee cup, but I think the President had something there. I know that a long, hot summer is the last thing on your mind right now, but just bear with me. While many of you are fantasizing about going south and "catching some rays," we Yoopers fantasize about a Utopia that's "whiter than snow" (a tad like Siberia without the blood and tears).

A big-city TV weather-guy once started to say something about "pretty" snow, but he caught himself and said, "People get upset when I call it pretty!" I once saw a book of cartoons called "Who Invented Rain?"; in it a little boy saying his prayers says, "Maybe people would like snow better if you made more than one flavor."

Another little boy says, "I wish God wouldn't wash the world on Saturday." Historians and anthropologists can tell a lot about a civilization by the things the people laugh about. Only one per cent of our population now lives on the farm and we've stopped praying "Give us this day our daily bread" because we think that's a "given." Kids in high school now are too young to remember the 1988 drought.

I made a cross country trip in the spring of 1989 from dry San Diego through the drier Yuma, Arizona desert and the Texas Panhandle. As I beheld the brittle grass, driving across Kansas, I heard the following lyrics on the radio:
    As long as there's a rainbow, there's a reason for the rain.

    If we're ever going to see a rainbow, we can stand a little rain.

    I'm no stranger to the rain; I can spot bad weather, but I'll put this cloud behind me.

In eastern Kansas, I heard two county agents being interviewed. One from Phillips County, up on the Nebraska line, said: "I've lived here almost a year now and I haven't seen it rain yet." Yet the very same day, I pulled in a Chicago station and the announcer said, "It's going to be 50 degrees on Saturday and even warmer Sunday, BUT WE MAY HAVE TO PUT UP WITH A LITTLE RAIN"(!)

If you city dudes have never heard the facts of life, let me clue you in. In 1989, Miami got 42 inches of rain, including a deluge during one football game, but the four counties in south Florida ended the year under strict water-use regulations because the "normal" amount is 56 inches. Now, to get 56 inches in a year, they probably need at least two good rains per week, and mathematically speaking, that means on average 4 chances out of 7, or a 56% chance, of getting rain on at least one of the days on the weekend!

During the 1988 drought, on a Friday night, I heard a Wisconsin weatherman say, "There are a few clouds in northern Indiana, but it's nothing to worry about!" And during the same period a rock station DJ said, "It's going to be a beautiful day out in the Plains, except for a few pesky showers."

Evidently, that county agent from Phillips County never got to see those pesky showers! On June 11, 1988, disc jockeys all over the dial were raving about the "magnificent" and "fantastic" weather – 13 percent humidity and 20 mph winds! If we were to experience a repeat of 1988, those city folk are goin' to run plum out of adjectives! Funny thing is, that 99% who don't live on farms would be the first to run out of food, not the last!

Maybe people would like rain better if God had made more than one flavor. Hmmmm: maybe if He put a little booze in it . . .

But what in tarnation does this have to do with the State of the Union? Well, Alan Keyes says that our future does not depend on our leaders. It depends on us. Truly said, but if you're still going "What's your point?" – then I know I'm really on to something here.

We're not going to have a "Great Society" or "New Frontiers" on the moon and Mars if we can't first get back to the basics. That's more than just a catchphrase with me. I grew up milking cows and I'm back to milking cows. I know which side our "guns" are buttered on.

Cincinnatus was a farmer who happened to be a Roman Senator during the days of the decline and fall. He tried his best to give wisdom to the Senate, and I wonder what advice he would have for our President today. One thing you can probably be sure of is that he would say, "Don't try to please EVERYBODY!" I don't think Cincinnatus would be a big fan of "triangulation" or the politics of demographics and focus-group polling!

PPS: Some people say that when George Washington was inaugurated, the Bible was open. I haven't verified that, but it has been said that it may have been open to Leviticus 26 or Deuteronomy 28. The former says:

"If my people walk in My statutes and keep my commandments, I will give you rain in due season . . . "

I just hate it when people miss the point!

© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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