- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
While Texas is Burning and Rick Perry Covers His Bets
You freethinking Yankees go ahead and laugh. When Texas Governor Rick Perry called upon Texans to pray for rain he did nothing more than petty rulers have doing since our species began farming and herding. We need only consult Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough to be reminded that, “Of all the things that a public magician sets himself to do for the good of the tribe, one of the chief is to control the weather, and especially to ensure an adequate fall of rain.” Perry is undoubtedly a very powerful public magician—even after accepting a fortune in campaign contributions from Big Oil many Texans are still convinced that he acts in their interest—but the current burning season in the Lone Star State would daunt the drought breaking powers of a Prophet Elijah. Vast stretches of West Texas and the Panhandle have been charred by wildfires that sometimes converged into larger conflagrations, as happened with the 150,000 acre Possum Kingdom Complex. Fires that big would tempt any politician to win some public approval by appealing for divine assistance. The important passage in the specific incantation offered up by Governor Perry is the fifth paragraph of a proclamation that bears close reading:
“I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities, and the restoration of our normal way of life.”
On first impression this wording appears impressively ecumenical. There is no reference to a named deity. Compare that the prayer for precipitation offered to “God” and “Miracle Creator” as the object or objects of supplication by then Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue back in 2007. Then there is Governor Perry’s reference to “Texans of all faiths and traditions.” Christians, Mormons, Jews, Muslims (so long as they don’t plan on building a Mosque to offer up their prayers for rain), and perhaps even Wiccans, are all invited to join together, etc. The only people who would seem to have been excluded are those who think that the weather isn’t influenced by our wishes. Unfortunately there might be a serpent lurking in this rhetorically inclusive garden: where the first sentence refers to three days, the second sentence refers to a single day. That might be nothing more than an oversight by staffers who were unable to proofread the text because they are on their knees begging for supernatural meteorological intervention, but it also could be interpreted as encoding a reference to the Christian Trinity in the invitation. If so, that would not be the first time Perry attempted to please multiple audiences. Speaking to the National Association of Power Engineers (NAPE) Oil and Gas Expo on February 11, 2010, he railed against “theories of man-caused climate change.” (His political consultants probably insisted that he use the clunky phrase “man-caused” rather than “anthropogenic” so as not to risk sounding too intellectual.) What is most striking about the speech is that within seconds of attacking climate change as a theory, he brags that Texas has reduced its CO2 emissions more than any other state. That could only be a point of pride if climate change is “man-caused.” A fit of absentmindedness is one possible explanation for such illogic, but another is that it was deliberately included to give environmentalists hope that he might doubt the nonsense of the climate skeptics. Greens tend to look for signs of ecological reason with the same hope that Evangelicals tend to bring to their search for symbolism buried in text. Here is the political genius of Perry’s seeming inconsistency. He appeals to ecumenic unity and climate skepticism in the near term, but gives himself openings to appeal to a less tolerant Christian majority when the current emergency has passed and to environmentalists when the consensus that global warming is real reemerges. So laugh at that you freethinking Yankees. Whether or not any Texas politician really believes in the power of collective prayer to change the elemental forces of nature, it is absolutely certain they believe in covering their bets.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
What's a dynamic dune? It's a reference that was changed to just "dunes" in the law, perhaps because it left too many people confused. Or perhaps the idea that dunes change and move was upsetting to people who want their environment to stay the same. In any event, it's hard to deny that the purveyors of entertainment on Sea Island, Georgia, are bound and determined to "fix" their venue, even though it means breaking the law to do so. Pictures don't lie. All summer long the toys have languished in the dunes, forgotten and unused. It's almost sad. So many toys and Read on →
The birthing of several new suburban towns around Atlanta has had an impact on Gwinnett, something you might call an "unintended consequence." One of these has been the hiring by these new towns of members of the Gwinnett County police force, taking officers trained by the Gwinnett Police Academy to fill the ranks of the newly-formed police departments. Other areas big enough to have their own police academies, Atlanta, DeKalb, and Cobb counties have also been targeted as place to hire fully-trained officers. One factor in this hiring: the new cities are paying more, often significantly more, in annual pay to fill Read on →
I came across this blog written by Gina Crosley-Corcaran titled “Explaining White privilege to a Broke White People." Well, after hearing a few African Americans who have succeeded say that racism and “white privilege” does exist and did not block their ability to achieve, I thought I would review Peggy McIntosh’s “White privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” and share a few thoughts and questions about “white privilege.” These are paraphrased from what was asked by Gina Crosley-Carcaran in her article. Mr./Ms. African American who has succeed can you turn on your television or open the front page of your local and/or national newspa Read on →
Over the past few weeks since the shooting of Michael Brown the discussions on the various cable channels have been quite interesting. It truly illustrated that your perception of the shooting all comes from your point of view. If you are conservative, whether black or white, you find every reason you can point to Michael Brown’s past and actions on that day to justify the officer’s shooting of that young man six times. You strive for every fact to prove your point that the shooting was justified. If you are liberal, you are doing the same thing except it is too Read on →