Curtis Dahlgren
'Who stopped the RAIN?'
By Curtis Dahlgren
June 9, 2023

Originally published March 27, 2013)

"We are now in Connecticut, and never out of sight of a house. I 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 all 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). But the visitor** to the northeast quoted above wrote his words in 179 the year George Washington was inaugurated. The subtitle of the book is "Did God have a plan for America?" Its focus is from Columbus to the Pilgrims and Puritans.

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.

The 1930s were a lot hotter and much drier than the 2002-2012 period. Such "phenomena" used to be called "Acts-of-God." Marshall and Manuel tell about a drought in the 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 as possible."

But they forgot that were still dependent upon God's grace for the prerequisite weather.

"The leaders of the colony noticed this materialism and called for a day of fasting and prayer during the horrible spring drought that had lasted 12 weeks."

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.

Like Billy Sunday once 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; [or actually punish nations?). Sunday said, "God's not running a half-way house for anybody!"

P.S. The following is from an earlier column:

"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 that could change. Some perspective:

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, those 99% who don't live on farms would be the first to run out of food, not the last!

Alan Keyes once said that "our future does not depend on our leaders. It depends on US!" Truly said.

PPS: Some people say that when George Washington was inaugurated, he put his hand on an open Bible. 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...." Enough said?

© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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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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