Saturday, April 23, 2011



An “Unprecedented drought” drives “never-before-seen wildfire situation in Texas.”  What to do? “Today, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) came up with an innovative solution — prayer,”

Perry issued an official proclamation drawing on his constitutional authority designating three days as Days of Prayer for Rain:
NOW, THEREFORE, 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 and robust way of life.
– Read the full ThinkProgress repost.

Of course, the droughts and wildfires are not limited to the American Southwest. We have seen them sweep across Australia and Russia in recent years and the latest NASA satellite view shows the dryness spreading across the Amazon forest.

NASA image reveals extent of 2010 Amazon drought

NASA has revealed a satellite image of the crippling effect of last year's record-breaking drought on the Amazon ecosystem. ... that's two record droughts in the Amazon Basin in 5 years. The 2010 drought appears more extreme than the drought of 2005 according to recent research.... (Read more at Mongabay)

As the dryness changes climate, "wildfires from the sky" started by lightning -- a phenomenon unknown in the previously moist rainforest -- begin to spread on a vast scale across the forest. In 2010, the damage caused by forest degradation and fires exceeded the damage caused by outright deforestation. Scientists say that the Amazon Basin is very close to the "tipping point" where about 40% will change from forest to savanna. As this occurs, the Amazon Basin will switch from being a carbon sink drawing down CO2 from the atmosphere to being a net source of greenhouse gases and trigger the world closer to global climate disaster.

In brief, the situation is SERIOUS!

And how might prayer assist this? The truth is that prayer alone won't do it. There's a mystery. Padrinho Sebastiao Mota de Melo -- the Santo Daime leader who was known as "The Man of the Forest" and who founded the large community in the Amazon called Mapia -- put it this way, "the mystery of prayer is not just to pray but to pray and to practice." He was also famous for saying that the justice of God does not change one iota. In other words, Nature is neither cordial nor negotiable. It is based on absolute laws.

Even though a great deal of damage has already been done, the good news is that there are remedies. They are three: 1) there must be a halt to further deforestation; 2) damaged areas must be reforested and restored; and 3) soil and water resources must be protected and renewed.

Unfortunately, under pressure from the agriculture sector, a revised national Forest Code has been proposed by a past Speaker of the House, Aldo Rebelo, and is waiting for a vote in the Brazilian Congress that would 1) dramatically increase the amount of allowed deforestation, 2) relieve the landowners of required reforestation of illegally deforested land and 3) reduce the amount of stream and river side protection for soil and water. Indeed, these proposed changes are exactly the opposite of what is desperately needed.

The Santo Daime religious tradition is certainly not unique in warning of a pending global catastrophe. Like most religions its messages -- here revealed through sacred music or "received" hymns -- include both bad and good news. Here is a recent hymn (and homage to Chico Mendes) of Solon Brito being sung in a small family church in the Amazon region of western Brazil.

The mystery, indeed, is not so mysterious. In the New Era of the Anthropocene, we have become co-creators with God. As the Nova Era hymn of Padrinho Alfredo says, "The Master is the one from Nazareth and the mystery is from Amazônia."

Let's pray.

And let's practice.

The New Era is the time for action.


Anonymous said...

Although good intentions and positive thinking have some credibility and demonstrable value, praying, or asking god for personal desires to be fulfilled, or for the natural state of things to be changed for the benefit of humans is egotistical, delusional hopefulness born of the dark infancy of humanity. God, in the unlikeliness that it even exists, would surely be the god einstein - a non intervening source that doesn't intervene, answer prayers, punish or reward people.

On the other hand, if you believe your god is al knowing, powerful etc, then it has good reason to dry up and burn Texas to the ground, and people should stop interfering with there small minded desires. You cant have your god and eat him too.

Lou Gold said...

Interesting comment "anonymous" even it sounds like you might not have read the full post. The point is that the interventions of the Anthropocene have turned humans into co-creators and that is a responsibility full of wonder and terror.

Lisandro said...

The apostle Tiago wrote that "faith without works is dead " I think this idea is similar what said Padrinho Sebastião, not enough to pray, we must act to help to build what is called for in prayer. I also believe that this act mobilizes mechanisms that we do not know and can do miracles, thus changing our destiny.

Lou Gold said...

Good words, Lisandro. I think that the New Era is already upon us and is challenging all of us to find new ways to bring thought and action, prayer and practice, closer together. And, yes, there is magic and miracle in the focusing on the future even if we don't know its details. Like the hymn says, the good is renewing. Some ways are dying and some ways are being born. In the process there are many labor pains. We feel it individually but we create collectively. Finding the bridges and connections is our work.