P is for praying for rain (ABC Wednesday)

$5,000 in 1885 is worth over $122,000 today

praying for rainWith the climate operating as it has of late, people have been praying for rain. Or praying for the stoppage of rain. As the cliche goes, “be careful what you wish for.” We’ve seen in the United States in recent years devastating floods after that same region had experienced fires caused in part by severe drought.

Here’s a story originally from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, then in The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, his father Irving Wallace and sister Amy Wallace. It should surprise almost no one who knows me that I own – present tense – the first two volumes of that quirky series. Here’s the interesting case of the farmer who sued the local minister because he had prayed for rain.

It was the 1880s, and upstate New York was in a drought. In the tiny town of Phelps, Ontario County, in the Finger Lakes region, Presbyterian minister Duncan McLeod requested that the resident to cease whatever they were doing at noon one Saturday in August to start praying for rain.

“That afternoon, it did rain, a lot. About two inches fell, washing out a bridge. Unfortunately, the rain was accompanied by lightning, and a barn belonging to farmer Phineas Dodd was struck and burned to the ground. As it happens, Dodd was the only local who refused to take part in the collective prayer, leading others to whisper that his barn loss was divine retribution.

“When Dodd heard that the minister was taking credit for the rain, he sued him for $5,000 to cover his property damage.” $5,000 in 1885 is worth over $122,000 today.

“That put the minister in a bind: Were the prayers responsible for the storm or not? Fortunately for him, it never came to that: His lawyer convinced the judge that the minister and his followers had prayed only for rain, not for the lightning, and the lightning was supplied by — who else? — God.”

Even we Presbyterians need a good attorney from time to time.

For ABC Wednesday

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

6 thoughts on “P is for praying for rain (ABC Wednesday)”

  1. That’s a super interesting story, Roger!
    True story too. Truth is stranger than fiction.

    There’s a recent Hindi movie (from India) named – “OMG- Oh My God!”.
    In it, an atheist’s shop is the only one that gets destroyed in an earthquake.
    People say that it’s due to a Godman who cursed him as he wouldn’t let his son participate in a festival.
    Insurance companies say- the disaster claim does not cover any damage caused by natural calamities classified under “Act of God”.
    The atheist then sues God for the act!
    He fails to find a lawyer for such a lawsuit.
    He decides to fight on his own.
    Legal notices are sent to the insurance company as well as to religious priests, who have great following & clout. They are summoned as representatives of God on earth.

    During the preliminary hearing, opposition lawyer asks the judge to dismiss the case.
    But, atheist points out that religious groups claim to represent God on Earth and speak on his behalf. Hence, they are answerable for his actions. The Judge agrees and the court accepts the case.
    But, atheist loses everyone’s support, including his family’s as he goes against God.

    A person named Krishna comes to his life, who starts living with the atheist.
    Krishna advises him to go to the media and present his views. Interview goes viral.
    Many, whose insurance claims were rejected due to “Act Of God” show up to join the lawsuit.
    Opposition lawyer points out that atheist has no document to prove that the disaster was an “Act of God”. The judge orders atheist to present a written proof that will support his claim.

    Atheist loses hope, but Krishna advises him to read the holy books like Bhagavad Gita, The Quran and The Bible, for all answers to his questions. Atheist deeply studies the books.
    In the next session, atheist points out a passage present in all the holy books which says that “This world is a creation of God, and it is his will to allow it to grow or destroy”, which strengthens his case.
    Atheist then falls and slips into coma. Doctors announce that he has been paralyzed, and that only God can save him. When atheist opens his eyes, he finds Krishna in front of him. Krishna caresses the left side of atheist’s body with his key chain and atheist is able to walk again.

    Krishna then reveals to atheist that he himself is God- Lord Krishna, and he has saved atheist to show him that God does exist. Atheist then becomes a believer and advises the public. He turns to thank Lord Krishna, but Krishna has already disappeared…

  2. I can image that people pray for many things…. but with that saying in the back of my mind, I Always choose my prairs very carefully…
    Still… the lack of rain overhere has caused a lack of mushrooms … so instead of going out with my camera to photograph them like I Always do end of sepetember start of october… I still have to wait for them to appear

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l d y ♪ (ABC-W-team)

  3. You may just get some rain this weekend depending upon where you live ~ great posts as always and yes, Einstein could have been a librarian ^_^

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  4. “The Man Who Sued God”, starring Billy Connolly is another film that has the same premise as the movie that Anita described. The thing that caught fire was Connolly’s character’s boat. That was a good story and movie.

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