Saturday, March 31, 2007

Wrong Answer?

I found this interesting tidbit on a science weblog. I've cleaned it up a bit - I'm somewhat of a stickler that way...

"In the 1800's, in Mexico, a little village was suffering, they had no rain for months, most crops had died. Every morning, the minister rounded up all the villagers and they prayed for rain, [e]very day they prayed for rain. Finally, a [J]esuit priest was sent to this village. The priest rounded up all the villagers and gave them assignments. By the end of the month, they found 3 sources of ground water. They dug a well in the most likely one and water came gushing out. The priest turned to the minister and said '[Y]ou don't have to be stupid to be a good [C]hristian'"
This story reads like a remembered anecdote, perhaps from a talk that someone gave. It has that urban legend quality about it, that makes me doubt that you'd ever be able to find documentation of a specific event that occured in this way. And it's a little off on some of the details. Mexico is overwhelmingly Catholic. Localities would have parish priests, not ministers. But I suppose it's easier to differentiate the two priests if they have different titles. And the reason for specifically identifying the incoming priest as a Jesuit is unclear.

This strikes me as a story designed to be an affirmation of the saying "God helps those who help themselves." Which, by the way, is not in the Bible, but rather a saying of Benjamin Franklin.

Footnote: I disagree with the contention that Franklin's words are "contradicted in Proverbs 28:26." The idea that undertaking a task, with the idea that God will more readily aid your own efforts, rather than do the work for you is equivalent of trusting in oneself, to the exclusion of the divine, seems to be an overly strict interpretation, one designed specifically to lead to "Prayer is the Answer" solutions to problems.

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