Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Power of Prayer--Asking God to Kill Someone Else

GMA TV News has the neatest animation of the tracks of the two typhoons, Hagibis and Mitag during the last week or so, and their predicted paths, also shown in a snapshot of the Western Pacific from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii. You can see Hagibis crossing just north of Mindanao towards Palawan, and supertyphoon Mitag approaching the Bicol region from the east. But after hundreds of thousands had evacuated to churches, schools and government shelters, Mitag changed direction, thus "sparing" Bicol. One editorial asks the philosophical question,
What happened? Answered prayers, many Bicol residents said, recalling how people in the region swamped radio stations with messages urging prayers. Priests noted that attendance at Masses grew as “Mina” was reported to be approaching closer. When the typhoon changed course and spared Bicol, one priest said it was “sort of a miracle.”
Answered prayers? A sort of miracle? But what should we make of the later headline: Mina death toll rises to 12 as storm leaves RP (but in Isabela, Northern Luzon and the Babuyan Islands). Shades of the oratio imperata (Prayer for Rain) that the Catholic Church also led the Faithful in besieging Heaven itself with supplications for, earlier in the year, when rumors spread in media of "drought." Hmm...seems to be working a lil too well, folks.

By the way, the naming of typhoons and other terrestrial storms can be a bit confusing because there are regional and local naming conventions in use all over the world. For example the Western Pacific regional names for the two storms mentioned above are "Hagibis" and "Mitag" which were actually contributed by the Philippines and Micronesia to a rotating list of names used by group of 14 participating countries. Meanwhile, the "Philippine region" names for the same storms are "Lando" and "Mina" respectively. The authoritative source for all the agreed upon names is the National Hurricane Center of the US National Oceanograhic and Atmospheric Administration, including Philippine region names.

FYI: For 2008, be advised that the Philippine region names that will be assigned to typhoons are Ambo, Butchoy, Cosme, Dindo, Enteng, Frank, Gener, Helen, Igme, Julian, Karen, Lawin, Marce, Nina, Ofel, Pablo, Quinta, Rolly, Siony, Tonyo, Unding, Violeta, Winnie, Yoyong, Zosimo.


Amadeo said...

The typical faithful in the old homeland ascribes to the traditional child-like interpretation of prayer and its efficacy. That it is directed to an all-knowing and omnipotent Being who dispenses things asked for.

St. Ignatius had a good interpretation, or call it rationalization, as to how prayer should be done and taken. Pray like everything depended on your God, but act on what you pray, like everything depended on you.

This makes for good sense. And puts all praying in reasonable perspective.

DJB Rizalist said...

I'm not sure what tradition it belongs to anymore, but I like the idea of prayer as mainly an act of listening not asking.

cvj said...

Hi DJB, i'd like to invite you to take this Political Compass Quiz. I'm collating the scores in my blog. Amadeo (and the rest), i'd like to invite you as well.

DJB Rizalist said...

looks like i got about the same results in the Political Compass as when this first came out some time back.

Here's DJB on the compass:

Economic Left/Right

-0.92 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian

cvj said...

Thanks DJB! I've updated my blog entry with your scores.

Amadeo said...

This political quiz shows your results on a comparative graph that one can then upload to one's site.

Admittedly, the questions asked are more apropos for people here in the US.

It also gives a synopsis of how your political orientation translates to political reality. And a short description of different political orientation.

DJB Rizalist said...


Yeah, there is definitely some "localization" bias in the question set. I think the compass came out about 5 years ago? Am surprised no Philippine version question set has been attempted.

I think it's basic flaw is implied by its own insight that the problem with the old "Left-Right" labelling is that it is "one-dimensional" and does not capture the full complexity of people's political attitudes. Our politics are large multidimensional beasts that can hardly be measured for the purposes of descriptive labelling by a single dimension of economic attitude.

But all the Political Compass does is to add a second dimension of "social attitude" which is labelled the libertarian-authoritarian axis.

Question design is of course the question. I've noticed a slight evolution over the years, but I wish the questions could be more clever and not so obvious. I'm frankly nonplussed at getting so consistently boring a score near zero comma zero on the Political Compass.

But then again, I guess it's just a Parlor Game, and I love parlor games.

Inventing new axes and dimensions to politically labelable attitudes is the fun idea for me.

Almost any left-right, bottom-top, spectrum sweeping antonym pair can serve to define a dimension with labels like peacenik-warfreak,

I bet there's websites that let you design your own quesstionaires and such.

Maybe SWS should get into this type of social surveying, good for business and churn. Right now they are into measuring poverty and hunger. It's such a grim topic!

Amadeo said...


For what it is worth, these different political quizzes serve to enlighten takers to the absurdity of gratuitously assigning labels to people, without really understanding the entire panoply on which a label is based on and without specifying to which issue/s one is being labeled.

“Conservative” sources I visit would rather like to describe themselves as classical liberals as distinguished from simply being liberal, harkening back to the era when the former stood for more traditional principles of liberalism. Bill of O’Reilly Factor never misses any opportunity to describe his politics as traditionalist. And one would tend to agree based on his public pronouncements.

Or what about when the label neo-con was originally given to those early Democrats who bolted their party as a protest against certain “liberal” principles. So imagine what the former term now signifies in the current milieu.

Or that when I declare himself as Independent, it does not imply that I am exclusively neither liberal nor conservative.

In accommodation, therefore, the current CA governor is wont to be described as politically liberal, but fiscally conservative. At the very least, this label recognizes to some extent the influence of the Kennedy name (from wife, Maria Shriver) in his thinking.

Re your concept on prayer, the Church defines prayer as the lifting up of one’s mind and heart to God – thus, a conversation, whether one-way or two-way. Over time, the Church has had a bum rap especially from those who are only too willing to demonize it as too cultish and irrelevant. In its broadest context, prayer can be any good thought or act one does every day, which one simply offers as prayer. So your idea hits the mark. Forget about those slavishly kneeling or supine penitents in Quiapo Church as the epitome of prayer and praying.

Jego said...

(Off-topic, DJB. A minor technical note. Your comment section ate my comment. I remember somebody else thinking he was banned from here? Ricelander, I think it was. Maybe the comment section ate his comments, too.)

ricelander said...

Uhmm, can get in now. Was just laziness on my part... turns out blogspot changed its login config.

...pero nandito na rin lang...

On prayers, I think God has the omniscience to read ones inner desires. To think so otherwise is to regard him less a God, you know, like a man who should be pleased with servile posture, endless praises and pleadings, gifts. A God like that is to me like a typical politician who needs ego massaging from time to time

DJB Rizalist said...

for the longest time, i thought i was banned from ellen tordesillas blog, but it turns out there's something funky about wordpress i didn't understand. i always thought blogspot was the easiest to get into. but maybe things have changed.

sorry about any inconvenience. but just in case anybody is wondering, i've never "banned" anybody. don't even know how!

AdB said...

Dean, looks you're positioned more to the left than I am in the libertarian-authoritarian axis...

Hah! Achtung kamarade!

lateralus said...

Nuninu... I don't even think I need to say anything.