Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at Opednews.com and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: http://www.mach2.com/williams/. Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email DonWilliams7@charter.net.


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Did Voodoo Christians Pray Up the Wrong Strom?
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   08/30/2008)

Lord have mercy.

What have we done? That's what Voodoo Christians must be asking themselves.

It's one thing to pray up a storm. It's quite another to make God's dart hit the bulls-eye.

In case you missed it, Focus on the Family's self-appointed prophet-jester, Stuart Shepard, released a video on or about Aug. 8, urging Christians to pray for "rain of biblical proportions” in order to drown out Barack Obama's climactic acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

I'm not saying the Lord had other plans.

But as I write this, Tropical Storm Gustav is bearing down on New Orleans, or somewhere close. It could hit Houston or Panama City, Florida. Meanwhile, dozens of counties in that land of hanging chads have been declared disaster areas, thanks to floods which drenched the entire state last week. Seems smiting folks with rain and winds "of biblical proportions" is not an exact, um… science.

Meanwhile…

* That hoary old medicine show known as the Republican National Convention is moving toward its rendezvous in the aptly dubbed Twin Cities, where those “twins” of bad policy, George W. Bush and John McCain will spin the truth faster than you can say “Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva job.”

* Lots of folks are invoking Katrina and Rita, twin ballerinas that spun through New Orleans and Houston, respectively, starting with Katrina almost exactly three years ago as this is written.

* Democrats are basking in the afterglow of a stupendous and sunny convention—one that surely set a new standard for conventions to come. Packed stadium, sunshine, good music, Stevie Wonder and people dancing.

* Amazing unity is on display among Democrats, with both Clintons, Al Gore, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Ted Kennedy and others basking in praise for speeches delivered like manna from heaven.

* Or was that red meat they served up? Whatever it was, the media's feasting on it. Few Democratic stalwarts pulled their punches in Denver. (At last! An answered prayer). Nearly all the speakers lit into the sad and destructive Bush legacy, giving pundits choice phrases to chew on, such as this one from Obama: “You know John McCain likes to say he will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives.”

* As for Shepard, liberal stalwart Keith Olbermann named him the “Worst Person in the World” for his Voodoo Christian video and enough sensible Christians--you know, the kind who follow Jesus' actual teachings--protested so that the video was taken from the Focus on the Family website. Still, it's widely available at YouTube.com.

From this distance, it all has the makings of a perfect storm for a Grand Old Party that's living up to its nickname--at least the middle part.

It's certainly old.

Even the addition of youthful Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can't disguise that. Her stated position against saving polar bears and other critters paints her as a just another dinosaur living off the land in the party of the carbon-filled and species-declining past.

It's all so crazy that people who believe in Voodoo Christianity--you know, Shepard, Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson and their ilk--must be having serious bouts of cognitive dissonance just now.

Could it be Gustav hit the wrong convention? Could it be God intended to dump on the GOP?

Republican officials and the media are taking Gustav so seriously that the Washington Post, in its Aug. 29 edition reported the following:

“Republican officials said yesterday that they are considering delaying the start of the GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul because of Tropical Storm Gustav, which is on track to hit the Gulf Coast, and possibly New Orleans, as a full-force hurricane early next week.

“The threat is serious enough that White House officials are also debating whether President Bush should cancel his scheduled convention appearance on Monday, the first day of the convention, according to administration officials and others familiar with the discussion.

“For Bush and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Gustav threatens to provide an untimely reminder of Hurricane Katrina. A new major storm along the Gulf Coast would renew memories of one of the low points of the Bush administration, while pulling public attention away from McCain's formal coronation as the GOP presidential nominee.”

OK, folks, three quick caveats.

1. The notion of a storm bearing down on the Gulf Coast this week is funny only if you're far away. So if you have an urge to pray for something, how about a prayer that nobody drowns due to Gulf storms?

2. Let's get real. I don't believe God stirred up Katrina in order to smite gays, just as he never spun out Rita to smite Texas oil companies, so please eschew Voodoo Christianity. I will never believe the weather is a purveyor of Divine Justice.

3. As a purveyor of poetic justice, however, it manifestly holds possibilities.