Respectful Insolence

Back in the spring, when gas prices shot up to well over $4 a gallon in many markets, a level from which they’ve fallen back somewhat over the last month or so, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Never before in U.S. history had gasoline cost so much, and we were starting to get a taste of what our European friends have had to put up with for a very long time. But just a taste. After all, I remember from my trip to the U.K. last August that gas was around £1 per liter, which at the time translated to over $7.50 a gallon. For those who lived in isolated areas or had low incomes, this spike in gas prices was a disaster, especially for truckers, cab drivers, and others whose jobs involved driving. On the other hand, I had little sympathy at all for all the yuppies who had bought enormous SUVs during the years when gasoline was cheap.

Naturally, when faced with a disaster of such proportions, some Americans, being the highly religious people that they are, had the perfect response. Indeed, to them it was the only response possible. No, it wasn’t to purchase more fuel-efficient cars (although some did start to drive less). No, it wasn’t to lobby the government to support the development of alternative fuels and to increase the CAFE standard. No, it was to Pray at the Pump for lower gas prices. And now that gas prices have come down around 20-30 cents from their historic highs, perish forbid that the fall in prices at the pump or the recent fall in price for a barrel of crude oil had anything to do with the economic principle of supply and demand or the recent strengthening of the dollar. Oh, no, it was clearly Jesus at work:

A prayer group in Washington DC is claiming the credit for the recent sharp drop in the US price of petrol.

Rocky Twyman, 59, a veteran community campaigner, started Pray At The Pump meetings at petrol stations in April.

Since then, the average price of what the US calls gasoline has fallen from more than $4 a gallon to $3.80.

“We don’t have anybody else to turn to but God,” Mr Twyman told the BBC. “We have to turn these problems over to God and not to man.”

Indeed, Twyman goes even further:

The recent dip in prices, he says, is proof of divine intervention.

“Prayer is the answer to every problem in life,” said Twyman, founder of the Pray at the Pump Movement, whose followers huddle around gas pumps and ask the Almighty to lower gasoline prices. “If the whole country keeps on praying, we can bring down prices even more, to even less than $2.”

Of course, gas prices are extremely volatile, and it was only to be expected that after such a major spike in prices there would be a gradual retreat from the record high prices of earlier this summer. Indeed, it seems to be a bit of a pattern the last few years, where gas prices seem to spike in late spring and early summer and then gradually fall again. Of course, they never seem to fall quite back to where they were before the spike, leaving an overall long term trend of relentlessly increasing prices. This time appears to be no exception, although for the moment the AAA is anticipating at least some further declines in the price of gasoline. Thus, Pray at the Pump was guaranteed to appear to succeed, at least in the short term. In the long term, it will be interesting to see how Twyman reacts the next time gasoline prices spike. And you know they will spike again at some point. It’s inevitable. My guess is that it will happen sometime next spring. (If I’m right, you can call me psychic.)

My other guess is that Twyman will at some point in the next few months, as gas prices continue to decline a bit more more and then level off for a while, declare victory in Jesus’ name and stop his Pray at the Pump effort. Then, when prices inevitably spike again (as I mentioned before, probably next spring), he’ll view it as “proof” that he stopped his effort too soon. He’ll then have to start up Pray at the Pump again–until the next time gas prices decline.

If Twyman’s smart, he could keep this routine up for years.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    August 18, 2008

    Well awesome! I would think all those praying can now switch to ending something like childhood diabetes or cancer or war. If God can bring down something as comparatively trivial as gas prices surely he can fix those other things?

    That or it’s just another example of the superiority masturbation that those who take place in these types of events likes to do.

  2. #2 Ramel
    August 18, 2008

    But what about those oil company executives who pray for increased profits?

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    August 18, 2008

    But what about those oil company executives who pray for increased profits?

    Death cage pray off match!!

  4. #4 Andreas Schaefer
    August 18, 2008

    Ramel : oil executives : smaller numbers plus lack of faith probably.

    I am surprised at the lack of faith of these pray at the pump people : if one can pray for cheaper gas, why not making things simpler, sell ones car, and pray for transportation?


    of course if one presupposes an almighty , all present and all knowing god a sparrow cannot fall from the roof gas prices can not change without his will. Though on second thought the pump-prayers inability to pay for a full tank must ALSO be gods will. Ignoring that will certainly come at a price.

    Personally I tend to believe that either there is no god, or he expects us to help ourselves before we come running and praying. At least THAT fits the observed data.

  5. #5 Andreas Schaefer
    August 18, 2008

    seems that only SOME HTML tags work: ( and which ones? )
    That should have been :

    Of course if one presupposes an almighty , all present and all knowing god [strike]a sparrow cannot fall from the roof[/strike] gas prices can not change without his will.

  6. #6 Peter M.
    August 18, 2008

    Now I know why no evidence to the contrary can convince the religious right that global warming exists. If it did, it would mean that god by lowering gas prices to help the petitioners would ensure on the other hand the demise of a great portion of the human race.
    But – if he on the other hand only causes the demise of those despiccable heathens and in the majority non – whites? maybe it could be considered part of his devine plan to ensure an american christian empire?

  7. #7 chris
    August 18, 2008

    Try using these > instead of ]

    Except that I don’t think strike works here.

  8. #8 wfjag
    August 18, 2008

    “A confident Barack Obama raised an extraordinary $7.8 million Sunday at three California fundraisers, most if (sic, of) it in large checks to a Democratic Party committee.

    ‘I will win. Don’t worry about that,’ he said to the crowd of about 1,300 at his third event of the evening, according to the pool report.

    He was warmly received by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called him ‘a leader that God has blessed us with at this time.’”

    “I Will Win” (Aug. 18, 2008) at http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0808/Obama_I_will_win.html

    If it’s OK for Nancy to pray to God to deliver us to Barak (and passing the collection plate), I see nothing wrong with Twyman praying to God to deliver us from the Oil Companies (so we can pass their collection plate).

  9. #9 J-Dog
    August 18, 2008

    This guy is nothing but a McCain, and I am not falling for it.

    It’s like the guys with the sasquatch “proof” – without the sasquatch

  10. #10 Skeptico
    August 18, 2008

    Again- way ahead of you. And I’ve even got a nice graph.

    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2008/08/rocky-twyman-prayer-gas-prices.html

  11. #11 TheOtherOne
    August 18, 2008

    Seriously? They’re claiming divine intervention for the fact that gas that cost $2.50 not all that long ago has fallen from $4.00 to $3.65? Seriously?

    Couldn’t the (alleged) Big Guy have at least given us a whole buck per gallon? Better yet, drop gas prices back to $2.50?

    And if you really want my love and devotion, deliver $1.50 a gallon (not just as a one-time downward spike, but as a steady price) . . . . THEN, I’ll think about it.

  12. #12 Willy
    August 18, 2008

    Christian Science: “Count the hits, not the misses!” With that, prayer is the only answer as to why gas prices have fallen.

  13. #13 Coin
    August 18, 2008

    To be fair, one assumes that someone who could turn water into wine could just as easily make anhydrous ethanol.

  14. #14 phisrow
    August 18, 2008

    The profound banality of the faithful imagination never ceases to amaze me. For an omnipotent deity, any intervention would be equally trivial and yet, consistently, the faithful are overjoyed at pitiful little miracles dredged out of the statistical noise(obviously, they don’t have much choice; but their happiness with them is pathetic).

    Worse, any Jew could tell these clowns that god already has a documented procedure for handling crises of the oil-supply variety: Octuple fuel economy.

  15. #15 Craig Willoughby
    August 18, 2008

    Dear Jeebus,
    Because of the cost of fueling these devices that you wouldn’t approve of, seeing how you walked everywhere, and because it’s cutting into my necessities, like Cable TV, please lower the cost of gas. That way, we can give more to you at the church we only attend once in a blue moon.

    Am I the only one that sees the irony in the fact that those that are actually responsible for the lowering gas prices are predominately Jewish?

  16. #16 Inquisitive Raven
    August 18, 2008

    Actually, it’s been my impression that one of the semi-annual gas price spikes takes place in late fall/early winter with heating season and visit-the-family-for-the-holidays season.

  17. #18 Harrison
    August 18, 2008

    Wow. Can prayer heal stupidity? Wait a minute; what would organized religion feed on then?

  18. #19 NM
    August 18, 2008

    Actually $4 a gallon is better proof of divine intervention in America as the price of petrol in the devloped world is closer to $8 a gallon.

  19. #20 AndyD
    August 19, 2008

    I blogged about fuel prices in mid July, in response to an Australian conspiracy theory email. Prices started to fall – internationally – within days of me publishing that article!

    Clearly I have more power over fuel prices than God does.,

    Anyway, if they’re praying really works, isn’t it a shame they didn’t pray for something a little more useful – like an end to global warming, war, poverty, famine…?

  20. #21 AndyD
    August 19, 2008

    Damn, I really need to spell-check properly before posting they’re = their.

  21. #22 DrFrank
    August 19, 2008

    I’ll be more impressed if someone successfully prays and lowers the petrol prices over here in the UK. Around where I live unleaded is currently £1.10 a litre at a minimum :S

    I’m sooo glad that I cycle to work…

  22. #23 jayh
    August 19, 2008

    “I’ll be more impressed if someone successfully prays and lowers the petrol prices over here in the UK. ”

    Alas, you are largely the victim of your own government who chooses to fund their activities by robbing you at the pump. God only works in markets.

  23. #24 BobbyEarle
    August 19, 2008

    I have been walking and cycling around quite a bit, and it helps a lot.

    Now, if I could get the Jebus to lower the price of Gatorade I would be all set.

  24. #25 Nigel
    August 19, 2008

    “I’ll be more impressed if someone successfully prays and lowers the petrol prices over here in the UK. Around where I live unleaded is currently £1.10 a litre at a minimum :S

    I’m sooo glad that I cycle to work…”

    1.10a litre?!?!?!?
    I am paying 1.43 as of this morning here in Western Canada ….

  25. #26 Nigel
    August 19, 2008

    I guess I should look at a currency converter first ….
    1 Canadian dollar = 0.506533563 British pounds = 2.17 a litre in Canadian dollars.

    insane.

    Everyone pray to the FSM for lower gas prices! If jeebus can do it, surely the FSM has more influence :)
    (or just as little ..)

  26. #27 IBY
    August 22, 2008

    Nah, I know you are a psychic because I believe in you. ^_^

  27. #28 Flüge Australien
    September 3, 2008

    Thanks for publishing how we in Europe are forced to handle the situation with those insane gas prices. I´ve been once to the States and that´s the other way round insane. And I am really anoyed about Americans wasting gas like sily and our politicians tell us to save gas and to buy ugly cars! PFFF!

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