A new school of regulatory economics the culture that is Georgia

Members of a central Georgia church plan to gather at gas pumps to pray for lower prices.

WMAZ-TV reports the Beacon of Light Christian Center is planning the Saturday prayer gathering at gas pumps outside a Kroger grocery store in Dublin.

Pastor Marshall Mabry said he believes that if church members come together and pray as a community, they can make something happen.

Mabry said that with prices reaching almost $4, he says he plans to ask God for help.

He said it’s the third time members of his congregation have met at gas pumps to pray.

Mabry said he wants to start a movement which spreads from the small town of Dublin to the rest of the nation.

The article is here and I thank Peter Metrinko for the pointer.


I thought you weren't supposed to pray for material wealth in this world. Isn't this the precise opposite of what Jesus taught?

Why not?

Jesus didn't teach that wealth was bad. He did imply it was bad for certain people: in particular a young man who couldn't give it up. So he said, "You can't worship God and mammon."

But thats orthogonal to praying for material wealth. Isn't that what "Daily Bread" is? And look to the lilies of the field, who neither toil nor spin yet Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these. Does this mean we're supposed to trust God to provide our material needs, but heaven forfend we ask for them?

The bible says repeatedly, God doesn't care about external things, he cares about the heart. So it's not our gain or loss or desire for these material things, but rather whether we trust in our riches instead of God, whether we would forsake God before we would give up our wealth and whether we are possessive and not generous with that wealth.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. - KJB, Matthew 19:23

Let's not ignore context here. There was no middle class in the first Century. There were elite rulers who plagued society, and the poor who were dieing from their poverty. To be rich in his time was not even remotely related to a successful person in our society.

Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, Reverend Ike, Jim Bakker, etc. certainly subscribed to that theology.

No, no, no. Jesus taught to give to others. And if gas prices go down, that's like giving 10 cents/gallon coupons to everyone in the city!

They seem to be interested in lower gas prices, not material wealth.

Tyler, please. This has always been politicians' plan B (or plan C, or plan D). Stay tuned and listen to your President later today. We will know how close he is to advocate praying to solve the never-ending conflict between the good guys and the bad guys.

Update. According to WSJ online,
"President Barack Obama, stepping more forcefully into the debate about taming the nation's long-term budget deficits, called for Congress to commit to "across-the-board" cuts in spending as well as tax increases if the nation's deficit isn't brought under control by 2014."

Thus, he is still working on plan A. He has to find one that he can sell to his left wing without losing part of his right wing (albeit a lawyer, he still lacks the balancing experience that comes with tough jobs). Anyway, since his plan A may go nowhere, soon he may start to pray for the good guys to win.

Did they all drive to the gas station to pray for lower gas prices? If they did, did they at least carpool? It wasn't in one of those gas-guzzling church vans was it? Wouldn't they be better off praying for a more energy efficient engine/fuel cell/ electric motor? Will they begin to pass a gas can during services instead of a collection plate?

15 people in a gas guzzling church van are burning less gas per passenger mile than 4 people in a Prius. A lot less if the van's a diesel.

Sometimes real life is better than The Onion. And, hey, maybe God is listening... Oil finally dropped several percent this week.

Why not pray for, like, more drilling, breakthroughs in biodiesel, efficient coal-to-gasoline conversion?

Wait, why did i bother to respond to this?

Sadly this isn't the first time Georgians have gotten together to pray for stuff.


This is amazing. Unfortunately prayer is ineffective without adequate human sacrifice. Preferably virgins.

No goats?

Not preferred, but will suffice in a pinch

As is often the case, Heckman sheds empirical light on what to expect: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2009.00224.x/abstract

The ungated WP is here: http://ftp.iza.org/dp3636.pdf

Please tell me that paper was a joke. Please, please, please. I figured from the (joking) response that it was, but it has a Wiley URL and has all the formatting of a real university paper...

I think there might be a subtle point hiding between the lines in that paper, given the last lines of the paper:

"Provided conditional density (1) is assumed, we do not need to observe a variable in
order to compute its conditional expectation with respect to another variable whose density can be
estimated. For example, one can extend current empirical work in a variety of areas of economics to
estimate the effect of income on happiness or the effect of income inequality on democracy. We
conjecture that this powerful method can be extended to the more general case when X is not observed

That sounded like satire too. "Okay, we just computed how much God cares about us without directly observing it, just based on the amount of prayer. So that means we can compute *other* unobservable variables based on aribrariy observables. And maybe this generalizes to the point that we can do without observables at all!"


Why not pray for higher prices:

Give to the producers and decrease carbon emissions thus caring for your neighbor and the earth.

Thank god. At least they don't put any faith in man, i.e. social engineers who are only going to screw things up worse. The downside to all of society from people praying? Zip.

You mean, other than it being a complete waste of time and resources and allowing people to avoid reality and personal responsibility?

You're complaining about that as you respond to this post?

Prayer brings people together and strengthens resolve around an issue. Don't underestimate the social capital and activist potential developing here.

I concur with the general thrust of agnostic's statement that this is probably a far better thing to do than most actions people take to deal with high gas prices.

You mean like car-pooling? Wait...are you being facetious?

What a wonderful world we live in the 4 dollar gas is the worry of the day.

Praying for a miracle is preferable to incinerating other religions' sacred texts.

And to think we fought a terrible war to keep these people in the Union.

Thanks Spencer.

Best post of the day!

If I believed in god, I would be praying that none of these people have kids, ever.

Actually, we fought a terrible war to free these people.

Pastor Marshall Mabry said he believes that if church members come together and pray as a community, they can make something happen.

Mabry said that with prices reaching almost $4, he says he plans to ask God for help.

He said it’s the third time members of his congregation have met at gas pumps to pray.

Mabry said he wants to start a movement which spreads from the small town of Dublin to the rest of the nation.

Instead of praying for lower gas prices the Pastor should pray for a more sustainable , environment-friendly yet affordable mode of transport. And I wonder what God would do if consumers pray for lower prices but oil producers pray for higher prices. Will God go by the intensity of devotion or what?

As a German, I'd have to say: WHAT??? You're whining about 4$/gallon? That's less than half the price of petrol in Germany. Get a life! Buy cars that are more fuel-efficient! The sky won't fall in.
As an Economist who's also a church-goer, I'd have to say: Petrol prices are mostly the result of market forces. For prices to change, the underlying factors would have to change. Divine intervention thus is needed at the point of origin, and there it makes far more sense: divine intervention is probably needed indeed to sort out the Middle East, to take one example. Moreover, given that higher prices will wean us from our dependence on oil which is skews our policies to an unhealthy degree, maybe God approves of high prices. One could look at this prayer like one by an alcoholic who prays for cheaper booze. The theology of such prayers is open to question...

I agree with the general trend in the declaration agnostic that's probably a lot better things to do than most people take actions to address high gas prices.Give producers and reduce carbon emissions and maintenance.

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