I'm not an avid believer in a hands-on, take-charge, active God. I don't buy that there's an omniscient, omnipotent old man with a long, white beard who plays us like a game of meat chess. But there are millions of Americans and billions of others who do. They pray for big things like recovery from illness. And they pray for small things like a good grade on a pop quiz or a better score for their sports team (because surely such a being would have nothing better to do). If they don't believe that their God tweaks the world then their prayer is a silly waste of time so shouldn't they be doing something more fun like folding laundry or watching NASCAR instead?
People in that latter camp wait for signs that their prayers are being answered, or at least heard. Some see signs in trivialities like a song played on the radio, an ad on a passing bus, or a leaf fallin at just the right moment. Other signs are more obvious like large accidents or natural disasters (They're not called acts of God for no reason, right?)
Those looking for the larger signs have had quite a few lately. Interestingly many could be tied quite closely to American politics. (For the sake of this discussion, let's ignore the American egomania that implies.)
[Continued in Part 2: The Politics]