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December 14, 2006


I like your prayer. It sounds like Alistair Crowley's "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law".

Also, if I read the bible and insert "the oneness and perfection and beauty of the universe" in the place of the word "god", sometimes it makes sense.

Like many before me I use prayer because it works. I do not know if God is listening or through prayer my intention becomes crystal clear. Whatever, what gets to me is that these "experienced climbers" put themselves and others into a dealy situation by pulling a rank amateur stunt like this. Didn't they check the weather? Don't they know the cardinal rule to live to climb anorther day? What is tragic, and at the same time really great, is we are free to do really stupid things like climbing Mt Hood during one of the worst winter storms on record. Brilliant!

John - When you say prayer "works", I assume you mean that it is psychologically comforting. Aside from giving comfort, there is no evidence that prayer "works" - as in God changes the fates. For every close shave, and lucky coincidence - there is tragedy and bad luck. It seems "God" does not intervine in human affairs as described in the myths perpetuated by the bible.

I am always confounded by the "it just works" argument. The human mind is a funny thing, and is easy to fool. look at all the folks in Oregon who steadfastly believe in bigfoot. I am speaking of intelligent, well spoken people who believe in their hearts, that this creature walks the earth. Thousands of them.

Bigfoot cannot be disproven, and niether can God. it is the thread our minds cling too. it is "faith".

When your relatives are lost and possibly dead, you will probably have the opportunity to speak into the microphones and share whatever is on your heart. In the meantime, I hope you'll let these people cling to whatever gives them comfort without criticizing them because their faith differs from yours.

Ditto what Ken said.

If you don't like what you're hearing, change the channel for ... God's sake.

I mean really, like "God" has time to drop everything "he" is doing to come to Mt. Hood. I mean really, if "he" is not in Darfur or Iraq, I am sure he has alot of other things to do like pro games to sway. He sure wasn't able to make the Oilers/Wild game in Edmonton. Damn Oilers

It is unfortunate though for the climbers. Hopefully for their and their families sake they are found. To be clear though, there really needs to be a little more fore thought by "experienced" climbers, before they go put themselves in harms way. There is certainly many other thing people would like to be doing than cleaning up the mess they got themselves into. Hopefully mother nature shows them compassion.


For one: This country was founded on God so people who don't like to hear his name mentioned need to leave!

Yes, prayer does work! I guarantee you if you were in this situation you would be calling on God!!

Ken and Pablo, I'm a firm believer that religious faith shouldn't get a free pass. If somebody says something that doesn't make sense, it doesn't make sense--even if they're saying it at a press conference about climbers lost on a mountain.

Like I said, I have compassion and empathy for what the family members (and the climbers) are going through. We're all human. But I don't share their non-sensical way of looking at the situation.

What if Frank James had said, "We're confident that the Tooth Fairy is looking out for Kelly, because there always was a quarter under his pillow the next morning when he woke up."

People would go, "Huh? What's he talking about? That sounds crazy." Just as his talk of praying to God sounds crazy to me and lots of others.

Regarding changing the channel when I hear something I don't like, this isn't why I watch the news--to hear things I like. I watch the news to inform myself. About things I like and things I don't like.

I'm entitled to my honest intuitive reaction to what Frank said. Just as he is entitled to say what he said. My point, again, is that expressions of religiosity shouldn't be exempt from being commented on.

When you choose to express your faith at a news conference shown on national TV, you've chosen to make your religious views public, and you shouldn't be surprised if the public, such as me, comment on them.

Tina, I hope your comment was in jest. Or ironic. If not, you've made my point for me: religion makes people say ridiculous things.

Bobby, who knows? However, I've been in tough situations where I didn't feel the need to call on God. A dentist's chair isn't the most extreme of those, but see my post on this subject:

Looking from the perspective of a climber, there's an interesting bit in the film "Touching the Void" where Joe Simpson reflects on having fallen down a deep crevasse with a shattered leg and little hope for escape. Having been brought up a devout Catholic, in adulthood he moved away from his faith. Sometimes when reflecting on the grim possibilities of mountaineering he had wondered how he would respond in such a situation. Would he revert to piety and look to his faith for strength? He didn't.

Another person might have had a different response, of course, but perhaps Simpson's experience is illuminating. At the very least, he was focused on the material conditions in the environment he found himself and on what he could or couldn't turn towards to improve his situation.

This coutry was not founded "on God", it was founded on "freedom of religion". It was no more founded on "god" than it was founded on "free Masonry".

They're expressing their own faith and beliefs. They're not asking you to agree with them. It's still a free country and they're entitled to say anything they want during their press conference.

If you don't like what you're hearing, turn off the TV. Better yet, look inside yourself and ask why you're so intolerant of this family's public comments about their prayers over family members and friends in harm's way.

Good blog. Interesting topic and commenters. I think the men's best chance comes from having written down their route and the fact that they had the right clothing, a shovel, rope, and some food with them. If they survive, it'll be because they got into a snow cave and knew what to do. The idea that God will intervene might be comforting to some to say it'll happen but when it doesn't happen, then what? Oh it was god's will is what is said next. Better to do what you can to survive and we all hope that's what they did.

Oh and that a lot of people have sacrificed their time, energy and gone up there on the mountain to try and save them. Those rescue crews are amazing.

John & Amadeus, the weather report was good when they left. Something went wrong (an injury or accident of some kind), which resulted in them being on the mountain when the storm arrived a day earlier than projected. Had it not been for Kelly getting hurt, they would have been down before the storm hit. Don't rush to judgement without the facts.

Considering injury is hardly a remote possibility, it seems fair to question the climbers' judgment. The window of opportunity was very narrow, the possibilities of missing it very real, and the consequences for doing so potentially fatal.

It's clear that these guys are very experienced and it's evident that they took certain precautions that many climbers don't bother with. That said, I sure do wish I knew what they were thinking when they made their go/no-go decision. I have to suspect that, as is so often the case, having planned this so far in advance they were loath to cancel and decided to assume more risk than they had originally deemed prudent while back in Dallas and New York.

With any luck, they'll be off the mountain today or tomorrow. Seems likely that rescuers will be able to get up there today.


This is America, and it was founded in freedom of religion, and that also includes no religion and having no belief in God. Belief in God is not something which is mandatory. The Church is not the State.

If you "don't like to hear" from people who don't believe in God then perhaps its really you who "need to leave" America and go to some other country where belief in God and religion is forced upon you. (Be sure to wear your burka and veil though.)

Intolerant religious facists like you are downright anti-American, and you really really really suck. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I am a true believer in the saying........
I'd rather live my life believing there is a God, then dying and finding out there isn't....rather than living my life like there is no God and when I die I find out there is!!!!!
Leave these poor people alone, my gosh what has this world come to? Their loved one are stranded on a snowy mountain and you jerks are criticizing what comments the families make. Get a life!!

To Donna:

Your personal beliefs are your business, although your reasoning is pathetically faulty in my opinion.

However, no one here is bothering any such "poor people". If they want to believe in prayer, then that is their business... just as it is others peoples business not to believe in prayer.

Prayer is a very personal thing. It is also not something which has to be accepted by everyone. The fact that you are criticizing agnostics and calling them "jerks" is hardly a positive or prayerful attitude. It makes you a hypocrite. Your rude and derogatory attitude is more negative than those agnostics who merely doubt in the efficacy of prayer.

You obviously do not practice what you believe, and that shows just how shallow you and your beliefs really are.

I agree with Donna, however I think she was referring to the "jerks" as anyone who complains about people speaking the freedom of speech. Believers in God or not, you should not be so harsh on these families who are just trying to hold on to hope, faith and love. I'm sure when you come face to face with death you will wish that you believed in God! Without Faith what else is there to hold on to when times are tough? Heaven forbid if you or a loved one are diagnosed with Cancer, what are you going to believe in? No Praying? Just lay down and die? I mean c'mon. These families are praying for their loved obnes to be ALIVE. Would it be better if they just wished upon a star? A genie in a bottle...gimme and them a break.

Let me suggest an experiment... there is nothing to lose. Either there is a loving, concerned supernatural being, or there isn't. If there is, you'd be crazy to miss out on the benefits of such a friendship. If there isn't, you are no further behind than you are now.

I suggest that you try talking in private with this being (Allah, God, Budha, whoever) for 5 minutes, every day for 30 days and ask this being to make themselves known to you or to get lost. (Keep it a secret to yourself to avoid "human-engineered" chance.)

After 30 days, let me know what you found out!

Here is how I did it. I said quietly but aloud to myself, "Whatever/whoever you are, if you exist, please show me that you do. I want to get to know you. If you don't exist, please get lost, because I don't want to waste my time on a phoney."

Nathan, your suggestion is pretty much what I do before I meditate every day. But I don't say "please get lost." Maybe I'm missing a subtle metaphysical point here, but if a divine entity doesn't exist, is there any reason to tell it to get lost?


Yes, the Bible does say pray in secret. It also says that the followers of Christ are to share the message of redemption with all people. Wasn't that what Christ was doing, sir, when he taught about things like praying in secret? As a student of Dr. Frank James and a friend of the family, I assure you that he is a very literate reader of the Bible. Dr. James is honestly and authentically speaking about what is getting his family through this most difficult time. He certainly has a right as an American and an obligation as a Christian to do so. And if you ever choose to study the Bible, I trust that you will understand why he feels compelled to speak from his heart, instead of hiding his faith in God, as you suggest.

Any readers of this blog who do hold to faith and pray, I urge you to do so. Thank you. And thank you all, including Brian, for your concern. I know the families are very appreciative of all the support they have received.

Brian chastises the families of the climbers saying they should pray in secret/private. What Brian quoted wasn't a prayer by the families. Brian quoted the fact that they said they were praying. That's a big difference Brian. Your logic is totally flawed here.

You have no logical argument here at all. Maybe you should pray for wisdom?

The problem with people 'witnessing' whenever a tragedy happens (I am not saying the recent families have done this as I haven't listened to enough TV to know that) is that it comes across as either a chance to witness or a deseperate plea to God that if they say this, he will fix whatever it is. It's a kind of rub the magic lamp thinking that makes some people uncomfortable (media loves it), AND you do not have to disbelieve in God to feel this is wrong. You can believe, have a relationship where you do talk to God (or think you do) but not believe this kind of supplication is going to make things happen as those poor people hope. You can even find it offensive that some would seem to put some sort of tragedy onto God's shoulders as though it happened to give them a chance to testify (where those who think as they do will say amen and the rest of the people will be turned off). You can even have read the Bible through (6 times even) and have decided that counting on God's protection while doing risky things isn't fair to God or yourself but if you do dumb things (and we all do sometimes) then don't put the onus onto God for it.

To Ray:
First, if your God is really God (ie: omniscient, omnipotent, and monipresent) then God doesn't need people praying that things turn out a particular way according to their hopes and desires. If God is really God, then God's Will will be done, regardless of the praying done by humans. Praying will not change anything. Sometimes things turn out they way people want them to, and sometimes not. Whenb things turn out good, people think that God has answered their prayers. But again, if God is God, then it was all Gods will anyway.

Those families are hoping for the best, and so am I... but saying it is wrong to be skeptical of prayer is intolerant bullshit.

I don't need to pray to God if death is imminent, because I know that whatever will be, will be, and the body does not live forever anyway. So I have no cares, and praying to God for anything to be different than the way it must be, is useless.

So you are only voicing your own fears and reistance to fate. Others like Brian and myself don't share your fear and apprehension.


To Nathan:
I've already tried your "experiment" years ago, and for a much longer period than you even suggest. It resulted in nothing. The reason being is that God is not some parent who dannces to the tune of mortals. Nor does God manifest or communicate in the manner you expect or prescribe. In fact, there is no God 'up there' or 'out there' separate from you. There is no God who listens to and ansewers prayers. If there is a God, then this God is already manifesting as all living beings and the cosmos. Gos is already existing as everything, so why should God be concerned with your ridiculous little game?

God, if there is a God, will nbever respond to such foolish and juvenile "experiments" as you have suggested, not does telling God to "get lost" show any intelligence either.


To Tommy:
The family said they were praying. Brian said that it would probably be best to keep that to themselves. Prayer is not a show. It does not requirre a public announcement. True prayer is not contrived; it is done quietly and in humility, and is only according to one's heart. It is not something to advertise.

When unfortunate things happen such as people getting lost in the wilderness, the real prayers are the actions of those who are striving hard and courageously to find them before they die. Those compassionate and self-less actions are the real prayers... not the religious mumblings of believers.

So I'm uhhh... "praying" that self-righteous people who always want to jump at the opportunity to shove their religion and their beliefs into other people's faces, will just shut the hell up and go actually do something tangible to help the situation, or at least go make their prayers to their God in private.


You people are unbelievable. I seriously doubt that the families are design their news conferences so as to flaunt their faith. Instead is so much a part of their lives that that is how they live, and of course when there is a news conference they are going to say they are praying. Nothing wrong with that and I find it appalling that you have the nerve to find fault with the way a family is coping with a tragedy like his - AND NOW AT LEAST ONE OF THE CLIMBERS IS CONFIRMED DEAD. I hope you are ashamed of yourself, but you probably are not.

Also, the Bible says not to pray publicly. It does not say not to say you have prayed. And the whole point of that passage, by the way, was in reference to the Pharisees who pretended to be pious, when in fact it was all for show and nothing in their hearts. Different situation.

You don't sound heartless. You sound like an ass.

As an Agnostic, I find this thread hugely entertaining. "What will be, will be", someone said. So true. Prayer is answered only if what you are praying about becomes a reality. It is useless and serves only to comfort those who are terrified of their own mortality.

On the other hand, I have no problem with the families making a comment on prayer. They have the right to say whatever they want. I the right to say whatever I want. Case closed.

I live near Mt. Hood and today we found out that one of the climbers lost their life. That is too bad and I feel sorry for him and his family. It was probably Mr. James. All three of these men were doing what they were drawn to do. It is easy to second guess their reasons for taking such risks in light of the impending storm that is usual for this time of the year here in the Pacific Northwest. My heart goes out to all the brave persons that are using their skills to try to save the other two.

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