Hope I don’t sound heartless when I say to the relatives of the climbers lost on Mt. Hood, “Please, keep God out of your news conferences. Don’t use this tragedy as a platform for your religious faith.”
Today Frank James, brother of climber Kelly James, said on Fox News:
We are waiting and praying. Certainly there is a lot of praying. There are from time to time, tears. From time to time there is laughter…Our faith is strong. Our faith is three-fold. We have faith in Kelly, and Brian, and Nikko. We have faith in the rescuers. And we have faith in God.
There is little doubt that our faith is being refined these days. We understand how serious these weather conditions are. But our faith remains strong. It’s amazing. When you’re in these kinds of circumstances you might think that people would turn away from God. Precisely the opposite has happened. We’ve all turned to God in deeper and more profound ways.
Well, that’s nice, Frank. I just have to be honest. As a devoted agnostic, I share your humanness, because I’m human. But I don’t share your religiosity, because I’m not religious.
I listen to you empathetically when you speak of tears and laughter. However, when I hear you giving a mini-sermon to the reporters gathered on Mt. Hood, it turns me off. Didn’t Jesus advise praying in secret?
This is one of Irregular Times’ Secrets of the Bible.
It seems that these folks are so busy making a show about their Christianity that they've forgotten what their own Bible says about being Christian: that Christian prayer should always be a private matter, conducted without fanfare and without an audience. The words are right there in bold print for any literate Christian to read, but Jesus' teaching about the hypocrisy of public prayer remains a true secret of the Bible.
I hope the climbers are found alive. Yet I don’t believe prayer is going to make any difference in whether this happens. I understand why the families of the lost men pray together. This is a natural human inclination, whether or not it does any good.
Earlier this year I wrote on my other blog that the West Virginia mine disaster shows the absurdity of prayer. The best prayer, one that even my Taoist soul can embrace, is “Thy will be done.” (“Thy” can mean anything: God, Allah, Tao, Buddha-nature, fate, the laws of nature.)
So if God needs to be brought into the public face of a tragedy, anyone can do this in a simple, humble, and universal manner. Just say, “We’re hoping for the best. But what will be, will be.”
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.
Posted by: becky | December 14, 2006 at 03:21 PM
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!
Posted by: John | December 14, 2006 at 04:04 PM
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".
Posted by: Michael Durham | December 14, 2006 at 06:15 PM
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.
Posted by: Ken | December 14, 2006 at 07:43 PM
Ditto what Ken said.
If you don't like what you're hearing, change the channel for ... God's sake.
Posted by: Worldwide Pablo | December 14, 2006 at 09:32 PM
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.
Posted by: Amadeus | December 14, 2006 at 10:00 PM
For one: This country was founded on God so people who don't like to hear his name mentioned need to leave!
Posted by: tina | December 15, 2006 at 10:12 AM
Yes, prayer does work! I guarantee you if you were in this situation you would be calling on God!!
Posted by: bobby | December 15, 2006 at 10:16 AM
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.
Posted by: Brian | December 15, 2006 at 10:30 AM
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:
Posted by: Brian | December 15, 2006 at 10:51 AM
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.
Posted by: Idler | December 15, 2006 at 10:52 AM
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".
Posted by: Tom | December 15, 2006 at 11:09 AM
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.
Posted by: Robert Canfield | December 15, 2006 at 12:07 PM
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.
Posted by: Rain | December 15, 2006 at 09:03 PM
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.
Posted by: Rain | December 15, 2006 at 09:04 PM
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.
Posted by: Lisa | December 15, 2006 at 10:58 PM
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.
Posted by: Idler | December 16, 2006 at 12:28 PM
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.
Posted by: Liberty | December 16, 2006 at 01:52 PM
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!!
Posted by: Donna | December 16, 2006 at 02:20 PM
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.
Posted by: Liberty | December 16, 2006 at 02:53 PM
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.
Posted by: ray | December 16, 2006 at 03:16 PM
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."
Posted by: Nathan Tasker | December 16, 2006 at 05:21 PM
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?
Posted by: Brian | December 16, 2006 at 05:56 PM
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.
Posted by: Denise | December 16, 2006 at 06:20 PM
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?
Posted by: Tommy | December 16, 2006 at 08:39 PM
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.
Posted by: Rain | December 17, 2006 at 07:29 AM
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.
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.
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.
Posted by: Liberty | December 17, 2006 at 03:51 PM
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.
Posted by: Jeanette | December 17, 2006 at 05:41 PM
You don't sound heartless. You sound like an ass.
Posted by: Nicole | December 17, 2006 at 06:53 PM
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.
Posted by: Andrew | December 17, 2006 at 09:31 PM
Jeanette, it is you who should be ashamed of yourself for trying to cast fault, and even worse to put blame upon others here for simply being honest.
Judge not, lest ye be judged.
There was no implication made by Brian or anyone else that the family were, as you say, "flaunting" their own faith... but only that a tradgedy such as this should not be used as an opportunity and a platform to push religion.
Posted by: Liberty | December 17, 2006 at 09:59 PM
"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"
Liberty.you need to find something else to do with your time. Read what you said.girl,
YOU are the one that said these people were "shoving their religion into other people's faces"
That is an unbelievable statement in this time of tragedy for this family. Mr James could stand there all day telling us how they are coping with this terrible situation and for him to mention that they are praying and praying does not compel me to post a blog saying how terrible he is for doing that. You really call that "shoving his religion down our throats?" My gosh how heartless are you?
Don't you have any compassion for what these families are going through?
Get off your high horse and do something constructive with your life. Let these people alone, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Posted by: Greg | December 17, 2006 at 10:53 PM
Liberty, if you don't believe in prayer, then don't do it. But don't fault others for doing it and let the families of the climbers get through this in whatever way they can.
"Judge not" is one of the most misquoted passages in the Bible. It is taken out of context, as you have done here. It says Judge not and then it goes on to say that you should not judge someone about something that you yourself are guilty of, as you will be judged by the same measure. In fact, in the Bible believers are TOLD to be judges, to discern what is right and wrong. The Bible also says to be ready to give THE REASON FOR YOUR HOPE. And that is what the James family is doing. They are not using this tragedy as a platform to push religion - basically FLAUNTING IT is what you are saying. I don't see a difference. They are NOT doing that and if their beliefs and their way of dealing with this offend you, turn off your TV and don't listen to it. No one is telling you to believe what they do. But they most certainly have a right to believe what they want to. You have no faith; that's your choice. Looks to me like it has made you a very hostile person, a person with no hope. Sad.
Posted by: Sandy | December 18, 2006 at 05:16 AM
John, I think they originally just planned a two day climb and they had planned to be done on Saturday, before the storm. But something went wrong, possibly James was injured, that caused them to be on the mountain longer than they had planned, and they were unable to get off the mountain before the storm. My guess is Kelly James was injured and could not get down the mountain, so the other two put him in a snow cave and headed down the mountain to get help, and the storm began. Very tragic.
I saw another person interviewed who was caught in a storm on Mount Hood at one time and they said the storm came up very suddenly and unexpectedly. That may be the case here.
Posted by: Sandy | December 18, 2006 at 05:25 AM
You are the one who needs to find something else to do with your time if you can't understand the comments of others. I know what I said and why I said it. But you haven't got a clue what this is all about. So take your sappy impudent wimpering and stick it up your behind. (and btw smart-ass, I'm not a "girl")
Also, I did not say that these particular people were "shoving their religion into other people's faces". I only said that a tragedy is not a nice opportunity to promote religious beliefs.
However, the tragedy is not only for the family. Many others are also coping with this terrible situation. I also did not say that anyone was "terrible" for doing that. You just can't handle that not everyone agrees with you and your religious beliefs.
You wrote: "My gosh how heartless are you?" -- Certainly a lot less heartless than you are. Look at your miserable reaction and your self-righteous anger. If you can't handle the heat, you should't be in the kitchen. This is Brian's blog which is a forum that entertains and allows open discussion of various topics. It is not just "my way is the only way".
You wrote: "Don't you have any compassion for what these families are going through?" -- I have real compassion for them and for those who are lost, but that does not require that my reason and intelligence be suppressed as you would have it.
You wrote: "do something constructive with your life." -- Follow your own advice. If you don't like it here, just go somewhere else, but don't personally attack others whom you know nothing about whatsoever.
You wrote: "Let these people alone...". -- Apparently you are either so self-righteous or you are so mentally and emotionally disturbed that you cannot see that the fact that I have never bothered those people in any way whatsoever. I do not know them, nor have I ever had ay contact with them. You are just looking for a scapegoiat upon which to foist your own intolerant hatred and anger.
I don't believe, or not believe in prayer, and I certainly don't need you to tell me not to "don't do it". You sound like a very immature and narrow-minded individual.
Furthermore, I did not "fault others for doing it", nor have I prevented the families of the climbers from getting through their distress in whatever way they must.
About the saying, "judge not lest ye be judged", you wrote: "It is taken out of context, as you have done here." -- There is no context. It means what it says. You are not any absolute authority to make rigid determinations about what a simple saying means.
You wrote: "...in the Bible believers are TOLD to be judges". -- You are obviously just another self-righteous Bible thumping ass with an axe to grind.
You wrote: "They are not using this tragedy as a platform to push religion" -- Religion is a private affair. Crises and tradgedy should not be used as an opportunity for religious sentiment. Prayer is ultimately a private affair which comes from within, not a public display.
You wrote: "...if their beliefs and their way of dealing with this offend you, turn off your TV and don't listen to it." -- Mere beliefs don't "offend" me. Just bpeople like you who want to shove their religion upon others.
You wrote: "No one is telling you to believe what they do." -- Yes they are... you are telling me.
You wrote: "You have no faith". -- I never said that I did or didn't have faith.
You wrote: "Looks to me like it has made you a very hostile person, a person with no hope." -- I am not "hostile" at all. The ones that are obviously "hostile" are the over-bearing religious wackos like yourself. And as for "no hope", I don't need any "hope". I am not insecure like you are. I have all that I need, I have that which IS, ie: Life itself. I accept what is, and also whatever comes. I don't need to unnecessarily superimpose "hope" upon the illusory future.
This is basically a secular blog which is founded, maintained, and contributed to by an admitted agnostic. So you can just take your reactive religious fundamentalism back to your church where it belongs.
Posted by: Liberty | December 18, 2006 at 07:23 PM
LIBERTY LIBERTY LIBERTY.........
You need to claim your statements.
If you would just scroll up above you will see that you DID say
"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 might want to read what you said before you deny what you said.
And if you are not a "girl" I don't know what you must be, because of your foul mouth, you certainly can not be described as a lady.
You really shouldn't call people names, didn't your parents teach you anything??
Posted by: greg | December 18, 2006 at 10:54 PM
Liberty: You have serious issues. I think you NEED God and just can't/won't admit it. Sheesh. Get some help.
Posted by: anna | December 19, 2006 at 08:53 AM
Liberty: If you can't get help at Charter, get help SOMEWHERE!
Posted by: johnson | December 19, 2006 at 08:55 AM
The hubris of many "Christians," raised on tenets that seem to forget the actual words of the Bible, leads them towards a selfish faith. Is it any wonder when the money changers now control the temple? Events that people can control, ie the decision to climb in December, are discarded and responsibility is tossed into the lap of God and His will. It is amazing how often "experienced" climbers, at least in their family and friend's eyes, make a complete dog's breakfast of things and need to be rescued. Smart experienced climbers take transponders and equip themselves for any contingency. Smart climbers take a serious look at the weather: were any of us in the Pacific Northwest ignorant of the coming storms? My wife and I had planned a trip to visit friends down I-5 and decided against it after the weather forecasts for the weekend of Dec 8th, hardly the planning and expense of a climbing trip across the country but the information was available and we used it.
Empathy for the climbers, their families and the S&R folks does not exclude rational people from saying "that was really stupid" in cases like this. The climbers failed to prepare adequately for the task at hand; failed to accept that there are some things out of one's control and call off the climb; and they failed to control their ego. Was it faith that led them to disregard obvious safety measures? Was it ego? Was it ignorance? They are not victims of circumstance but victims of poor planning.
Posted by: Gerhardius | December 19, 2006 at 10:51 AM
Gerhardius, good points. Blogger "Where's Your Brain" echoes your attitude in a pleasingly blunt fashion: the climbers were stupid. Stupidity has consequences. See:
Posted by: Brian | December 19, 2006 at 11:01 AM
Thanks for the link Brian, my wife and I were comparing the two events today. The Kim family would also have benefited from better preparation, but it does appear that a search as intensive as that on Mount Hood could have saved the entire family.
Posted by: Gerhardius | December 19, 2006 at 03:39 PM
Posted by: joanne | December 19, 2006 at 04:45 PM
Hey. I passed by your blog and was vaguely curious and then started actually reading it.
You sound really heartless--as bad as Lars Larson. Who cares what the Kim's believe in, honestly? They're welcome to mumble and jabber about it while they attempt to deal with what they're dealing with. I mumble and jabber when I lose family members. I bet you do, too.
Your entire journal sounds like this.
It's a cant against religion because you consider yourself so superiorally agnostic. There is really nothing cantish about your diatribe. The religious perfected this sort of thinking by way of different medium long, long before you came along.
Leave grieving families be, and get a life outside of your narrow beliefs. You insult the rest of us agnostics with your prejudice.
Posted by: Michelle | December 20, 2006 at 09:15 AM
Michelle, thanks for sharing your judgmental prejudices. I always enjoying hearing from people who sound heartless while they're telling me "You sound really heartless."
Did you see Frank James' press conferences? He didn't mumble or jabber. These were well thought-out statements he made. He'd say, "You asked about our faith. Here's what we believe..."
When people spontaneously and emotionally speak about God, as in "Good God, why did you take my only child!?," that's a different thing from when someone coolly professes his or her faith.
Like I said, if a grieving family wants to be let be, they shouldn't use a press conference as a soap box to preach their Christian faith. My reaction to their statements was natural and unforced. I simply wrote about what I felt.
The James' have a right to say what they want to; I have a right to say how I feel about what they said. This is America, not a Taliban state. Religion doesn't get a free pass.
Neither does the judgment of the climbers, which is turning out to have been a lot worse than the "these are highly skilled professionals" spin Frank put on them. If so, why were they so poorly equipped when they attempted to summit Mt. Hood as a dangerous storm was approaching?
Truth usually is a lot more complex that it appears on the surface. I believe in digging as deep as possible.
Posted by: Brian | December 20, 2006 at 10:03 AM
So, according to you nobody should be able to talk about their faith? Would this include you, also, who apparently has an incredible amount of faith in there not being a God?
How in the world am I being prejudiced in saying you sound heartless? You do. You're saying that the climbers are responsible for an accident.
I've had friends who have been victim to accidents on Mt. Hood. (Dear Christian friends who clung tenaciously to their faith, and did mumble and jabber when one of them didn't make it back.) I've been lost in the woods myself out by Santiam. Certainly I didn't take every precaution--I was eleven. My parents had the supplies, and they were prepared. Certainly climbing a mountain IS a risk. The climbers took that risk and turned out to be fatal for at least one of them and probably all of them.
Likewise I decide to take a risk and walk down the street after dark in St. Johns with only pepper spray to protect me. I could get raped. I could get murdered. Would it be my fault if I did?
You're sounding like the liberal version of Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali, frankly.
Posted by: Michelle | December 20, 2006 at 07:24 PM
I know what I said. I did not deny anything. I did not say that those particular people were "shoving their religion into other people's faces". I only said that a tragedy is not an appropriate opportunity to promote religious beliefs. But it appears that in your lame rush to judgement and sarcasm, you missed that.
You also missed that I am not a female, that is a girl, a woman, or a lady. You're just not very smart, are you.
As for calling people names, I am under no obligtion to conform to your hang-ups and rigid ideas of etiquette. The fact is that it was you who initiated your unfriendly interaction with me. If you can't take it, then don't dish it out in the first place. But then thats typical for smart-ass little punks like you who hide behind facades.
I served and fought for this country and the right to free speech, but cowards like you will never understand that.
Posted by: Liberty | December 20, 2006 at 07:57 PM
I know what the Bible says, and what it means.... and I certainly don't need your stupid Bible lesson. Get a real life sister.
I find people like yourself to be the most persuasive argument against Christianity and religion in general, and to be the worst examples of genuine spirituality that I have come across in my more than 60 years of life and travels around this planet.
I wish you well, but you can take all your self-righteous religious rhetoric and go flush it.
Nor am I interested in your links to dogmatic Christian fundamentalist websites either.
Posted by: Liberty | December 20, 2006 at 08:25 PM
CONCERNING THE LOST CLIMBERS: FIRST, THESE GUYS CLIMBED WITH MARGINAL EQUIPMENT. THEY DID NOT PREPARE FOR THE WORST. IN DOING SO THEY GOT INTO TROUBLE AND RISKED THE LIVES OF MANY PEOPLE AND FORCED THE STATE AND NAT'L GOVT. TO SPEND A TON OF MONEY TO GET THEM OUT OF A SITUATION THAT THEY CAUSED. I AM VERY SORRY THEY ARE DEAD AND MY HEART GOES OUT TO THIER FRIENDS AND FAMILIES, BUT IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING VERY DANGEROUS LIKE CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN YOU SHOULD BE LIBLE FOR ALL OF COSTS INVOLVED TO SAVE YOUR **S. CLIMBERS SHOULD BE MADE TO BUT AN INSURANCE POLICY TO COVER THIER RESCUE COSTS. DON'T MAKE US RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BAD MISTAKES.
Posted by: ERIC | December 20, 2006 at 10:03 PM
Liberty, looks like when someone calls you on something you don't know, which you obviously did NOT know that you were quoting "judge not" incorrectly - you were just using it to serve your immediate purpose instead of using it the correct way - then you jump on whoever points out you were wrong. Your venom is indicative of the darkness of your soul.
Posted by: veronica | December 21, 2006 at 07:40 AM
You are clueless. You don't know zip about what you are taliking about. I did not misquote anything. The saying "judge not lest ye be judged" speaks for itself. People like you who talk such nonsense are pathetically ignorant fools. You don't have a clue as to who you really are, much less who I am and what I know. You are just a typical product of societal and religious conditioning. Go find something better to do than make baseless and idiotic comments. The sad thing is that the stupidity expressed in your comment is testimony of the darkness of your ignorance. If you can't handle critical thinking, then go wallow in your immaturity elsewhere, little mind.
Posted by: Liberty | December 21, 2006 at 09:02 PM
John - I'm wondering if you want the news media to keep prayer out of the news conference or the brother, Frank to keep such thoughts to himself. The brother was holding the news conference, so he choses his own words about his thoughts and feelings. The folks holding the cameras and microphones only report it. Yes, they get to edit what gets on the air. Maybe you have a beef with them for picking those words to air and print. One of the great things about this country is that we have a right to say things about our religious thoughts. I don't believe in God, but I won't say it to anybody. After reading some of the vicious and caustic comments above, it validates my fear of public reaction. Some people are hate-mongers and I'd rather keep my non-belief to myself. Merry Christmas.
Posted by: Carol | December 22, 2006 at 10:23 AM
Climbers are not the only ones who get into trouble. Far more hikers get lost all the time, so do snowmobilers, etc., etc. People should only be charged for rescue operations when they have done something clearly negligent. I've read that the only person ever charged under Oregon law was a hiker/camper who triggered a rescue irresponsibly. Bad stuff happens, partly because nature has more surprises than modern people are prepared to anticipate, partly out of outrageous fortune. In this case, the three men were aware of nature, but suffered ill fortune.
These guys certainly took a big risk trying to make a quick ascent and descent. This time it didn't work out, probably because of a bad weather report, among other things. But the way they climbed was not unusual and hardly ever results in a situation like this.
James, Hall and Cooke also took more precautions than many hikers and climbers do. They left an abundance of detailed notes, as well as setting up a trigger mechanism for searching for them.
It's very important to note that most of the rescuers were volunteers--climbers who pitch in their own time and spirit, and take risk on their own account. The climbing community deserves recognition and respect for thus taking on much of the labor and personal risk involved in rescue operations.
Also, while it's good fun to tally up the costs, many of the resources involved would have been engaged one way or another. Some of those that weren't were used to good account. As I believe a National Guard spokesperson said, the rescue effort involving helicopters and other resources was accounted for as training. He also noted that there is no better training than an actual rescue.
People will do risky things. It's often a better sort of person -- or at least something better within them-- that takes certain kinds of risks, not uncontrolled, but very carefully managed risks, in the course of doing something out-of-the-ordinary, strenuous and courageous.
Some of the best things humans do are gratuitous. In that vein, I think climbers and other types of explorers provide an inspiration to those of us who wouldn't dare do what they do.
There's something ridiculous and perhaps resentful about the risk-averse piling on responsible risk-takers.
Posted by: Idler | December 22, 2006 at 02:22 PM
Liberty, you show your ignorance every time you post.
Posted by: edith | December 23, 2006 at 09:40 PM
Sadly, religious nuts are all much the same. They all have intolerance towards others who choose not believe as they do. In as much as you presented nothing to substantiate your rather foolish comment, apparently you must be counted among them as well.
Posted by: Liberty | December 24, 2006 at 11:05 PM
Libery, you are the MOST intolerant person in this entire thread. STFU already.
Posted by: xxx | December 25, 2006 at 02:03 PM
You just can't help yourself can you? You have simply proven my point again. And it's rather curious that so many judgmental and pathetic religious nuts are so attracted to this blog, in as much as the author of the blog is himself an admitted agnostic.
Posted by: Liberty | December 25, 2006 at 02:37 PM