May 17

The Origins of the Second World War, by A.J.P. Taylor ★★★★★

It is often said that history is written by the winners, and certainly such is the case with World Wars 1 and 2. At least for the second world war, there was a sense of public shame in Germany regarding Hitler and the events of his era, and memory of the Hitler era was understandably suppressed. Should Germans write a war history at this time, it would be meaningless and probably concur with everything written in the past by the “victors”. Yet, one cannot expect the English speaking world to write a fair and balanced history of the war. From the inception of the Great War (World War 1), the British masterminded propaganda regarding the Germans. Germans were painted as blood-thirsty savages that raped women and slaughtered babies, and who had absolutely no regard for human life, being brute beasts that lacked any form of dignity or humanity. The hypocrisy of the English was profound in painting the Germans as such, since their own lineage of Queens and Kings were of German origin, even resulting in them quietly changing their name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to that of Windsor. Their royalty was more proficient at speaking German than English. Oh well! This fact must be securely hidden and forgotten. Perfidious propaganda and defaming characterizations persisted well after both wars against the Germans. I was reading about the meeting of some British and German climbers high in the Himalayas in the 1970s, and a German noted to a Brit that the Brits were recently beaten by the Germans in their national sport of soccer, to which the Brit replied that they just beat the Germans twice in their national sport of war. This ignores the fact that the Brits had been in constant war for at least the past two centuries in their attempt to rule the world. Oh well again! This current book was written in the early 1960’s by a Brit that has gone against the standard line which started back then and persists. This book is not revisionist history since it was written soon after the end of WW2 and based entirely on documents made public and publicly available evidence.

AJP Taylor provides a slightly different type of history of the events leading up to WW2, in that it is history almost entirely spent in recounting the work of ambassadors and statesmen from England, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and other involved European countries. In this book, you are told what was said, and just as importantly what was not said in trying to negotiate a lasting peace. What is clear (but often vehemently denied) was that the second world war reallystarted in 1918/19 at the signing of the treaty of Versailles and was just a continuation of what we call the first world war. The British and French both eventually developed a sense that the treaty of Versailles was pathologically flawed, yet flailed at resolving how to undo this treaty as well as other treaties that were made in the interim before the world war resumed in 1939.

Taylor notes that we have abundant documents from Germany since they were left in the rubble after the war and used in the Nürnberg trials. He also notes that we don’t have that luxury of obtaining essential documents from the Soviet Union since they have kept to this day most of their records as secret. The British and French have been selective in what records they have allowed to be seen. Thus, there will remain an intrinsic bias to any account as to the cause of world war 2. Regardless, the unearthed German documents tell a much different story than the current party line as to why there was a continuation of the war into what we call world war 2.

It would be weary for me to recount on a chapter by chapter basis the reiteration of what was said so eloquently by AJP Taylor. But a summary of the main thesis is simple. It is clear that Versailles demanded another war. It is clear that there was massive ineptness on the part of ambassadors and their states in trying to resolve the slow unraveling of the Versailles treaty, which by this time was looked on dimly by all parties. Hindsight is a wretched curse on all of us, yet we can now see that the war could have been prevented or made far more limited would the British and French had not wished to maintain their illusion of their being the prevailing super-power in Europe and honestly sought for reconciliation of the bad decisions at Versailles. The Germans were accused of frequently lying to the Brits and French, though Taylor has been able to show that both sides maintained an equal wealth of lies in their statesmanship. Most importantly, it can be shown quite clearly that the Germans (and especially Hitler) did not have a plan to conquer Europe or the world, and for that matter, had no interest in going to war with either Great Britain or France. Most certainly, the records from Germany demonstrate quite adequately that much of what happened in the events of 1936-1939 was unplanned and happened off the cuff; they were not the demonstration of a well thought out over-arching plan to stepwise conquer Europe. That the teaching still exists that Hitler was some evil mastermind going by a well-crafted script is testimony of how people wish to retain their own narratives regardless of the factual content of those narratives.

I’ve been told that the above recounting of the origin of WW2 is only one man’s opinion, and the debate continues and will never be resolved. It seems strange that those who say that simply wish to deny the evidence out there, their thinking being cemented in place by the fictional narratives that have created both world wars. Other authors have supported the thesis of Taylor by writing of the grave errors in the statesmanship of the Germans, British and French, specifically referring to Patrick Buchanan (Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War) which I had previously reviewed. Unfortunately, because we refuse to see the past clearly, we most certainly will persist in our errors in the future. More world wars can be expected, and blame will be fixated on the vanquished, regardless of the actual facts.

Tagged with:
2 Comments »
May 03

J.I. Packer: A Biography, by Alister McGrath ★★★★★

I was recently given a biography of JI Packer written by Leland Ryken, and written within the last few years. It was an excellent account of the man Packer, but Ryken frequently referred to an earlier biography of Packer written by Alister McGrath, and that is the book that I’ll be reviewing now. McGrath wrote his biography in 1996, at the time of Packer’s retirement from Regent College (and the time that I took Systematic Theology from Packer), thus leaving out the last 24 years of Packer’s life. Within the last 24 years, Packer did not remain inactive, but was quite busy in a number of activities including writing, leading a protest against the Canadian Anglican Church for their stance on gender confusion and LGBTQ+ issues. Also, he was the lead for the new translation of the Bible presented as the English Standard Version of the Bible. McGrath will definitely need to write an addendum or second edition to this book!

McGrath takes a completely different approach to JI Packer than that of Ryken. In McGrath’s text, the chapters are entirely chronological. McGrath’s biography is much shorter, but provides better detail into the thought processes of Packer, as well as detailing the events that transpired with the major controversies and battles that Packer needed to contend with. I was left with a much better feel for the legacy of what Packer left us through his various battles. Specifically, McGrath did a wonderful job of outlining Packer’s fight for the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. McGrath also gave a much better feel for Packer’s desire to stay in the Anglican Church (much to the chagrin of Martyn Lloyd-Jones) and desire to maintain a rapport with “co-belligerents” in the Catholic Church, leading to a falling out with RC Sproul and many others. I have a far greater sympathy for what Packer stood for by reading McGrath’s book. McGrath can correctly state that the current status of the evangelical world today has been influenced greatly by Packer, and perhaps it was Packer that most heavily influenced how Evangelicals now behave and think. Certainly, Packer led the charge for doing theology well, noting that many heresies are the natural result of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology.

In my life, I owe much of my Christian thinking to two people, Francis Schaeffer and J.I. Packer (St. Francis and St. James!). As far as I can tell, the two men lived somewhat contemporary to each other (Schaeffer dying in 1984 and Packer being still alive but now completely incapacitated by blindness and hard hearing) but probably never met each other. Both men are giants in resetting “fundamentalism” and “evangelicalism” from being a description of brain-dead, only-believe morons, to re-energizing a scholarly, thoughtful Christian faith community, capable of contending with the secular world at large. Both men rose above their own circumstances to influence the world around them. Just as almost nobody realizes that Francis Schaeffer was a devout, committed Presbyterian, few people think of JI Packer as a devout, committed Anglican. Both men had an extraordinary ability to interact with the broad Christian (and secular) world out there. Both were humble men, and extraordinary in their ability to treat those who were even their “enemies” with kindness, graciousness, and love.

I do not view either McGrath’s or Ryken’s text as a better biography. They are both complementary descriptions of the life and thinking of James Innes Packer, both honor him as truly one of the great Christian thinkers of the end of the 20th century, but both books provide a different flavor to Packer — the man. Thus, I highly recommend reading both biographies to better understand St. James.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Apr 20

JI Packer: An Evangelical Life, by Leland Ryken ★★★★★

This book was sent to me by my old professor of Surgical Oncology, Dr. Donald Wood. I’m not sure how he knew that I had a deep appreciation for the life and works of JI Packer, but the book came as a total surprise on my doorstep. I immediately resolved to put down my other reading and take this up. As you might notice, I have not published at this site since the end of last year, and it is worthy of a catch-up article at this time. I am otherwise reading John Frame’s Systematic Theology, a very well written but thick text, not only in length but also in thinking. Thus, this book was a welcome interlude.

Leland Ryken divides his book up into three parts, the first being a chronological account of Packer’s life up to this time, the second part is an attempt to describe Packer’s character, and the third takes up Packer’s life from a thematic perspective. Packer’s life starts with his birth in Gloucester, England. He was born to a normal middle-class family. Early as a child, he sustained a head injury, leading him to be restricted in sports and spawning his academic career. He did well and was admitted to Oxford University, where he became a Christian in his first year. During this time, Packer decided to commit his life to the ministry and theology. Packer completes his undergraduate studies and then attends the American equivalent of the seminary. He lands a job as the assistant pastor at a church on the outskirts of Birmingham, where he stays for two years and gets married. Packer then returns to academia and teaches at Wycliffe Hall in Bristol before returning to Oxford to become warden of Latimer House, a function of the conservative portion of the Anglican Church. After 10 years, he returns to academia in Bristol, eventually becoming a lecturer at Trinity College in Bristol. In 1979, Packer surprised the world by announcing a move to Canada to teach at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. Packer, though now retired and blind, has remained in Vancouver to this day. Throughout his life, he has maintained a very active writing and speaking career, spending much time in the Americas during his time in England, and in both continents while living in the USA. He has remained active up to recently in various projects and controversies, his last large project being the general editor for the new English Standard Version translation of the Scripture, now used in many evangelical churches.

The second part, describing the personality and character of JI Packer is very weak. Those who have met Packer and have gotten to know him (as I have), know him to be thoughtful, humble, exceedingly gracious, but brilliant. One would never imagine him to be engaged so deeply in numerous controversies, yet that has been Packer’s fate. Ryken fails to truly describe Packer the man and his personality. Ryken never talks about Packer’s family. Packer’s wife Kit is barely mentioned, and there is no mention of family life, or of Packer’s children. Packer’s daughter is mentioned only in a passing comment, and his son is not mentioned at all. Ryken does not leave you feeling like you’ve encountered Packer the man.

The lifelong themes of JI Packer is an interesting section of the book, with a special note on the controversies that surrounded Packer’s life. Packer first came to fame as a defender of the inerrancy of Scripture and defense of the Bible as God’s word. He is probably best known as the foremost authority on the Puritans and even participated heavily in an annual seminar of the Puritans that lasted for about 10-12 years. Very early in his career, JI Packer took serious criticism for his stance against the Keswick movement in England, a stance formulated by his readings of the Puritans, and especially John Owen. Packer had encounters with Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement in the Anglican Church, but Packer took a guarded response toward this movement, causing much consternation with those who felt that Packer should be speaking wholeheartedly against the movement. Packer has received the most criticism in his life for his stand with the Anglican Church. Most evangelicals had known that the Anglican Church was hopelessly lost to the liberal faction of the church. Thus, it remained puzzling why Packer insisted on remaining active in the Anglican church, even though his conservative sentiments were generally a voice talking to the wall. There was a conservative element that remained within the Anglican Church, and while Packer seemed to catch much flak for his stand with the Church, John Stott did not. His church stance caused a very disappointing falling out with the most prominent evangelical in England, Martin Lloyd-Jones. Packer’s stand on church issues and conciliatory moves without compromising his theology caused an eventually falling out with many North American evangelicals for his stance in Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Most notable was the fall-out with RC Sproul.

Packer has stood strong and uncompromising throughout his life. To date, he has stood against female ordination in the church, abortion, and the gay/lesbian agenda. This latter issue has led to him being defrocked from the Anglican Church of Canada, causing him to move to a conservative Anglican denomination. JI Packer seems to be a lone voice in the Evangelical world for restraint in dealing with interactions among fellow Evangelicals, and even those (like Catholics) who though saved, tend to disagree with some of the essential doctrines of the Evangelical mindset.

This book was a joy to read. I wish that I could have read it before my time as a student under Packer, as my conversations with him could have been less naïve and better directed to knowing his heart and soul. Ryken does not offer an explanation as to why he felt necessary to write a second book about the life of JI Packer, as a fairly detailed text had already been written by Alister McGrath. Ryken frequently quotes McGrath in this text. Packer continues to engender controversy, and if a person (like myself) expresses their deepest appreciation for Packer, many evangelicals tend to treat them as compromising in the faith. Packer was never a compromiser, and such an accusation is shameful and wrong. It is my desire that more people pick up the writings of JI Packer and learn to appreciate him as deeply as I have.

Tagged with:
2 Comments »
Dec 23

How Britain Initiated Both World Wars, by Nick Kollerstrom ★★★★

First, I’d like to discuss why I chose to read this book and to mention why it received 4 and not 3 or 5 stars from me. The topic of responsibility for the two world wars in Europe is to most Europeans and Americans quite obvious—it was the Germans. Sadly, this commonly known “fact” is almost certainly not true. It takes much gall to go against the prevailing opinions of the elite, as Nick Kollerstrom discovered in writing this book. My interest in war responsibility started after reading Pat Buchanan’s book, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. In this text, Buchanan bucks the notion that Hitler was an evil maniac desiring the conquest of the world. Odd that the person who most promoted the notion of the Hitler image, Winston Churchill, was an evil maniac that controlled an empire ruling 1/4 of the surface of world. The British had discovered the usefulness of war propaganda long before Himmler ever used it to his advantage. Churchill had to paint the Germans as desperate immoral mongrels raping women, slaughtering children, and kicking innocent dogs. This is strange, since Churchill’s beloved Queen (Victoria) was the grandmother to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany who was currently head of state of Germany. It is no surprise that the embarrassed British had to quietly change the name of their King from a German-sounding name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. People have written many volumes detailing the deception, crimes and ineptitude of the “ruling elite” in government: even my own brother Dennis has produced a book of this sort many moons ago, titled “What is Going On?” (or something like that). I would not have drawn the same conclusions as Dennis, yet agree that there is a “deep state” that gives democracy an illusion of populace control of the state, when actually the ideology, thoughts, and decisions of the public are expertly manipulated by very few people, and decisions made and kept secret from the population. Have we not seen that in our recent impeachment hearings and the uncovering of deep moral vacuousness in the FBI and other state institutions? I’m not surprised. Dennis lacks by being too kind to the depth of depravity transpiring in the unseen world of world politics. A number of recent books have come out, and there are now YouTube videos that have taken Buchanan’s book and run with it. See the Horus YouTube site, for instance. I’ll be reading yet 1-2 more books after this also on the causation of the two world wars. This book was good in offering detailed accounts of the subterfuge and deception of Churchill and Grey exercised in desperately trying to get a war with Germany (in 1914) while the British parliament was deeply opposed to the idea. The basic idea was that Britain was never honest in its diplomacy with Germany which led to misunderstandings that resulted in the tragedy of WWI.

The book is an assemblage of four papers that Kollerstrom wrote that form the four chapters. The typesetting and book organization is horrid. The call-outs are just lengthy repetitions of the text and serve no useful purpose. Statements are multiply repeated both within chapters and between chapters. Kollerstrom fails to sufficiently develop the England-causality idea sufficient to be completely credible. Other than that, the book offers some intriguing insights, some of which I will discuss.

Chapter 1, How Britain initiated both world wars, is the lengthiest and takes up over 1/2 of the book. Starting with WWI, the author brings up multiple statements and news clippings from the pre-war years showing how Kaiser Wilhelm (II) was a man of peace. Germany had not been at war for 50 years, while Britain remained in a constant state of war over those years, and France engaged in other wars. Diplomacy failures and horrible treaties all resulted in the ensuing carnage of the Great War. The treaty of Germany with Austria, and France with Russia forced very unwilling hands to act. Secretive but later uncovered defense treaties between France and England escalated what could have been a limited conflict, when everybody would have realized the illogical nature of the battle. Fueling the turn of the war from a few defensive skirmishes and attempts to assure a position of safety, Churchill and Grey were most masterful at creating a war that the politicians (of both England and Germany) did not want, and that the people of England were soon to regret. Untruthful propaganda by Britain’s war department still prevails in western thinking even when it has been shown to be nothing but malignant lies about the German people.

World war II is really a continuation of WWI, since the treaty of Versailles was patently unfair in both the assumptions (war responsibility 100% Germany’s) and the “punishment” to Germany. It is no wonder that Germany behaved like a wounded lion, ready to settle the account. Yet, history doesn’t show that at all. The Versailles’ decision to divide Germany up into many pieces and allot those pieces to Poland, Czechoslovakia (a horrible mistake), resulted in lands that were almost entirely of ethnic German peoples now serving under other nationalities. It is not that these nationalities, especially Poland, were benevolent and impartial governors. Tabled from view were the atrocities that German people received from their new Polish rulers, which explains the mass migration westward of Germans that occurred in the 1920’s. The west noted that this simply was a lie that Hitler created to justify his actions. There is no doubt that Hitler created lies, but this was not one of them. Above all, Hitler made it abundantly clear that he did not wish for a war with Britain or France. They forced his hand. Multiple quotes from many of Hitler’s writings (even Mein Kampf) and speeches noted Hitler’s desire to remain peaceful with Great Britain. Churchill would have none of that. Churchill wanted war. And, Churchill got war. It is surprising that the west has the naïveté to regard Churchill as a great statesman and hero of the west.

Chapter 2, On the avoidability of WWI, mostly reiterates what is found in chapter 1. Chapter 3, Britain as pioneer of city bombing, demonstrates yet another propaganda lie that Churchill has shoved on the British people. We are taught that the British bombed to smithereens every Germany city because the Germans started it all by bombing London. Actually, the opposite is true. Germany had no interest in going to war with Britain, and had no long-range bombers to accomplish that. Meanwhile Britain was building a huge long-range bomber force with anticipation that they would someday bomb Germany. History clearly records Britain bombing civilian centers in Hamburg and Duisberg and Berlin months before the first aerial bombing of London by the Germans. Precisely, Hamberg was bombed on May 11, the day after Churchill became chancellor, and the first German bombing was on September 6 of 1940. This was in spite of clearly stated British declarations of war morality noting that civilian bombing was completely off-limits. Hohum. I presume that one’s moral statements and one’s actions don’t need to coincide. Worse yet, in spite of having declared the immorality of civilian bombing, the Brits were bombing civilian populations in India and Asia years before, in the early 1930’s. Oh wait, I forgot, Indians and Asians and Germans are not human, so guess it doesn’t matter.

Chapter 4, will of the warmongers, provides additional historical material regarding events leading up to WWII that destroys the notion that Hitler was an insane maniac desirous of ruling the world. Victors write the history books, but fortunately, enough history is still existent that we are able to question the forced narrative of the past to ask what really happened to start WWI and II. Truth be told, we all stand guilty. My only regret is that history still offers Churchill a “saint” status. He was a chain-smoking besotted drunk womanizer thirsty for war and willing to destroy nations to accomplish his blood-thirsty lust for power.

People often attribute my stance on Churchill and German as representing me as a Hitler lover or pro-German-regardless-of-the-truth subscriber. Neither is true. I might be of German heritage, but I am American. I do care about the truth, and when facts are given that are inconsistent, then I question the facts. The prevailing narratives of WWI & II are such situations. Therefore, whether or not you tend to accept the prevailing explanation as to why the great world wars occurred, I suggest that you challenge those thoughts momentarily and ask as to the veracity of those explanations. I believe that you may not like what you find. I offered only the briefest details of what was spoken of. You might have many questions as to the veracity of this book since it’s not what you were taught in school, yet the documentation comes mostly from easily available sources as so remain credible. I don’t recommend this book as a starting book on the topic. Watch some the Horus YouTube videos on Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, or better yet, read Pat Buchanan’s book for yourself and discover a replacement narrative that is truer than the one you’ve been taught.

Tagged with:
3 Comments »
Dec 21

It is hard to believe that this year is already over. I remember the anticipation and anxiety at the beginning of this year, looking forward to a possibly complete hike of the PCT. I had my reservation and had spent several years researching the project and planning out all of the details. Much effort was applied to the assembly of 22 resupply boxes that I would need. My equipment was reviewed multiple times in hopes of making my pack lighter, and the equipment to be carried was to be as efficient as possible. The trail maps were reviewed, and my imagination formed the basis of my conception of what the trail might be like (my conception was wrong). Even in late 2018, I was running up hills with a fully loaded pack, and wondering how it would actually be when I was on the trail. I had contacted Huguenot Heritage for possibly turning the hike into a hike-a-thon. I took a very wintery trip out to Moscow, Idaho where Huguenot Heritage is based to discuss plans and accomplish filming.

Even with all the training hikes and planning for the PCT, I also sought to write an autobiography. Over Christmas 2018 I had composed most of the autobiography in my head, and simply needed to write it down and include photographs. There were a few mysteries from my past that I needed to resolve, and was able to successfully accomplish that over the ensuing months before my hike began.

Betsy and I also were busy entertaining our dear friend Phil Mueller who passed away in July. Betsy and I had a heart for him, as he was a highly atypical person. Phil spent time in prison for entrepreneurship in the recreational pharmaceutical market. Prison helped him get over the drug habit and to start taking seriously his Christian faith. He became a very outspoken Christian, but still had some highly unusual quirks, the most important was him being completely oblivious to any form of social correctness when speaking on racial issues or political issues. We look forward to reconnecting with Phil in heaven and still have an empty spot in our hearts for him. One of my favorite physicians, Dr. Werner Peters, an anesthesiologist that I had worked with many times, had a major stroke a year ago, leaving him with profound right hemiplegia. After two years, he is slowly recovering and able to walk, but Betsy and I both have a desire to give him attention and provide help and assistance for him as needed. We’ve been able to do many meals together, and with him being a Thai food addict, it’s been easy to enjoy many meals with him. At Thanksgiving, we’ve finally been able to get him over to our house for a good meal and the entire family enjoyed his presence.

I ultimately accomplished a little more than 1000 miles of the PCT. This venture is chronicled nicely on my blog page and so I will not repeat it. I started at the Mexican border and was able to hike the entire desert section of the trail up to Walker Pass, and then hiked sections in northern California, Southern and northern Oregon, and central Washington. I was ultimately rejected from the trail by a number of factors, the most important being record levels of snow, mosquitos, personal injury (anterior tibial stress syndrome and neck issues), as well as personal issues. I started and stopped 5 times, which led to moderate discouragement. In the end, Betsy and I went to Hart’s Pass (30 miles from the Canadian border) in early September to play trail angels. This was a total hoot and we might do it again next year with a trail angel we met at Hart’s Pass, E.Z. The first break in the PCT hike was at Tehachapi, where I came home to recover from a severe case of anterior tibial stress syndrome (extreme pain in the muscles of the anterior right leg), but also to attend the graduation of our daughter Diane, who achieved a Ph.D. as a nurse practitioner.

In February, I started receiving social security checks, and in August was started on MediCare. I don’t feel old enough, even though the parts (of the body) seem to be giving out slowly. Betsy and I were able to host three people that I met on the trail and needed a place to stay before returning to the trail or to home. These were Alicia (Sailor), Intrepid, and the Flying Dutchman (Michael). All were wonderful people and a total delight to help them in their journey.

In mid-August, while driving home from a training hike on Mt. Peak, my car was rear-ended. It totaled our 10 yo Toyota Tacoma. This meant purchasing a new car, and Betsy and I decided on another Toyota Tacoma, but this time a 4 wheel drive off-road vehicle. We put a canopy on the back and immediately fell in love with it.

In late September, I did my last hike of the season. It was on the Appalachian Trail as a medical conference. This is also detailed in a separate blog post. I flew back to rendezvous with my dear friend Dr. Tate, and we did the conference/trail together, a 35-mile segment in central Virginia, passing by McAfee Gap as well as the Dragon’s Tooth. It was a delight being with Peter.

October and November went quickly. I was quite sore yet from the trail, mostly with neck pain. I went on a diet, avoiding most simple sugars, but the trail leaves you with an unavoidable raging hunger, and I quickly regained all the weight I lost hiking. It’s taken about 2 months to get over most of the soreness of the trail. I thought I was exceptional for having so much post-hike pain but realized in social media discussions that a prolonged recovery from the trail was quite typical. During the Appalachian Trail conference experience, I connected with Dr. Gehner with the intention of possibly engaging in a survey study of long-distance hikers to research what medical problems they might have experienced. I hope we can make this happen.

In December, Betsy and I mostly laid low. Betsy had a Collis-Nissen fundoplication (surgery) for severe reflux disease. It was completely successful, as Betsy has been able to go off of all of her medications and antacids. The surgery was intended to be a short 1.5-hour operation but ended up being much more difficult for the surgeon, taking about 4.5 hours. Fortunately, there were no complications and she was able to return home 2 days after surgery. Two weeks later, Betsy is returning to almost normal activity, though she is going very slow on her diet since a Collis modification of the procedure needed to be performed to lengthen her esophagus. Since I needed to stay home with Betsy, we spent much time watching the impeachment charade. At Christmas, we still don’t have a functioning oven (it gave out on Thanksgiving day) but will still be having family over both Christmas eve and Christmas day. We will be departing to Phoenix soon after Christmas to spend time with Rachel VanVoorst (daughter) and her family.

What about next year? 2020 will be problematic in that I don’t have any major projects to accomplish. There are several things that will keep me active. 1) I will be joining a community college band, playing the trumpet. 2) Betsy and I are going to start learning basic Spanish. We hope to walk the Camino de Santiago together either next fall or late spring 2021. We’ll be taking a conversational Spanish class at the local community college to facilitate that end. In conjunction, I am also reading through the Bible in Spanish, using the RVR 1960 version. 3a) I would like to do more of the PCT. Depending on snow conditions, I am thinking of going from Walker Pass to Old Station, which will connect several portions of this year’s hike as well as take me through the high Sierra. I have a reservation for the PCT in 2020, so need to just do it now. 3b) If I don’t hike much of the PCT, I’ll probably volunteer at Mt. Rainier National Park as a Trail Rover and provide assistance for folk while keeping them on the trails and off of the fragile environment. 4) I’d like to take several more grandchildren on overnight backpack trips. 5) Betsy and I are interested in some car camping trips in the Northwest, 6) possibly play trail angel with E.Z. at Hart’s Pass in early September. 7) Consideration for further bicycle tours? I’m not sure at this time, though doing the Pacific Coast route to San Diego would be fun. Perhaps a loop in Washington State would also provide entertainment as well as a challenge. I’m hoping that Jon and I could do a short trip together. 8) There is a possibility of our son Jon making a major lifestyle change. Betsy and I wait with hopeful anticipation. If it occurs, we will be taking a week or two trip to Thailand for that. 9) My reading habit has dropped off a bit. I still have stacks of books to read. Most of the books are either historical or theological that cannot be read quickly. 10) Time with Betsy. Betsy remains as charming as ever and exploring ways that we can stay active together remain top of my list. She is no longer keen on backpacking, and long-distance cycling is equally out. Hiking the Camino de Santiago makes sense as there is no pressure for distance, there are many places to stop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the culture is awesome and food is great, we can sleep in a bed every night, and don’t need to carry much on our back. Plus, we get a certificate of completion at the end which grants us a special blessing from la Papá (for this pope, the article “la” is correct!!!!) and a reduction of our time in purgatory, which already is zero since purgatory is a fiction, though it makes for awesome novels.

January will be a re-starter for me. I will need to get back into strict exercise. Since coming home, I’ve gone to the gym, or ridden my bicycle on a virtual reality trainer in the garage, twice a week. That isn’t enough. I’ll need to visit Moscow, Idaho to bring the hike-a-thon adventure to a closure. I’d like to re-edit my autobiography, add to it and complete it, and then possibly get it printed. Betsy and I always enjoying things together, but much will be determined by how quickly she bounces back from surgery and feels like going on adventures. Only God knows what our year-end story in 2020 will be.

5 Comments »
Dec 20

The liberal Media Industrial Complex by Mark Dice ★★★★

OK, it’s another review of a book by Mark Dice. I’ve followed Mark since he was doing Bohemian Grove exposés and Illuminati discussions. Mark has been accused of being a conspiracy theorist, though some get off the hook regarding conspiracy “delusions” when they speak of vast right-wing conspiracies (eg, Hilarious Clinton). Certainly, the “conspiracies” that Mark discusses are true, though I doubt that they are run by a cabal of hyper-wealthy evil masterminds that sit in James Bond-style high tech caves plotting the destruction of the world as we know it. The “conspiracies better fit the Three Stooges antics or Peter Sellers out on a new detective mission.

In a way, one could identify the Media Industrial Complex (MIC) as yet another conspiracy, but that would further misuse the word “conspiracy”. It perhaps is better to say that the media is a mirror on the nature of all humankind, being evil to the core, desirous of control of fellow citizens, not compelled to exercise integrity when half-truths could better serve their purpose, and examining the world through deeply tinted rose-colored glasses.

Mark is quite successful and heavily referenced in showing the MIC as unduly biased and most sly in their intent to conceal their biases. The chapters of this book are short, detailing how the MIC controls our thinking through censorship of news and information that doesn’t fit the desired narratives, and that has distinctive agendas (anti-gun, anti-God, pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQ, enviro-apocalyptic) that through manipulation lead audiences into thinking that their viewpoints are the only existing viewpoints without contest. Mark spends several chapters discussing (not in these words) Trump-derangement syndrome, and the assault on God and family of the media. Finally, Mark does a superb job of detailing the assault on truth and the manipulation of the news and public square for information that social media is inflicting on a purposely uninformed public. Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all fall prey to the discerning knife of Dice’s exposé. Most scary is the final chapter (The Future…) where the possibility of news being created by AI programs that now already exist, which can reconstruct anybody’s voice to say what it will, or incorporate a person in video that never ever happened. This technology is not Dick Tracy-esque, but already exists.

So, why do I give this book only 4 stars since it is an excellent and well-researched text? One thing missing from the book is a better in-depth analysis of what is being seen with our eyes wide shut. Mark Dice needs to be not only a provocateur but also a pundit and sage. Perhaps time and maturity will accomplish that feat. Do I recommend this book? Absolutely and whole-heartedly. Stop right now and order your book. It’s worth a read.

Tagged with:
No Comments »
Oct 31

A Sand County Almanac And Sketches Here and There, by Aldo Leopold ★★★

This book is very popular among environmental groups as it offers a strong case for the current environmental movement, and is often quoted by environmentalists. I became interested in the book only after reading another environmental book, Another Shade of Green, also recently reviewed by me.

This edition is divided into 4 parts; 1) a fairly lengthy introduction by Robert Finch, which I’ll not review, 2) A Sand County Almanac, which is observations Leopold made on his farm in central Wisconsin for each month of a certain year. 3) Sketches Here and There, which are brief observations from various states of the USA and Mexico. 4) Leopold attempting to lay a philosophical basis for the environmental movement. Section 2 and 3 are very similar in their style detailing Leopold’s observations of nature, but are organized first chronologically, and then location-wise.

First, I found it challenging to stomach the arrogance of Aldo Leopold. He is constantly making statements suggesting that he sees things in nature that other people callously don’t pause to notice. But, are you surprised? That is what Aldo is supposed to be doing. He has been trained to observe nature, and that was his occupation. He knows the names of minute plants and organisms. I scarcely am able to differentiate the names of various common trees. But, I am a trained surgeon and notice physical characteristics of the human body that go unnoticed by everybody else. Yet, I don’t insult or condescend to my patients for not noticing things that I have been trained to notice. That one does not quickly identify subtle changes in nature, or take note of obscure plants that wax and wane over the year, does not reflect on one’s absence of appreciation for nature. Similarly, my patients appreciate good health, even though they are not always cognizant of subtle signs and symptoms that reflect a loss of that good health.

Leopold appeals most to the irrational emotions of people by creating a Disneyesque nature to our world. Animals talk and think rationally. Animals think out a rationality to nature that simply doesn’t exist. In the process, Leopold turns our world into a giant version of Disneyland. The technique of personalizing beasts of the field and birds of the air leaves for delightful reading. Doesn’t one often have curiosity as to what animals are thinking about? It’s ok to be creating scenarios of sentient creatures, but don’t sell it as a plea to protect our world.

Leopold is often hypocritical about protecting nature. He loves to hunt but laments how hunting has altered the ecosphere. He loves nature but complains when others get out into nature in a different style than him, such as through the use of RVs and motorhomes, etc. He bemoans over-population but doesn’t volunteer to help reduce human population by eliminating himself. Clearly, he lives in a solipsistic world that has reduced tolerance to those different from himself.

The greatest thing I noticed in reading this book is that Leopold remains entire blind to the most obvious fact observable in nature, that of a Creator. Leopold will frequently refer to Biblical stories, though they are treated more in a fairytale fashion than actual history. His god is evolution which created his beloved environment through time and chance from the primordial slime. Yet, the heavens and firmament are screaming at deafening volumes as to a loving, wonderful God who gave us a beautiful earth. It is sad that Leopold doesn’t see the forest because of the trees, and fails to realize that there is a connectivity, and moral rationale for protecting nature based on a desire to care and nurture the world God has given to us.

I found part 4 of this book the most interesting, but also the most muddled in thinking. He agonizes about a “land ethic” but never defines it completely. Then, he details the two types of environmentalists, those that are mostly hunters/RV campers/occasional participants in the outdoors, and those that have a strong interest in going as natural as possible and preserving wilderness as a natural phenomenon. He could have picked two names, Gifford Pinchot and John Muir, to make his point, but he didn’t. His idea was that the more “natural” we keep nature, the higher good is obtained. Now, I have my repulsion for hunters and RV campers, but that doesn’t make me establish a superior attitude to them. We all enjoy nature in different ways. I tend to side with the later (John Muir) camp, but also realize that we have a responsibility to care for nature. I also have a very difficult time identifying that the more natural things are, the better off they are. A perfect example is the California forests, which are burning up because of the absence of forest management. Another example is the rise of Lyme disease in the Northeast because of the return of farmed lands to “nature”. It is difficult for me to grasp exactly what the most proper natural state of the biosphere would be. I also have difficulty seeing the moral superiority of a burned-out piece of wilderness over a carefully managed piece of wilderness. The most aggressive environmental pundits long wistfully for wilderness in the Daniel Boone sense, but that is a wish that is similar to wishing that one could again believe in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. An expansive wilderness that covers half a continent simply will never again happen.

Aldo Leopold paints a very fancy picture of the outdoors and longs wistfully for the wild untouched land of yesteryear, but that doesn’t help when attempting to create a rational policy toward wilderness and natural sites management. The environment remains an emotional issue for all. Who is there that cannot gaze upon a majestic mountain scene or a stately elk in its native environment, and not be overwhelmed with emotion. These emotions don’t help when attempting to formulate public policy. Leopold worked in the public sector all his life and should have known better. In my opinion, wilderness speaks for itself. Most people agree that we must not destroy the natural beauty of our world. How we go about saving our natural areas, and exactly what is meant by saving our natural areas remains a topic of discussion. Overmanagement might be a grave evil, but so is undermanagement. This is our earth, and we must care for it diligently but cautiously.

I can appreciate the witness that Leopold gives to the beauty and majesty of our natural world. I don’t appreciate that he fails to discuss the most obvious conclusion of his observations, that…

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

…yet, there remain so many folk, especially educated elitists like Leopold, that close their eyes and remain deaf to the obvious, that we live in our Father’s world, and because it is His, we darn well better take good care of it!

Tagged with:
1 Comment »
Oct 02
Me on McAfee Knob, Appalachian Trail

This was the year I was committed to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. So, what in tarnation am I doing on the other coast, hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT)? Well, in late August, I discovered that the Wilderness Medical Society was doing a 4-day trip on the AT with lectures in wilderness medicine. I figured that I could use an update on wilderness medicine, and so called up my best friend Dr. Peter Tate to see if he wished to also do it. For him, it meant CME credits, for me it meant having some time with an old friend and getting a sample of one best portion of the AT, a 30 mile segment around Roanoke, VA. Peter bit. So, we were both signed up. I was to fly into Lexington, KY, stay one night in Lexington, and then ride with Peter down to the farm in Stanford, KY, stay two nights there, and head out from there to the conference. I arrived safe and sound in Lexington on 19SEPT and reconnoitered with Peter. The next day, we were off to the farm. Peter was in the early stages of building a new house the last time I was at the farm a year and a half ago. It was now in the nearly complete stages. It truly was a masterpiece, especially considering that Peter did most of the construction himself. He even included a swimming pool which the house wraps around. On the interior, he made certain walls at an angle off of 90 degrees, creating a wonderful character to the house, with the swimming pool sitting at that oblique angle from the house.

The house that Peter built, nearing completion. It appeared to be complete inside.
The inside kitchen area
Hiking the farm

Our full day at the farm included an about 7 mile hike through the pastures and woods on Peter’s land. We carried our backpacks fully loaded just to condition our bodies to the upcoming adventure. The next day, we headed out to our group meeting point at a camp outside of Roanoke, VA, called Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing (WAEL). The first and last night of the adventure were spent at WAEL, with the first night in a cabin, and the last night in our tents. Peter drove the Tesla, which seemed to have some software problems on the trip. I also realized that long distances in remote territories are NOT Tesla’s forte. After an uneventful night, we headed out for the trail. We were going to hike the trail southbound, with a starting point at Daleville, and ending at Dragon’s Tooth, then hiking out the Dragon’s Tooth access trail. The first three days all entailed about 9.5 miles of hiking, and the last was much shorter.

WAEL main meeting hall

Our first night was at Lambert’s Meadow. It wasn’t really a meadow, and there was confusion as to where we were to camp, the instructions suggesting that it was at the cabin, rather than a ¼ mile before that, where most people stopped. I couldn’t help but think of Lander’s Meadow in the middle of section f (California) and a truly beautiful meadow lined by majestic Ponderosa pines. Peter and I and Jay camped in the correct spot, and met Smoking Joe, a NOBO, and in desperate need for food. I had way too much food, so Joe pumped me some water in exchange for a bunch of food. I missed the lecture that evening since it didn’t really start until about 8:30 or later, and I was sound asleep by then.

A view of Carvin Cove Reservoir below, which the trail wraps around.

The second hiking day, Peter and I took off at a leisurely pace, encountering two of the three sites of note in Virginia, the Tinker Cliffs, and McAfee Knob, the third being the Dragon’s Tooth, which we would see our last day. McAfee Knob seems to be iconic of the AT, so both Peter and I were photographed on the knob. Our second night was at John’s Spring. Though named after a spring, this was a dry campsite, and the last real water was at Lambert’s Meadow. We had to watch our water consumption. The site was a little small for the group of 23 of us, there was a shelter there where a few of our group slept, and we all managed ok. The lecture was on bears.

Valleys were on both sides of us, and always civilized with farms filling the valley. The trail usually followed the ridge line.
Peter on Tinker Cliffs
Lots of nice sandstone rock in the area

The hike the third day proceeded to have an interest in reaching the next water source, which was about 6 miles out of camp. Since the weather in the mornings was cool, there was not too much water loss, though I was down to my last half liter. We were to camp at Lost Spectacles Gap, a more roomy spot, though also a dry camp. The trail went through some nice meadows, and crossed a road where a short walk led to a restaurant/grocery store/gas station, where Peter and I decided to diverge and seek libations not found on the trail. We brought some beer back to camp to enjoy, and had a great time. Unfortunately, I ordered a hamburger for lunch which was larger than I anticipated, and when Peter and I stopped at a particularly majestic lookout point, I proceeded to throw up half my meal. Oh well. We arrived at camp fairly early, enjoyed a couple cigars, and laid low. There were no lectures, but instead, there was a mock bear attack session, where we had to make decisions regarding the traumatic injuries and administer initial care to the victims. It was a fun venture.

Meadow hiking
Peter relaxing at the viewpoint having a beer while I was throwing up
A very relaxed Peter contacts Karma his wife

The last day was short, which us waking up a bit later than usual, ascending a rather treacherous portion of the trail to arrive at the Dragon’s Tooth. Arriving back at camp, we picked up our backpacks, and hiked out. We again were able to easily reach the store that we were at a day ago, and picked up a case of beer for the other hikers. We had yet another lecture on orthopedic injuries. The shuttles picked us up, hauled us back to WAEL, and we settled in for the evening. At this time, Peter discovered that his car, which was plugged in to be charged while we were hiking, had now totally drained of charge. After a few desperate measures, he had a tow truck haul him and the car to Richmond, VA. It was decided that with the uncertainty of repair of the vehicle, I would ride back to Lexington with Jimmy, a medical student at U of Kentucky in Lexington. I stayed for dinner, and enjoyed two more lectures, one on water filtration, and the other on Jessie’s thru-hike of the AT. Eventually, Peter arrived back to Lexington (quite late at night), and took me to the airport then next morning, on 28SEPT. I made it home intact!

Some of the trail was a class 3 climb! The white markers indicate the trail.
Peter in front of Dragon’s Tooth
Riff riff back at camp, waiting to hike out.
Ending the last hike of the season

Thoughts

First, about the WMS adventure. It was enjoyable, and provided me a chance to appreciate the AT for the first time. the WMS always does a first class act in their meetings. The nature of this meeting in the form of a backpack trip was a touch more chaotic. My only wish was that it would have been a touch more organized, with a stronger communication channel from the leaders about what was up, what was going on, and deciding on giving the trail lectures before it got pitch dark. Perhaps a 6 pm lecture time would have been most appropriate. At the time of the evening lecture, “map” sessions reminding us of the plan for the subsequent day would have been in best order. In spite of the problems, the infectious enthusiasm of the leaders for wilderness medicine was most notable. In all, I would call it a most wonderful adventure.

What about the AT? Having just hiked a 1000 miles of the PCT, could I make comparisons? Actually, the two trails are totally different. The strategy for doing them are different, the environments that you go through are different, and the personality of the trail is different. Most of the time, it is easy to get 15-25 miles a day on the PCT. Because the AT is less manicured, you would be doing well to get in 12-18 miles a day. The AT keeps you for the ;most part much closer to civilization, and in the section of the trail that we did, you never seemed to have ever left civilization. The AT is described as a long green tunnel. It is mostly deciduous trees, as compared to conifers for the PCT. The AT has many shelters (about every 8-12 miles) where the PCT has practically none. It seems that one must have a much different mentality when approaching the AT as compared to the PCT. In all, I did not acquire a bubbling enthusiasm to return and do the entire AT. After all, I still have large incomplete segments of the PCT to get done, if I even decide to do them! I will sign up to hike the PCT next year, but may spend most of my time camping with Betsy, and giving Betsy a summer of my life. I may get some cycling in, but plan to not leave home for more than a few weeks at a time. Betsy and I have depleted our Wanderlust, and wish for slightly more simple adventures from here on out. But then, who knows what the future will bring?

Tagged with:
1 Comment »
Sep 11
Looking east from our campsite at Hart’s Pass

Betsy and I had two main reasons to go to Hart’s Pass. First, we needed to pick up Intrepid. Secondly, we needed to bring Jacob back home. Betsy and I decided to add a third reason, and that was to play trail angel. Hart’s Pass is the last portion of the PCT to cross by a road, at the Hart’s Pass campground, 30 miles from the Canadian border. At this campground, thru-hikers were getting their last “hurrah” before pushing on into Canada. If they did not have a Canada entry permit, they would turn around at the border and hike back to Hart’s Pass where they would hope that they could find a ride to Mazama and thus hitch-hike home. The gravel road from Mazama to Hart’s Pass is the highest maintained road in Washington, and often designated the most dangerous road in Washington.

We had our truck totally loaded with hiker food and camping equipment. When we got to the Hart’s Pass campground, Intrepid was already there and able to find us a wonderful campsite with a great view. To our brief dismay, there was already a trail angel established there, a guy from Indiana named EZ, and was being helped by Tyler. After speaking with EZ, we quickly established how we would work together to maintain the trail angel spot. I brought my food up, as well as a 10 x 10 canopy. This came in very useful, as we arrived on a Tuesday, and it started to rain on Tuesday afternoon, the canopy providing much needed protection for our food and our hikers. Together, we actually had way too much food, so the next day, EZ went to town to get more ice and to drop off a large portion of our food at a trail angel in town, Ravensong. Several days later, EZ took off for three days to hike up to the border monument and back, leaving Betsy and I to take care of everything. We had a great time. At first, we felt that this was not an ideal site to be trail angel-ing, but quickly learned that hiker trash really appreciated our setup, and the non-hiker food, beer, and an encouraging word before their last push to Canada. What was most delightful was encountering hikers that I had met on the first few days of the trail out of Mexico finally arriving at the end. Some hikers had skipped the high Sierra, but all were eager to wrap up and move along, either returning home or returning to the high Sierra to complete that phase of their journey. Friday afternoon, a group from the Grand Coulee 7th Day Adventist Church showed up to trail angel. They apparently do this every year. They were a very kind group, and we were able to work out a transition for them to move in and us out. We had hoped that somebody would show up, since I knew that EZ would not be back from the trail until late Saturday or Sunday. Thus, the replacement group were most welcome to maintain continuity of the trail angel site at Hart’s Pass.

EZ and I have met afterwards in Tacoma to discuss the future. We think that we will again play trail angel next year for 4-5 days, a week or two after Labor Day. Perhaps next year we will improve on our mistakes and make it an even better experience for thru-hikers in the last phase of their hike.

Our tent, a six man REI Kingdom, on space #5
Our camp kitchen table
Betsy in a very relaxed mode
EZ on the left and Tyler on the right
Denise with Betsy
Umbrella Man on the left, who I met south of Snoqualmie Pass
The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse, from Lynden, WA. They were quite familiar with the VanVoorst clan. They were doing the PCT by horseback, but made sure to come and enjoy a beer from us.
Betsy offering some slightly aged apples to the horses and mules, which were eagerly devoured.
The Mule. The Mule was from France, and most delightful and friendly character. I first met the Mule several days out from Mexico in the desert. I was in a long stretch of the desert trail when I saw a short happy person from France doing pushups just off the trail (as though the trail wasn’t exercise enough!). I saw the Mule a few more times in the next few days before losing him. I often wondered whatever happened to him. Apparently, his hike was totally successful!
A great Dane, I don’t remember his trail name. He got extremely excited when I informed him that I had some Carlsberg beer (from Denmark), which he was going to pack in and drink at the monument. This guy was really funny! Apparently, he was going to be on Good Morning Denmark when he got back home.
The replacement trail angels, with some hiker trash (Intrepid and Jacob) as well as Betsy.
Tagged with:
2 Comments »
Sep 01

A Different Shade of Green, A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the Dominion Mandate, by Gordon Wilson★★★

This is a book I received recently direct from Canon Press and not from Amazon, and chosen because of my avid interest in a Biblical approach to environmentalism, ecology, and wilderness ethics. Gordon Wilson has a degree in Environmental Science and Public Policy and lives in Moscow, Idaho. He is the brother of Douglas Wilson, a preacher and well-known personality in the town of Moscow, Idaho.
The text is easily readable, which I did in about 4 hours, and geared for the early high school level. I don’t have any serious criticisms of the book, save for the book being moderately non-academic and rather incomplete in its thinking. I mostly agree wholeheartedly with the thesis and many of the conclusions of Gordon, but feel that he did a poor job of developing a comprehensive Christian/Biblical approach to the environment. There are many questions which he left untouched and unanswered in the book.
He heavily quotes two people, Aldo Leopold and his Sand County Almanac and Francis Schaeffer in Pollution and the Death of Man, written in conjunction with Schaeffer’s son-in-law Udo Middelmann.
I have read and re-read Schaeffer’s text many times, and it has been formative in my thinking on the environment; I’ve read the Sand County Almanac once and have reviewed it elsewhere on my webpage. This current book tends to support Schaeffer’s theses, and thus I would stand in whole-hearted agreement with all that Wilson has to say. New in Wilson’s thought was his emphasis on the biosphere operating analogically as a giant machine, and each part of the biosphere (and physical earth I presume) being an integral part of that machine. Thus, all species and subspecies play a role in the overall and necessary function for the best operation of the total biosphere.
What did Dr. Wilson leave up to question? He definitely overuses a few words without defining them, such as the word “dominion”. He quotes the word as used in Gen 1:28, where the text really doesn’t give a strong clue as to precisely what is meant as “dominion”. Perhaps the overplay of the word orients around a possible adherence to Dominion Theology. While Dr. Wilson may adhere to Dominion Theology (I don’t), I don’t find Dominion Theology as necessary in building a Christian stance for the environment. Certainly, Francis Schaeffer and Udo Middelmann did not feel that way! Wilson focuses heavily on the animal kingdom, giving the plant kingdom only passing mention, and the physical earth as almost no mention. This is problematic. To what extent is it ok to “remodel” the earth? Is dynamite sinful? What about the preservation of beauty? How would he lean in the (still ongoing) Hetch Hetchy controversy? Would he lean with Pinchot or with (the probably more Christian) Muir? Waffling on the question is NOT an option. What about the state preserving areas such as wilderness? Wilson in the book not once (that I could find) even mentions the word “wilderness”. This leaves a giant lacuna for the book. Can he form a wilderness ethic? Does he have any comments on the wilderness act of 1963? Is it good or bad? How would he change it? He suggests leaving some areas “natural”, yet that is NOT Biblical, as “dominion” suggests caring for all the earth in a fashion to groom, control, contain it. Another giant lacuna is a discussion of bioengineering, the production of genetically modified organisms, and its role in ecology. Is GMO a good or a bad thing from an environmentalist perspective? I would reiterate a question, how would Wilson lean in the Pinchot versus Muir debate? How do we balance utility of the biosphere with the preservation of the native state of nature? Is logging ok? How much logging? What about the grazing of sheep and cattle? Is it simply a question of “sustainability” (i.e., over-grazing”) or are there aesthetic issues involved? What about the preservation of exotic subspecies? Part of my recent hike (the PCT) was detoured because biologists felt that the sound of human steps disturbed the sex life of the yellow-legged frog. I felt that this was misdirected thinking. How would Wilson weigh in on this? The last few years had an unprecedented number of west coast forest fires, and at least a few of these were the result of poor forest management or laissez-faire attitudes toward forest upkeep. Does Wilson have any comments on this? Should we manage forests in a way to limit the number of forest fires, or should we allow natural fires to have their way? He quoted briefly Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, yet this book has come under serious attack for being very bad science, and perhaps completely inaccurate as to the effects of DDT. How would Wilson respond? I have been engaged numerous times with libertarians who contend that a libertarian approach to the environment would have the most salutary effect at preserving wild places. Experience and time have shown that the libertarians are dead wrong on this issue. I believe that there is a role for the state in preserving wild areas and maintaining laws that prevent the destruction of the environment, maintaining necessary areas such as wetlands, fields, forests and other habitats for members of the plant and animal kingdom to survive. How much control of our land does Wilson feel the state should have? How would Wilson interpret Biblical law in order to protect the environment? How does he reconcile the Quiver-full movement with environmental destruction from “over-population”? Any form of development of the land intrinsically leads to habitat destruction. Clearing out the land for a house or housing development, flattening a large parcel for a shopping mall, diverting rivers for flood control, putting in roads across natural ranges for animals (bison!!!), and even the development of hiking trails leads to habitat destruction. How does one balance the good and bad of human activity in this world? This ultimately leads to the most fundamental issue, and that pertains to the orientation of the universe. Wilson and I both believe that the universe was created for man, for both sustaining men but also for man’s enjoyment and pleasure. This makes both Wilson and I side (I presume) toward an anthropocentric universe. This seems to be the fundamental difference between us and the secular environmentalists who do not believe the world is anthropocentric, and that man is an often an unwelcome invader in this world. I wonder why he didn’t develop this thinking further, as any discussion of wilderness focuses on man’s role in this universe?
Enough questions. With time, I could draw more that I think are vital to answer in any form of engagement of Christians with non-Christians in their discussion of environmental issues. The book is a good read, and I recommend it, even to those with a passing interest in environmental issues.

Tagged with:
2 Comments »
preload preload preload