Jun 21

Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. ★★★★

Fault Lines is a presentation of the social justice movement from a black and Christian perspective. Baucham writes in an easy-to-read style, and offers a heavily researched account of the panorama of the social justice movement, from social “justice” to critical race theory to intersectionality to black lives matter.  Baucham brings into light how the social justice movement is intrinsically pagan and entwined with Marxist ideology while being in bed with the LGBTQRST! movement. Baucham details how the modern conservative church has fallen to the deception of critical race theory, and how it is destroying the church. At the beginning of the book, Voddie Baucham spends two chapters chronicling his early years growing up in Los Angeles and playing football. He goes to school in Texas, which is where he became a Christian. As a black man, Baucham has experienced prejudice against him and thus can speak from the heart. One chapter identifies events within his own Southern Baptist “denomination” that showed a strong leaning towards the social justice mentality. He also discusses the black lives matter movement in a full chapter.

A few years ago, it was very trendy to discuss the philosophical movement of post-modernism. The associate pastor at the church I was attended offered a lengthy class to teenagers discussing post-modernism. To me, post-modernism can be summarized in a short sentence, “Communication is not possible”. Such a sentence is self-negating, similar to the sentence “This sentence is a lie”. I bring this up because the basic tenets of critical race theory and the social justice movement are also self-negating. Critical race theory may be summarized by the statement “All whites and only whites are racist” is in itself a deeply racist statement, and thus self-destructing. Whether one is presented with questions of post-modernism or critical race theory, logical arguments can’t exist because the fundamental philosophical base for the two movements is nonsensical. What is amazing is how so many prominent Christians and Christian denominations have caved into the social justice movement.

Baucham is excellent at heralding the warning call to the Christian church about the devious and anti-Christian nature of this movement. Fault Lines offers a good summary of the basics of the social justice movement & critical race theory, and thus is a reasonable book to read. Baucham definitely has a heart for upholding the pure word of God, and his pleas for a true Biblical/Christian approach for issues of race are to be heeded.

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Jun 18

It is now about 10 days before I resume my adventure. Since it has been nearly a year since I’ve last backpacked, and since much of my equipment has changed, I saw the need to do a trial run. To accomplish two purposes, I took Sam and Liam with me, letting them become more independent, including using their own tent. I brought about 5 times the amount of food that I would normally carry, and the Flanagans quickly went through most of it. We hiked into Ipsut Creek campground, about 5 miles of relatively flat terrain, so it was fairly simple and it gave Sam and Liam ample time to mess around and do their own thing. On the way and at the campsite, we diverted to two waterfalls, Chenius Falls and Ipsut Falls, both rather beautiful.

Chenius Falls



One of many logs across the Carbon River we crossed to get to Chenius Falls

Ipsut Falls, where we also got our water

Crossing a dangerous log, showing off to a couple of female park rangers

I have no photos of our campsite, but the tents were the Zpacks Duplex and Triplex tents. We all slept well overnight, and headed out about 8:30 am to head home. On the way back, we stopped at the mines of MORA, a short little climb off of the trail where, in 1899, serious efforts to find gold and other valuable minerals were made. 

The Mine of MORA

The kids were awesome, and on returning home, were rewarded to Jack in the Box burgers. Hopefully, more adventures will follow.


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Jun 16

Indian Wars: The Campaign for the American West, by Bill Yenne ★★★★★

This book is a historical recounting of the Indian wars that were fought on American soil. While the book focuses on the wars that occurred west of the Mississippi, it is impossible to chronicle those conflicts without looking at the precedent in American history. Yenne begins with the earliest conflicts with the first settlers on North American soil and uses the first chapter as a lead-in to the greater conflicts that occurred in the western USA. It’s not that the Indians were new to war. Even during the conflicts with the European settlers, the majority of Indian battles were Indian against Indian. The first chapter is titled “Clash of Cultures”, and indeed, the entire story of the Indian wars were clashes of two radically different cultures. Though there were a few settled Indians staying for long periods of time in one place, the life of the Indians throughout North America was mostly nomadic, and much of their activity was that of raiding other tribes and taking their “stuff”. The European settlers only provided another source of “income”. Many of the Indians possessed extreme cruelty, and it was better to end up dead rather than alive in Indian hands.

Yenne details the pre-civil war conflicts, the few conflicts during the civil war, and then the major battles that occurred between 1865 and 1890. I’ll not discuss the entire contents of the book but summarize a few points. The far-west conflicts of California, Oregon, and Washington were settled fairly early on, with few major battles. The notable exception was the Modoc War which occurred in Northeast California among the lava beds in 1872-3. There were scattered limited conflicts elsewhere, in Texas particularly, but also scattered throughout the southwest and in Montana and the Dakotas until a concerted conflict with the Sioux tribes occurred. This was in 1876, the year of the Custer massacre, though battles occurred throughout the year, as the US Military pursued the ever-evasive conglomeration of Indian tribes. A year later, a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings between the US Military and the Nez Percé tribe of Idaho, Southeast Washington, and Northeast Oregon led to what were previously relatively peaceful interactions, into all-out war. The Nez Percé tribe sought to escape from the US Military by fleeing to Canada. The Nez Percé were among the most skilled warriors to ever be faced, and Chief Joseph, educated in western schools, among the greatest of all military strategists. Yet, the unrelenting pursuit of the military on their fleeing tribe ultimately led to Chief Joseph finally throwing in the towel.

Indians in the southwest region of New Mexico and Arizona were a nuisance to both the USA and Mexico, both seeking to stop the raiding and slaughter of settlers. The culminating events were the pursuit and capture on 4 (four) occasions of Geronimo, finally leading to Geronimo’s imprisonment in Florida. Based on Indian actions and the cruelty of the Apaches and Comanches, it’s a bit hard to feel sorry for them. The final Indian battle, Wounded Knee, occurred in 1890, with an attempted re-hash in 1973. The Wounded Knee conflict, while often cited as raw evidence of US aggression against the Indians, really does not stand up to the historical facts. The US military was concerned about a new Ghost Dancers religion among the Indians, and seeking to avert another military conflict, attempted to intervene when a battle broke out. There were a number of both US soldiers and Indians slaughtered in the conflict, but the Indians were subdued into submission.

The Indian wars are hard to analyze. After reading this book, I am more sympathetic to the American settlers who migrated into and across the plains of the midwest. While many Indians were eager to assimilate into European culture, many were not. The Indian Wars were the story of those resisting assimilation. The solution for the “resisters” was to funnel them into reservations, which gave the Indians a defined plot of land to use and abuse as they wished. Often, a war was created when otherwise unruly Indians refused to stay in the reservation (or assimilate to the living style of the US). To placate the Indians, government largess was steadily poured out on the Indians, which persists to this day. Thus, it was perhaps a poor solution to create reservations and force Indians onto those reservations. Yet, I don’t see any other reasonable alternatives. The book is quite thought-provoking. It has applications for many other situations that we see in the world and in the US, where cultural clashes create conflict. From a Christian point of view, there is a hierarchy of cultures, and some cultures are better than others, in so far as the culture follows Scriptural norms. An abundance of faults could be found with both the US Military and with the Indian tribes. Yet, the ultimate judgment is a cultural judgment, which I will leave to the reader to decide.

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Jun 03

Who’s Afraid of Classical Music: A highly arbitrary, thoroughly opinionated guide to listening to and enjoying symphony, opera & chamber music! by Michael Walsh ★★★★

This is the book that I should have read first before reading Who’s Afraid of Opera? This book was published in 1989 and thus is considerably dated. The Berlin Wall had not come down, and comments about “East” German abound. A lot happens in 30 years! He has no mention of any of the great performers after 1989, of which there are many. Walsh even admits that he is reluctant to make recommendations knowing how those in their prime in 1989 will be either dead or well past their prime in 2021. This book details how Walsh came to enjoy what we now call classical music. Walsh broadens the definition of classical music, though I find him missing the close character of modern classical music to jazz music. Walsh offers suggestions for attending a performance, and which performances to go to. He goes through a list of his favorite pieces, including symphonies, chamber pieces, opera, and then an assorted mishmash of other music that doesn’t fit a perfect category. He is quick to promote modern composers, suggesting that historical composers also were not greeted well by their contemporary audiences. There are reasons for that. First, contemporary composers are mostly coming out of academia, an institution that has truly lost its way. Secondly, like modern art, modern music no longer promotes the higher ideals, the organized, the structured, the better man in all of us. Minimalist music should not be surprised when it is greeted with a minimalist response. We listen to classical music because we wish to transcend the ordinary, and not to be dragged deeper into the mud of daily life. It is not the music so much as what the music is saying that I find repulsive.

Each chapter has an “interlude” that discusses a few favorite composers, providing their history, and a sampling of compositions worth hearing. Oddly, Baroque and pre-baroque music is nearly completely ignored. The reverence that is owed to Bach is missing, Walsh somehow placing Händel and Bach within the same category of “historical” or “pre-classical” composers—the plethora of wonderful composers, Buxtehude to Vivaldi, all go completely unmentioned. Walsh started his classical life with fairly modern pieces of composition, so it is no wonder that he is preoccupied with the contemporary drivel that we have out there. Even Walsh is willing to admit the serialism, atonality, 12-tone music, and the like, are mostly failed experiments with different tonalities. There are truly great contemporary composers, like Arvo Pärt and Górecki to name two, but they are unmentioned, perhaps because they are eastern bloc composers of no economic value to the west. If Walsh is going to throw Broadway musicals into the wastebasket of being opera or classical music, then much jazz requires similar treatment.

The book was fun to read and can be read in the space of one or two evenings. If one really wishes to gain an interest in classical music or opera, a MUCH better review, both in being entertaining as well as informative, will be found with Robert Greenberg’s Teaching Company series titled How To Listen To and Understand Great Music and How to Listen To and Understand Opera. Both of these series are highly recommended though they will occupy not just 1-2 evenings, but a whole month or two of listening pleasure—an activity of truly great value.

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Jun 03

Top of Mount Si looking at North Bend

It is now 25 days before I take off on my grand adventure, Act II. Act I was accomplished in 2019, though my intention at that time was to finish the entire PCT, circumstances of weather and snow levels prevented me from accomplishing my intentions. I had hiked 1000 miles of the trail and completed the most challenging portion, making it through the desert of Southern California. My plan at this time is to go from Walker Pass to Old Station, and then perhaps finish off California by also hiking from Castella, CA to Ashland, OR. If there is more time in the hiking season and the weather is favorable, I’ll also try to finish up some of Washington. If successful, this should get me in another 800-1000 miles of trail. I’m hoping that by next year, the Eagle Creek Trail opens up and that I might do the Eagle Creek as a completion of the Oregon segment of the trail. This would repeat about 50 miles of the trail, but then it is a beautiful trail that I won’t mind repeating.

There are several things that I have already taken care of. First is the purchase of my train ticket from here to Bakersfield, CA. I will hop a county bus (Kern Transit) to Lake Isabella, and then early the next morning, take Kern Transit up to the trailhead at Walker Pass, which will drop me off at about 06:30. The first 50 miles will be desert-like conditions, and so plenty of water will need to be carried. At 50 miles, I will reach Kennedy Meadows South, where I will pick up my resupply package, and then head off for the longest stretch without a resupply, 158 miles to Muir Trail Ranch. There, I will have another resupply package mailed to me. Which is another item that I have to attend to.

Resupply packages

The orange buckets and boxes are resupply packages that I will be mailing to myself. They are still open since I will not seal them up until the day I need to mail them. Most of them will be mailed before I leave town, giving them about 3 weeks to arrive at their destination. The blue box contains a scale—everything gets weighed. The ice ax will go with me on the train, though I won’t need it until I reach Kennedy Meadows; it is difficult to mail, but fairly lightweight, so not objectionable to carry. Behind the blue box and ice ax is my pack. I’ll have further details as to exactly what I’m carrying in a later post. Buckets and plastic boxes are used for many locations, since they are remote locations, and numerous critters can easily get into them and ruin the contents if they are in standard cardboard boxes. I keep a record of exactly what I have in each box and need to thoroughly think out what I will need for the section of the hike associated with that resupply. In South Lake Tahoe, I will also need a new pair of shoes. I use Altra Lone Peaks, which wear out at about 500 miles. I use them since they are super lightweight, and that I have yet to get a blister with those shoes. They are probably the most popular shoe on the trail, for a good reason.

Personal conditioning is also important, and I have been doing a number of day hikes with a full pack on my back, using the loaded pack that I will be doing the PCT with. I currently have adopted the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60, a pack that weighs (empty) about 2 lbs but is very comfortable and well designed. It is currently my favorite pack for this sort of activity. Day hikes have mostly been in the Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah Alps area since they are relatively free of snow. I have also included some of the grandkids in my hikes, though they do not carry anything but a raincoat and water for themselves. Here is a few photos of my adventures…

Patrick and Liam on top of Tiger Mountain #1. Mount Rainier is in the distance.

The summit of Mailbox Peak. Yes, that is this year’s mailbox on the summit.

Near the top of Squak Mountain Central. The original owners had a fireplace, which I assume was connected to a house.

I also hope to do one or two overnight trips, perhaps taking a grandchild or two. This will be within the next two weeks. I feel ready at this time to go, though with the usual pre-hike anxieties. To follow will be a detailed list of my pack contents, resupply strategy, and further training hikes of interest.


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