Rebuilding myself

From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. This story takes place on Thursday, July 20, Trail Day 4.


We emerged from our tents before dawn in Copper Park. It was 5:30am, our earliest wake-up of the trek, but it was Baldy Day.

When we’d gathered months earlier to choose from among the 35 Philmont treks, our first order of business was to eliminate any trek that didn’t include the summit of Baldy Mountain. There is majesty throughout Philmont’s 140,000+ acres, but Baldy is the true pinnacle as the highest peak (~12,450 ft.) in the Cimmarron Mountains. Baldy is so famous in scouting circles, when you mention you’ve done a Philmont trek, the question you get is invariably … did you summit Baldy?

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Reclaiming Christianity

I know many of you have been sometimes taken aback by my use of the label Christian in not so endearing ways. I’ve had several conversations and read a few books lately that have reminded me of central message of human imperfection and love that forms the basis of the New Testament. I still believe strongly that true people of faith need to reclaim Christianity from those who have hijacked it for power and political gain, and I renew my faith in that possibility when I read thoughts like this (original source unknown):

“I am a Christian.

Actually, it’s more accurate lately to say that I am still a Christian.

I now say this with much trepidation. I say it with great fatigue. I say it somewhat begrudgingly. I say it with more than a good deal of embarrassment—not of Jesus, but of so many of his people and so much of the Church who claim to speak for him.

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Even cathedrals have to take out the trash

I was talking with some gardening friends last week, and the conversation turned to religion and spirituality. This particular group couldn’t be more different when it comes to personal faith and belief, but there was a common thread that seemed to resound with many of us. Continue reading Even cathedrals have to take out the trash

The sound of first steps

“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.” –Marcel Proust 

On September 23, 2001, the crunch of my hiking boots on the gravel-strewn parking lot sharply broke the dark morning silence. Our goal that day was to hike the nine miles from the Jenny Lake trail head to Lake Solitude, perched atop the northern trail of Cascade Canyon. Normally one of Grand Teton National Park’s most popular hiking trails, only our conversation and footsteps echoed through the trees this day. Fall was dawning in the Wyoming mountains, long from the busy season, late enough that the specter of snow keeps most casual tourists away. Our packs stuffed full of enough gear and food to get us to the top and back, we set off along the trail toward our first significant turn in the path. Continue reading The sound of first steps

Because I do

As far back as I can remember, the logical side of my personality has enjoyed taking my own beliefs, putting them under the critical microscope of analysis, and determining whether they can survive a conversation with the voice of reason. My rationale is simple: If a belief can’t stand on its own merits against formal questioning, it likely is flawed in some fundamental way and should be discarded. If my belief cannot be proven, with a rigor that is demanded of scientific hypothesis, how can I justify it a place in my personal foundation?

With a scalpel sharpened by this rationale in hand, I have gone through life cutting deeply into each of my beliefs. I wanted to ensure that each belief is based on provable knowledge. I wanted to be able to answer anyone who challenged me to explain the why behind my belief. I never wanted to be cornered by a question whose only answer was “because I do.” I’ve always wondered why I studied political science and philosophy in college, rather than following my natural aptitude for math and science. Perhaps the liberal arts provided me with a more plentiful playground of beliefs to dissect and reassemble.

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