Saturday, July 26, 2008


Paranoia Strikes Deep

"Into the heart it will creep," so sang Stephen Stills fronting Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth." Any rock geek knows how the band got its name from a bulldozer, as well as how Stills & Richie Furay caught in traffic on the Sunset Strip leapt out of their car when they saw a hearse driving the other direction, and knew that only one person in L.A. circa '66, piloted such a contraption, Neil Young. The allusions to construction, death, and traffic all apply to my blogpost.

I've commented here earlier this month ("Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature") about the appearance of the Mount Hermon Christian Conference Center Blog. This activist site protests the erection of what MHCCC and MHCamps boasts as the largest tree canopy platform in the country. In the hills above Santa Cruz, spanning the headlands that feed into its San Lorenzo River, over towering trees and welcome solitude, MH's profiteering preachers push chainsaws, hoist cables, and hammer bridges.

They want, reading between the frownlines of their button-down contacts (at least when it comes to ignoring their neighbors who were never informed), to open this forest sanctuary to the public. Not only campers but any old extreme-sports fanatic, it appears, will be able to swing and yammer high above what used to be a quiet canyon, a place for hikers and families looking for a few moments of respite. Now, the noise comes along with the price of admission to no longer a getaway but a place to get off. In the most obnoxious way. This insults the trees. And, the very spirit upon which such centers have been established. Why bring the city to the countryside?

You can find out more about the riparian damage, the violations of civil codes, and the lack of an environmental impact report. MH Camps never responded to my letter. They've refused to listen to those who raise legal and moral objections to this enterprise. It's all about the almighty dollar. Visit this informative combination of photos, maps, and text: Desecration.

This attack on its own century-old patrimony by a purportedly Christian center that supposedly's heard about not only the imperative to have dominion over all the earth but also to provide stewardship, disturbs me. I and my family worship it-- not at-- there. Last visit, the silence was shattered by the construction of these canopies. I fear that Mount Hermon may be as bereft of its redwoods in future times as its Lebanese namesake is now of its cedars.

I'll end with a quote that struck me as I read the book reviewed immediately before this, Stephen Hodge & Martin Boord's "The Illustrated Tibetan Book of the Dead." It's at pg. 91, amidst their explanation of "The Wrathful Visions of the Eighth Day." I found this commentary about the ego. Maybe my friends who live nearby on the Mount are learning that all things must pass. A little Buddhist example in practice. But, expounding as I am, I add that the Christians owning this property, spanning two watersheds, forget the reasons why their founders had the foresight not to slash and burn at the junction of Bean and Zayante Creek. Perhaps you can transform this medieval Tibetan text and modern Western interpretation, ecumenically, into a relevant depiction of what happens a hundred years on when Mammon trumps Jesus.


"At this level of dissolution, as body and soul are fast decaying and there is almost nothing left of the former personality to cling to, the ego-self goes into a state of intense paranoia. Formerly, it held fast to the mistaken notion that itself and its world were permanent, stable entities. Now, however, all basis for that belief has been destroyed through the process of death, and the ego experiences overwhelming fear and panic in the form of terrifying hallucinations. Always fearful of being caught out, this false ego-self has had to struggle constantly to maintain its conceit in the face of the natural openness of the world. The forces of nature have always run counter to it and this is why so many people seek to conquer nature and strive to overthrow its rule. In order to protect their fragile egos, they have no wish to cooperate with nature and live with it in harmony and peace. Instead, they choose to fight against it and subjugate nature to the rule of ego."


Photo from: Mount Hermon Adventure

1 comment:

Chris said...

John...thanks for your thoughtful post...Me thinks the Hermon's Hermits are agonizing about the rancor in the redwoods...I've decided Mt Hermon is no longer the historical retreat for thoughtful, high church people, and is quickly becoming the SUV, box church summer theme park...If only the director would follow the path of his ancestors and embrace a radical spirituality instead of the pursuit of $$$.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Williams_(theologian)