Backpacker on ICR and the Grand Canyon

December’s Backpacker Magazine has a long article about rafting the Grand Canyon in ICR style. The author, an Evangelical-Christian-turned-Agnostic describes his adventures with the group that included Tom Vail, Steve Austin, Andrew Snelling, a doctor, a pathologist, a chiropractor, a home-schooling family of four, and a pair of chicken farmers, among others. It was a nine day trip that started at Lee’s Ferry with a description of how the layer below the Great Unconformity is the closest to the land Noah walked on. As the trip continued, the author wondered if Stockholm syndrome explained why he was starting to think that the creationist geology had some sense to it. The authored described a worship service that took place before they left Marble Canyon and entered the Grand Canyon. I think it offers a good feel for the article and the trip.

The day before we descended into the canyon, we attended church services on the rim. After hymns and prayer, a preacher from ICR got to going, and brother, he could bring it. I like some good preaching, and this was that. He paced the riser, he found his cadence and he worked it. He took it up, and he took it down. He spoke of invisible things, of how man can only define God in the things He has made, which means we have all seen God, which means that we are left no excuse of disbelief. He got some mm-hmms with that one. Riffing in the area of Romans 1:22, he spoke of men so full of their own philosophy they become blind to what God has made. He mentioned Carl Sagan, and did a little billions and billions impression. Then the preacher came to a full stop, stage right, and looked out at us with his head at an impish tilt. Stood there silent for two beats, then said, “By the way, ol’ Carl knows what’s goin’ on now!” The congregation bubbled with chuckles. The preacher held a smug pose, on hand sucked aw-shucks style in a pants pocket, the other held flat beneath the splayed Bible from which he had been quoting without looking. As the chuckles spread, the preacher rolled his eyes and gave the Bible a little bounce. And I’ll tell you, he lost me right there. You want to lure me back, brother, show some compassion. Before honor is humility, if you’ll allow me a little Old Testament. Drop to your knees and pray through tears that our fellow sinner Carl might yet be redeemed. What you had there was a jig danced on a lost soul. I’d heard those chuckles before, from people of my own congregation, as they listed to one of our preachers recount how he turned his back on a struggling member after he caught her wearing shorts. From that day forward, I’ve tried to reconcile the deep goodness of my childhood church with the poisonous little seems of petty certitude. If found myself doing a similar thing in the canyon, trying to reconcile the chuckles on the rim with the sincere smiles all around me.

Don’t forget to check out the November Issue which had a little blurb about Dinosaur Adventure Land.