Hermitage at 1500 feet

by Brad Nelson8/1/16

Glenn and I were talking back and forth in the background. And it’s revealing nothing personal to say that we are both the contemplative types. Suffice it to say, I’m guessing, unlike most people, he can make it from his front door to his car without texting anyone or chasing Pokemon monsters.


I enjoy getting away from it all, even if it’s only for an hour or two. I promised Glenn I would snap a couple shots (click on photos for a larger view) of my Hermitage at 1500 ft. It’s a small foothill that’s recently been logged and it now presents a sweeping view of Hood Canal looking northwest. It’s quite an effort to get to and so you have a whole mountain to yourself.

I don’t know why people have always climbed mountains to be nearer to the Almighty and to think deep thoughts, but such is the case. I think it’s not the altitude as much as it is leaving noisy and vulgar humanity behind.


Panorama of Olympic Mountains and northern Hood Canal taken with Nikon D3300.

With just the summer sun beating down on your head, eagles flying overhead, and a water-and-mountain watercolor as your personal panorama, you’d have to be a dull boy not to see a glimpse of the grandeur of the universe, at least our small corner of it.

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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19 Responses to Hermitage at 1500 feet

  1. Lucia says:

    “Recently logged” in your area looks a lot better than in mine. Being on the top of a hill is the closest one gets to flying with his feet still on the ground. How quiet it must have been there.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      They have the practice these days of leaving a few standing trees…to act as seeders, I believe. Things grow very fast here so in seven years that view will likely be gone.

      And because photographs tend to flatten everything, you don’t get much of an impression of being on a hill. And, of course, one is looking out toward areas that haven’t been forested recently.

      There is a network of motorcycle trails in and around this particular mountain, so someone is frequenting here. But it’s rare to see anyone. In fact, at this spot I haven’t seen anyone. It always crosses my mind how these spectacular views are only a couple miles of hiking away. The malls are typically jammed but not these places. And I guess I’m more than fine with that.

      But sometimes lower down and in different areas, especially on weekends, you do find people. And what I find funny is that they might as well have stayed home because they are chattering incessantly about bland nothings. And least take time out to talk to the birds.

      I should note that the panorama feature on my Nikon D3300 works very well. I don’t know hot it works. But it does work. There are exposure issues, of course. If one part of the scene is brighter (as you see on the left where the sun is behind a cloud) the entire shot can be a little uneaven because it doesn’t adjust exposure as you pan the camera.

      Still, the panorama shot gives you a much better idea of what the eye sees. If you could add depth to that, it would be even more spectacular.

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    In all reality, one is no more closer to God in a church, a whorehouse, on the moon, or three leagues from the gates of Hell. But this truth gives way to our human frailty: we are so easily distracted by the white and black noise of the world. And since Christians are reminded that we are to be in and not of the world (an ever expanding realm that man has foolishly erected to keep God at bay), the necessity of these intimate cathedrals, which joyously recite to us from His Book of Nature, draw us away into His presence.

    It is both the glory and the downfall of freewill and the human condition that a man can come into these Holy places and see His fingerprints everywhere…or nowhere. How odd, that depending upon the trajectory of our hearts, we might worship the creation over the Artisan. How quickly the tumult emitting from that damnable “I” can flood in with its thorns — cares that threaten to consume that “still small voice” that yearns to speak to us, whether we are perched on the volcano’s rim or standing beside the sick bed of a loved one. Listening with this inner ear has become a faculty that has shriveled in disuse, especially since the world screams at us from every direction of the compass: Attend to me!

    The young trees in the photo bear witness to the tenacity of First Things. Even as man scrapes the horizon with his bloody signature, Christ’s purposes will endure and fill the world–not as a steamroller, but silent and relentlessly inch by inch. God moves this way in our hearts until one day we miraculously discern the forest from the trees. Only then can we fall upon our knees in that great cathedral, and be healed.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      How odd, that depending upon the trajectory of our hearts, we might worship the creation over the Artisan.

      I don’t believe it is at all odd. I think this how Paganism arouse. It is probably the normal state of mankind.

      At a very basic level, human beings’ interaction with the world are dictated by our senses. It takes a certain awareness that there is more to reality than simply material, as beautiful as that material may be. And even if one realizes this fact, it is much easier for most, if not all, of us to “fill-in-the-blanks” with something tangible.

      “At present we see only puzzling reflections in a mirror, but one day we shall see face to face. My knowledge now is partial; then it will be whole, like God’s knowledge of me.” 1 Corinthians 13: 12

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I don’t believe it is at all odd. I think this how Paganism arouse. It is probably the normal state of mankind.

        I was thinking similar thoughts just yesterday, Mr. Kung. I would say there is absolutely nothing wrong with a pagan aspect if it is just an aspect. There’s nothing wrong with admiring the Mona Lisa as long as you know it is the product of Leonardo.

        I think the core of civilized man is, of course, channeling conflict into something other than bloody violence and thereby living by rational and good law rather than impulse. But it’s also about balancing the many aspects of reality. Socialism isn’t wrong, per se. No good family could exist without it. But as a model for an entire society, it’s a failure.

        Integrating the different aspects and opposites into a coherent whole — while not erasing the inherent tensions between these opposites — could be said to be the foundation of wisdom, and the entire point of a good moral and intellectual education.

        God is great. Sure. But God also created a system wherein suffering is inherent. Those who have gone off on tangents of kumbaya or the “prosperity gospel” want to erase the more difficult aspects. I’m not sure we can ever reconcile these aspects. But by acknowledging them and trying to deal with them, we are less likely to run into cul-de-sacs of thought, joining one narrow and kooky tribe or another.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Glenn, that could have sufficed for a sermon on the mount…this-here 1500 foot mount, not that other one.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    Man walked in the cool of the Garden with God, and so he was created that he might commune with the Deity. The God shaped hole appearing after the Fall has been loaded with every idol man could thrust upon it, but to no satisfaction. Our longing for that correct God shaped key that fits the lock of our souls has brought us untold misery because we would be our own God. If anything, the oddity is not from the perspective of our flesh, but from that of The Most High. To paraphrase Lewis once more, we are as children content at playing with mud pies when we could have a holiday at sea.

    Incidentally, it would seem that the pagan and his mysteries are closer to God than the materialist, whose sense of wonder has been replaced by that grim self-adulation held by beings who attribute their origins to an antiseptic blind causality. Here, no miracles abound, only the idiotic tango of chance and death.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      it would seem that the pagan and his mysteries are closer to God than the materialist, whose sense of wonder has been replaced by that grim self-adulation held by beings who attribute their origins to an antiseptic blind causality.

      I would agree with you.

      “Homo Dontbelievenothingus” is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Speaking of integrating sets of opposites, didn’t the Byrds borrow something from the Book of Ecclesiastes for a song? A time to plant a time to reap. A time for Trump a time to weep. Or something like that.

        What Ecclesiastes does is give you an appreciation for the complexity of life. What I’m saying is that this passage is not an attempt to explain-away the differences and hard choices. Modern kumbaya Leftism and Christianity have instead typically used one opposite to explain-way the need for the other.

        “All You Need is Love,” for example. But, Jesus, it’s in the Bible to (and rightfully so) hate evil. (Psalm 97:10, Romans 12:9). And you can’t have the good by constantly explaining-away or making endless allowances for hate evil…or, in particular, calling evil good.

        We are losing the ability in our culture to have complex thoughts, to make sound judgments, and to just have wisdom.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Yes, the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” is based on a passage from Ecclesiastes (and of my favorite Byrds songs). Orwell, in “The Politics of the English Language”, made use of another passage by showing how it would be written in modern jargon.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      To paraphrase Lewis once more, we are as children content at playing with mud pies when we could have a holiday at sea.

      That’s a good line from Lewis. I’m not much of a traveler myself, so I probably make a good mud pie.

      Incidentally, it would seem that the pagan and his mysteries are closer to God than the materialist, whose sense of wonder has been replaced by that grim self-adulation held by beings who hold their origins to an antiseptic blind causality.

      At least the pagans might dance to the pipes of Pan. In my experience, there is no more dour outlook than that of an atheist. They take their materialism to an extreme (that is, they make of it an idol). They suck all of wonder out of life. They cannot look up into the night sky and count the many miracles of light and ponder about how grand it all is. They can only see their own insignificance and scientific balls of thermonuclear combustion.

      Their eyes see only black and white. They cannot see into the vast corners of shade and shadow that make up 95% of human experience. If it is not “science” then any further thought (religious thought, artistic thought, philosophical thought, or any other kind of thought — except left wing political thought, of course) is considered illegitimate, pointing to nothing but fantasy or mere human opinion. Whereas man’s art and philosophy have long been held as his greatest expressions of the enduring mystery of existence, this mode of “irrational” thought is deemed harmful by the atheist.

      Yeah, compared to this, paganism is a step up.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, ultimately the pagan believes in someone higher than himself. Note that most pagan religions had some sort of hierarchy of gods (e.g., the Greek, Roman, Norse, and Babylonian pantheons).

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          And wine. Don’t forget the wine. Oh…and I almost forgot. What would a good pagan feast be without an orgy?

          The celebration of the flesh isn’t new (Progressivism is based upon it) and not necessarily sinful. But it makes Jack a dull and fundamentalist boy indeed if he takes either extreme. We’ll all know of the stereotypical preacher who rails against “sins of the flesh” to the point where noticing a woman’s nice figure is considered sinful.

          Well, forget that. To not go cuckoo, there needs to be some balance. Okay, admire but don’t let your wife or girlfriend catch you doing so. And be sure to admire the non-material qualities in a person as well.

          Cuckoo: Looking at a nice girl is sinful. One far extreme.

          Cuckoo times two: You must admire me for my brain and any appreciation of my physical attributes makes you a sexist male pig. (A bit redundant as these other fundamentalists see it.)

          Not knowing what your potential first lady looks like naked fits in there somewhere.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            admire but don’t let your wife or girlfriend catch you doing so.

            I don’t recall where I heard this, but two woman were discussing husbands, I believe the nature of the discussion was of an older woman giving advice to a younger woman, when the younger woman brought up the problem of men always looking at women.

            The older woman said that it was normal and one shouldn’t pay too much attention to it. Then she added, “The time to pay attention is when your husband stops looking at women.”

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    If pagan rites were an admixture of the sacred and profane, at least they bowed to the sacred. Post-modernity is left with only the detritus of the profane, with no sacraments that transcend the body proper. The pursuit of the orgasm would seem to be the highest calling of creatures who occupy only the first floor of a 5 story mansion. Indeed, the more vehemently these Last Men deny the existence of any floor above, the more they acclimate themselves to life in the ontological basement.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I shot out of the office at about 4:00 today and drove the 20 minutes to the base of the Mountaintop Hermitage. It was another beautiful day on the Left Coast. Temperatures promise to moderate tomorrow with rain coming on Sunday. As it usually works around here, that could well mean tomorrow could be crappier than expected.

    So I got out and chugged my bike up to the top. It’s worth the view. God doesn’t talk to me and I don’t talk to God, at least today. I don’t know that I have much to say.

    But you realize what Dennis Prager terms “ethical monotheism” is all about. It’s not about joining a Christian club. It’s not about strutting about announcing “holier than thou” in so many subtle ways. It’s not about an identity that pleases the ego. It’s not even about love, a word that has been reduced to a saccharine one-dimensional meaning.

    It’s about having a vision of life longer than even a thousand yard stare. It means having a template for your life beyond what your god damn neighbors think of you and expect of you. It’s holding ideas and values that inherently make any rational person feel foolish, for as Glenn said, we are to be in the world not of it. The ideas that are the main currency of the word are typically vulgar, crass, selfish, barren, and destructive. But for getting by in the world, cheating, lying, fixating on the material, primping one’s ego and building reputation — all of these things are highly useful in the world.

    Seeing the destruction, if not just the bad taste of secular/atheists types, can anyone really be satisfied with that as a model? But what is the alternative. You can believe in God magic, Jesus magic, and all those things and maybe that’s how it works. There’s some big man in the sky and if you say the right prayer, show the right piety, do the right rituals, you can unlock that celestial combination lock and gain his favors. And maybe it works like that.

    But I can’t help thinking the main aspect is a change of consciousness. And I don’t mean having an ongoing “spiritual” experience or some kind of spooky Hindu or Buddhist-like “third all-seeing eye.” We humans will always be mostly blind and ignorant while on this earth. It can’t be helped and we can cause untold misery to ourselves and others as we work our destruction trying to blot out this fact.

    By “change of consciousness” I mean seeing things with a different perspective. When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, it wasn’t an admonishment to get involved in S&M. Nor was it a suggestion to be a carpet for other people to walk on. Nor was it meant to be a way to justify cowardice in the face of evil. It was meant as a way to see further, to put mere insults to the ego in proper perspective, to measure life with a different yardstick.

    Mountaintops are useful if only to get a different physical vision which might help prompt new perspectives. And it certainly helps to get away from this culture which now has no vision past the screen on one’s phone.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Many years ago (1997, I think), Elizabeth and I attended the Worldcon in San Antonio. We had a Friends of FOSFAX dinner party one night, at a nearby high tourist attraction. As it happened, Elizabeth and I were seated facing the outside, and by chance we were facing west at sunset. The sun going down behind the hills west of San Antonio was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen. (As it happens, on the way down we visited some art museums, and one had a beautiful Albert Bierstadt painting of a sun-lit valley. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen an affordable collection of Bierstadt art in the years since.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The star-filled night sky. A Technicolor sunset. Snails and puppy dog tails. Not to mention a sentient being to enjoy them.

        Beauty is not a formula or something easily measured. Even our most profound philosophy cannot contain all the things dreamt of or seen. Poetry often lays waste to the tender feelings and sublime experiences as wordplay becomes stilted and arranged.

        I can stand at the top of the hill and taste the freedom of being and the exhilaration of effort. But I don’t have words for that. That’s why a hill is useful. Just being on top of it.

        Oh, clever people can construct words. And perhaps I will some day. But I’d feel like a Japanese tourist always clicking with the camera and never really being or seeing the things in front of me.

        In fact, I used to take a notepad with me to jot down my thoughts. I spilled a lot of thoughts. And then they just sort of dried up. Perhaps I had an Aquinas-like “so much straw” moment. I think I did. If I wanted to impress others, I would translate my experiences into poetry. But I don’t.

        But I sort of journal online once in a while for people to perhaps taste a bit of sanity, or at least something out of the daily devotional drama of politics. One isn’t born with a deep soul. You have to develop it. And you don’t do so by playing Pokemon Go. You start by finding a mountain.

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