Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Dark Summit" reveals our dark hearts


"Dark Summit" by Nick Heil is an account of the 2006 Spring climbing season on Mt. Everest where an unusual number of climbers died trying to climb the world's tallest mountain.

Under particular scrutiny that year was the seeming lack of ethics that allowed 40 different climbers to pass incapacitated British climber David Sharp en route to the summit. Sharp eventually died on the northeast ridge of Everest igniting a firestorm of debate about the selfishness summiting Everest had seemed to fuel.

Of interest to me was author Nick Heil's reflections on the human condition and how attempting to climb a mountain like Everest reveals something sinister in us (human beings). Heil writes-

"...the modern circus on Everest had exposed something essential about who we are as human beings- an insight that reverberated among climbers and non-climbers alike. More specifically, the cavalcade of deaths during 2006 raised the highly uncomfortable possibility that, in fact, we are not all in this together- that we are simply the latest edition of a complex species tenuously drawn together into social systems that mask our genetic predilection toward selfishness and competition. The argument, followed to its logical conclusion, had less and less to do with climbing mountains and more to do with the foundations of human sociology, and it challenged some of our most cherished assumptions about the roots of compassion and altruism." (Dark Summit, Heil, p.234)

Heil's observations carry a naturalistic, evolutionary tone regarding human sociology, but he does recognize something about human beings that is true- we're not rooted in goodness and compassion as so often suggested. At our core we're depraved and wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9, Genesis 6:5, Psalm 51:, 58:3, Ephesians 2:1-5, etc.)

Every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin. Obsession, desperation, and physical peril can bring out our deepest efforts to self-preserve and do some despicable things. Tales from the great mountains of the world are replete with the truth about human beings when shown for who they really are.

Only redemption in Christ changes who we are at the core (2 Corinthians 5:17). Even as redeemed people our "old man" could certainly rear his head under duress (Galatians 5). Sin is powerful. Our nature is corrupt. There's no evil act we're incapable of committing.

This realization about who we are ought to drive us to Christ once again- the only One who has defeated sin (Hebrews 9, Romans 6) and can give us the power to see it defeated in our lives as he moves us upward to the only summit that really counts- Glory (Romans 8).

2 comments:

Woody Woodward said...

One of my all time favorite, redeeming, personal relating stories in the Bible is Luke 19:1-11. Here, the chief of all sinners is trying to see who Jesus really is. Christ, came his way, looked up, and called him by name to come down from the tree of old sinful ways, and sinful Zaccheus was forever transformed! Jesus calls us by name, gladness occurs, we stop our old ways, and a revolutionary development transpires.
O that I myself would have the same passion of ole sinful Zaccheus, knowing my sins and seeing the need for change, called by Him, forever transformed to go and tell the darkened hearts in all the world, Jesus!

Perry said...

So, when are you going to make the ascent?