Spiritual Lessons from a Black Bear

That's not a problem. I only had one Zone bar, and I already ate it.

"Do not throw rocks or other items at bears to get their attention, even if you are after that unique bear photograph." This piece of advice is unnecessary. "Getting that unique bear photograph" is not on my bucket list.

"If the bear is charges you, DO NOT RUN! Unless a tree is beside you, do not climb a tree, and then don't do so unless you can climb 30 feet quickly. You cannot outrun or out-climb a black bear. Instead, stand tall, wave your arms and make loud noises—speak in a loud, deep voice." What if, instead, I slump, look the bear in the eye, and say in a high squeaky voice, "See that tree there? I bet I can climb it faster than you."

"STAND YOUR GROUND! Often, charging bears veer off within a few feet of their target, veering off in a different direction." "Often?" "Often" isn't the same as "always." "Often" leaves room for exceptions, for bears that are not acquainted with popular wisdom on how they ought to behave.

"If the bear attacks you, play dead. Assume the fetal position. If he perceives you as food, continuing to attack, fight back, get angry. Throw your arms up in the air, yell and scream in a deep voice, throw something at it, all showing you are in control." But if a bear is attacking me, how am I in any way in control? If there is controversial evidence on playing dead, how can the debate be resolved? I say we hold a scholarly colloquium and present some papers on the subject by people speaking on behalf of the bears.

If I'd read the website first, I might have skipped the hike. Which would have been too bad, because the aspen forest was beautiful.

The final piece of advice on the "What to do when confronted by a black bear" website is this: "Never come between a sow and her cubs." I include that final piece of advice for those of you who would just naturally do that if you met a black bear in the woods.

8/29/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Progressive Christian
  • Vacation
  • Black Bears
  • Alyce McKenzie
    About Alyce McKenzie
    Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
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