Friday, April 18, 2014

Faith in the Military: In Heidelberg Faith Goes to My Head

In 1977 I climbed into an Army tour bus for a free trip to Heidelberg, West Germany, to see the annual fireworks.

But I missed half of the event.  From the time we arrived, I sat on the bus reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  The base chaplain gave me a copy just saying he thought I would like it.  I was entranced.  I started reading the book on the bus and couldn't stop.  I stayed on the bus and kept reading while the other soldiers wandered around Heidelberg waiting for nightfall.

Reading this book I came to understand that learning and Christianity were not mutually exclusive.  I entered Christianity through the anti-intellectual door of the Baptist Church and started to wonder if being stupid was the best path to faith.  Taking the Bible literally makes many people suspicious of all learning:  science, philosophy, economics, literature, history.  And here was Lewis bringing every branch of learning together in service of the faith.

By the end of the Heidelberg trip, I was thinking of leaving the Army to go to college full time.

My First Military Haircut, February 1, 1972

The night before my Basic Training haircut. When I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base on February 1, 1972, among the first order of bu...