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Showing posts from May, 2014

After Memorial Day, a Tough Life Goes On

Every Memorial Day since I left active duty, I think about the soldiers and airmen I have known who survived their service, but were injured for life.

My first crew chief in the Air Force was a short, quiet guy named Randy with very thick glasses.  They weren't quite as bad as the ones in the picture, but so thick his blue eyes sort of swam if you looked straight into the lenses.

Randy retired less than a year after I enlisted.  He came to Hill Air Force Base after the "final tour" before 20 years, the rotten assignment most servicemen get just before 20 when there is now way they will turn it down.  Randy's rotten assignment was a listening post near Mount Ararat in Turkey.  Randy worked 12 hours on 12 off keeping the listening equipment operational so we could listen to Soviet radio traffic across the Black Sea in what is now Ukraine and Crimea.
Twelve months in the middle of nowhere had Randy ready to leave the Air Force.

His thick glasses were not the result…

Recruiting Souls and Soldiers, Sadly Similar: Faith in the Military, Part 15

In His brief ministry on Earth, Our Lord was a lousy recruiter and an utter failure at marketing.  In all of the Gospel accounts, Jesus gathers huge crowds then, just when he should be signing them up for The Lord's Army, he sends them away.

The crowds were attracted by healing, by food, by His words.  He had them.  Then he told them that following Him would lead to suffering and loss and the crowds left.  Jesus was the opposite of a recruiter or a marketer.  The Lord wanted committed people willing to suffer and die, people who knew what they were facing before they decided to follow Him.

Inside the military, becoming a believer actually meant some suffering.  Believers serving in the military back in the 70s were sure to be hassled.  And tempted.  A believer who was living his faith in the Army had to take a lot of shit from fellow soldiers.  While his friends were getting high and getting laid, he (there were no women in combat units in the 70s) had to live in some semblance o…

Faith in the Military: Continuing with C.S. Lewis

While I learned about the true, the good and the beautiful in a secular university and the weird, the bad and the ugly in Christian pop culture, I kept reading and re-reading C.S. Lewis.  Here was the one person I knew for sure that had his feet planted firmly in that tiny part of the world where Christianity and culture and history were at peace.  
Mere Christianity made clear that every Church put the same roof over believers and people who had some other reason to be inside the building.  But that was just the beginning of a life-long habit or obsession with reading Lewis.  
Once Lewis showed me that a believer could have a brain, he started showing me the intellectual world is much more vast than the material world.  
Then I went underground, or at least into the underworld.  Next of Lewis' 39 books was The Screwtape Letters.  In each of the 31 missives, Uncle Screwtape, a mid-level bureaucrat in Hell writes a letter of advice to his nephew who is a field agent trying to tempt…

Faith in the Military: Civilian Life is a Feast of Learning and a Spiritual Famine

Recently I read an article about the explosive growth in Christian colleges recently.  For many Christian kids, the choice they have is Christian college or no college.  Inside the Christian community, the secular college and university is supposed to be a place where the kids will lose their faith, led astray by unbelieving professors.  
But my first year after the military was just the opposite.  My college courses at Penn State were opening new vistas of faith and beauty beyond anything I could have imagined.  In the same course that introduced me to Dante and Machiavelli, I read Utopia by Sir Thomas More in the Norton Critical Edition. We were assigned several critical essays in addition to the text.  One was by C.S. Lewis.  It was the first time I read Lewis in his "Day Job" as a Cambridge professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature.  Lewis' essay made sense of Utopia.  Many other commenters simply wanted to claim More for their position.  
The following summe…