Prayer in Combat, Michael Weinstein, and Cookies

An LA Times article on the drawdown in Afghanistan had an interesting lede:

Photo at (David S. Cloud / Los Angeles Times / December 9, 2012)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Fifteen U.S. soldiers huddle in a circle. A blue Toyota packed with explosives has been reported somewhere in the city. The troops bow their heads and clasp hands.

“Dear Lord, protect us and protect those entrusted to us as we help the Afghans protect themselves,” says Lt. Col. Patrick Michaelis, their gangly 41-year-old commander.

“Amen,” say his men.

Think it’s unique or someone objects?  The article continues:

Every trip outside the wire begins the same way: a quick check of the latest intelligence, then the prayer, which never varies. When Michaelis forgets, someone stops him: Sir, the prayer.

The tradition of the pre-mission prayer, common throughout the military, is not without controversy — though the controversy is almost always generated from external sources.  For example, a homosexual Reserve LtCol recently claimed chaplains endangered US troops’ lives when they delivered these pre-mission prayers — and the future NCMAF head chaplain, Unitarian Universalist Sarah Lammert, endorsed that characterization.  Atheist Jason Torpy has long complained about them, and Michael Weinstein even tested the waters once or twice.

What Weinstein didn’t get, however, was traction.  Weinstein’s modus operandi has been consistent through the years:  He has thrown mud against the wall to find what sticks; he has poked and prodded — and when someone flinches (most often, tries to placate him), he doubles down and hammers that perceived vulnerability.  General Gould of the US Air Force Academy saw this years ago and discovered Weinstein’s own weakness:  being ignored.

Turns out, Weinstein thrives on attention.  Shut the door, and he’ll stamp his feet for a while, but he eventually sulks away.  But when You Give a Mouse a Cookie…

More photos of pre-mission prayers can be seen here.

Also at the Stars and Stripes.