Book Review: Under Orders

William McCoy
edein, 2007.
Topic: Spirituality

Under Orders is subtitled “A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel,” has a rare endorsement from active duty General Petraeus, and is written by an experienced chaplain. It has exemplary reviews on various websites. It seems like an excellent reference for a military Christian.

It’s not.

The book’s intended audience are those who are non-religious, non-church-going, depressed, or traumatized. Nothing is said to those who already have a spiritual faith.

Chaplain McCoy, who is sponsored by the Lutheran denomination, doesn’t speak confidently about his own faith. In fact, he has little positive to say about the Christian faith at all. He belittles fellow Read more

Iraq in the News

Actually, its not…

As of this posting, a review of both the CNN and Fox websites reveals only a single article related to Iraq (and it was in the health section, on PTSD).  While the bloodshed is by no means over, the significant drop in violence (a good thing) appears to have resulted in a dearth of news reporting.

Gone are the days of up-to-the-minute casualty counts and roadside bomb tallies.  Apparently “good” news doesn’t generate sufficient ratings.

To our men and women “over there:” Keep up the good work.  Some of us are still paying attention.

Dungy to Return to “Pulpit”

“I look at this as a job, but I also look at it as a ministry…” – Tony Dungy, Colts Head Coach

The Indianapolis Colts’ head football coach Tony Dungy recently announced he would not retire, but would return to coach next season. 

Dungy’s outspoken Christian faith, the Colts’ 2007 Super Bowl victory, and his best-selling book have made him a unique and reluctant celebrity.  (See the “Perspective” section of this post.)  Dungy had been criticized for leading the Colts to 13 regular season wins this year, only to be eliminated in the first game of the playoffs.

The experience gives Dungy the ability to continue his Christian witness even though his team didn’t win–a reminder to people that being a Christian does not guarantee “success” (at least not by the world’s standards).

Religious Freedom Day, 2008

Religious Freedom Day takes place annually on January 16th by Presidential proclamation (2008).  The day commemorates the Virginia Legislature’s passing of Thomas Jefferson’s “Statute for Religious Freedom,” which occurred on January 16th, 1786.  Notably, this was before the Constitution (signed in 1787), of which Jefferson had no part, and the Bill of Rights (passed in 1789), of which Jefferson was one of the leading proponents.

Many on both sides of the issue consider the statute to be pivotal to the modern struggle of religious freedom and church/state separation.  It is interesting that the day gets very little mainstream media attention, particularly given the “culture wars” and church/state issues that have seemed so dramatic over the past few years.

The purpose and background of RFD can be seen on the privately-funded site ReligiousFreedomDay.com.

Book Review: In, But Not Of

Hugh Hewitt
Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2003.
Topic: Ambition

Even though “In” is only 25% of the title, it makes up more than 90% of the book. There are only one or two of 48 chapters dedicated to a Christian topic, and the implied motivation of those chapters is still questionable. (For example, there is a chapter on making sure you attend a church, but the implied purpose is to have a “guardrail” to your conscience—something to keep you honest while you’re working in the world.) All other chapters are simply about how to succeed, with a sentence or caveat at the end of the chapter about how a Christian shouldn’t have pride (which is apparently the only vice “of the world” the author is concerned with).

The book primarily focuses on living in the right place, going to big name schools, understanding a professional sport, and looking good to your boss. In civilian terms, Mr. Hewitt states that politicking is a legitimate means of endearing yourself to the appropriate people for their favor: “People rise in the world because they attract the attention and approval of powerful people” (p50). He accurately asserts that “authority requires credentials,” and lists Paul’s resume’ in Philippians 3:5-6 as a Biblical example, which takes it somewhat out of context, particularly since Paul’s credentials were all prior to his conversion. Mr. Hewitt asserts that one cannot be both a pastor and influential in the world (Chapter 11) because “a preacher has next to zero credibility on any issue of politics or public policy…” (p62).

Mr. Hewitt’s brand of “in but not of” suggests a paradigm of cloaking Christianity in order to succeed; he seems to think that using a Christian phrase might torpedo someone’s perceptions of you and thus your potential to advance professionally.

Not recommended. The book is predominantly about how to advance yourself, not dealing with Christian ambition.

This book is available from Christian Book Distributors and Amazon.

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Navy Commander “heeds God’s call”

An interesting article chronicles Navy Commander Rich McDaniel and his family while he is deployed.  Some interesting quotes:

On their family’s role in the Navy:

Together and yet so often apart, the McDaniels believe their family unit has been called to a peculiar mission in life — as missionaries to the Navy community, serving God and country in peacetime and war.

On finding a church as a military member–and balancing the God and family priorities:

In some churches…the focus tends to be on “How can you serve others and how can you serve in the church?” While he endorses that…it can be heartbreaking to know he has only a few days with his wife after one to three months at sea and she feels duty-bound to stay in the nursery during Sunday morning worship because it’s her usual ministry at the church…People don’t understand why it’s so important for her to be [with] her husband [when he] happens to be home with little to no notice.

The New Year & Challenges Ahead

Happy New Year from ChristianFighterPilot.com. 

Each year is a unique challenge to a military Christian.  Deployment schedules vary, family situations change, new faith challenges arise, and the rules on religious practice and expression in the military change.  ChristianFighterPilot.com has attempted to remain a viable and valuable resource for information as varied as “how to become a fighter pilot” and “military Christians and ‘church/state separation.'”  Many people have contacted CFP; some were like-minded active duty military, some were ROTC cadets wanting to know how to secure a pilot’s slot, and some were high school students wanting to understand the relationship between Christ and the military profession.  Chaplains, Army soldiers in Iraq, and even atheists and opponents to religion in the military have corresponded with and commented on the site.  Though small, the presence and ministry of ChristianFighterPilot.com is being felt.

As always, ChristianFighterPilot.com seeks to improve and expand.  If you would like to contribute content or commentary, or if you have suggestions for the site or ministry, please feel free to contact CFP, either through the form or email.  If you know of others who may be interested in the newsletter, site, or topics, please let them know about the website or forward the newsletter to them.

Each new year brings the traditional resolutions and, regrettably, a new wave of controversies.  Weinstein’s lawsuit Read more

Revisited: Military Christian Priorities

ChristianFighterPilot.com has published an ongoing series of articles on the priorities of military Christians.  As stated in the first article, the most-often cited Christian priorities are God, family, and career.  The God priority was addressed in the October article.

Since the November article on the importance of family, there have been two interesting and related news events.  In one case, the Air Force Leadership published the recent Airman’s Roll Call and highlighted the importance of family:

It’s [our families’] support that helps us perform our vital Air Force mission, and for this very reason, we must make the most of the time we have with them.

Historically, the Air Force has been the most “family friendly” of the services.  It has repeatedly shown that it recognizes the importance of the Air Force member’s family to the accomplishment of the mission.  As noted in the article on the family priority, there is a spiritual reason for holding the family so dear.  As the Air Force notes, however, valuing our families is also a virtual military necessity.

The second item of interest was the announcement of this year’s Heisman winner.  Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was effusive in his thanks to God for his success, and the article notes that

Football rates a mere fourth on his list of priorities behind God, family and academics.

The young college sophomore displayed an unusual degree of maturity and understanding of life’s bigger purposes.  Much as Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy related in his book, Tebow realized that football wasn’t everything, and that his life needed to reflect what was truly important:

[Football is] a game that I love and you’ve got to remember that He gave me the ability and the opportunity to play and it can be gone at any moment…[In] football, in school, in living, I want people to…say, “Hey, there’s something different about this guy, and that’s because he has a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The pastor at his Florida church noted Tebow’s “postgame interviews and the ongoing Christian witness that’s quickly becoming his trademark.”

There is a special place in the imagination of the American public for football players–especially quarterbacks.  The same is true for members of the military–especially fighter pilots.  Just as their positions give football players unique platforms for Christ, so, too, do those of military Christians.  Military Christians could probably learn a lesson from the life choices and boldness of the young college sophomore.

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