One of the first and more dramatic examples of the fighter pilot culture that a new pilot will face is that of the traditional Naming. Done professionally and respectfully, a traditional “rite of passage” Naming could be considered a source of comradery and esprit d’corps. Unfortunately, the Namings in which I have participated have been more akin to fraternity initiations than events that call on the history and pride of a unit, the Air Force, or the country. Read more
Category Archives: Christian Living
Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. –Psalm 144:1
Before even considering the phrase “Christian fighter pilot,” many argue that “Christian” and “military” are mutually exclusive themselves. Particularly for new Christians who have recently been introduced to Christ’s teachings, or Christians who grew up in peaceful times and areas, the concepts of a “warring Christian” who is a child of the loving God can seem contradictory. There are many books and pamphlets written on the topic, and most categorize their analysis in two categories. The anti-war division centers on the uncontextual pacifist teachings of Jesus. The pro-war division centers on the Just War doctrine supported with Biblical citations. Well-researched books quote Augustine and Thomas Aquinas (generally credited with the formulation and articulation of the Just War theory) and cite lists of well-known theologians who opposed and supported Christian military service. Whole volumes analyze this subject from a much more learned position than I can. The objective of this section is to briefly address the question, “Is ‘Military Christian’ an Oxymoron?” Read more
Profanity is not the only vice with which a Christian fighter pilot’s senses will be bombarded. Standard fighter pilot lingo is laced with various forms of sexual innuendo, most through the use of linguistic games. The most frequent fighter pilot linguistic “skill” is the phrase “so to speak” (often written as “sts”). The phrase follows any sentence that can in any way, shape, or form be construed as a double entendre; the frequency of the phrase in a fighter pilot’s speech indicates how often he can come up with a sexual reference in virtually any combination of words in the English language. If a pilot uses a phrase that is worthy of a “so to speak” because of its potential double meaning, other pilots in the room will generally say “so to speak” and cajole those who do not.
Another less vulgar use of the “so to speak” phrase is in reference to the “misuse” of a pilot’s name. For example, in the movie Top Gun, Tom Cruise’s weapons system officer had the nickname Goose. If another pilot said that they had to “goose the power,” a fighter pilot would suffix the phrase with “so to speak” to acknowledge the use of Goose’s callsign.
Another fighter pilot linguistic skill is replacing certain words that have a possible sexual connotation with their generic or scientific equivalent. Read more
Whether a Christian fighter pilot assumes the leadership role of a Bible study or simply gets the opportunity to witness to a non-Christian, it is crucial that he know how to communicate his faith. How does a pilot share the gospel with those around him? There is no simple, distinct answer to that question. There is no formulaic response that will enable a Christian to take a checklist, approach a fellow pilot, and convert them by ticking off the boxes.
There are two “canned” answers I can provide. Read more
If a pilot arrives at a location (either a new assignment or temporary duty) and doesn’t find an active Bible study, he should consider starting one on his own. Often Christian fighter pilots who see such a need choose to start a fellowship under the auspices of a national organization such as OCF, the Navigators, Cadence, or any of a host of others. An important note for those pilots is that outside religious organizations that operate on base must do so “under the umbrella of [the] senior chaplain’s program. (AF Message)” This is normally not a problem since most organizations that minister to the military encourage an active relationship with the local chaplaincy. Given the current climate for a proactive Christian in the military, though, (see Religion and Military Policy), it is important for a Christian fighter pilot to make sure that he is in compliance with the appropriate procedures.
There are many resources that can guide a Christian in starting a group Bible study (See Links). Many publishers create not only the text of the study, but also teacher’s notebooks with schedules and guided discussion questions. Read more
Finding a church and Bible study to attend are the most important first steps a Christian fighter pilot can take when he arrives at a new base. Once he finds a church and study to call home he needs to do more than merely count time. In the military it’s very easy to think, “If I can just survive this assignment, at my next base I’ll…,” “Once I get back from this TDY I’ll…,” “After this remote I’ll…,” or, more famously, “When I retire and have a paycheck and free time I’ll…” Instead of making the most of the opportunities the Christian has now, he treads water while waiting for the time he’ll really be able to do what is important. In short, he’s wasting time. He should be utilizing what he has to make the most of the time he is given. Once he has found a church and Bible study, merely attending is one way in which he can count time, content with the status quo. Instead, he should contribute to the body of Christ by participating in the congregation and study. Participation in the local church’s activities builds fellowship and relationships, which gives a Christian a network of friends on whom to depend. Interactive participation in a Bible study—including leading when the opportunity presents itself—builds knowledge, confidence, and abilities; one day when a Christian arrives at a base with no Bible study, those tools will give him the ability to start and lead his own Bible study.
Considering God, himself, his objective, and his witness are suggestions to help Christian fighter pilots decide if they should participate in certain events—to help them figure out where their “line in the sand” will be. Potential decisions in every situation may be different even among Christians because people are different. There are Christians with the spiritual strength to be deeply in the world and yet not be phased by it; there are also Christians in the world who struggle just keeping themselves from becoming part of the world. There are Christian fighter pilots that are called to be a light to the other non-Christian pilots, and there are those that are called to disciple the younger Christian ones. There are a multitude of degrees of attendance and participation when it comes to the events and occasions of a fighter pilot life. Fighter pilot events themselves range from the harmless and fun to the vulgar and evil. There is no single cookie-cutter answer that will fit every person, personality, place, and party. Read more
Whether or not you believe in the concept of the exact tithe, charitable giving remains one of the basic tenets of Christian living. Besides “passing the plate” on Sunday, the Combined Federal Campaign is one of the more popular means through which members of the military have an opportunity to give. Read more