It’s been said that being a fighter pilot is like being in a motorcycle gang — except your mother is still proud of you. In a vaguely related story, the Chapel community at Fort Rucker took an opportunity to integrate their faith with a “gang” of motorcycle riders in a local “fellowship ride.” One of the mentors, Dave Peterson, explained why faith meshes so neatly with the motorcycle “gang:”
Because we share so much in common, it bonds us. We live out our faith. We enjoy motorcycle riding and we enjoy being together and building those bonds of friendship and sharing the things that mean the most to us.
Peterson may not know it, but that is an appropriate description of the community of believers in the military, as well.
When Faith Takes Flight was written by Jim Walters, a Pastor, civilian flight instructor, and former US Air Force fighter pilot. Walters became a Christian in a military chapel in Vietnam, and was quickly taken under the wing of a Christian in a local military Bible study.
When Faith Takes Flight isn’t an autobiography or memoir, however; it is an instructional book on Christian doctrine. The author is both a faith instructor and a flight instructor, and both perspectives are evident throughout the book.
Each of the 10 chapters covers a basic Christian doctrinal element (the existence of God, sin, grace, the Bible, etc.). The chapters (or “lessons”) begin with a flight related story, draw an analogy to a Biblical concept, and then relate a Biblical lesson — complete with a “quiz” and questions for group discussion. Each lesson is, in many ways, a miniature sermon.
The book’s primary objective is to teach theological concepts using Read more
Michael Weinstein is truly the gift that keeps on giving. His latest attempt at infamy is to say that a red cross appearing on a military hospital’s emblem
violate[s] the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state and should be removed.
Apparently Weinstein has missed the long, international history of the cross in military medical use, as well as the US military’s equivalent treatment of Islam and Judaism that would allegedly “violate…separation of church and state,” pictured below.
Weinstein also objects to the emblem’s motto “pro deo et humanitate” or “for God and humanity,” despite the military’s description of the phrase as pre-dating Christianity.
The emblem in question is that of Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs.
During a wide-ranging interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer a few weeks ago, President Obama spoke once again of his family’s position regarding attending church regularly, or “joining” a particular church. In one of the more underreported comments, he singled out a military Chaplain for strong praise:
We love the chapel up in Camp David. It’s probably our favorite place to worship because it’s just family up at Camp David. There’s a wonderful chaplain up there who does just a great job.
It is rare enough for a military officer to get such stark praise Read more
Last September, Chris Rodda, a researcher for Michael Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, wrote an article enumerating her “Top Ten” list of Christian travesties in the US military, emphasizing acts which “convince the Muslims we’re on a crusade.” A less combative version of this same list was re-published in the US Air Force’s Attitudes Aren’t Free just a few weeks ago.
At number 8, Rodda lists this rather interesting way in which the US military is showing the Muslim world America is on a crusade: Read more
It is not uncommon for people of a religious faith–Christian or not–to occasionally speak of the difficulty of celebrating their faith while in the military. This is particularly true in intense training environments, as well as the obvious restricted areas of combat. The military culture is sometimes hostile (even unintentionally) to the spirit of a religious faith, and the logistical environment sometimes restricts the ability to fully exercise one’s faith.
Despite the challenges encountered, it is important to highlight the fact that the US military has a responsive environment of both commanders and Chaplains to see to the religious needs of all of its servicemembers. Though there are obvious logistical hurdles in some cases, there is no institutional support for or bias against any particular faith. In fact, the opposite is true.
For example, the Aleph Institute, a DoD Chaplain endorsing organization and valuable support agency for Jews in the US military, recently said they had to come to the rescue of a Soldier seeking spiritual resources, and because of “red tape” a Jewish Soldier has “almost no chance” of getting spiritual resources like prayer books and kosher field rations.
History, however, demonstrates the opposite. In fact, Jewish military Read more
A Fort Leavenworth chapel program is using a Biblical approach to helping returning Soldiers and their families “reunite” for the long term. The program is called “Faith-Based Solutions to the Combat Experience” and uses two Military Ministry (links) products: When War Comes Home and The Combat Trauma Healing Manual.
The program is open to all and is purely a military Chapel function. The goal isn’t psychological healing, but an intimate and faith-based effort to strengthen family relationships:
Facilitators are looking at reintegration into society after combat from a personal, faith-based perspective.
Chaplain (LtCol) Mike Thompson lauded the value of faith in the approach, Read more
The Sacramento Bee has a collection of high-quality photos of Chaplains at work in Afghanistan. Included are
- Catholic Chaplain (Capt) Carl Subler, shown delivering Mass and praying prior to a convoy (previously covered here)
- Chaplain Gary Lewis, shown in a FOB Chapel, complete with Chapel library
- Chaplain (Maj) Shon Neyland, shown singing in a Gospel service
- Chaplain (Capt) Loren Aderhold, shown delivering a sermon
- Chaplain (Capt) Kevin Burton, shown both counseling and using his electrician’s experience
and an interesting picture of Chaplain’s assistant Sgt. Oscar Santiago, shown carrying a rifle in one hand and a guitar in the other.
Via the Army Chaplaincy blog.