When I was in Afghanistan with the Infantry, men sang. The most popular song was, of course, Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”, because a video of scantily clad women in prison, involving Beyonce, is an automatic win for US infantrymen. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was popular, in no small part because a group of operators made a hilarious parody video of the Miami Dolphins’ Cheerleaders video of the same song. When riding into a suspected battle, Disturbed’ s “Indestructible” led the way. These manly men sang.
Why are there so many strains of *Christianity? Consider the list of the larger **Christian groups represented in the United States - there are 22 denominations with membership of over 100,000 (when you list independent Baptist and non-denominational as denominations) considered Protestant, The Roman Catholic church and its splinter groups, the Eastern Orthodox Church and its splinter groups, the Mormons and their splinters, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Quakers...it's mind boggling.
Of course, many people are a part of their respective faith group because that is all they have ever known. They were either born into it, or they were converted into it from a non-religious background. They have never given much thought to considering anything else.
However, for the many others (including myself) who have changed their Christian affiliation, why do they change?
A Roman Catholic friend asked me recently, “What do Anglicans believe about Salvation and the Sacraments”? So, here’s a brief explanation.
Back in the early 2000’s, one of my best friend’s sister-in-law rejected the Christianity of her youth publicly on the internet. Her sister, my friend’s wife, told her in response, “That’s very brave. I wish more people had your courage.”
I was shocked.
One of the benefits of biography is that it takes us out of ourselves and motivates us to greater faith and works as we are inspired by the life of the person we are reading about. Enjoy and be encouraged by the account of George…
You were built to overcome fear.
A few days ago, I jumped out of a high performance aircraft for the first time in almost five years. The "Basic Airborne Refresher" was a Godsend. While I miserably failed the virtual jump (hey, the VR goggles kept slipping down my face), I needed the reminders of when to pull the Canopy Release Assembly and the proper placement of the Main Lift Web Tick Tab Assembly for a guy my size. My practice landings were poor the first day, and good enough the morning of the jump. It was going to happen.
When I started this blog, I never intended to write about war. It was only the most emotionally and spiritually intense period of my life - what was I thinking???
In Nate Self's "Two Wars", he overlays his experience in the battle of Takur Guar (Roberts' Ridge) as a spiritual battle between good and evil, God and the devil. He sees the Taliban fighters as physical representatives of evil spiritual forces, bent on destroying the good spiritual forces of the operators trapped on that mountain. We are the good guys, they are the bad guys, and Jesus is on our team - evidenced by Nate's cry out to Jesus in the midst of that battle and his subsequent survival.
I wish it were that simple.
My last month in the valley was completely insane. I was on the receiving end of enemy fire every single day I stayed in that valley, many times more than once. Incredibly, not a single soldier with me was killed, with only one man wounded with some shrapnel bits. There is a 6-day break in my journal of enemy contact, where I visited troops at "safe" forward operating bases to the east of our valley. Otherwise, the attacks were so constant that I took to wearing my helmet and body armor around at Able Main.
I should have been dead - repeatedly. My life was only seconds and inches from ending so many times. God had indeed prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
So much conflict is generated by misunderstanding, and, sadly, it often costs lives.
In David Kilcullen's book, "The Accidental Guerrilla", he describes a battle between US Special Forces with their Afghan allies versus the Taliban. In that battle, many of the locals joined in to attack the US forces. Afterward, a journalist followed up with the locals to ask if they hated the US. The local men replied that they didn't hate the US at all. They fought, basically, because a fight broke out and they weren't going to miss it.
This story encapsulated our experience in the Pech Valley.
It always seems the men who die in combat are the ones you think least deserve it.
Shortly after we lost one man, far away from our area, we lost another in a common security mission in the middle of our valley. As a way of keeping the enemy from attacking voting areas, supply units, or local forces, our platoons would set themselves up in known ambush areas..and wait. On one, I was in the back seat of a truck, and we had been there a while. I had to pee.