Thursday, August 21, 2008

Onward Christian (Only) Soldiers: Spirituality According to Gen. "Proslytizing" Petraeus

"When Soldiers Need Spiritual Energy."

Sounds like an ad for a caffeinated power drink.

Gen. David Petraeus is used to controversy surrounding the war in Iraq, but his publicized thoughts on an Army chaplain's book for Soldiers put him squarely in the middle of the ongoing conflict over religious proselytizing in the U.S. military.

The book is "Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel," by Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) William McCoy, and according to Petraeus' published endorsement of the work, "it should be in every rucksack for those times when soldiers need spiritual energy."

Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said it "strains credulity" that Petraeus never knew that his private written endorsement of the book was in the public domain since last year.

This latest brouhaha over religion and the military reminded me of a more audacious incident with one Lt. General William Boykin. Remember him? "My God was better than his god."

(AP, Aug. 19, 2004)

Islamic and religious freedom groups, as well as some members of Congress, criticized Boykin when news reports surfaced last October of remarks he made in several speeches at evangelical Christian churches. Boykin said the enemy in the terrorism fight was Satan and that God had put President Bush in the White House.

General Boykin (retired) is now a "professor" at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia (just what he teaches, I don't know - yet). Hampden-Sydney College's profile is that of the last all-male "make you into men" colleges. His April 8 speech to Epicenter 2008, a conference sponsored by Israel sounded like he had never left the battlefield:

One day, we're going to stand before the gates of Heaven. Some of us want to be able to walk up there in a white robe and we want to sing Abba Father and Amazing Grace and we want to say to the Lord, "I worshiped You." But I want you to think about this: Heres the way I want to enter the gates of Heaven. I want to come skidding in there on all fours. I want to be slipping and sliding and I want to hit the gates of heaven with a bang. And when I stand up and I stand before Christ, I want there to be blood on my knees and my elbows. I want to be covered with mud. And I want to be standing there with a ragged breast plate of righteousness. And a spear in my hand. And I want to say, "Look at me, Jesus. I've been in the battle. I've been fighting for you." Ladies and gentlemen, put your armor on and get into battle. God bless you.

A "breast plate of righteousness"? "I want there to be blood on my knees and my elbows" - notice he doesn't say whose blood. Why do I think that Jesus would have rebuked him? Or a least said, "Boy, you're a schmuck!"

And as to God having put George W. "lowest-approval-rating-ever" Bush in the White House?

If there is a Satan, he's doubling over in laughter right now.

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