Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Category Archives: Patriotism

Alexis de Tocqueville

“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

Eboo Patel

“I believe every inch of America is sacred, from sea to shining sea. I believe we make it holy by who we welcome and by how we relate to each other. Call it my Muslim eyes on the American project. “We made you different nations and tribes that you may Read more →

Howard Zinn

“While some people think that dissent is unpatriotic, I would argue that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. In fact, if patriotism means being true to the principles for which your country is supposed to stand, then certainly the right to dissent is one of those principles. And if Read more →

Howard Zinn

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Adlai E. Stevenson

“What do I believe? As an American I believe in generosity, in liberty, in the rights of man. These are social and political faiths that are part of me, as they are, I suppose, part of all of us. Such beliefs are easy to express. But part of me too Read more →

Creating the “End Times” in Religion and in Politics

Today, I read an email from the leader of a right-wing Patriot group, known as “Oath Keepers” that the group was planning to “go operational”.   I’ve paid attention to “Oath Keepers” for some time, because of their interpretation of the Oath of a Federal Officer that I have also taken… the Read more →

Being a Liberal Patriot — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on July 7th, 2013   Sermon     “Being a Liberal Patriot”      Rev. David Pyle On July 2nd, two hundred and thirty seven years ago, Thomas Jefferson was drafting a document that would change the world. A few days later, the first copies of the newly approved Declaration of Read more →

Free Speech, Responsibility, and Religious Violence

Freedom is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the United States, and perhaps in the world.  Be it Religious Freedom, or Freedom of Speech, or the Freedom of the Press, the Freedom of Association, or any of the common conceptions of freedom that we experience in the United States, Read more →

President Obama is Not a Liberal Socialist… I Am

I promised myself that I would not move into my “occasional political musings” this election season until after the conventions were over.  Well, the speeches in Charlotte and Tampa are done, and now I feel that there are some things that I have to say… President Obama is not a Read more →

American Exceptionalism and American Irrelevance

One of the genre’s of Science Fiction that I love is what is called “near future Sci-Fi”.  These are stories set to occur in the next 200 years or so.  What I love about them is that they “forecast” out not into some far off fantastic future, but into the Read more →

It’s Always an Oligarchy

In the last few months, I have heard the word Oligarchy being bandied around on the edges of American political circles.  In the Tea-Party wing, they are using it as a new word for “Hollywood Elite” and “Liberal Media”.  On the semi-far left it is being used to refer to Read more →

I’m a Liberal and I’m a Patriot who Loves God… Deal with It!

I think this topic is becoming a regular 4th of July weekend tradition of mine, mainly because I have had it with the idea that unless someone is a Fox News watching, gun toting Tea-Party Republican they are not a “Real American”.  Beyond the fact that such definitions of “Real Read more →

Osama bin Laden and Unrealistic Hopes

These last few days, I have been on a trip to attend a U.S. Army Chaplains training conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  I have been in hotels, airports, and restaurants in my military uniform, sometimes with other Army Chaplains, but often on my own.  For these several days, I have had Read more →

Is Libya a “Growing-Up Moment” for the United States?

For all our power in the world, the United States is still a very young nation. Unlike the modern states in Europe, in Asia, and in the Middle East, we do not stand upon thousands of years of history in the location where our nation is. Because of our youth Read more →

Why Even Good Militaries Do Not Make Good Governments

Hidden amidst all the celebration and joy these last 24 hours in Egypt, and in those who support democratic movements around the world, is a piece that seems to have been lost… and that is that, contrary to the Egyptian Constitution, President Mubarak ceded power not to the leader of Read more →

A “Real” Chaplain

The next person who even hints to me that, because I am a reservist I am not a “real” military chaplain, I might just scream at them. Fair warning. I’ve been somewhat defensive about this for awhile, and quite frankly I’ve moved beyond defensive to feeling darned angry. I’m not Read more →

Gun Control, Militias, and the Second Amendment

I have chosen never to carry or use a firearm ever again. I made that choice not because of a fundamentalist attitude toward guns, but rather because I am entirely too good with them. I reached a place in my faith journey where I realized that I would rather die Read more →

The Journey from Conservative to Liberal

I remember a day in seventh grade when I came home all excited to tell my parents that I had discovered that I was a Liberal. We had been studying the American political system in social studies class, and in our textbook was a little box that showed the typical Read more →

Captain Travis Patriquin and the Awakening of Iraq

This is a repost of an Article from last year. Today makes it four years since my friend Travis was killed in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. I wear his memory bracelet through November and December. Rest in Peace, Trav. On December 6th, 2006, a friend, military partner, former Read more →

“Government-Paid Missionaries for Christ”

Recently I received a letter from a fellow Unitarian Universalist who is very concerned by incidents and attitudes he perceives among some military chaplains, where they seem to understand themselves as “government-paid missionaries for Christ”. The letter details some of his own research into the issue of some chaplains who Read more →

Generations of Veterans

Our common conception of how Veterans share a the same experinece of combat is belied by the way that combat actions and environments have evolved over the last 70 years. There is no generalized understanding of what a Veteran is. Read more →

Decoration Day — Sermon by the Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on May 30th, 2010   Reading General Order Number 11, Washington DC, May 5, 1868                                         General John Logan General Order No. 11   Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868   I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose Read more →

The Torch May Pass From Me

Why I may not be becoming an Army Chaplain anytime soon, and thanks to all of the friends and collegues who have sent us support over the last week or so. Read more →

The Political Right and the Road to Damascus

I have spoken before about what I believe is happening on the far right of American politics today, and from the public and private responses I know it is one of the more controversial topics I engage here at Celestial Lands. I speak as someone who traveled in those far-right Read more →

A Soldier’s Dream: Captain Travis Patriquin and the Awakening of Iraq

On December 6th, 2006, a friend, military partner, former roommate, and man I owe my life to was killed by an improvised explosive device in Ramadi, Iraq. His name was Travis Patriquin, and he and I served in the 7th Special Forces Group as enlisted and support soldiers (he as Read more →

Evangelicals are Praying for Me!

I can rest easier in this world knowing that each and every night, and perhaps even in the morning, there are Evangelicals associated with Liberty University praying for me. Why? Because I am a Liberal. I am not only a liberal, I am a flaming, NPR loving, socialized medicine supporting, Read more →

You Want to Join the Military? But We’re UU’s!!!

Over the last several years, I have had the privilege to be with several Unitarian Universalist families as they struggled through the complex emotions that arise around a loved one deciding to join the military. Recently, some ministers have even referred such families to me, and I thought it would Read more →

Senator Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009

In the family and community in which I grew up, Teddy Kennedy was symbolic of everything that was wrong with America. I remember long rants of my father about all the Kennedys, but Teddy specifically, whenever his name came up in the news or in conversation. I knew almost nothing Read more →

“I Want My Country Back!”

Among all of the things said at the recent teabag/anti-health care reform/birther protests, I have felt emotionally moved by the individuals who, in tears and in anger, have shouted or cried something along the lines of “I want my country back!” or “I feel my country is being taken away Read more →

What is Really Behind these Town Halls… and a Retraction

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to much suffering.” — Yoda I want to thank all of the public and private responses to the more than slightly tongue-in-cheek article I put up a few days ago calling for Code Pink to go after those disrupting town Read more →

Military Ritual, Responsibility, and Mercenaries

My wife always worries that I will overstep my bounds on this blog, be it the bounds placed upon me as a military officer or those represented by the expectations of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the UUA. It is good that she worries about such things, because sometimes it Read more →

My Plan to Deal with those Disrupting Town Hall Meetings

For reasons I have written about here, I have decided to intellectually retract this article. I leave it up to highlight my own growth on the issue and to model honesty in blogging… but what I wrote here as somewhat tongue-in-cheek I now realize has ramifications I did not intend. Read more →

Please put the Government between me and my Health Care!

I have been debating whether or not to talk about this, because in one respect it is a little embarrassing. No one wants to admit that there are times in their lives where they were living not only paycheck to paycheck, but sometimes day to day… and even with that Read more →

Why We Can Not Ignore the “Birthers”

I have been reticent to write about this, because I know that my take on this issue could be seen as “fear-mongering”, and I truly do not intend it to be. One of the legacies of having been a counter insurgency, counter terrorism, and counter narcotics intelligence analyst is that Read more →

Unitarian Universalists at Arlington National Cemetery

Click on the picture or this link to see the slideshow   During my time in Washington DC these past few months, I spent a few days shadowing the chaplains at Arlington National Cemetery. During a break, I went for a walk among some of the markers, and was surprised Read more →

Iran and American Exceptionalism

With my passions, my history, and my hopes for the future is was probably inevitable that I would spend this weekend tied to my television and computer, following the limited amount of information that is coming out of Iran. As a former intelligence analyst, I can trace the political and Read more →

No Atheists in Foxholes?

I came across this article reference while reading a 1946 Master’s thesis on the effect War has on religious and moral beliefs, and I fell in love. The Power of this tendency to create myths has recently been demonstrated in the famous assurance that “there are no atheists in foxholes”. Read more →

Memorials in the Rain

Many of you know that I am currently in Washington DC on “Active Duty for Training” (ADT). I am actually at Ft. McNair at the National Defense University, doing some research on Spirituality and Military Ethics. Right down the street from my Visitors Quarters are the barracks and the HQ Read more →

In Honor of Memorial Day — UU Servicemember’s Devotional Project

“Each time I have to stand by the “Chaplain Corps” table strewn with religious and spiritual information for the National Guard Soldiers I support, I find myself yearning deeply for material that is representative of the open, diverse, nurturing, affirming and accepting ideas of the UU tradition…So many of our Read more →

A Moment of Awe and a Moment of Regret

,, A few months ago, I sat in awe as I watched a young U.S. Army National Guard Infantry First Lieutenant violate Title 10 of the U.S. Code on the Rachel Maddow Show, by saying three words… “I Am Gay”. He said it knowing full well the consequences of that Read more →

The Failure of Mass Protests and the Political Right

I have written several times in the last few years about how the era of effective mass protests is over, how governmental and business power structures have become immune to them. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, such tactics were so new that they actually did change policy at Read more →

Obama-Rama Mania Gone Way, Way Too Far

I know I live in Hyde Park (actually, I live on the border of Hyde Park and the neighborhood to the south of Woodlawn, but we work, shop, and go to class in Hyde Park). I know that less than 10 blocks from my apartment the secret service is sitting Read more →

Heroic Repression

Recently I have been thinking about American culture around military issues these last six years since the beginning of combat operations in Iraq. Specifically, I have been thinking about what it means to be a hero, and why some segments of American culture have attempted to make “heroes” of every Read more →

Why I’m not a “Progressive”

I remember a conversation with a religiously and politically conservative U.S. Army Chaplain while I was at the Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio. This Chaplain had found Celestial Lands, and had specifically read the article entitled “Unitarian Universalism and Military Chaplaincy“.  About two days into the two-week course, Read more →

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