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

Category Archives: Military

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 →

How to Listen to Me, A Veteran

1.  Telling the stories about our military service helps, but we veterans are taught that it does not. Almost every program for helping veterans come to terms with their military service is based upon learning to tell our stories, and yet the model of the veteran in our society is Read more →

My Essay on “Why I Want to be an Army Chaplain”

I am currently putting together my packet to accession as a U.S. Army Chaplain, and part of that packet is a 1-page essay titled “Why I want to be a U.S. Army Chaplain”.  Now, the regular denziens of the Celestial Lands can probably guess that what has been difficult has been getting it Read more →

Religions of Differentiation

At around 18 years old I decided I was no longer a Southern Baptist. There were many reasons for that decision. At the time I would have said that I just could no longer accept the contradictions inherent in accepting the Bible as literal truth, or that the hypocrisy I Read more →

Should Military Chaplains Meet Civilian Chaplaincy Certification Requirements?

Most times I take a position on an issue when I write an article for Celestial Lands. This time, I am torn. I know the reasons that I chose to complete at least the base educational requirements for becoming a Board Certified Chaplain by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) Read more →

A Call of Christmas Peace

It was Christmas, so I called home. That may not sound like much, but after the day I had just had, it was everything in the world to me. I had woken up that morning in my bunkbed made of plywood and 2×4’s, in a bombed out hotel room in 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 →

It’s Time We Studied War

The few weeks around Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day tend to be heavy preaching for me. In several of the services this year, I was reminded of one of our standard hymns during this time, declaring that we will “Study War No More”. What struck me is that, though it Read more →

Tragedy at Ft. Hood

I have intentionally not written anything about the recent mass shooting at Ft. Hood, committed by an Army Psychiatrist, because I did not want to jump to any conclusions. We still do not know enough to draw any conclusions save one… soldiers saved other soldier’s lives that day. I am Read more →

On Trial…

There are probably very few people in the United States who are interested at all in the trial of Radovan Karazdic, former President of the Republica Serpska, and the leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the Bosnian war of the mid-90’s. For myself, it has been a long emotional journey, Read more →

About the UU Worship Service at the Great Lakes Naval Station

As I was completing a paper on an experiment in worship education that was conducted in the UU Worship Service at the Navy Basic Training at Great Lakes, I realized it contained my most extensive analysis of the experience of that worship service over the last 3 years.  Now that Read more →

All of the Things I’m Not Allowed to Write About

Every once in awhile, I get an email or a quiet conversation from someone asking why I had not said something publically on an issue. Most recently, it was an email challenging me to write something publically on my position on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the U.S. Military. What 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 →

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 →

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 →

He’s Still An American Soldier

In the center of the Soldier’s Creed, the center of the Warrior Ethos taught to every U.S. Soldier from the first day of basic training is the phrase “I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade”.  Apparently some have forgotten that. Yesterday I was flabbergasted when I heard a “Military Analyst”, Read more →

Returning Home, Warriorship, and the Society for Creative Anachronism

The morning after I came home from serving as a Peacekeeper in Bosnia, a friend knocked on my door at some early hour. I wanted to sleep in, but he had another plan. There was something we absolutely had to go do, something he had become involved in that he Read more →

“Army Wives” Find Unitarian Universalism

I am not afraid to admit that one of the television shows I watch regularly with my wife is Lifetime Channel’s “Army Wives”.  I pretend it is “research” for this future Army Chaplain.  My wife does get annoyed at my regular corrections of their uniforms and their doctrine (but they 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 →

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 →

My Reticence to Support UU Congregational Outreach to Veterans

Every few weeks I get an email or a call from someone in leadership of one of our Unitarian Universalist congregations asking how they can set up an outreach program to military veterans, servicemembers, and families. For a long while, I would send them the information I have on the 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 →

Why I Don’t Carry or Handle Firearms Anymore

Among the topics that I have written about over the past two years, I doubt any of them have been more sensitive or personal to me than this one, and I come at it with more than a little trepidation. It is possible that some (including those on the Ministerial Read more →

Great Lakes UU Military Ministry Easter Homily

Though I do not often post sermons to Celestial Lands, there are exceptions. On this Easter Sunday Morning, I thought I would share the homily I am preaching in our UU Worship Service at the Great Lakes Naval Station, Recruit Training Command this morning. Introduction to the Homily In our 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 →

Continuing to Normalize Military Ministry

On his blog, “UU A Way of Life”, David Markham offers the opinion that military chaplains who are Unitarian Universalists are not living the principles of Unitarian Universalism.  While I honor his opinion, I believe it in part arises from an incomplete understanding of Military Chaplaincy, as well as a Read more →

New CLF Military Ministry Website!

It is my honor and privilege to invite Military Affiliated Unitarian Universalists (and indeed all Unitarian Universalists) to visit the new Military Ministry Website, sponsored by the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF). www.clfuu.org/military We hope it will become a place for those of us of liberal faith with a Read more →

Unitarian Church of Evanston IL Spied Upon by Army Intelligence

In doing some research into the history of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois during the era of the Civil Rights Movement and the opposition to the war in Vietnam, I have come across a little known and courageous moment in American history. It is a moment that touches three Read more →

Ways that Zen Sesshin is Like Military Basic Training

During the Zen Rohatsu Sesshin (7 ½ Day Zen Meditation Retreat in honor of the Buddha’s enlightenment day) that I attended this past week, I began to notice some eerie similarities to my multiple experiences of Military Basic Training. Though this was my first Sesshin at the Zen temple where Read more →

The Journey Up Diamond Head

I would like to tell you all a story about my father. I’m not certain why I feel compelled to write this story, but I woke up having dreamed about it.    My Dad was my hero as a child. He was a career Sergeant in the Army, and later Read more →

Building a Just Peace

Below is an excerpt of and collection of resources for the speech on Building a Just Peace that I presented at People’s Church Chicago on November 22, 2008.  I am thankful for all the wonderful engagement and questions, and look forward to continuing the conversations with those who were there, Read more →

Ministry and the Moral Implications of Combat

As I was researching for a speech I am giving this weekend, I came across this short essay I wrote on my theology of war and of military ministry when I was at the Chaplain School.  It is an attempt not only to define where I stand on the moral implications of Read more →

Thank You, America

  I simply want to say this…  Thank you America, for my new Commander-in-Chief. I know, I have till wait to January to unwrap him… But it’s exactly what I wanted…  Merry Christmas Yours in Faith, David

THE QUESTION (Part 5)

Go to Part 1  Why it is important to “plant a seed”, and how I learned to let go of the results. When I speak of “planting a seed”, I speak from personal experience, for many years ago a seed of Unitarian Universalism was planted in me. It rested on Read more →

Electioneering and the Military

As this election season continues, becomes more heated, and touches deeply on issues that are of vital concern to me, I have begun to look closely at what I can and cannot do as a Reserve Army officer and a Chaplain Candidate.  In that search, I came across this amazing Read more →

Combat Medical Ministry Course

The past two weeks, I have been at Ft. Sam Houston outside San Antonio for the Combat Medical Ministry Course. It was an incredible experience, which “reframed” my experience in Clinical Pastoral Education (hospital chaplaincy internship) in light of a military environment, and challenged me to use the self-reflective skills Read more →

Center for the Intrepid

Today, I went on an amazing tour of the Center for the Intrepid, here at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. I don’t know what I expected, but what I found there was so much more amazing than anything I could have imagined. The Center for the Read more →

A Seachange in our Faith

Rev. Kit Ketcham, a UU Minister, fellow blogger, and in some ways a kindred spirit has recently observed on her blog how UU’s and UU Congregations seem to have trouble reaching out to military personnel. Her article apparently was inspired in part by conversations she has had with fellow ministers Read more →

The Arrest of Radovan Karadžić

In 1996, when I arrived as a Peacekeeper and an intelligence analyst in Bosnia, there was a mission at the top of our list… find Radovan Karadžić. My team and I knew he was most likely in Serbia, probably Belgrade… where we had no jurisdiction and where the U.S. Government Read more →

Depends On the Part of Town…

Over the last 17 days, I have been working with the North Central Chaplain Recruiting team, mostly answering phones, visiting schools, and doing database work. Mixing that with my Summer Ministry and my work for the Central Midwest District of the UUA has been why the blog has been a Read more →

Straddling Worlds

This past week, I have been both serving on Active Duty for Training (ADT) as a U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate, and serving as the Summer Minister for the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL. In the mornings, I get up early, sit Zen meditation, and then put on my Army Combat Read more →

In Uniform at General Assembly

It was an amazing and enlightening experience for me at this General Assembly, in that I spent much of my time in uniform as a Chaplain Candidate. I was in uniform so much, some people might think I wear it often. In fact, I purchased the class B shirts just Read more →