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

Tag Archives: Soldier

On Behalf of a Grateful Nation — Sermon by Rev. David Pyle

Last preached on May 25th, 2014 As both a Unitarian Universalist Minister, and as a Reserve Military Chaplain, I have conducted over a dozen military funerals    and memorial services. They were all for veterans of WWII, of Korea, and of Vietnam… I’ve never been called upon to lead a memorial Read more →

War Changes Us All

(Part 1 of Sermon “Trauma and Transformation” with the Rev. Jan Christian at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura on Sunday, November 11th, 2012) When I came home from Bosnia, a VA psychologist gave me two books to read… books that have since become part of what I think of Read more →

The Transition of Ordination

It has now been over 2 years since I was ordained as a Unitarian Universalist Minister, and each of those years I have spent in more than full time ministry as a minister in our congregations, as well as a reserve military chaplain.  Prior to that was a little over Read more →

Beyond Military Borders — Homily at PSWD-UUA District Assembly 2012

I have received multiple requests for copies of the homily that I presented at the UUA Pacific Southwest District Assembly this year, and instead of continuing to email it out, I thought I would publish it here at Celestial Lands.  The task was to reflect on what “Beyond Borders” meant Read more →

I’m Sick Unto Death of Hearing about Protecting the Religious Liberty of Military Chaplains

I remember something that my Drill Sergeant said to me, my first day of Basic Training some 20 years ago, when I was an 18 year old private at Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri.  We were all in one of our first formations, and he asked us if any of us Read more →

War, Young Kids, and a Professional Military

Last week, a video surfaced on the internet that shows several young U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.  Immediately, there were calls for an investigation.  World leaders talked of their disgust.  U.S. Military leaders promised that they would get to the bottom of the Read more →

UU Military Chaplains and the Cross

Unitarian Universalists are almost always surprised when they see me wearing the Christian Cross on my Army Chaplain uniform.  Perhaps they should not be, given the Christian ancestry of our two founding denominations, but they are.  Reactions have ranged from mild curiosity to outrage to some deep pastoral need.  On Read more →

Is the Constitutionality of Military Chaplaincy in Danger?

This week, I received an email from an organization I track, known as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.  It is an organization that advocates both legally and in the media, for the protection of the Free Exercise of Religion in the military, often with more passion than restraint. Yet, over Read more →

My Seminary Graduation Gift: A Year with Honor Harrington

I was determined to give myself a gift at the end of 5 years of seminary, church internship, military chaplain basic training, hospital internship and hospice residency… and I did not know what I wanted.  Could I be craving a vacation on a beach in the Caribbean?  Well, always… but 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 →

The Church and Leadership Development

One of my developing ecclesiological theories is that the church, especially the liberal church, serves among its many purposes as the laboratory for being a whole, full, and religious human being.  The liberal congregation is the container, the laboratory where we are able to learn how to engage one another 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 →

Happy Birthday Dad…

This is a repost of an article from each of the last two years. This is a hard time of year for me. I guess we all have these times of the year, where the past experiences of our lives fill up the time we spend living today… times in 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 →

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 →

Decline, Denial, and an 8K Ruck March

This weekend was a military drill / Battle Assembly for me, and it taught me something… that I’m not as young as I once was. Nor am I as young as I would like to be. Nor am I as young as I like to think I am. I was Read more →

Civilian Control and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Harass, Don’t Pursue

As a military chaplain, the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” does not apply directly to how I relate to soldiers. Any soldier can tell me anything in confidence, and I am bound by a level of confidentiality that is equivalent to the seal of the Catholic Confessional. In Read more →

Customized Military ID Tags

I was reading through the stories on Military.com this evening, and came across a story on the young soldier, now facing a court martial, who leaked classified information to Wikileaks.com. The story made me sad in so many ways… sad that this young man felt he had to do this, 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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

The Vanquished

The field does not look the same as it did this morning. This morning, it was peaceful and orderly, with waiving grasses across small rolling hills. The sun came up from the east across the orderly lines, in glittering gold and ovals of wood. The horses were restive, bursting with Read more →