UU Military Chaplains

Three different UU's with military experience prompted me to post on this subject.

UU World, which is one of my Interdependencies*, had a recent story about a female chaplain, UU wins Military Chaplain of the Year award. One paragraph was particularly interesting:
As a woman in army fatigues with a Velcro cross on her uniform, Army Capt. Montgomery, 35, stands out. She is one of about a dozen UU chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces. (UUs in the military are considered Protestants and wear crosses.) And only 3 percent of military chaplains are women. “I get a lot of double takes,” she said.
Now that's blogging material!
  • Velcro crosses? I'm sure there is a practical reason for this, but it still seems odd.
  • It was really hard to get info to contextualize the number of UU chaplains, but I found one citizen journalism source that said there are about 20 Rabbis, a dozen Imams, and one Buddhist chaplain in the armed forces.
  • I can live with the Protestants category. It's better than "none of the above". BTW, the symbol of UUism is a flaming chalice, shown below.
  • Capt. Montgomery is a really rare combination. I hope the military is actively recruiting women as chaplains. And UU's also - it certainly makes sense to minister to a wide variety of soldiers.
Flaming ChaliceI discovered David Pyle's blog, Celestial Lands, a couple of months ago through the UU blog round-up, interdependent web. Pyle is a very good writer and is currently a candidate for chaplaincy in the Army. Here are four recent posts (one from a UU blog): two with political angles, Please put the Government between me and my Health Care! and "I Want My Country Back"; and two more personal stories involving his faith and his military service, Inspired Faith, Effective Action and Returning Home, Warriorship, and the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Finally, an audio essay from Doug Traversa, a veteran with 20 years in the Air Force who found UU after returning from a tour in Afghanistan, on NotAlone.com, a support site for soldiers coming home. Chapter 4, titled "Tolerance and Respect", focuses on the non-stereotypical situation of UU's in the military. While not a chaplain, Traversa is currently a lay minister in his small church and is entering seminary soon. He blogs at AWAC.

* This is a UU thing. One of the UU principles is "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." In this context, I use it as a synonym for links.

UPDATE: Here's what makes blogging (and the internet) so cool: It turns out that Doug Traversa was a regular writer on The Sandbox while he was in Afghanistan. The Sandbox is a creation of Garry Trudeau and is described as:
a command-wide milblog, featuring comments, anecdotes, and observations from service members currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. This is GWOT-lit's forward position, offering those in-country a chance to share their experiences and reflections with the rest of us. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. The Sandbox is a clean, lightly-edited debriefing environment where all correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted. And contributors may rest assured that all content, no matter how robust, is currently secured by the First Amendment.
How cool is that? Trudeau is certainly very talented and accomplished. I loved his satirical take on the 1988 Democratic presidential primary, Tanner '88. Now I have to see Tanner on Tanner, done in 2004.

UPDATE: The first chaplain combat death since 1970 occurred on August 30, 2010. From Chaplain David Pyle, Celestial Lands: "Chaplain Captain Dale Goetz was killed in action by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan. He was one of five soldiers killed in that attack. He was a Baptist Minister from South Dakota."

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