Saturday, December 31, 2011

Why Are You In This Alone

In "Scent of A Woman," Al Pachino is a lost soul: a blind retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. He devises a plan that we're not told: go to NY, see his brother, enjoy the fruits of luxury: Waldorf Astoria, fine dining, expensive call girl. My favorite movie, great story. In his scheme, he enlists an unwitting but sensitive Charlie, an elite prep school student on scholarship. Charlie has his own problems as he has witnessed an act of vandalism along with a rich kid who is protected by his rich father. Charlie stands alone. At one point, Col Slade says to Charlie, "why are you in this alone?"

At this point, Rose would be smiling and rolling her eyes at my long story to make a point. I see many people at the Infusion Center or at the Cancer Center that I want to ask, "Why are you alone?" Most I hope aren't but they appear to be: a young girl, an older man, an older woman. Alone, I surely am not going to be intrusive but maybe someone couldn't come, a personal choice or maybe, like the movie, someone will step up to the plate like Col Slade did in the end for Charlie.

Pain of Suffering

A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out at the Infusion Center, UCSF. All the patient chairs seemed to be pretty full. Each little "alcove" has about five or 6 chairs where those receiving chemo can sit and be comfortable. I logged in many an hour with Rose in those little "spots"as she took the juices. Wandering around, I saw a youngster in one of the chairs. Always makes me so sad. With us older types, we've lived out our lives. For me, I am always philosophical about living and dying. As a Vietnam combat vet, everyday is a bonus. I discovered that the youngster's chances of much of a future is slim to none, at least in this life. My prayer for the very large family is that they can enjoy and appreciate the days he has. Not easy as the sadness sometimes overwhelmes and it is very hard to find the joy in the presence. I relate it, in a sense, to Vietnam. At about six plus months, you went on R and R (rest and relaxation). A week of laying around, doing nothing and the war a million miles away. No, not really. It was in your psyche and if you weren't careful, you couldn't enjoy the present because going back to war was always hanging over your head. God bless this youngster and his family that the present may be what they know. Amen!!!
Don, I'm much more interested in why your friend decided not to go into ministry and why you think he made the right choice. My response to the question is not very different than your friend's response. It is pretty standard to an unanswerable question. Lamar and I had a wonderful seminary professor, Dr Boyce. His answer to such questions: God will always do the right thing. Killing all the babies? Bullshit. This would not be the right thing so let's not ascribe this to God. It is some ancient unenlightened prophet or somebody, ignorant who says, God told me.  What God is this?

The flip side of the coin is I don't know and so am putting questions like this in the column of, "danged if I know."


On Dec 30, 2011, at 6:31 AM, David Peterson wrote:


Am in Hawaii with family. Ha e some thoughts.  If I have time later on will share them.

Happy New Year


Sent from my iPad

On Dec 28, 2011, at 4:08 PM, "Lamar Hunt" wrote:

Some good words for the young man, Don, and I can’t add much more.


As to the question of God “telling” Joshua, et al, to annihilate everyone, even the babies.  That is something that troubles me, always has.  The concept of total annihilation does violence to the concept a good God, good to/for whom?  Babies too?  I got some help from a VERY liberal friend who had done seminary, but gave up on ministry as a vocation, and rightfully so, in my opinion.  His thought was that when God gave the land to Israel He just gave it to them.  They responded in their mind sets and realized the promise according to the way things were done in that time.    I don’t expect that this response will  win any awards, but if one really wants to deal with the nature of God he/she must deal with Joshua.


I am not suggesting that this should be part of your response to the young man, much too far out for where he is now, but if he should ask, this is my thought on the subject.


I applaud your taking the time to deal carefully with this young man.  He is truly blessed to have you responding to his questions.


Blessings.  Lamar


From: []
Sent: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 4:39 PM
Subject: FW: Military Service


10 Chaps:

A young man who is about to graduate from Texas A&M contacted me and said that he felt that God was leading him into the Marines.  However, he has some concerns that he would be violating the Scriptural prohibition of taking human life.  He was about to go into a meeting where he was going to be asked to make some preliminary decisions about receiving a commission.  He asked me to give him a “quick and dirty” layout of some of the issues involved.  So, off of the top of my head, I sent him the message below.


He is going to want to discuss this more in depth, and I would like to have your wisdom to share with him.  Anything that you can add will be appreciated.  And, if you are interested, I would be glad to pull together all of the comments that I receive and send the whole package back out to each of you.



Chaplain Don C. Breland

Coordinator of Spiritual Care

ACPE Supervisor

St. Joseph Regional Health Center

Bryan, TX 77802

(979) 776-3988

FAX (979)  776-5939


From: Don Breland
Sent: Monday, December 26, 2011 2:10 PM
To: 'Storm Reichard'
Subject: RE: Military Service



I am really pleased that you want to struggle through your concern over obeying vs. disobeying Scripture around the issue of military combat. I encountered many young men over the years who had not settled this for themselves before coming into the military.  Then, in basic training, they were trained to accurately hit human-shaped targets with their bullets.  It was then that many realized that some day they may be put in the position to shoot at real humans.  This caused a crisis of conscience within many of them.


Whether a person is a Christian or not, the prohibition against murder is part of our value system and our laws. There would hopefully, then, be an inbred reluctance in all of us to take a human life.  But for the Christian, there is an additional concern about following God’s will and purposes for us.  All of this adds up to a major issue for the Christian in the military.


For example, in one instance in Vietnam, the Cav troop that I was with was ambushed.  I was on a personnel carrier that had three machine guns mounted on top.  I was sitting next to the gunner of one of the machine guns.  A VC soldier suddenly popped up and began to spray us with an automatic weapon.  The gunner next to me instinctively swung his machine gun in the direction of the VC and began to fire.  He immediately hit the VC, and the VC crumpled to the ground.  My attention was then pulled toward some other action that was taking place.  When I looked back at the gunner next to me, he seemed to be in a daze and was not firing.  I thought that maybe he had been hit and questioned him.  He didn’t answer immediately, but finally said, “I just killed a man.”  Obviously, he had not prepared mind and soul for that moment. 


Stories like this one cause many Christians to wonder if they should be part of the military. My strong answer to that question is, “Yes, if God calls you into the military, then that is where you need to be.”  I base that response on the following factors:

First it is important to be clear about the nature of God.  He is not a god of confusion.  He does not prohibit something, and then turn around and instruct people to do the prohibited thing.  This truth is important to take with us as we examine the subject of the taking human life as presented in Scripture. 
The Scriptures do differentiate between murder (the Ten Commandments for example) and killing under certain circumstances.  Those instances where murder is the focus tend to be in the relationships between individuals.  Killing has to do more with corporate situations, done under the command or authority of others, including God. [We can go deeper into a Scriptural study on this if you like].  Note for example, all of the times that God directed Israel into battle, even into battle where He instructed the complete annihilation of the enemy.  So, there must be differentiation in the mind of God about how and under what circumstances human life is taken.
In spite of the seeming conflicts in Scripture about taking life, God does call people to serve in the military.  He would not put a complete ban on the taking of a human life, and yet call people into the military.
Next, the military can be part of the “sword” that God authorizes rulers to exercise in order to maintain peace and stability among their people. (Romans 13)
Finally (for this list at least) I believe that God calls persons into the military for at least the following reasons:
To live out the great Commandment as a life testimony in the presence of the whole military community
To pursue the great Commission, seeking to make disciples among military people
To influence the “conscience” and morality of the military community.

In my case, I am totally convinced that God called me into the military and very clearly had a purpose for my being there.  I praise Him for His oversight of that process, and cannot imagine a ministry that I would have enjoyed more.


Any of this is open to discussion.  Please let me know where I can help.



Chaplain Don C. Breland

Coordinator of Spiritual Care

ACPE Supervisor

St. Joseph Regional Health Center

Bryan, TX 77802

(979) 776-3988

FAX (979)  776-5939


From: Storm Reichard []
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2011 4:32 PM
To: Don Breland
Subject: Re: Military Service


Mr. Breland:


I am planning to join the Marine Corps, and I'm worried about what the Bible says about killing. I've been told by several people that the Commandment in question is actually more accurately translated as "Thou shall not murder", meaning premeditated killing in cold blood, so I was wondering if this was just them trying to further their own philosophy using the Bible, or if that was actually the case.


I was also reading Matthew 5:39 and it states not to resist an evil person, so does that mean that killing is never justified, even when your life or someone else's life is in danger, or am I misunderstanding what Matthew was trying to say.


I still want to join the Marine Corps, but I'm afraid of disobeying Scripture and, therefore, God.


I really do appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I hope to hear from you soon.





Dialoging via email is OK with me.  If you could begin by laying out your concerns, then I will respond.


I understand that you are considering a stint in the military.  I spent 27 years as an Army Chaplain, and found it to be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience.  It certainly has its challenges, and the issue of taking another human being’s life in combat is certainly one of them.  All of us who were reared in the Judeo-Christian value system have been taught to reverence human life, and to place ourselves in a situation where we may have to kill someone can create grave doubts.


So, if you will open the discussion, we will go from there.


Sunday, December 18, 2011


In "Scent of A Woman," Al Pachino is a lost soul: a blind retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. He devises a plan that we're not told: go to NY, see his brother, enjoy the fruits of luxury: Waldorf Astoria, fine dining, expensive call girl. My favorite movie, great story. In his scheme, he enlists an unwitting but sensitive Charlie, an elite prep school student on scholarship. Charlie has his own problems as he has witnessed an act of vandalism along with a rich kid who is protected by his rich father. Charlie stands alone. At one point, Col Slade says to Charlie, "why are you in this alone?"

At this point, Rose would be smiling and rolling her eyes at my long story to make a point. I see many people at the Infusion Center or at the Cancer Center that I want to ask, "Why are you alone?" Most I hope aren't but they appear to be: a young girl, an older man, an older woman. Alone. I surely am not going to be intrusive but maybe someone couldn't come, a personal choice or maybe, like the movie, someone will step up to the plate like Col Slade did in the end for Charlie.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


MINISTRY OF PRESENCE:  It has been my experience that , more so than most other ministries,  ministry to Armed Forces Personnel  has the added dimension of EARNING THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD.   The “troops” , for the most part, consciously or subconsciously,  check the chaplain out before they entrust themselves to his/her spiritual/pastoral care.  This is true in every unit to which I was assigned, however, it was much more pronounced in a combat unit.  It was even more pronounced in the Cav. Squadron to which I was assigned because I replaced a chaplain who had been relieved.  None-the-less , most of my colleagues agree that Combat Ministry does not become effective until the chaplain has “earned the right to be heard.”  This is accomplished by going into combat with the unit, having a thorough knowledge of the mission, and being available  to the troops at appropriate times.  In summary, MINISTRY OF PRESENCE.
2) PROVIDING ON-SITE, HANDS ON MINISTRY AT APPROPRIATE TIMES:  This is a learned concept.  .  When a chaplain is on a patrol with his troops, or riding along in an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) very little formal or informal ministry takes place.  However, because he/she was present ministry will be accomplished during the “down periods”.  For example much of my ministry with the CAV. Squadron was accomplished after the unit "loggered –up" for the evening.  This is when I went around the perimeter to talk with the troops, sometimes pray with them, and sometimes have short devotions/Bible reading.  Quite often Troops appreciate the chaplain praying with them before they go on a move out.  I know of one chaplain who, prior to the unit beginning the mission went to each vehicle and, in many cases, individuals, and prayed asking God’s protection, etc.  In many cases he placed his hand upon their head and asked God’s blessing on the individual.  Feedback was very positive.
3) MINISTRY TO THE WOUNDED AND DYING:  It is rare that a wounded or dying troop does not desire  a chaplain presence.  Having said that, the ministry style of the chaplain is very important.  No matter the degree of urgency, it is wise to be sensitive to the “troops” desires, and if possible, to be aware of his /her religious practices/beliefs.   For example, it is appropriate to say:  I would like to pray with you and for you if that is okay with you.  Also, the non-wounded, in more cases than not, want the chaplain to minister to their wounded buddy.  When they are aware that the chaplain is in the area, almost without exception, they will request the chaplain’s presence.  OBSERVATION:   it is very important for the unit chaplain to have a working knowledge of the basic doctrines of all major faith groups.  For example, protestant chaplains need to understand the unique aspects of ministering to a dying or wounded  Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox, or  Muslim service member.  
4) MEMORIAL SERVICES:  It has been my observation that a unit is not completely ready to return to combat until  the dead from the previous battle have been properly honored, remembered and memorialized. The process of unit emotional closure begins with the memorial service. Memorial Services, properly administered and accomplished are an extremely important morale factor in the life of a unit.  OBSERVATION:  Chaplains, in most cases, need additional training in this area.  Quite often memorial services are confused with a funeral service.
5) HOSPITAL VISITATION:  Pastoral care to the wounded is of utmost importance.  The patient wants a visit from the unit chaplain.  He/she is anxious to hear about the unit and also, normally looks upon the unit chaplain as his/her pastor.  That is the person who, in the eyes of the patient, is credible.  Also, unit members are anxious to hear about the status of their wounded buddy.  It was my routine to be in the field with the unit from Sunday Evening through Saturday morning.  I then went back to the base camp and made pastoral calls on the hospital patients, conducted worship service (s) for support/headquarters personnel and  then returned to the combat “field” .  Almost without exception the troops were anxious to hear about their wounded buddies and various other types of information which I gained as a result of being in the “rear area.”.  
6) ASSISTING THE COMMANDER IN SETTING A HIGH MORALE CODE.  I am of the opinion that the Viet-Nam War left a large number of “troops” with severe guilt and psychological problems.  One of the primary reasons for this was because so many broke their morale code. (In a significant number of cases this was advocated by the unit leadership personnel.) This took place not only in their personnel behavior, but also, in the manner in which they treated the enemy.   As a result of my Viet-Nam experience I became very much aware that a chaplain has a strong responsibility to assist the unit leadership in personnel in setting and establishing a morale code that brings out the best in the troop rather than the worst.  When I served as the CENTCOM chaplain (Desert Shield/Storm) I regularly addressed this issue.  
7) NON-TRADITIONAL DUTIES/MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CHAPLAIN:  There are a number of non-traditional ministries that have the potential of leading to meaningful traditional ministries and pastoral care opportunities.  For example, during my tour with the CAV Squadron in V-N the Commander requested that I be responsible for planning troop recreational events between combat missions and/or during the R&R periods of time.  Not only was this program a significant morale builder, it also had a positive impact on my relationships with the troops and ultimately, ministry.   During Desert Storm the Command was not prepared for the tons and tons of Any Service Member mail that was mailed to the troops by people throughout the nation.  I was asked by the J-1 to assist in solving the problem by having chaplains “carry the mail” when possible.  Consequently, the chaplains delivered tons of mail, packages, etc.  In my opinion, it provided great assistance to the command, increased morale, and enhanced the relationship between the unit and the chaplain….a humanitarian type of ministry that had the potential of enhancing traditional ministries.
8) TRADITIONAL COMBAT (worship and Liturgical) MINISTRIES:  Although the style of ministry in a combat setting is much different than in a Garrison setting, it is still of great importance to conduct worship and liturgical (serving the sacrament, conducting baptisms) ministries.  One of the lessons learned is to conduct worship services on a smaller scale.   It is not unusual, in a combat environment, to conduct worship services for 2 to 5,6, or 7 people.  Serving the sacrament/Lord’s Supper is very important to many individuals during combat since many of us believe the sacrament is for “believers” it was an appropriate time to communicate the Gospel  of Grace to the “troops.”
9) EVANGELISM:  The ministry of Evangelism is a bit controversial within the Chaplain Corps.  However, for an evangelical chaplain who believes he/she is called to be an instrument in communicating the Gospel of Grace to service members and assist them in coming to faith in Jesus Christ, combat ministry provides numerous opportunities.  It has been my observations that people often reject the conviction of the Holy Spirit until they are confronted with an experience that is beyond their personal control.  Combat often causes the service member to come to terms with his/her own immortality.  Consequently, ministry of presence and chaplain availability during combat operations often results in communications and discussions about eternal matters with the troops .  

Colonel Dave Peterson

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today is the 3d anniversary of Rose's Memorial Service. A sad and happy day. Sad because the process of missing Rose had already begun. Happy in the fact that Rose was no longer suffering and that she was at peace in her long arduous 10 year struggle against an insidious disease. It was a wonderful memorial to Rose: several spoke mostly of Rose's courage which was enormous, a couple of her High School and neighborhood buds told about growing up, and then a few others, some from her longtime support group, extemporaneously shared their memories. We celebrated. It was a good day.

Friday, November 11, 2011


With a national epidemic of Americans taking their own lives, especially among soldiers and teenagers, this is a subject that needs visiting with some relatively degree of a different insight. Here's what I have to offer: I recently attended a Memorial Service--church packed. Overwhelming sadness at the loss of a vibrant teenager.  I don't want to say typical Catholic service but mostly so.  Lasted almost three hours that I would have cut down to 45 minutes. Songs, good music and a choir from the youngster's High School. The priest gave a sermonette where we basically learned how much the young victim and her family had been involved in the Parish. Then her Dad, long time gone from the family, I think, gave some comments. Then a family friend detailed lots of activity with the yoingster, barely sixteen.   The last speaker told a moving story about how he had had an older sister who had died when he was very young. His family erased her memory. No pictures or anything anywhere to be found. And, as a sixty year old man with his parents gone, he decided that he wanted to get to know his sister. After much research, he found her grave in a sea of tombstones, unattended and uncared for. He righted that, of course. His point was that we need to keep  memories alive and remember the total person's life and just not this ending. (With her taking her life) 

There are those who think Catholics glorify the afterlife so teenagers think of it as a way out.  I don't think so and believe my own theory is probably closer to being correct: a kid does a rash and crazy/stupid thing (momentarily goes crazy). I think more than anything else, it is personality. 

Don't want to be giving psychology 101 but on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I would guess for the youngster, her personality type is ESFJ (lots of research on this) who are basically extraverts, sensing (hands on) feeling and judging--these are Jungian terms. Jung basically said that we are born with a particular personality and there really is nothing to do about it. It doesn't mean we can't change but it means that understanding personality enables us to effect change if need be. 

From what I observed and happened at the service, I think she had this type of personality: servant, doing for others.  ESFJs are hurt by indifference to their efforts, however and the perceived hurt is greater than for most. ESFJs pay way too much attention to what people think, especially about social skills. As the late Albert Ellis and whom I called my mentor use to say, "nothing is worse that living your life by "shoulds." You should do this. You shouldn't that. 

I do think that what makes suicide so tragic is that if parents can get kids who might be prone to such desperation, past it, they will be OK. Unfortunately, if a kid attempts and is successful, there is no chaning their minds. It is a kind of temporary thing (being crazy) which becomes permanent. If a parent can recognize this great tendency to please, the need to be liked, pressures that are internalized, maybe they can be there. Unfortunately, the greatest parent, the one on top of everything, often simply can't prevent it. 

In a service like the Memorial, I always asked myself, is this helpful? To me, not really but to others, maybe. Few tell the truth or relate their real feelings in such a tragedy, plus there is such a range of emotion. Part of it has to be anger which in my experience usually goes unexpressed.  

God bless us all. 
Homeless Vets Fellowship. I was flipping through the channels one night this week and saw this extensive program on public TV about homeless vets. The actual place, Homes Vets Fellowship is am actual program in Utah. I've been a little skeptical and downright critical over the years about the plight of homeless vets but may be changing my mind. My view always before is that homeless vets have lots of issues and a roof over their heads may be down the food chain: drug problems, mental illness, relational issues are closer to it. My views have been reinforced with a volunteer stint I did once with the premier vets organization, I think, Swords to Plowshares. Most have simply wasted their lives. Want to reinforce that idea, spend a few hours at a VA hospital. At VA, the vets who seem to have the most trouble are the Vietnam vets.

Without reinforcing my views, I want to recount mostly my observation on this program. The interviews were really extensive with the vets themselves.  The vets told about their lives since Vietnam and many could fit the criteria that my wife puts on it, "they were messed up before Vietnam and the war exasperated it." Maybe. And, these vets freely admitted it, if that is in fact, the case which I'm not so quick to say since I've watched the program. One commented on the fact that being with other vets made a difference. There's something about combat that creates bonding. Other vets "get it." They understand. Others talked about what happened when they came home, i.e.,  blamed for the war. No reentry. One vet related this fascinating story about literally killing a Viet Cong soldier the day before he left Vietnam. He was at his base camp when he saw a Viet Cong trying to slip under the consentina wire (jagged, needle like wire that is designed to seriously maim those trying to negotiate it) he emptied his M16 into him. The very next day he was sitting at his parents table. One vet gave this commentary: you take an 18 year old kid, send him to Vietnam to kill and expect him to come home as a normal human being. GIVE ME A BREAK. Vietnam vets, more than any other veteran population has remained skeptical of government services and VA in particular. One vet said something very typical, "it was 25 years before I went to VA and only because I was desperate.

After watching the program, here is where I am. Our government can never repay vets (especially combat vets) for what they've taken from them. Consequently, any benefit they get, they more than deserve. Thanks to all those throughout America who are attempting to help these lost vets.
PENN STATE. I think they have overreacted. Get this. An accusation is made against a long time employee and friend. It is horrendous. You are shocked. You don't know what to do. You wait a day to tell your boss. What the f..k!! Anyone I know would have done the same thing. I am not a big fan of Joe, really. The f..ker should have retired years ago. And, crimes against kids have to be the worst. A predator should be strung up and have his testicles removed. That being said, the last time I looked, this is America where you are innocent until proven guilty. Even in PA!!! 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


To be perfectly honest, I don't think they are as happy to have us as you might think. This is not criticism of them but they didn't quite seem all that happy we were there. (I was very generous with the offering and especially the Uganda project: DeLONE gave them a hundred
bucks I think). I tried to work the crowd and got very little response. 

Sorry to hear that the congregation wasn't too friendly.   That bothers me but not sure what I can do..However, I am going to mention that to the Session....think they should know.

No worry about congregation. We are a bunch of strangers and it is a perception thing. The question, Dave, is whether we even need to go to church or not. DeLONE wolf is the only one of that group that ever goes. I rarely go to church and it is for the reason we are discussing here. When I go, usually I feel worse when I come out than I did when I went in and it is precisely for the reason of yesterday. The preacher and the congregation are as good as a small church in a small community can be. They don't need some guy coming in like me critiquing the service which I can't help if I go, i. e., the preacher is prancing around like he is on TV, trying to be smart, he's overweight. The service is OK but the guy reading the Scripture wants to preach himself and the youngster is reading a difficult Old Testament passage which has to do with Abraham passing his wife off as his sister and King Abimelech marrying her and God getting ticked off. Please! Why would we have some kid to read that? The congregation Is good but we are a bunch of interlopers who just came to eat, plus maybe we should not be hunting on Sunday desecrating the sabbath. The preacher probably got on me because he sensed that I wasn't paying attention and was writing in my DayTimer or he might have remembered me from before. He gets credit for catching me although calling it to everybody's attention was not so "cool." but it is not like a thing that is important at all. 

I have found that people in small rural communities often come off as
"unfriendly" to visitors/guests.  In fact, visitors that come to the Church
where Sandy and I attend have told me several times that "this is an
unfriendly Church."  I don't know all the reasons, but I have concluded that
there are a couple of reasons.

1)  People that grow up in rural communities primarily associate with
family/extended family; people with whom they grew up such as neighbors,
church members (normally few in number)  Consequently, they sit, talk, and
eat with the people that they have been sitting with, talking with, and
eating with for the last "hundred" yrs.

2)  Because they have had limited exposure to "outsiders", meaning people
from outside the community, they have a lack of confidence in meeting and
visiting with "strangers."  

3)  Residents are comfortable talking about the weather; the shortage or
abundance of rain; the winters, etc..I notice that people in the Dakotas
talk about the weather like people in big cities talk about the
traffic...meaning that seems to be the primary subjects.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Interesting. I have always been a tither, most of the time to the church. It is one of those things that I was raised to do even when times were lean. My Dad was convinced that God would zap you if you didn't tithe and he was not even a regular church goer. The only thing he was more strict sbout was support of the Jews.  

Now, that I'm somewhat slack on going to church, I mostly do what you are doing. I am fairly generous to Jackie's church as they promote a strong Palestinian ministry. I have about a half dozen causes that I give to and actually seek out special things. One of my best ones is this coffee house run by these two gay guys. I would go in weekly and invariably a class of developmentally disabled kids and adults would come in with their teacher. They would take up half the tables and never buy anything. I started giving John and Art what we would expect them to buy if they ever did. My thoughts were that this unusual generosity (letting these kids have a place for an hour or do a day) should not go unrewarded. I give to beggars, bums, homeless, various sorts of street people, i. e., musicians, etc. I always operate with the Augustinian principle, "since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection to you."

Quick war story. When I was a civilian pastor, I was amazed at how little people gave. The Church never had money issues. They didn't owe any money and relatively speaking, they paid me almost next to nothing which was good as I said or did anything I wanted with the idea that they could fire me and I could care less. Lots of freedom in that attitude. But, we did have a kind of pledge week and one Sunday afternoon, I went into the office for something and the treasurer had left the pledge sheet out and I stupidly looked at it. I was appalled. We had at least six or eight bigtime millionaires (natural gas money) in the church. They pledged like a dollar a week. We had a couple of hundred families in the church. It was astounding. Jackie and I were by far the biggest givers to the church. In some ways, I wish I had known this earlier as I would have tried to help the church develop a philosophy of giving (which I think is important for all of us). Oh well. Thanks for giving me this chance to share.  

Friday, August 12, 2011


Let's face it, the Republican party is the party of the rich.  Jerry.


Oops!  Guess I am in the wrong party.  Jerry, I bet you are the richest member of 10 chaps, and you don’t seem to have a clue about the significance of the financial mess we have drifted into over the years.  In an earlier post you said something like, “not really interested, too complicated.”  I am afraid that our debt crisis will have a devastating effect on our country, as ugly as the crash in 1929.  So many places have closed down around here, and things seem to be getting worse.  Gas prices are falling again, mainly because so many citizens can’t afford to drive their cars.  I am worried about the direction of our country, and I don’t like the feeling.

 I am beginning to think I am a liberal democrat.  I want to  make Social Security more healthy and would like to have a  responsive health care system. 

I don’t even make half of what you talk about and I think I am in great shape.   But I still think that giving away money to families from cradle to grave (unless they  are really disabled) is counterproductive.  So I guess I won’t be a good Democrat after all.  And I am not a good Republican..

I must be a man without a party.   Am I anathema to the system?  I do listen to public radio, cnn,  family talk radio and like the Mike Huckabee program.

Guess I am just a died in the wool country hick.   Are we a dying breed? Glad to have you as an active friend.  Gives me someone to talk with that won’t get Mad and run away.




Clyde, I think that you have some good programs and are doing good work. I do think that most out there probably listen to a little too much Fox News. Anybody who makes $250,000 or over should pay more taxes. They would not be wealthy if they didn't live in this great country and had the opportunity to make this enormous wealth. Only makes sense that they should pay more.The rich shouldn't have these big tax cuts, as well as corporations making billions. Let's face it, the Republican party is the party of the rich. They protect them and are the best at spin as they convince smart, aware citizens like yourself that it is the fault of those awful democrats who want to protect things like social security and medicare. We could easily solve much of our unemployment now with government programs. We are the only country that can do it. The defit is a red herring in my view. {{{{{{{{Jerry}}}}}}}}



Let's face it, the Republican party is the party of the rich.  Jda

Oops!  Guess I am in the wrong party.  I bet you are the richest member of 10 chaps, and you don’t seem to have a clue about the significance of the financial mess we have drifted into over the years.  In an earlier post you said something like, “not really interested, too complicated.”  I am afraid that our debt crisis will have a devastating effect on our country, as ugly as the crash in 1929.  So many places have closed down around here, and things seem to be getting worse.  Gas prices are falling again, mainly because so many citizens can’t afford to drive their cars.  I am worried about the direction of our country, and I don’t like the feeling.  LH
 I am beginning to think I am a liberal democrat.  I want to  make Social Security more healthy and would like to have a  responsive health care system. 

I don’t even make half of what you talk about and I think I am in great shape.   But I still think that giving away money to families from cradle to grave (unless they  are really disabled) is counterproductive.  So I guess I won’t be a good Democrat after all.  And I am not a good Republican..

I must be a man without a party.   Am I anathema to the system?  I do listen to public radio, cnn,  family talk radio and like the Mike Huckabee program.

Guess I am just a died in the wool country hick.   Are we a dying breed? Glad to have you as an active friend.  Gives me someone to talk with that won’t get Mad and run away. CN

 I think that you have some good programs and are doing good work (Churches I'n his area). I do think that most out there probably listen to a little too much Fox News. Anybody who makes $250,000 or over should pay more taxes. They would not be wealthy if they didn't live in this great country and had the opportunity to make this enormous wealth. Only makes sense that they should pay more.The rich shouldn't have these big tax cuts, as well as corporations making billions. Let's face it, the Republican party is the party of the rich. They protect them and are the best at spin as they convince smart, aware citizens like yourself that it is the fault of those awful democrats who want to protect things like social security and medicare. We could easily solve much of our unemployment now with government programs. We are the only country that can do it. The deficit is a red herring in my view. jda

***The 10 chaps is an email group of retired military chaplains. Their dialogue is often very representative of what Americans think. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Last night on Sixty Minutes, there was a segment on "homeless" vets. It was hard to watch and I don't know how I feel about it all. I think here is how I see it. All combat vets experience difficulty coming home from war. It is what war is. You get it in your psyche and it never gets out. Does it make you become an addict. No, not really. Does it contribute usually to bad decisions which in turn put vets on the "street?" Does the country owe vets anything special. Simply, they do. It is part of the unspoken commitment of the country to vets. The episode last night proved that we're not doing enough. I talk to people all the time about checking in with the VA hospital. Get signed up for medical, even if you don't need it. It is a good backup sustem and they owe you and could never repay you for what your sacrifices have been. 

I remerber the day like it was yesterday. B Company had just had this gosh awful firefight. It went on for what seemed like forever. In actuality, it only lasted a day. We had sustained about a dozen KIAs (kiiled in action) with about twice that many badly wounded.
I had just left the company when it started. Probably a company sized unit of NVA (North Vietnam Army). They were regulars, not guys in black pajamas.I took off to Phu Bai to the hospital to see my troops. They were really banged up. I was always pretty crushed after I saw them and knew that the grim reaper would probably claim a few more and if not, some would lose arms and legs and sight. War was a sorry business.And for me, by this time in my tour, I knew the war was bullshit. I had been reading stuff and simply had to do everything in my power to suppress my feelings to the Higher Ups. They were still doing what they do, bullshit to me but to the ones I was exposed to, I could deal with it. They were mostly just doing their jobs I guess. I was down to a double digit midget and figured I coud do this standing on my head.I was the chaplain, the poor man's psychiatrist and needed to focus on my own misssion of being the chaplain. I did the religious stuff. For men at war, ritual is important. And, I could accept the "Foxhole Religion" idea. They could sort it all out after the war.
I was bone tired and walked outside, not really outside but these mobile hospitals were set up in such a way, they snaked in all kinds of directions with kind of hubs which were like a bunch of intersecting hallways. Most of the rime, I got lost but this time for some reason, I found myself at the right spot. Across from the hospital was the Chaplain's office and my absolute best friend, Father Vince. I had first met him in Basic at the Chaplain's school in Brooklyn: good old Fort Hamilton. It was the Army's best kept secret. Right at the foot of the Verazano's Narrows Bridge, fabulous is all I know to describe it. To think that we were getting paid when I often felt like we should be paying someone to be in such a glorious spot.The chaplain's school's basic was suppose to teach us how to be soldiers. For most, they failed miserably. It was two or three months of a combination hell, play, study. We learned to wear the uniform, salute. I stood in front of the mirrow for hours practicing my salute. We went to the field and played war. It was at a camp in Virginia called Camp Picket. We made a joke: Camp Pickett, way down in the thicket. When we finished Basic, we were suppose to be ready to go to war.Father Vince was this "Eyetalian" and proud of it, Giamono, he would say and elongated it, Giamonooooo. We would laugh. He took me under his wing and vowed to show me anything and everything in New York. He would introduce me as a guy who hated yankees but was OK. I learned that in a big Italian family, to have a priest was a big honor. In Vince's family, besides him, a sister was a nun.
Standing in the little outside waiting room till Vince finished talking to some young troop, I made up my mind. I was quitting the war. How do you quit a war. Damn if I know. Maybe Vince had an idea. Regardless, I QUIT.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Good comments. Another thought, not wasting all the time defending. Look at what Kermit did, all that time and energy, not to mention money and the Rabbi that worked on it and was such an asshole--he and Cecil Curry followed their efforts with a book which was good as related to the constitutionality of the chaplaincy but unnessary I thought but Kermit honestly believes he saved the chaplaincy. Please!!!  But, let us not forget how valuable we are and a commander who is on top of his situation will tell you that he'll give up almost anybody before his chaplain. We are, in fact, the poor man's shrink which to me, is chaplain talk for helping soldiers in all sorts of ways, to include being their advocate. When I was a civilian pastor, I would tell people all the time: the difference in civilian clergy and a military chaplain-- the civilian clergy will say, "Sorry about your situation, I will pray for you." The military chaplain will say, "I will pray for you. Tell me what I need to help you."

Where the chief and chiefs f..k up in my opinion is that they do like nothing in promoting our efforts. They get to be chief and somehow fall into hull defolade. If we had a chief (I don't even know who the chief is) who was on top of it, they would be aggressive and everytime we had a national ceremony or a national crisis, you would see the chaplain at the right hand of the prez or whomever or at least, visible. I'll never forget running into this store owner on Chestnut, right off the Presideo (familiar to Clyde and Lamar). He kept staring at me as I was in uniform. He said, finally, what is your job in the Army? I said, "I am a chaplain." I'll shorten this, he kept going over it, what I did, etc finally he said in the place, which must have been twenty people. "Wow, everybody, this man is a chaplain. How great. I didn't know our soldiers had chaplains." I never forgot it as this guy was so blown away by it all. All of us can come up with stories but for the general public at large, we're invisible I think. 

A last thing. Tom, I don't have much confidence that the indorsing agencies will stand up much. I might be surprised but with Jim Ammerman on the other side...just kidding. 


On Jun 25, 2011, at 6:38 AM, wrote:

I give an amen to what Clyde and Lamar have already written.   Totally disagree with needing an Atheist Chaplain!   Boy can't you imagine trying to convince some Brigade Commander that their new chaplain will be an atheist!  Especially if he was either a very strong Catholic or very conservative Protestant!  You'de never get their approval!    I'm sure you guys, like I did tried my best to take care of every person in the battalion who came to me with a problem.  We helped them, no matter what their religious preference was.  Since we don't have "Atheist services why would we need an Atheist Chaplain!   Charlie
In a message dated 6/25/2011 6:27:35 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
Please check out the following:


I would be interested in your thoughts either way, whether you are willing to sign on, or if you have any reservations.



Jason Torpy
President, Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers
(202)-656-MAAF (6223)

We have received a request to sign on to the efforts to add “chaplains” for atheists and freethinkers.  What say ye?




Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chaplains on PTSD

Marv., I can't remember telling you to get a life which I'm sure I did. I apologize. At one time or another, I have mostly insulted some or all of the 10 chaps. I've often questioned why I spend time with the 10 chaps, as most are way to conservative for me. The flip side of the coin is that it would be pretty dull if maybe all thought like me. I actually don't know how I arrived at this point. One advantage I have, if you want to call it an advantage is that for the last several years I've been hanging out with a bunch of guys who don't minse words, call you on everything. I have to constantly defend my views, Christianity, values, etc. And, it's the real world, they don't a bit more care who I am, etc.,i. e., the chaplain than a man in the moon--about the best thing that's happened to me since I retired. All that to say, Marv., from my perspective, you have to do what you have to do. This is just a bunch of chaplains "shootin" the breeze, giving opinions, and in general, filling time. For me, I've got eight blogs to keep up and so good material is always appreciated. My personal feeling is that in retirement, we don't have to do the things we did on active duty, i. e., often go along. If someone has thin skin or heavy duty ego, the 10 chaps is possibly not the place to be. We've lost a couple of guys who've join us but didn't like the sort of comments that followed. I think John Scott holds the record or maybe it was Bob Ennis, made it about a week. Here's an idea.
Tom, don't know how the newsletter from NCMaf or whatever they call it, got past me but I enjoyed it. Comprehensive and very impressive, even if they put the best spin on everything. And, the article about Jim Johnson was very interesting. I really have mixed emotion about the whole PTSD thing. I don't doubt that it is real and have helped lots of guys make claims from my old unit by writing support letters. I've never thought about filing a claim but think I could. For one thing, every combat chaplain can say the same thing that Jim did. And, to be perfectly honest, I have kind of always thought things like bad memories, nightmares, etc. were simply what going to war costs us. My prediction is that every troop coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan will be filing PTSD claims. They are media savvy and won't be messing around like Vietnam vets did. They understand social networking, issues like PTSD and how to file claims. And, from my perspective, more power to them. All this to say I was a little surprised at the article about Jim Johnson. I want to read his latest book.

Monday, June 06, 2011


This is the thirtieth anniversary  of the discovery or beginning of what was called at the time, "Gay Cancer." And, with a possible 40% of the population of San Francisco being gay, we could surely expect the CITY to remember this painful time with both a commemorization and great depth of sadness.

I arrived in San Francisco during the height of the epidemic. Deaths were, for a lack of a better term, almost common place. I was assigned to be the AIDS ward (about 25 beds) chaplain at Letterman Army Medical Center on the Presideo.  Letterman at that time was a 250 bed teaching hospital and saw itself as a front runner in patient care for the soldier population, plus a huge retired military population. Letterman had been designated as the repository for HIV soldiers for the entire Pacific Rim.

The military with socially traumatic incidents like HIV positive did what they do best in such situations, they "deny." But, to the military's credit, they allowed docs or anybody to do as much or as little as they wanted. I remember distinctly a young physician (fellow) telling me, "here is a good chance to learn something about a disease that nobody knows anything about." (What we needed was a TV character like "House," totally unbelievable but the program always has exotic diseases as the docs called them. They are mysteries anHpuse, of course, solves them).  But, the military treated the patients the best they could and discharged them. At that time, AIDS was almost a hundred percent associated with the gay community.

I had some pretty sad experiences during my involvement. Two stick out. A patient said to me, "Chaplain, we can't find a place to have a memorial for a friend, any chance we could use the chapel?" Without thinking, I said, "Sure." Later on I thought, 'damn, I'm going to get my ass in a sling for this.' Sure enough, somebody ratted me out and I received a memo from the XO (second in command) that the chapel was not to be used without ecpressed permission of the Commander. The Secretary brought the memo to me and said, something like, "who should I call to cancel out tonight's memorial." I had to think on my feet here. (I discovered  down the road that she is the one who had perpetrated the drama) No, I'll take care of it."
I did nothing. At the services which were very moving, I will have to admit that I had somewhat of a strange feeling. I remember it like yesterday. Every single person I'n the service was male. Maybe 200 males, not a single female.

The other experience, among many, was equally sad. This one guy, a young sergeant and his pardner were the nicest two you could imagine. They exuded kindness. My earthy demeanor surely could have used some of their nature. They had been together a few years. I never pried and if something came out in the course of the experience, I filed it away. These guys were funny, well read, delightful in every way. One day on my rounds, I encountered the mother and father of one of them. I actually showed them to the room. Their son was very sick. The situation was very strained. Obviously the parents didn't approve of what they called they called, the "homosexual environment." I didn't do a good job of interacting with the parents and could probly psychobabble why. In what seemed lile no time, a their son died. They claimed his body, made arrangements for him to be shipped back to Minnesota and left. A couple of days later, the pardner came to see me. He relayed a story that made me profoundly sad. The parents were Lutheran, basically wete estranged from their son and did not accept the pardner. He was heartbroken. I felt so bad. Why the deceased did not leave some sort of will or detail arrangements,  I don't know. Very, very sad.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The rapture was supposed to occur at 6 PM- did I miss it?  I am assuming it did not happen.

I think the Rapture has begun.  About 10 minutes ago I saw a group of people at the bus stop and now they are all go

They must have been Southern Baptists.  Victoria

Can you believe the "press" this got. Unfortunately the fallout is that "nonbelievers" lump us all in together as non-thinkers and overall hurts the cause of Christ I believe. But, for fundamentalists, you couldn't dent their absurdity with anything, least of all Scripture. Oh well, gave preachers lots of good sermon topics. Hope all is well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

TWO WARS by Nate Self

After getting you email about going mostly to electronic books, I purchased a Kindle, the kind that seems to always be on-line, and tried it out by first downloading a sample of It Took Heroes. Then after evaluating the reading and sound quality, I downloaded for free the book Two Wars by Nate Self, the ranger lieutenant that led the effort to recover the Seal who fell from the back of a helicopter early during the war in Afghanstan. Self wrote a lot about chaplain support and his own faith, and then of his PTSD following the all-day fight above 10k feet and after he resigned his West Point-attained commission.  Two Wars is well written and offers lots of insight to the wars of the 21st century, and of the pros and cons of training and fighting with people one knows well, as opposed to the individual replacement we knew in Vietnam.  The telling of Self’s PTSD and faith struggles was very hard to read, and left me really sad for a while.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Jerry, sorry for the rant and perhaps over the top comments I made in my last email to you. I find myself getting so feed up with the crooked politicains in all aspects of the goverenment and I work myself up into a furious rage. What has piled on top of me today is the fact we gave Pakistan 18.5 billion dollars and they knowingly hid Bin Ladin for at least 5 years and perhaps 6. We are going to give them 3 billion more in 2011 and 3billion more in just isn't right........thanks......kc. How is your brother doing?....I am heading up to NJ to see my mom for Mothers Day, she will ne 92 in July. I really don't care for the Northeast, bad roads, to much traffic, to many people and they all seem to be concerned only about themselves...... it's all me-me-me, well thanks again...kc

KC, no sweat. I'm your chaplain. But, not over the top. I feel pretty much the same way. Yeah, we believe the Pakies weren't complicity in shielding Ben Laden. Like we believe Donald Trump isn't an egomaniac. For some weird reason, politics is so corrupting. What gets me more than anything is the fact tjat rarely does any politician answer a direct question? Spin is the order of the day. 

Have a safe trip to see your Mom. I remember last year you went. A nice thing. I can't remember, do you have brothers and sisters? Leaving out in the morning for Reno for the 3d platoon, Delta Company, get together. Actually there's going to be a half dozen or less. You would probably remember some of these guys. One is Warren Chan, the only Asian that I remember in the Byattalion. He was Captain Holland's RTO. As I'm sure I've said before, not much into reunions but will have fun, driving up today and back tomorrow. God bless. Always good to hear. Be careful. 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

I understand exactly what you're saying Jerry. It was unfortunately and to a disgustingly large extent, an on-going game of "You take care of me and I'll take care of you." 

When the 1/501 BN CDR was awarded the SS at his Sep '69 change of command ceremony, I was at LZ Sally, as XO of A Co. I sent the requisite 10 man detachment to the ceremony under command of the Supply Sergeant. 

The BN XO, a good guy, immediately came to the orderly room to find out why I wasn't in charge. I told him I knew--because I was there in the A Shau when the event supposedly occurred, that it was 100% bogus and that the fool had done nothing to deserve any medal, any time. The Major said "OK" and walked out.

I just want my guys, the ones who I know deserved this recognition, to step forward and I know you feel the same way.

Good to hear from you; take care and all the best.


On Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 1:19 PM, wrote:
Don, it is always good to hear from you. Thanks for thinking of me with the Silver Star project. I have some definite ideas about awards and want to share them out of my respect for you and appreciation.
And, most of it may pretty cavalier but don't mean it to be. I put in lots of guys for awards when I was in Vietnam. And, the way I got started doing it came about is a bit of a story in itself: once I was in the rear area at Sally. At that time, I'd been in Vietnam about three months, I saw the 2/501st in formation getting awards which seemed to be every other day. I wondered why our troops never got awards. The Adjutant said the commander had said we are not just giving out awards unless it is really spectacular, whatever that might be. Anyway, the moment he left, I had a stack of recommendations lined up for our guys to get awards and for my entire time, I kept it up. This war story is merely I guess to express how I feel about awards. Those that really deserved them often never got 'em and others who didn't were rewarded. This may sound a little like sour grapes but don't mean it to be. Myself and a couple of others were impacted with silver stars in the hospital at Phu Bai by General Barsoni who was the 101st Commander at that time. I was so green in a way, I didn't have a clue what it meant and didn't even know that it was anything until I left to go home and there was the award. All I had done, along with a couple of others, is pull some of our guys who were hit out of the line of fire when we were in this big firefight. I never felt like I deserved it. But, I wore it with pride as much of my active duty time was during those years when Vietnam wasn't something anybody talked about but I was always proud to have served. Since I've been retired, there have been several times I've helped guys get their awards. So, certainly not against the SS project but don't have much energy for it either as I'm appreciative of all soldiers who served in Vietnam and the ones who really deserve our recognition are those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. For most of us and you are one of them, everyday is a gift and one we were never promised. God bless. {{{{{{Jerry}}}}}}



I would thank God that we were spared but realize that Thousands were not spared.
Seems a little like saying somehow God likes us a little better and I know that is not true.
Some things I have not gotten a handle on in my 50+ years as a minister.

CN, retired chaplain , in reacting to devastating tornadoes tjat devastated so many I'n his native state of Alabama.


My idea and which I even do now is give out a fair amount of money, well for an average person anyway;  but, my experience has been if you run across someone in need, $20 or $40 or fifty or a hundred dollars might not have much meaning to us but to someone on the edge, it is "found money" and makes a little difference. Here's an example of my thinking, my grandson and I were at this little park at Pier 39 last week. He is almost three running around--this little kid, maybe twelve, just jabbering away. I'm being a little cautious as crazies are everywhere and I don't want people to think I'm one of them; this is a stranger kid but I talk to her while watching James Raz, my grandson. She tellse they are in San Francisco because she won a contest in the state on history something. Not totally sure of all the details. San Francisco was the prize. I think they were from San Diego. "What was your history project?", I asked her. Her grandfather was a Marine on Iwo Jima and she collected old photos, letters, created this historical display. It won the contest. Needless to say I was impressed. The father came over. We chatted. I said to him, I am so proud of your daughter. Would you feel insulted or badly if I gave her a few dollars with which she can buy something special. He allowed how it was not nessary. "I know but I would like to do this as it is the only thing I can do to show my appreciation." I gave her my fifty dollar bill that I always keep for emegencies. In my thinking, this 50 bucks was nothing or little to me but to them, it was fifty dollars they would not have had. Did I feel good? Sure. (You could psychobabble that to death.)  Was it my need to do it more than their need to have it?  Sure.  I'm just thankful I can. Other than my tithe, I rarely give other than to individuals. Well, that's not totally true now that I'm thinking about it. But, it is a lot. I sound like I'm Warren Buffett or something. I'm not but have ended up at this stage of life with more disposalable income than I deserve.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011



Don, so great hearing. And, I know that it meant lots to Jimmy to hear from you. Even though it has been so many years since Danny's death, the pain is still there and real. Jimmy has done so very much to keep Danny's memory alive.

Thank you for your testimony. War is a tough time and tests us all in so many ways. I am sure that God doesn't mind it when we are struggling. I'm still involved with lots of our guys; in fact, the first part of next month, Lieutenant Roach and a few of us are getting together in Reno.

Where are you? What has been going on with you all these years? I wrote a memoir about my experience in Vietnam, I want to send you a copy. Send me your address.

God bless and welcome home to you. Amazing how Vietnam is such a part of our existence probably that way with all combat soldiers, to include all those serving now. I just ordered an album off iTunes from Billy Bang. I read about him in Sunday's NY Times and how Vietnam so affected all of his life. He went on to become a concert violinist.




Don, so glad to get your wonderful testimony. It brought tears to my eyes, especially about your first wife and her cancer. And, you surely stepped up the plate. My volunteer job is that I am very involved with the UCSF Cancer Center. I got into it when I began to drive Rose, who worked with my wife, for her chemo treatments. She was diagnosed at 30 and died just a month shy of her 41st birthday. For about two years, I would drive her and watched her die slowly and so when you were recounting your story, I was right there. I thought that I knew some really brave soldiers in the Nam, many just like yourself; but they didn't come anywhere close to Rose and your wife. In fact for over three years now, I have been trying to do a book about Rose's bravery. I actually, at her suggestion, kept a blog for the time I was with her; but, it has been the most difficult thing I've ever tried to do. My own grief keeps intruding. I have almost abandoned the project several times but am keeping at it.

God richly bless you. So glad to be back in contact, will put your book in the mail today. And, sounds like you have PTSD (think all of us do to a degree)--one of the things I've tried to do over the last several years is encourage those like yourself to file a claim, if you haven't. God bless. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Jerry}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}})) Thanks for sharing the story of the radio.


As adjunct faculty for a couple of universities, I find a fair amount of students who really have no clue on how to write a good paper. I tell them I have a simple answer for them, that it is something they can use without electricity, and they will be thankful in the years to come that they listened to me. When they ask what it is, I tell them, “You must turn off your TV and all electronic devices and visit your nearest library, get a card, and use it regularly.”

I dropped out of school in the eleventh grade with straight “F’s” … then in the Army I had a chaplain take an interest in me and he got me reading. He told me that one of the key’s to being successful in life is learn how to communicate in writing. He said that my superiors may never meet me in person, but that when I write something, those same superiors will be reading it and making a judgment about who and what I am. All from that one paper (or memo) I wrote. You know what? He was right! The chaplain arranged for me to have the day off, gave me a list of classics that I should have read in junior high and high school, and sent me to the base library. When I started reading, I found a world that I never knew existed, and I have been hooked ever since. I may not know all the parts of speech as well as I should, but just by the reading that I have done all these years, I can quickly recognize a good sentence as to a poor one. I can now write a good paper (or Memo), and that has gotten me all the way through graduate school and landing me many, many promotions throughout my career. Reading good books, to me, is one of the most important tools for success!!!


Dan, you didn't embellish, rather told a good story. Thanks. In some ways, the story reminds me of my seminary professor, Dr Boyce. He was 77 and the seminary was forcing his retirement. We organized and came up with a petition, with every student, all seventeen of us, signing. We then presented it to the trustees requesting he stay. I will never forget the day after the decision was made by the trustees that he could teach as long as he wanted. He was so touched by our gesture. The class was called Wisdom Literature, mainly the Old Testament. He could make it come alive because he turned it all into stories. Something like, Elisha walked with God. Dr. Boyce would say, "Here's the way it went. God and Elisha are walking along, "shootin the breeze" and God says to Elisha, 'Look, we are closer to my house than yours, come on over.' "


Yes, it is a composite story of a few events which most is true in my mind.

Hey, I have been reading Rob Bell's book "Love Wins" and page after page rings so very true in what I have always felt to be God's view on man's redemption.

Universalism is a bad word in the Christian community and yet, I always thought it strange that God would create all these people and only get a 10-20 percent return on His investment - every page is wonderfully written with questions I always thought but knew, if asked, I'd find myself without a church. Great stuff!


Will check this out. I'm going to start thinking you have channeled Dr Boyce. "Return on His investment" is exactly something he would say. Makes me smile. One of the things I've been thinking lots lately are ideas surrounding the "next life." Because of my great love of women, mostly, well not only mostly but entirely fantasy. And, of course, fantasy with no basis in reality. But, thinking of a "next life" thing. Maybe heaven or heavens where some of the fantasy might become reality. Now, I know the conventional answers but the same thing with universality, doesn't make sense to me that God's return would be so little. So, maybe the next life could be something less than conventionally. What think?

I hang out with a bunch of guys for breakfast two or three times a week who are unconventional to the max. They either have no or little faith, claim to be atheists, agnostics, lapsed Catholics, etc. They are constantly challenging my usually conventional ideas and quotes from the synoptic gospels. Impossible not to "think" as these guys and one female have enormous experience and education and consider themselves very enlightened: a Buddhist or two thrown in. And, an MD, who spent a year with some guru in India. See what I mean. One recent discussion had to do with conversion. I was trying to explain to them, from my perspective, in Christianity, what makes it different is that at some point, we experience conversion: going in one direction, accepting Christ and immediately making a change and heading in an opposite direction. Needless to say, that didn't fly with them. I tried to compare it to Islam. With Islam, you can merely declare you are a Muslim. And, you are a Muslim and start following the rules. Not so with Christianity, you experience a conversion and all are different; still small voice for some or Paul's Damascus road experience for others. They challenge everything, however, keeps me on my toes and this group is one of the best things that has happened to me since retirement.


That is what makes you a "follower of Christ" in the true sense. Jesus would hang out with these guys too! And those guys would want Him there - just as they would miss you being absent from your group.

On Saturday, prior to graduation, we are having breakfast at our faculty meeting, and I am sitting with my good friend Cyndy, "the lesbian married to another woman." We are having a great time talking and laughing and carrying on. Someone later asked, "Is that your wife?"

I had to chuckle. They figured we were "together" because they could see we enjoyed one another's company.

This is the true Jesus story to me - being in the world - but having an internal mindset that allows us to engage folks where they are - not being threatened in our own faith - and they enjoy our "religious" perspective because they know we are NOT trying to always fix them - just love them!

I think you would REALLY enjoy Rob Bell's thoughts. It is a great book, Jerry. And I think you may be closer, as Jesus would say, "To the kingdom of Heaven" than those who do not have imaginations and feelings about how this life is much to do with the next.

I still believe Jesus is the only way, but His way will be realized by all - in this life, or the next.

The love chapter (1 Cor 13) says, "Love never ends" The fundamentalist says, "God only loves us in this life, and once you die, You're FUCKED!!!" (That is my way of saying it, not Rob Belly.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Just got back from NC. My brother is seriously ill and so went back to spend a little time with him. He is pretty much wasting away, 180 down to 120 pounds. Chronic lung disease which causes internal bleeding They all want me to move back and direct traffic. And I might for awhile, have to think about it. Getting older has been no fun for him (maybe not for any of us). I surely wish that he would "hit the road." It is what he wants. He misses the drives to the beach, the big family meals he can no longer cook, his "turns" (as he calls them) around the golf course that he walked for hours. So, since he can't do those things among many, his view is "time to go." I surely get it.

His story is almost a novel. He had been divorced for years, dating regularly one or two friends, enjoying himself. Had made lots of money in various ways, mostly legal. Consequently, life is moving along. He meets this woman, very attractive and super aggressive: so much so that my older brother and I try to intervene. She out maneuvers us and snares our brother. They have a good time, travel lots. She has massive stroke, later on aneurism, becomes total invalid. The kicker: it is discovered that she lied about her age and is 10 years older than my brother. When you are 40 and your mate is fifty, not such a big deal but when you are 70 and your mate is 80, a big deal. My brother stepped up to the plate, however, and has been her primary caretaker for the last several years. He's had lots of help but still, has taken it's toll. Pretty sad.

My brother is an example of the aging process and the part we must play in it. When I was a chaplain at Letterman Army Medical Center when it was a "full blown" teaching hospital, a boss once said to me, "we must take an active role in our health care." By this, he meant every aspect of our lives. I agree and am constantly reading and trying to figure out lifestyle issues as I get older. I've just read two books that are terrific: The Longevity Project. Deals with this eight decade study about longevity. My nephew gave it to me. Really good book. I love this one aspect. Women who have regular orgasms live longer. I'm serious, based on this study. The second one, "Never Say Die," is one of the best books I've ever read. Based on how the popular culture has sold us a bill of goods about aging. The new forty is not the eighty. Aging is no "day at the beach." Growing older based on how long we live is a big time issue. I agree and have always believed that if we live to the age of 80 or ninety, get a disease quickly and die is a goal, healthy to then but can't reverse aging. BS to think we can. Book provoked long discussion between my wife and me who thinks I am preoccupied with issues of death. I don't think so, just realistic.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


When you are in a bad situation, several choices can be made. None easy or good. What makes the scene especially bad are kids and lack of way to support oneself really well. But, mostly has to do with personality. For some people with particular type natures, so hard to make a personal decision.
What might be the case is the "other party" may really be unhappy. Ideal thing would be for an admittance to the fact and agree to move out. Maybe if it was presented, might be waiting for a way out. If both are truly unhappy. I don't mean just getting one of your feelings hurt but can hardly stand to be in the same room, feel constantly rejected or angry or sad, then past time for action.
First question to asked: is there absolutely anything that I am doing that exacerbates the situation which I can stop. If honest and the answer is no, then what to do! Also, have you tried everything? For instance, is involvement in other areas hurting, even emotional or intimacy issues? If so, why not stop? Will it make a difference if emotional needs, even on small basis, were met somewhere else? Does it make difference? Is there anything for you to do? If you were to give up career and stay home, would this help? What about a permanent job with more regular money coming in? What about kids. Are they being hurt. Are they being involved and asked to take sides?
If you plan to confront which I doubt or have trouble expressing your thoughts or get confused or emotional, write out.
"Obviously, things are not going well with us. You seem to resent me and are angry 24/7 it seems and I don't understand. I try my best but nothing seems to please you. If you would tell me what you want, maybe that would help. But, we have to deal with these things as it is no way for either of us to live. Would you like to move out? We can't have it hurting the children. It is nor fair to them to be around us in our misery. "

A last thing and nothing new: nothing is a hundred percent. Relationships are really tough, especially where there are personality issues. If your mental health is not impaired, maybe it is a matter of sucking it up and setting up what you need too. Good luck and God bless you.


I got to thinking how I wanted it done. Cremated, ashes to several friends who might want them and then to spread at maybe three or four places: Ocean Beach, Presideo, my home town, then at the National Cemetery at Fort Leavenworth. All symbolic but nice thoughts.

About a month before Rose died, she asked several, including myself, if we wanted any of her ashes. Of course and when I ever get this book done, I'm going to spread them at Ocean Beach where we always were going to go. It was a ritual. When we were headed to treatment she would say, "today let's ride down to Ocean Beach." Then when the day was over, she'd say, "would you mind if we skipped the beach today."