Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Amazing Day in Church

This morning, Pentecost Sunday, started for me in Ottawa, where I was attending a Canadian Forces chaplains' function. A colleague suggested we attend a nearby Anglican church, St. George's, since the rector is the brother of our chaplain team lead at Greenwood.

I can only say that the Holy Spirit blew my socks off this morning. St. George's Church is a lovely old building on Metcalfe Street, not far from Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa.

The service was wonderfully chaotic and totally comfortable, as if I was attending a large house church. The eucharist was clearly from the Book of Alternative Service, though the prayer after communion was the wonderful thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer. Music was blended - a dynamic praise band and some good modern worship songs mixed with an offertory hymn on the lovely pipe organ. The folks are welcoming, and there were an astonishing number of young families present, at least a dozen. While the church wasn't packed, it was comfortable full. The sermon by Fr. David Crawley was heartfelt and solid, and the highpoint was an energetic passage of a large tie-died style Pentecost flame banner, passed repeatedly over the heads of all in the church by willing and upraised hands. St. |George's website is found here.

St. George's has chosen to affiliate with the conservative Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) ,rather than with the Anglican Church of Canada. Prayers were asked during the service this morning for ANiC churches currently engaged in litigation over their buildings, and prayers were also said for the ACC bishops litigating against these churches, which I found quite generous. I have no knowledge at present of how legal relations are between St. George's and the ACC's Diocese of Ottawa. While this post is not meant as an endorsement of ANiC, I certainly felt that God was doing something wonderful in this urban church where so many other downtown churches are closed or struggling. I ask your prayers for the people of St. George's Ottawa and for healing and reconciliation in the Anglican Communion.

A US Marine Fights PTSD

Wounded Warrior Diaries: Marine Uses ‘Real Warriors’ to Help Others
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2009 – A Marine who returned home from his second deployment from Iraq knew that “something was definitely wrong” with him.

Marine Corps Sgt. Josh Hopper was wounded in Iraq, and later sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder. He now encourages other servicemembers to do the same.

“It really didn’t start setting in on me until I was back three or four months,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Josh Hopper, assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 at Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. “It probably took me about nine months after I returned from Iraq to get help, [which] is why I ended up being a chronic case of [post-traumatic stress disorder], because I let it go too long.”

Hopper is part of the Defense Department’s new “Real Warriors” campaign. The campaign highlights stories of warriors who admitted they needed help, and after receiving treatment, are pursuing their military careers. Hopper -- a Purple Heart recipient who’s married and the father of two -- sought help, found help, and now is helping others.

Read the whole article.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Strange Hopefulness of Military Gardeners

This spring Kay and I have been busy with gardening projects. Growing things is Kay's raison d'etre, and I love her passion for all growing things (well, except for roses, which is a long story). One of the sacrifices Kay makes for my career (as she tells me, I joined, she didnt) is the fact that she will never see the things we plant grow to their maturity, since we will likely be posted out of Greenwood in a year or two, and so on for the rest of my career. So it is with most military families.

Here's one of our recent editions, a weeping Colorado spruce (Kay hasn't named him yet).

We're also breaking ground for a new garden and since our soil is so sandy, the plants will need all the help they can get:

And here are some of the plants waiting to go into the new garden bed:

As it happens, for my dose of junk fiction I recently finished John Winton's 1967 novel, HMS Leviathan, about a traditional naval officer who fins himself struggling with a changing service (John Winton was the pen name of LCmdr John Pratt, a Royal Navy engineer turned journalist and author, who died in 2001). I was taking a break from gardening one Sunday afternoon and this passage jumped out at me. The protagonist is visiting friends in naval married quaters at Portsmouth and is thinking about the transient nature of the people living in these houses.

"He had noticed the gardens, and had been struck by the care taken of them. A few had been roughly dug over, and no more, but most had been carefully and imaginatively tended as though the occupants had bought the house, There was something touching about the gardens. They had shrubs, planted by people who might never see them flower, and potatotes, which might be eaten by the next tennants, and roses, which may have been pruned by one and would be picked by the next." (John Wnton, HMS Leviathan, Sphere Books, 1967 p, 203).

A good tribute to the strange and persistent hopefulness of military gardners everywhere.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

To Open Or Not To Open

I appeared in print in The Maple Leaf, the Canadian Forces newspaper, last week. Here's how.

The story behind this old bottle of champagne was told in The Maple Leaf, 8 April edition:

To open or not to open
by Steve Fortin

It all started April 10, 1917. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was underway, and there were so many bodies strewn about the battlefield that it looked like an open-air cemetery. The enemy was tough, but the allied forces simply had to take the ridge, given that it was a key strategic location. In this battle, heroes were born.

Private John George Pattison, of the 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Alberta Regiment), is one of those heroes. On that day, Pte Pattison earned, for his bravery, the highest military decoration of all, the Victoria Cross. To stop a German machine-gun that was riddling the Allied positions with rounds, Pte Pattison pushed forward, jumping from one shell hole to another until he took shelter just 30 metres from the enemy. With German rounds flying all around him, he managed to throw several grenades toward the machine-gun nest, instantly killing the gunner and some of his comrades. Emboldened by his success and with no munitions at all, he sprinted across the short distance that separated him from the survivors to finish them off with his bayonet, thus ending the barrage of deadly fire that was raining down on his brothers-in-arms.

Pte Pattison was a proud representative of the 50th Battalion, which was part of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment. This unit distinguished itself during the First World War through its numerous exploits and its participation in several important battles, such as the Somme in 1916, Arras in 1917 and 1918, Vimy Ridge in 1917, Ypres in 1917, Passchendaele, Amiens and Scarpe in 1918.

Military history buffs will find an unusual reminder of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at The Military Museums in Calgary, in the space reserved for the King’s Own Calgary Regiment: a bottle of Tournant-Salomon champagne bought by members of the 50th Battalion who survived the nerve-racking battle to celebrate the event.

Al Judson looks after the King’s Own Calgary Regiment display. “The bottle was given to Sergeant Persil A. Blain, a sniper, who kept it safe until sometime in the ‘60s, after which he gave it to the King’s Own Calgary Regiment,” he says, explaining how the item came to be in its possession. “His intention was not that it be drunk immediately, but rather that it be opened exactly 100 years after it was purchased, i.e., on April 10, 2017, in order to commemorate the soldiers of the 50th Battalion who fought on Vimy Ridge.”

The bottle is a concrete link to the sacrifice of thousands of Canadians during the First World War. But what will become of Sgt Blain’s wishes? Should we respect them and drink the nectar of the gods on April 10, 2017? Or, since the precious object is so historically significant, would it be better not to open it at all so that it can be put on display completely sealed, which would mean that Sgt Blain’s wishes would go unfulfilled?

For Mr. Judson, the answer is simple. “I think we have to respect Sgt Blain’s wishes and open the bottle on April 10, 2017, so we can drink to the memory of the former members of the 50th Battalion,” he says. “But that is just my opinion, and many disagree. Museum visitors are also divided on the issue, so it is clear that deciding the fate of the Tournant-Salomon will not be easy.”

What would you do? Would you open the bottle as requested, or keep it sealed so it could be put on display?

When I read this piece, it made a connection in my military history addled mind, and I dashed off this email to the editor. I was delighted to see it in print in the May 20 edition.

Dear Editor

Your piece on the bottle of champagne held at The Military Museums in Calgary (The Maple Leaf, 8 April), and the wish of Sgt. Blain that the bottle be opened 100 years after the battle of Vimy Ridge, was a wonderful piece of Canadian military heritage. It reminded me of a similar story told in Richard Moe’s excellent book The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Regiment (Minnesota Historical Press, 2001), a regimental history of one of the most well-known Union regiments of the US Civil War.

After the war, the voluntary association of the unit’s veterans agreed to purchase an expensive bottle of wine or champagne (I can’t remember which and I don’t have Moe’s book to hand) with which the last living member would toast his deceased comrades. The last reunion of the 1st Minn was in 1932. As both attending veterans were in ill health and knew they would not likely meet at another reunion, they agreed to open it and make the toast together. Unfortunately, the bottle had gone bad over the 60 plus years, and was quite undrinkable.

Because Steve Fortin’s article ended with a question, I’ll contribute my two cents’ worth. Possibly, Tournant-Salomon is a more robust vintage than whatever plonk the 1st Minnesotans were able to secure, and will still prove good, but this example of a similar story from military history suggests that the bottle be left unopened as a tribute to the 50th Battalion.


Padre Mike Peterson

Military Picture of the Day

Not really sure what needs to be said about this picture, other than "It's good to be King" and "Don't try this when you're the reviewing officer". MP+

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

As a tribute to this blog's American readers and to Canada's US friends, this piece from the New York Times is worth repeating in full. MP+

May 25, 2009
This Memorial Day
Memorial Day often seems like a holiday that anticipates summer. But this year in the Northeast at least, it feels like exactly what it is — a spring holiday. If this had been a scorcher of a spring, rather than unseasonably rainy and cool, perhaps this Memorial Day wouldn’t feel quite so premature. As it is, the lilacs upriver from New York are just beginning to fade — after a tumultuous lilac year, blossoms dense as thunderheads — and the poppies are just threatening to open.

There is also a springlike, life-affirming mood to this day. There are grand, public memorials — as there should be. But in some ways the most meaningful are the intimate ones, the private ones, where we both mourn and celebrate the men and women who have died in this country’s service.

What transforms this nation’s cemeteries today isn’t merely fresh flowers or small American flags or carefully tended gravestones. It’s the presence of quiet people — gathered in small groups or standing alone — paying homage to a grave that marks a life that was sacrificed. Some of these people are still racked by their loss, which is as recent as yesterday. In others the loss has become a very old wound, the pain still lingering in memory even though the scar has faded.

We drive or walk past the cemetery and its poplars, feeling the tug of the season ahead, the resistance of the season behind. At first we may not feel a visceral connection to those somber gravesides or the people standing there. But their loss is ours, and always will be. That is the meaning of Memorial Day.

A Deployed Husband and a Military Wife Communicate

Last week I posted a link to a Pentagon public affairs piece on the Her War blog by Melissa Seligman. My brief visit there gave me an impression of a smart, expressive person, and that impression is confirmed by this piece of hers carried in today's New York Times. MP+

One Husband, Two Kids, Three Deployments
Published: May 24, 2009
Fort Riley, Kan.

FIVE years ago, my new husband, David, swallowed his tears as he tried to find a way to say goodbye. He held our baby girl to his nose, inhaled her newborn scent and searched my eyes for understanding. “You know I have to go, right?” he asked. I nodded, trying to understand his leaving, his sense of duty. I imagined that I did as I watched him walk out our kitchen door toward a war in Afghanistan, but I didn’t.

We talked — sometimes twice a day — ignoring the popping and snapping on the line and the long delays between our voices on the Webcam. And I fooled myself into believing a two-dimensional image could transmit and sustain a three-dimensional marriage. After all, I could see his eyes, hear his laughter. But he knew nothing of what I thought about our marriage, nothing of my postpartum depression and nothing of my anger at feeling lonely in a life that he chose.

Read the whole piece

Friday, May 22, 2009

‘Her War’ Podcast Aims to Help Military Wives

A whole week's gone by since I posted last. It's been a very busy week, what with some busy cases at work, some cycling, and some volunteer hours. This Wednesday the Snowbirds, the Canadian Forces acrobatic team, came to CFB Greenwood, and I had some chances to see them while working in the food tent for the Lions Club. Folks from as far away as Halifax came - not surprising as this was a free airshow.

Anyway, I caught this piece on the US Defence web news daily digest and found it worth repeating. Melissa Seligman is a thoughtful person and does a fine job of articulating the lonely challenges of the military spouse. MP+

‘Her War’ Podcast Aims to Help Military Wives
By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2009 – When Melissa Seligman’s husband left for his second deployment to Iraq, she knew all too well what was expected of her.

“I was expected to be the nice, caring, understanding military wife and mom,” Seligman said. “No military wife wants to admit that she is hurt -- and sometimes angry and very fearful -- of being alone when her husband is deployed, … sometimes for the second or third time. It’s very hard. The guilt we feel from these natural emotions often keeps us silent.”

Read the complete article.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some Changes to Mad Padre

Maintaining a blog is a labour of love, and it's been a surprise to me that I've found the energy to continue this project over two busy years. Despite the lack of reader response, I know that folks read it, no doubt for different reasons. Indeed, my own reasons for continuing the blog have changed. At first it was a light-hearted attempt to provide a snapshot of my life and interests for some like-minded friends during a time of transition.

However, over the last six months, a serious tone has arisen from my growing interest in the intersection of military news, ethics, and spirituality that is at the heart of my work as a military chaplain. I intend to continue this focus here at, within the context of my own career and ministry, interspersing items of interest to me with my own sermons, reviews, and some personal items.

For those readers primarily interested, like me, in miniature wargames, toy soldiers, and painting miniatures, I've created a second blogspot site, called, predictably, MMdPadreWargames. The new site is live and will be added to / edited over time. Those of you who kindly follow this blog please take note, and hopefully you'll check both sites from time to time.



A Canadian Muslim Soldier Guides the Faithful in Afghanistan

Religious and spiritual values motivate soldiers, and in a pluralistic and culturally complex military like Canada's, these values need to be given their due in respectfully and healthy ways. For the Canadian Forces chaplain's branch, this challenge is slowly transforming the Branch from a solely Christian organization to a post-Christendom, multi-faith model. This article below from the Department of National Defence newspaper, The Maple Leaf, shows why the Branch needs to adapt, and also hints at how sensitivity to the place of other religions in our society can help us resist the "clash of civilisations" rhetoric that sometimes overhangs the war on Islamic extremism. - MP+

Sigs officer connects with fellow Muslims
by Lt Jennifer Kellerman
The Maple Leaf 29 April 2009 Vol. 12, No. 16

About 100 men kneel on colourful mats in the Fraise Chapel at Kandahar Airfield, listening intently to Captain Amir ElMasry as he leads Friday prayers for the last time. The CF soldier, a signals officer with the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, is returning to Canada.

Capt ElMasry is not an imam – a Muslim religious scholar or mosque leader.When he arrived at KAF and began attending Friday prayers, however, he discovered that his strong Arabic and English language skills and general knowledge of Islam could help the hundreds of Muslim workers and soldiers who gather to pray every week. He offered to help prepare the prayers and give the sermon in both Arabic and English, and the congregation gladly accepted. Preparing for the weekly informal prayer service has come to occupy all the personal time he has in camp.

Read the complete article here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

With the Infantry in Afghanistan

The New York Times continues to offer insightful and frontline coverage of the mission in Afghanistan. I haven't seen anything as good elsewhere.

In Bleak Afghan Outpost, Troops Slog On

The New York Times
Published: May 13, 2009

KORANGAL OUTPOST, Afghanistan — The helicopters landed in blackness before the moon rose. The infantry company rushed out and through waist-high vegetation and into forests on an Afghan ridge.

Americans patrol each day from their Korangal base.
Over the next 40 hours, more than 100 soldiers from the First Battalion, 26th Infantry, swept Sautalu Sar, the mountain where members of the Navy Seals were surrounded in battle in 2005. They were looking for weapons caches and insurgents.

They labored uphill through snow until daybreak, when the company broke into smaller patrols above 9,200 feet. They descended the next night through gullies and shin-deep mud and staggered back to their outpost without having yet slept.

All the while, the insurgents watched. Why fight the Americans when the Americans were ready and strong?

Read the whole piece here.

The Scottish Military Field Hospital

From a friend, and too good not to post.

The Scottish Military Field Hospital This is a particularly literary joke. Some will absolutely love it, and pretty much everyone else will hate it.
- - -

The new commander in Iraq hears that a Scottish regiment has a specialized field hospital that's doing fantastic things with the troops. He wants to know what is so special about the place, so he arranges a tour.

When he gets to the ward, it's full of patients with no obvious sign of injury or illness. He's perplexed, so goes up to the first bed and greets the soldier there.
The patient replies:

"Fair fa your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin race,
Aboon them a ye take yer place,
Painch, tripe or thairm,
As langs my airm."

The general is confused, so he just grins and moves on to the next patient.
That soldier responds:

"Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat an we can eat,
So let the Lord be thankit."

Even more confused, and his grin now rictus-like, the commander moves on to the next patient, who immediately begins to chant:

"Wee sleekit, cowerin, timorous beasty,
O the panic in thy breasty,
Thou needna start awa sae hastie,
Wi bickering brattle."

Now seriously troubled, the general turns to the accompanying doctor and asks, "Is this a psychiatric ward?"

"No, not at all," replies the doctor. "This is the Serious Burns unit."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Stories Soldiers' Tatoos Tell

It's a common sight in the combat arms - young soldiers, male and sometimes female, with elaborate tatoos on the arms, neck, and torso. This piece from the US Department of Defense daily news digest tells the story of what those tatoos mean to one soldier.

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

EN ROUTE TO DENVER, May 12, 2009 – The 22-year-old soldier, dressed down in a black T-shirt and jeans on a flight to his new unit at Fort Carson, Colo., is the face of the 21,000 additional troops flowing into Afghanistan as part of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy.

The heavily tattooed arm of Army Cpl. “KC” reveals the history, loyalties and dreams of a soldier who’s seen two combat deployments during four and a half years of service and is preparing for another one, to Afghanistan, in June.

But it’s his muscular arms, heavily adorned with tattoos as they cradle a portable video game system on his lap, that tell the true story of where he’s been, what he’s done and what he dreams for the future.

Read the whole story here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"They Don't Look Much Different From Us": A Sermon for Battle of the Atlantic Sunday

Preached at St. Mark's Protestant Chapel, 14 Wing, CFB Greenwood, 3 June, 2009

I was asked to step in at the last minute and preach at one of the two church parades and commemoration services that are especially important and beloved in the Air Force community, the other being Battle of Britain Sunday in September. The task of preaching on these occasions is tricky - one doesn't want to engage in triumphalism and say that God is on our side and always has been. However, one wants to connect a significant piece of military heritage (which is what the uniformed guests come for) with some sound theology. I'm not sure I succeeded, but the sermon received good remarks at the door. It was also an opportunity for me to experiment with power point and embedded video clips for sermon illustrations.

Two survivors of U-175, a German submarine sunk by the United States Coast Guard, 1943. More photos here. Royal Canadian Navy survivors of a torpedoed corvette.

As we heard the Wing Admin Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Smith-McBride, read from scripture just now, “For every thing there is a season, and a time” (Ecc 3:1) and today is a time to remember. This Sunday we gather to remember the Battle of the Atlantic, an historical event which continues to define us as Canadians and as members of the Canadian Forces serving on this Wing, and I’ll say more about that shortly. We also gather, as this chapel community of St. Marks does each Sunday, as a people of faith to give thanks and praise to God who works in history. The story of St. Paul on the Roman ship in Acts, which the Wing Chief read to us, reminds us that God is present in the struggles and fearful moments of each generation, whether on ship, on land, or also in the air, to bring about something better. As my opening slide suggests, despite the lines of race, ideology and hostility which have divided humans throughout our history, God continues to work for and to heal all of his creation, and I’ll speak briefly about that too. First, as I said, we are gathered to remember an event, the Battle of the Atlantic, which continues to define us as Canadians and as members of the Canadian military. The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War. It was a victory on which all the other victories depended. If the German submarine fleet had not been defeated, starvation and surrender would have been forced on England. The great landings such as D-Day could not have happened, and there would have been no liberation for the peoples of occupied Europe. The Nazi system of death camps and extermination would have prospered and spread. That these things did not happen is only due to the constant vigilance, great physical and spiritual stamina, and almost superhuman bravery of the crews, both on sea and in the air, which kept the Atlantic open. The Battle of the Atlantic was a combined arms campaign of great complexity, involving the work of the allied navies:
Canadian warship HMCS Baddeck

air forces: Artist's rendition of RCAF Flight Lt. Hornell's Victoria Cross-winning action against a German submarine.

and merchant marines: Rescued merchant seamen on a Canadian warship.

For the ships’ crews, the only thing worse than battling the storms of the North Atlantic and Arctic Seas was the calmer weather which kept them listening for the torpedo which could strike at any moment. The bravery, perseverance and sacrifice of these crews made possible the safe passage of supplies that would keep England in the fight, and the safe transport of the armies that would train and prepare for the liberation of Europe. On a personal note, my own father was one of the soldiers who crossed the Atlantic with First Canadian Division in 1940, and my own mother, a young war bride with three children, crossed the other way to Halifax in early 1945. There were more precious things than tanks and shells on those ships that the escorts faithfully shepherded. For the Royal Canadian Air Force, the campaign meant close cooperation with the navy as the allies gradually extended the air umbrella over the convoys. This is not an abstract historical fact for members of 14 Wing (slide). Our three squadrons on base can all boast of battle honours won in the Battle of the Atlantic, earned by long hours of patrolling and by deadly combat against German naval assets over an unforgiving sea. This cooperation of the navy and air force truly illustrates our Wing’s motto of “Operate As One”. For the ships’ crews, the sight of a friendly aircraft was always encouraging. The British author and corvette captain Nicholas Monsarratt describes it this way:

There is a certain comradely pleasure in meeting an aircraft on long-range reconnaissance. A wide-awake look-out picks it up, the signalman of the watch challenges and is answered; and then it flies past, sometimes quite close, giving little dips of its wings and flirts of its tail; the pilot waves, and you wave back, and you think, “My God, I wouldn’t care to be so far out in an aeroplane”, and he is probably thinking, “My God, I wouldn’t care to be down there, in that sea”. The sense of being on the job together is a very strong one. (Nicholas Mnsarrat, Three Corvettes, 1945. London: Granada, 1972, p. 35). As we heard during the Air Force mess dinner, the work and experience of the RCAF in the Atlantic continued to pay dividends in the Cold War as Canadian aircrews continued to guard against another submarine fleet. Today, whenever a 14 Wing aircraft leaves this base, the heritage of the Battle of the Atlantic flies with it.

I’ve mentioned Nicholas Monsarrat, and I want to let him tell a bit more of the story. In the movie version of his most famous book, The Cruel Sea, filmed in 1953, the climactic scene comes at the end of a long chase. A British ship has been hunting a German sub, a U-Boat, for days, and after everyone else except the Captain thinks there is no U-Boat. The U-boat is depth-charged, forced to the service, and after an uneven fight, the German crew abandons their submarine and swims towards the waiting enemy, which has let down scrambling nets and ropes to aid their rescue. As the coughing and dirty survivors are pulled on board, the first officer says to the captain, "They don't look much different from us, do they?" Throught the film, there are many scenes of the ships crew rescuing survivors of merchant ships, and being rescued themselves when their first ship is torpedoed. The point of the clip is to show that despite being the sworn enemies of the UBoats, the destroyer crew can recognize a common humanity in the oil-soaked figures they are pulling to safety.

This vision of a common-humanity is what I, as a preacher, find most inspiring, and what I think we are called to remember this morning. I had another vision of this common humanity some years ago, when I was a student priest at an Anglican church in Kitchener. Several parishioners were veterans, including Charley, an RCAF Spitfire pilot with a distinguished war record. There was also Otto, a quiet, dignified gentleman with a strong German accent, who kept much to himself. It was only when Otto was dying that I learned his story - as a young man he had served as a conscript sailor on a German U-Boat. He did not advertise the fact, and in an upper-middle class, very English Anglican church, who could blame him? But I found the idea of these two former adversaries, united Sunday by Sunday to sing and praise God, to hear scripture read and preached on, and to be strengthened by the holy sacraments, a very appealing story. This was, I believe, a vision of God's peace, God's shalom, that we are called to. As scripture says in many places, including in the prophet Isaiah, God's will is that all the nations are called to leave peaceably together (Isa 56:7).

Yes, it was a good and necessary thing that the submarines be defeated, for the reasons I've outlined above. Yes, it is a good and necessary thing that we, at an Air Force base with traditions dating to this battle, remember our heritage. But this Sunday, we are also called to remember that the loving God we worship is the creator of all, and sees us all as his beloved creations. God sees unites us, and sorrows at what divides us. Those of you who have worn, and now wear your country's uniform, know that it is not likely you will soon be able to take it off for God. The world is still too dangerous, too uncertain. Peace is illusive and difficult to attain. But consider this - that God's purpose is always to bring peace out of war, for God is the sworn enemy of death, and darkness, and chaos, and is always working to bring life, and light, and peace into being. God's own raising of his Son, Jesus Christ, from the death, is the strongest proof of His intentions for the world. God, as I said at the beginning, is working in history, both in the account of St. Paul in Acts, in the history we remember today, and in our own time. Who would have predicted during World War Two that sixty years later Canadian troops and war material would safely cross a peaceful Atlantic to fight beside our German Nato allies in Afghanistan as we try to bring a better future to that country? The struggle is not easy, and much flawed, but I believe that light and life and hope are always God's purposes in the world. Will we stand with God and take up our share of this work?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Do I Have Swine Flu?

Click here to find out.

Why the Non-Religious Come to Need Churches

A poll reveals that most children raised unaffiliated with a religion later chose to join one to fill a need for spirituality.

Defecting to Faith
Charles Blow
Published in the New York Times, May 1, 2009

“Most people are religious because they’re raised to be. They’re indoctrinated by their parents.”

Maybe, but a study entitled “Faith in Flux” issued this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life questioned nearly 3,000 people and found that most children raised unaffiliated with a religion later chose to join one. Indoctrination be damned. By contrast, only 4 percent of those raised Catholic and 7 percent of those raised Protestant later became unaffiliated.

Read the whole article here.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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