Bringing God to Men
American Military Chaplains and the Vietnam War
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
By now it seems we should have fully abandoned the image of a solitary author locked away in a dusty archive or library, scribbling (or typing) furiously and revising in solitude until a finished product emerges. Surely, we know better: research and writing are rarely solitary undertakings. This...
God and country. Peace and war. Civilian and military. Sacred and secular. American and foreign national. Officer and enlisted. At every turn, American military chaplains inhabit these liminal spaces at the intersections of religion and war. First, they occupy a space somewhere between military...
One: Consensus and Civil Religion
By most measures, the decade following World War II was a period of renewed religious commitment. According to polls, church membership and attendance rose, as did financial support of religious institutions, and charismatic evangelical leaders left their mark on a mass audience using advances in media and technology to increase their reach. The religious...
Two: Duty and Relationships
Chaplains’ duties in Vietnam included a wide variety of pastoral and administrative tasks. In addition to conducting public worship services, carrying out sacramental rites, counseling troops on moral and personal matters, and advising commanders on morale and morality, some chaplains were...
Three: Conflict and Identity
As he rode with the convoy back to the base after a civic action mission to provide humanitarian assistance to a South Vietnamese village in June 1967, chaplain Paul Mitchell, who was scheduled to return to the United States the following day, reflected on his time in Vietnam. He had conducted three...
Four: Liturgy and Interpretation
Somewhere in Vietnam, in a bomb crater filled with water, Joseph Dulany baptized soldiers, and in those moments, remnants of death and destruction became founts for the symbolic waters of life. On another military base, James Johnson grieved as he held the lifeless body of a friend who...
Five: Discourse and Debate
Chaplains’ dual status as clergy and officers often situated them on the margins of two communities in which they were ostensibly full members. This simultaneous position as insider and outsider thrust chaplains into public discourse on the Vietnam War as both symbols and spokesmen in...
Six: Reflection and Reconciliation
Though chaplain David Knight went to Vietnam with romantic visions of war, wishing for a “baptism by fire,” he returned with a more sober view of it: “I saw the horror, the brutality, and the sinfulness of a nation raped by [war]. I witnessed war as the ultimate breakdown of human morality.” Nevertheless, Knight concluded that his wartime experiences allowed...
Seven: Dissent and Mission
“To hell with Jehovah.” One line in one song included in the Armed Forces Hymnal sparked the controversy. In 1974, a tense congressional election year, the inclusion of Sydney Carter’s song “It Was on a Friday Morning” provoked accusations of blasphemy not only from religious groups but also from American politicians and policy-makers, including Senator Strom...
In 2003, former chaplain and Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Charles Liteky, formerly known as Angelo, again found himself opposed to an American war. He addressed an open letter to American soldiers in Iraq on 7 May of that year. His letter proclaimed that he had renounced his Medal of Honor because “what the U.S. was supporting in El Salvador and...
Publication Year: 2014
OCLC Number: 868580255
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