That is interesting that you would think there be a risk to my aspirations. I am at year 19 and still on track for at least 06 (Captain in the Navy). If anything inspires me to try and reach higher it is having more leaders that are secular in positions of influence. I think that this is a definite key to advancing secular thought. We need to have attractive alternatives and support structures commensurate with the religious infrastructure. Nonbelief is not enough. This gets into the interesting area that if we are proposing an alternative to religious thought, doesn’t that become a religion of sorts itself? With its own fundamentalism? But at least a belief system based on logic. Or would that be Vulcan? Maybe it would help if I revealed my belief system:
The concept of god to me is the spirit of man that inspires him to be better than he is. This makes ‘spirit’ real to me because there is an inner motivation in most successful people to continually seek improvement in all areas. Some people are FILLED with this spirit to overflowing…some barely have any. I think if someone says they are ‘touched by god’ what they are really feeling is their own inspirations to do something.
What happens when we die? That spirit that we had during our life is transferred to those who we were able to inspire. It might be directly to our family members and friends. It might be indirectly if we wrote a book, or created a piece of art. This influence might last a little while after you die, or it might last for as long as humankind survives to remember it, if you were THAT influential. As for you yourself…when you die you die…wormdirt. Now, what kind of influence do you want to produce for after you die…that is the question?
Is there a Heaven? Of course there is…it is here on Earth right now as you live. I defy anyone to imagine a heaven that is not a facsimile of this earth in some form. For me, it is a little grass hut on the beach in Hawaii, little surfbreak down in the water, surrounded by my favorite people. We can have that if we choose. We can work on this together, we can make this place more and more like a Heaven in our lifetime or maybe for our kids if we work together and STOP thinking that there is something better AFTER we die.
Is there a Hell? Of course there is…it is here on Earth right now as you live. There is nation after nation full of squalor and injustice and ignorance…filled with thugs playing a zero sum game and using a fantasy story to justify their evil.
Inspiration runs both ways…we can inspire to be great or we can inspire to be evil. What is your choice and how do you want to contribute to this unique species?
I don’t have many ideas to offer on the subject of chaplains in the military. But I wanted to give you a resounding “hell yeah” for the post above and thank you for serving!
I am an American who is rabid about separation of church and state. I’m one of those touchy jackasses who grouses about “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, “in God we trust” on US currency, and the ten commandments in courthouses.
But I have never gone after military chaplains. I think anyone who is willing to voluntarily kill/die for their country deserves any support we can give them, even if that support is spiritual and directly contradicts my own spiritual views. If there’s a Christian soldier in a foxhole who would benefit from the occasional guidance of chaplain…then God bless!
I don’t know much about how things work in the American military, but I would also hope that a nontheist would have access to counselors for comfort.
And as for inspiration, that one is tricky. Again, I don’t have any real life experience in the military or in leadership/inspiration. But off the top of my head, I have issues with a lot of potential leadership tools for inspiration.
Religion? As a atheist, that makes my skin crawl. And I wonder about it’s effectiveness in multi-cultural armed forces.
Rampant nationalism? That falls a little cold for me. If I were defending Americans or American soil, then hell yeah. But if I’m on patrol in Afghanistan, it’s harder for a skeptic to agree with how America is being served.
Hatred of the enemy? Again, doesn’t work much for my worldview. Even if I did hate them, I’d feel guilty/dirty using that hatred to pump myself up.
If I imagine myself in harm’s way, wondering if I’m gonna die and how the heck I got myself into this mess…I think the inspiration that would motivate me the most without making me feel icky would be the brotherhood (sisterhood) angle. I’d be counting on the people around me to get my ass through it, and they’d be counting on me. No matter how well I get along with these people on a day-to-day basis, there’s no doubt in my mind that when the shit hits the fan…I need them to have my back and I’ll have theirs.
I think another source of pride, unity, inspiration that I see a lot in movies and read about in books is the unit/ship. Nationalism is too big for me (and can have some nasty side effects), but a fierce pride and feeling of protectivenss regarding my naval ship and its crew would suit me well.