Sanctifying the Crusade

When we met for coffee, he was excited

to tell us of his daughter, the recent

high school grad, who had just finished

top of her basic training class.


He glowed as he described that military

graduation and especially the heart warming,

inspiring Protestant worship service. They

filed in, straight-backed, disciplined kids


marching to the beat of the only drummer

in town, sat, stood and sang hymns and

when the “Individual Salvation in Jesus

Christ” chaplain made the earnest, somber


altar call, “Every-head-bowed-every-eye-

closed-just-as-I-am-time” in the service,

the wet behind the ears, impressionable

kids so full of themselves but reverent and


humble and emotional in the moment hit

the sawdust trail. When the call was over

and they had committed to Jesus as they

had just previously committed to Caesar,


they marched back to their seats to shouts

of  “Ooowaah” from their previously sanctified

comrades and awkward, muted cheers from

some obstinate, hold-out comrades. Dad said


he was really, really touched.  I thought to my-

self, now they can go off to war to kill Muslims

in confidence of  eternity and perhaps be blown

to bits by an I.E.D. with the reward for their


efforts on behalf of Caesar, the Christian version

of paradise, that being for ever and ever with sweet

Jesus. The radical fringe jihadists, on the other hand,

promised seventy-two really great looking virgins


to keep their gullible kids occupied forever and ever.

I don’t know about his daughter, but for the nineteen-

year-old, gung-ho guys that might be a tough call.

I wanted to ask if the recessional hymn was “Onward


Christian Soldiers,” but my wife gave me the look

and I just sat there and kept quiet.

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