Thursday, November 6, 2008

"In His Service and Yours"

When I was on leave last week I attended the American Academy of Religions annual conference in Chicago. This is primarily an academic conference, not a gathering of clergy (although some clergy are also scholars) and I noticed that there were a number of Buddhist monastics in attendance. A friend of mine, Chaplain Danny Fisher, occasionally blogs about what goes on in these conferences, since he is involved in this type of scholarship. I'm mostly an observer (I've never presented a paper): I've been a member of the AAR since my graduate school days - it's interesting to hear all the different lectures, even if some of them tend to be much on the heavy postmodern jargon density side! I recommend anyone who is interested in military chaplaincy and/or getting their graduate degree in Buddhist Studies to keep abreast of the scholarship in the Buddhist Studies field.

While at the AAR, I had the fortunate opportunity to meet Ms. Lee Lawrence, a journalist who is currently co-producing an independent documentary on military chaplains. She and Terry Nickelson also wrote a series of articles on the subject military chaplains for The Chistian Scientist Monitor newspaper. They interviewed a number of Army, Air Force, and Navy Chaplains. I thought these were very well written. The documentary looks to be on the same level, although I have not seen it: it is in post-production I think, or somewhere around there, so it is not out yet, but I'm looking forward to viewing it. The link can be found here:

Hopefully, these articles and the documentary will help the public in understanding the roles of the military chaplain, which I think is probably one of the least-understood professions in our society. I would probably add that it is possibly one of the most difficult - and least-palatable - for most people, even clergy, for what are obvious reasons. So the fact that it is rarely discussed or brought up, even in study by religion scholars for example, is pretty surprising to me, and what is out there tends to lean towards the polemical. I hope this trend will change.

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Buddhist Military Sangha by Jeanette Shin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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