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Posted February 12, 2007

Book: Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel
Author: Chaplain William McCoy
ACW Press. Ozark, AL. 2005. Pp. 220

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

“He could have been any of us. A Roman soldier was troubled about the condition of his servant. The servant was dying and the soldier had exhausted all possible cure for him. Perhaps he had heard there was a prophet in town and thought maybe he’d try asking that prophet for help. He didn’t have to be religious, and probably wasn’t. He was military.” Under Orders is written for you in the military services who seek to nurture and sustain your faith in the face of war, deployments, and the troubling question of faith and life.

An Excerpt from the Book:

One of the biggest problems with death is it is unacceptable. It doesn’t fit with how we view life. But it occurs every day. Most people don’t get near dying people or death and so to be exposed to a situation with blood and loss of life is a terrifying experience. Yet to those who make their living on a farm or in a trauma unit, death just occurs as the result of accident, failure to survive, or as a matter of fact. And death is a matter of fact. It will come, sooner or later to each of us.

I seem to find myself near people who are near death more often than I would like — I don’t care for death much myself either! As a chaplain I am often there when conveying a message from the Red Cross about a death, or explaining to a family member the circumstances around a death. And people’s reactions, though similar to a degree, always seem to affect me. Regardless of the number of times I have looked into the eyes of the survivors, those who grieve over death always mirror back to me a glimpse of my own future grief over a parent, a child, a loved one who might die. It is a haunting thing, somewhat mythic, somehow bigger than just a physical “giving out.” Death has both physical, spiritual and mythic proportions.

There is always something heart-wrenching when watching someone at a military funeral receive the flag, ceremonially wrapped and tucked with special care, white gloves running over every corner to insure it is perfectly blue and white. The red and white strips must not be visible. Only the blue color of honor is visible. Sacrifice and courage are within. As the officer in charge of the detail bends down to present the folded colors, the flag is designed to tumble softly int the arms of the deceased’s family member. That tumble seems so much bigger than it is. As the words “. . .of a grateful nation” are uttered, the triangle lifts and plops downward into the waiting arms of a wife or husband their tear drenched eyes blinking to offer a whispered “thank you” to the uniformed individual. No matter how many times I have observed this holy moment, I am always riveted by the strong symbolism of how powerful a life is when it is honored by its country in such a ceremonial way.

. . .If death is unacceptable, we do a good job in the military of making it reasonable, or honorable, or memorable. If not, death would be a horrifying and meaningless end.

Table of Contents:

Order 1: Know the terrain, the seas, the skies --- understand yourself and everything else will start to make sense

Order 2: Be confident. You are made out of the right stuff despite what your boss says and what you feel

Order 3: Believe in God. God has one face and many followers so why is there confusion?

Order 4: Understand your faith. Ask yourself the right questions before you assert yhour opinion about ultimate truths.

Order 5: Find and make good friends. People, their power, their influence and their strength

Order 6: Under the end. Death comes to everyone, sometimes unexpectedly and sometimes on schedule, nonetheless, it will come

Order 7: Fight the real fight. Sin is irrelevant in today's world, but it still makes its impression on each of us.

Order 8: Choose your profession. What am I doing here and where am I going

Order 9: How do I understand where to begin with faith and who know what is valid?

Order 10: Strive for this. Love is the ultimate law and the beginning of a new world order that begins inside you