Saturday, 24 October 2009

Sande Ramage writes on military chaplaincy

"The sound of a rifle bolt being locked into position is distinctive. From my study adjoining the Linton Camp garrison church, I could hear dozens of them being activated as soldiers were being reacquainted with military life after the summer holidays.

"I don’t know what it sounds like when a bullet explodes into a human being but some of those soldiers may well find out. The trauma of being involved in armed conflict is well documented as is the compassion of padres who stand alongside soldiers as bullets fly. For me there is no argument that all people caught in the insanity of war need a special form of care for the spirit, but is the current model of military chaplaincy the method for the church to pursue in the 21st century?

"My year as an army chaplain has changed me. My initial, perhaps naïve, enthusiasm for the job diminished into gnawing anxiety as I struggled to come to grips with issues of institutional power and violence and the apparent collusion of the church and state in maintaining the status quo."

So writes Sande Ramage, in her blog Spirited Crone. Read her whole post here. It's a highly personal account of the dilemmas she faced as an army padre, and her reflections on the place of spirituality and mythology in an institutional context. It's an amazing piece of writing.

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