Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ANZAC Day-a faith event?

Somebody linked to this article in a previous comment, thought it was interesting, and with quite a few things to think about too. Click on the title of this post to read. I'm not convinced either way, is just an interesting one.

Here are some excerpts

For historians, Anzac Day, is “a martial affair with military music and ritual”, while for churches and their army chaplains, it’s a “faith event”.

Anzac Day services, asserts a Brigadier Principal Chaplain, are, “in essence faith events. Through the prayers, the acts of memorial, and the playing of bugle calls, those who are gathered are led through an encounter with acts of personal devotion and sacrifice, they are reminded of the comforting care and presence of God and they are pointed to the hope of future resurrection”.

Taking part in such a service, the Principal Air Force Chaplain said, “that the thousands of Australian men and women serving overseas were continuing the Anzac tradition by facing evil at every turn, and that it is a time to be inspired by their sacrifice and courage, so that we might play our part in seeking to confront the evil in our world”. (See "Time to ditch compulsory study of Australian history", On Line Opinion, July 4, 2007.)

The media has been relentless in exposing the shameful treatment of members and ex members of the ADF. Since last Anzac Day, its now known, that 1,200 personnel who served in East Timor have lodged post traumatic disorder claims; that thousands of Australian veterans took pills linked to symptoms of Gulf war syndrome; that at least 48 Iraq and Afghanistan vets have been discharged with mental health problems; that of the 900 who served in Somalia, some 20 per cent had serious mental health concerns, and that the ADF’s alcohol and drug service was starved of funds and ignored by officers. Not a word from the churches.

A faith event is not about parades and prayers. A faith event is about confession and the creation of four million Iraqi refugees and an untold number of soldiers disturbed and disabled. It’s about the condemnation of evil whether that of the suicide bomb or the cluster bomb; it’s about a rededication to peace, and not to out of control budgets for maiming and killing.

Anzac Day services might be a lot of things, but they are not faith events.


Mr Waters said...

Hey Digs,

Had a read through the article and found it quiet interesting. Although I thought it was over critical and off the point in summarising what it had to say with "Anzac Day services might be a lot of things, but they are not faith events."

The Australian Defence Force produces arguably the most capable soldiers in any force around the world. They are well respected by both friend and foe. But like most large organisations, the defence force being the largest in the land, it has its problem. These problems are over accentuated by the difficult, perilous and in many case damaging jobs that it's personal are involved in. These people make sacrifices for our safety and see and do thing for our protection that no one should have to do, but they do. I will not argue that more needs to be done, but I will say that a lot is already being done. There are programs in place that are built around helping soldiers cope with trauma and the simple rigours of everyday life. The unfortunate thing is there are not enough padres around to individually counsel each person that needs help immediately when they need it, but they can be sought out.

As much as the church would not like what is happening within the military it is no different than what is happening within the wider community and for criticism to place on the military for what is a much larger problem in the public, even though military personal are put though much more confronting situations, is un warranted. The church was right to not directly and publicly condemn the ADF for any of the situations.

In relation to the writers comments about the acts service men do being evil and that the church should be fight for the military to stop and rededicate to peace. Until the writer finds a way to stop those using violence at the scales people around the world are without using a corresponding amount of force he should give the military a call because I'm sure they love to here it. May I remind you that the armies goal is not to create wars but end them and one day bring that peace that the writer so wants. "One day all the weapons will be turned to ploughs (peace time instruments i.e. not weapons of war)", there is a stained glass window to this effect in the Chapel on the military base at Kapooka.

ANZAC day services are certainly about faith. Faith is about self sacrifice, life, death, love, and striving for peace. These are what ANZAC day's about.

Lest We Forget

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