Saturday, October 1, 2011

#26- In The Army Now 2

1.  Captured Audience

I went to basic training in a place called "Hell's Kitchen".  This was a place for tough guys.  We trained early and went to bed late.

The basic training cycle had a lot of information and training that had to be crammed into a 3 month period.  During that time we were cut off from the outside world.  We rarely made phone calls, we only saw a television during the NFC Conference game (Falcons defeated the Vikings to go play in Miami of all places!).

The only way we knew what was going on was through letters from friends and family and that came in the middle of the cycle.

We only had access to two books:  The soldier's manual and a truncated Bible.  The former had all the primary information needed to be a soldier and the ladder was opportunity to proselytize to troops who were trapped in Basic Training.

I feel your pain, girls
We worked 6 days a week and long hours at that.  It was physically and mentally draining.  Sundays was the day that the drill sergeants relented but it was not an off day per se.  We still had to clean the barracks or fix our lockers for any inspections that were sure to come.

Sunday was day that troops could...
a) go to church
b) clean or pretend to clean or
c) read the soldier's manual or the Bible we were given.

This was to be found on you at all times
Those of us who stayed in the barracks swept and buffed the floors over and over and over again.  I mostly hung out by my locker with another Haitian guy by my locker.  One day I decided to puruse the Bible we were given.  I felt that it was weird and wrong to be talking about religion in this factory of death-dealing commandos.  I thought that nothing else could be so oxymoronic in nature.

It was then that I started to go through a bit of the Psalms and New Testament.  At that time I felt that I got the gist of the story enough because I had been to church for years.

It was pretty simple:

  1. God is awesome.
  2. Satan is evil and a player hater
  3. Good people get rewarded
  4. Bad people get punished
  5. Jesus was the best example of how to live and he was a pacifist
Because of this attitude I didn't absorb much.  I had the mindset of a person who seen too many trailers of a movie and therefore needn't see the whole film and surely not read the script.

I remember being restless as well as exhausted and even if I wanted to concentrate on reading the Bible I wouldn't be able to do it in peace because of the constant threat of drill sergeants walking around and possibly finding me passed out while reading the Bible.

I decided to go to church one Sunday to see what they did there.  The sermon was drab and a total blur.  Free from the constant tyranny of the drill sergeants most of us grabbed as much micro sleep as we could.  I remember struggling to stay awake and succumbing to the syrup of sleep.  The service was monotone and serene.  A bunch of us did the same thing.  It is as if the preachers didn't mind and knew our plight and were content just to have us there.  At the end of the service we joked about how refreshed we felt after the trip.  My feelings of guilt about being rude to the preachers were overpowered by my rejuvenation.  Then it was on to our barracks for another arduous week of lessons.

2.  Conclusion

This experience was fundamental to my development as an atheist because I eventually understood why people did not read the Bible.

1.  They are distracted by life.  Us soldiers, on the other hand, were locked up for a while.

"Suggested reading" wink, wink.
2.  A lot of people feel like they know enough about the Bible from their teachers and preachers to get by.

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