I’ve been listening to “In the Valley of the Shadow of Death,” a wonderful audio diary by Father David Alexander, an Antiochian Orthodox chaplain who served with a Marine Engineer battalion deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. It’s an intensely candid and emotional account of the unique challenges and blessings of ministry to American combat troops far from home in one of the world’s most dangerous places.
The role of military chaplains is perhaps one of the most obscure and least-understood facets of military culture to the outside observer, but it’s also one of the most important, particularly when our men and women in uniform are serving in harm’s way. Father Alexander’s podcast sheds light onto the chaplain’s many responsibilities, the spiritual and ethical paradoxes of the battlefield, and the special bond he shares with the troops under his care. He comes from a Christian tradition unfamiliar to most Americans, and I’ve found his insights into scripture and prayer, and their application to problems of the men and women he serves, both fresh and inspiring. I think his unit was particularly blessed to have a man of this caliber shepherding them.
Father Alexander’s podcast diary is available for streaming or download at Ancient Faith Radio (http:/ancientfaith.com). Here’s the link. Give it a listen. You’ll be glad you did.