Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BIBLICAL LITERACY OR A STUPID GOSPEL?



I have always put a premium on Biblical literacy at my school for reasons other than evangelical ones. As crass as it sounds, I do not get excited when I hear about my students becoming Christians. Actually, I get suspicious. For one reason, most of the children at my school who have "wanted" to become Christian mid-school year have "wanted" to become Christian when I am about to kick them out for felonious infractions. I have had students put on a "Christian" face as they or their parents tell me of the conversion they experienced the night before. You know the face: the exaggerated, happy eyebrows and the fabricated, maniacal smile they associate with televised Christian ministers or Barney. In my general opinion, in order to get out of trouble. Sue me.

Secondly, the currency of the education business I am in is not "Christian conversions." Conversion tends only to be a topic of interest when parents or students want to "change the subject" like when parents fail to pay ("The Lord is putting us through a trial." I don't care what the Lord is doing. You never cited the Lord as being responsible for your payments when you signed contract) or when a child has strayed far enough away from the law to exempt himself from being a part of my school ("The Lord is really working with our child." I don't care what the Lord is doing with your child. He wasn't doing it yesterday). I deal with a measurable currency on one hand (money) and measurable results on the other (test results).

Third of all, I already consider the children at my school to be "christian" enough for me to work with them. That is to say, we all have committed to a baseline of measurable ethics whereby adherence to it and infractions of it can be easily identified. I have had people fault me for this because they believe that a "Christian testimony" should be a requirement for entrance to my school else my student population become corrupted. What these people do not understand is that every human is like a cannister with a capability to hold only so much and only a certain kind of so much. I have had students not last the school quarter or semester or year because they could not hold what I was offering. Amongst that lot I am sure have been a few "unbelievers", but again, I am not a Sunday School and do not deal in gnostic currency.

What measurable relationship to religious upbringing I have found, however, has been a collective ignorance of Biblical literacy. For eleven years now I have found it necessary to spend August through December of each year teaching my students the extensive glossary of terms, concepts, and ideas I use the remainder of the year to teach the philosophy and skills sets of the courses my students are required to take. Each year I come across exceptional students, and the ones who remain with me year after year far surpass the knowledge and understanding of the new student who is drowning in the terminology and expressions I use in order to teach. The majority of my new students are woefully behind before they even begin the first day of school.

For example, out of ten new students, five will know the Bible's name for the first man (Adam), two will know the meaning of his name ("red" or "earth"), and none will know that his name is singular as well as plural. 


Out of the same ten students, five will know the name of Adam's home (Eden), none will know the name meaning of Adam's home (delight), and none will know that Eden was geographically on a mountain. 


Out of the same ten students, none will know that Adam's naming of all the creatures was the very reason he was able to recognize Eve (because he had already named "everything" and she hadn't been one of the things he had named), none will know that Adam's culpability is first seen in his apparent lack of suspicion of the serpent (he had not named the serpent though he had named everything else including Eve by that point), and none will know that when Adam and Eve are banished from Eden they are moving down a mountain.


Before students are out of the starting blocks of the first few chapters of Genesis, they exhibit an appalling ignorance of Biblical literacy though many of them authoritatively tell me what demons look like, how God acts, and how the end of the world will come to be. At first I used to bear up with these esoteric and aimless conversations until I had hard evidence that many of the stupid things my students believed actually inhibited their ability to grow into sensible people. 

As I investigated, I roughly found the following to be true: only one out of ten students ever read the Bible on their own out of intellectual curiosity, nine of them (if they read at all) would read the Bible for either a church or school assignment, and the same nine read the Bible as a "special" book and with the assumption that the Bible was only as "special" as it was cryptic. However, all of them felt they could eloquently talk about faith. 

As my students exhibit more and more of an ignorance and disinterest in the Old Testament and as "faith" was a relatively New Testament concept they felt they had a good grasp on, one day I had an outburst. During a Culture class, I tore my Bible down the spine between Old and New Testaments and tossed the Old Testament across the room. Every student instinctively sucked in air and squeezed their butt cheeks in horror. I held up the New Testament portion, waved it in their faces, and said "This part without that part is a stupid gospel! It doesn't make sense!" I think every student who was there that day remembers it well. After that point, I spent several months extensively going through the Pentateuch, teaching students the patterns and symbols of Scripture and their own Western culture. I designed charts. I drilled into them the parallels between Levitical case laws. I drilled into them the symbolic tabernacle rites. Until they got it. I knew they got it when I would ask them "Who was the last Old Testament prophet?" and they would respond "John the Baptist." 

That was around the same time that I found a "Hermie" Bible at my school and almost blew my top. No one would admit it was theirs or how it got to the school (though I have my suspicions). Here was a Bible designed for a child whose guide was an animated worm with an inferiority complex that expounded every few pages from Genesis right through Revelation (He even left instructive comments in The Song of Solomon). Seriously. I about bit my tongue from saying... things.


It is clear that amongst "Bible-believing people" Biblical literacy takes second place to evangelical intent. The gnostic motive in evangelical culture is to "get everybody saved" so there are fewer people in Hell. Or the gnostic motive is to "get everybody saved" so our "christian" nation can be "Christian" once more. Again, I am not sure how to "measure" the ambiguity of such endeavors. Certainly "christianity" and "Christianity" are both rooted in what you do and definitely not only in what you think. The integration point between the internal life and the external life is action (T. Harv Eker).  In this country belief tends to be associated with what you think. The funny thing is that the Christian does not do much Christian thinking about much other than to "know 100% for certain" that he is going to heaven. That is all the Bible seems to be good for in his mind (Oh, and to "live right"). Everything else is essentially superfluous. 


I was reading BUSH AT WAR by Bob Woodward a few years ago and came across a particularly interesting section. In chapter five on page 58 & 59, Woodward explains that it was the joint job of Colin Powell and Richard Armitage to draft up a list of demands for Pakistan who was believed to be harboring Bin Laden, the designer of 9/11. Look at the list of demands they drafted. It immediately brought to mind a Biblical pattern I know well:

 DAYS OF CREATION // U.S. DEMANDS ON PAKISTAN

1. Division of Light & Darkness // 1. Stop Al Qaeda operatives at your border.
2. Division of Above and Below // 2. Blanket overflight and landing rights.
3. Division of Land and Water // 3. Access to Pakistan, naval, air bases, borders.
4. Celestial Bodies // 4. Immediate intelligence, immigration information.
5. Calling of Swarms of Fish & Flocks of Birds // 5. Condemn September 11 attacks.
6. Formation of Land Animals & Man // 6. Stop Pakistani volunteers from joining Taliban.
7. Rest from Creation // 7. Break relations with Taliban.

Is this a coincidence? At one point in his life someone connected to the White House learned a relevant pattern and leveraged it (True, he or she could have made an intelligent guess). Whichever is true, this list prioritized a series of events that resulted in a decade-long war. If a Biblically literate pattern is reliable enough to prioritize a national move that cost (at this very minute) 7,240 lives and $1,199,204,500,000, then how much more is it absolutely important that we and our offspring put our full weight on it? 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

APOCALYPTIC BODY TYPES


A 20th century phenomenon more curious than the absolute certainty of the Rapture before year 2000 has been the curious uniform squeezing of body types into the three generic categories of ectomorph (skinny), mesomorph (medium), and endomorph (fat). 




What is more curious, however, is the American fundamentalist and evangelical elimination of the one (mesomorph) and the increasing presence of the two (ectomorph and endomorph). What is most fascinating is how the unnerving imminence of Apocalypse has literally "shaped" the body types of people within American church culture.




I was introduced to the concept of an Apocalypse early on in life, my father being military, and my family being stationed overseas. That is to say, I understood the imminent threat of Communism and nuclear war probably more keenly than most children my age. 


However, I was introduced to the concept of "Rapture" at the age of eight, having a general understanding of it by age ten. From ten to fourteen I suffered nightmares, panic attacks, and a serious lack of motivation, all directly related to the imminent Return of Jesus (which everyone pretended to be excited about). I learned that these symptoms were called "conviction," even though as a grown man I can say for certain that they were "terror." 








I cannot recount how many "revival" services I attended where as a child I was introduced to imagery and terminology that could be considered, I don't know, Rated R. And I had no context for it. I learned the word "damned", "whore", and "Hell." I learned that the "nations" committed adultery (which I learned meant "had sex with") the "Great Whore of Babylon" which my creative mind was too underdeveloped to conjure an image (though I thought "Great" was a compliment because the "Great Whore" was the "best" at what she did). I also learned that she drank blood.








I learned about the different modes of death people would suffer in the Great Tribulation like boils right down to the description of how pus would ooze from the sores and they would "writhe in agony". 






I was subject to visual timelines that were as terrifying and absurdist as the images lining the jackets of many Heavy Metal records out there we were also told by the same revival speakers to avoid (I remember one revival speaker being asked not to return when his visual timeline did not agree with the executive pastor's. It had to do with one little timeframe difference). 








Most imprinted on my mind is how the sermons were punctuated with excited "Amens", "Preach it, brothers", and "Hallelujahs!" I never could ascertain the nexus of the excitement around which these macabre talks were given. 


I prefer to call the "Rapture" Apocalypse. I find the word "rapture" an oxymoronic word choice. I see nothing "rapturous" about being interrupted midstream in any variety of activities, leaving your clothes behind (Especially dirty underwear. Those left behind might never get saved if they saw our dirty underwear.), false teeth behind, fillings behind, stitches and jewelry behind in a small pile of blood, urine, feces, and undigested food while floating at hyper-speed through the stratosphere with millions of naked strangers (or according to some fundamentalists, anywhere between a conservative 25 and a liberal 1,000) to the sound of a trumpet (of all instruments), meeting Jesus "halfway" (wherever that was) and then disappearing somewhere for a seven-year long "feast." (The following picture of the Rapture is not the depiction I was given as a child. First of all, attractive people are being raptured. Second of all, they are wearing their modest but worldly clothes).




I don't mean to belittle this scenario for those who hold to it. The Rapture in this way just goes against all I had been taught in church as a child about decency, cleanliness, and purity. I also didn't understand the "feasting" for seven years part which seemed rather gluttonous (Oh, I forgot, we have "glorified", aka, bionic bodies that can do queer things like that. One pastor told us that we would be able to jump as high and long as we wanted. I never understood why you would want to do this in heaven. One of the men who purported this idea insulted me at the age of thirteen when he found out I aspired to be a gymnast. He asked me "How can you get people saved by jumping around on a mat like a monkey"?).




Looking back, I am not surprised to find that the "honorable" hierarchy of Christians in this rapture culture were of two extremes. There were those who worked themselves to the bone until their bodies were ruined by an ascetic lifestyle of "full-time" Christian ministry (or something close to it). These were the ones so "out-of-tune" with themselves and their bodies that they honestly transcended personal desires or interests. They were the ones who were always tired, who always were suffering some "persecution", who always pretended "joy" in a signature, glum way, who always made you feel inferior if you were ever having fun not directly related to a somber, "end-times" fashion. These people limited themselves, rarely or never being emotionally filled, never getting quite enough rest. Never laughing enough. No doctor's visits. No time for themselves.



Then there were those on the other end of the spectrum who were so intent to "get others saved" that they did whatever was necessary to achieve that end so that their bodies were marked by this same kind of lawlessness and indulgence. They were hedonists who always had a Scripture passage for a monetary, material, or nutritional indulgence. They made jokes about their weight (before others did). They belittled serious forms of exercise (unless the doctor told them they were dying). They were wily and suspiciously contemptible of a variety of authorities from acceptable Scriptural authorities to governmental authorities to the practice of putting limitations upon the plumbline of their every whim. These were typically people in some stage of being overweight. But they had "great" personalities, were inspiring, a little crazy, and brazen. They knew what they wanted (be it a new car, a raise in salary, or a church building). And they seemed to be immune from the "health" standards or any standard, quite honestly, the rest of us were expected to uphold.




There was virtually no middle ground in that leadership hierarchy. Either you were "hot" or "cold." Overweight or underweight. Not quite attractive or overly attractive. Overconfident ("in the Lord") or underconfident ("in the Lord"). If you were somewhere in between, Middle-earthy, that meant that you were spending too much time investing in the "things of this world" instead of in the things of heaven. That meant that you had little or no "treasure" in heaven. That meant that you were a spiritual pauper and overall loser. The following are examples of spiritual paupers and losers.






Healthy people, beautiful people, or people who try to live with some earthy integrity have no real place in these kinds of congregational leaderships because they are believed to drive leadership and congregants to envy or to lust, specifically because of what their image communicates. Most importantly, these sorts of people do not encourage the laity at large to live in an "otherworldy" mode or state of mind.


Poor Baptist, Jessica Simpson couldn't break into Christian music because she was considered to be too sexy. Which Jessica Simpson photo below would you consider more virtuous?






Whitney Houston was raised Christian. Which Whitney Houston photo below would you consider to be more virtuous? 






Avril Levine was raised Pentecostal. Which Avril Levine photo below do you consider to be more virtuous?  






Britney Spears was raised Baptist. Which of the following photos of Britney Spears do you consider to be more virtuous? 






Brad Pitt was raised Baptist. Which photo of Brad Pitt do you consider has a chance at being categorized "godly"?






Denzel Washington was raised Christian. Which photo of Denzel Washington would you say is more becoming a Christian?






Tom Hanks became an ardent, fundamentalist Christian in his teens. Which photo of Hanks looks more becoming a Christian?






It is safe to say that one of these photos probably looks more virtuous than the other in the relationship of the one to the other. But do not be tricked into thinking that the person represented in the "more" virtuous picture would find an easy time in your average church congregation without having to modify some aspect of his or her alleged vanity. I have known men and women in church congregations all my life who had to go the "extra" mile to make other people in the church not feel inferior because they were especially talented, or handsome, or pretty, or strong, or smart. Or in order to make a show of being "more" sold out to the Lord or "more" committed than the average Christian (this included racial and ethnic minorities, too). This metamorphosis would happen in the brain first before it was exhibited in the body. But it does exhibit itself in the body. The body does follow. 




If the especially gifted person stays within this type of congregation, he will tend to illustrate his commitment to the Second Coming first by giving up that which distinguishes him. So the high-paying CEO will give up his six-figure job to become a missionary in some part of the world he cannot pronounce. Or the aspiring musician will give up her music contract and televised exposure in order to take a local job near the church where she can be there every time the doors are opened. Or the beauty queen will give up her dreams of traveling the world in order to marry some dumpy, upstart preacher boy who enjoys living in abject poverty, gives her five children, does not work but preaches (whenever and wherever "the Lord allows him"), lives off the occasional "love offering", and makes her twice as stressed and dumpy as he is. 




Fundamentalistic absolutism and evangelical sensationalism have both lost a lot of steam since we hit the 21st century eleven years, four months, and twenty-one days ago. Both broad, denominational groups are more reticent to project an actual date for the Second Coming. Extreme, fundamentalist congregations, while waning, are simultaneously infused with a remnant-ardor that provides them more impetus to make asses of themselves by projecting actual dates and timeframes. Popular fundamentalism has morphed into mainstream evangelicalism, congregants putting more of an emphasis upon the healing of a myriad of emotional wounds suffered under the last forty years of that strange, ego-centric, American dispensationalism, frantically trying to build up their meager, financial portfolios that lay unattended out of deference to the Second Coming of Christ, and trying to buy back twenty years of poor health by extreme efforts to exercise which ends up injuring or killing them in droves. 




My greatest concern and confusion with these sorts of people has been the truncated mindset at the impulse-level an Apocalyptic mindset puts you in. Not only do you filter everything through your Apocalyptic interpretation, but you do not think normally. Everything becomes imminent. Simply put, a hyper-sensationalized perspective of the End Times does not motivate you to invest in your body for the long haul or in anything for the long haul. 


While I am not saying that everyone should be built like Arnold or as attractive as Jessica, I am saying that it is strange for people to live with the "breaks on" when they have marriages, and jobs, and children, and property, and breath and are a part of a culture that is "going somewhere." They see themselves as going no where (but "up").




Exposed to the fundamentalist tradition as a young boy, I was surprised that my pastors or visiting ministers were always fat. And they always made jokes about their weight. They would talk about being free from the law and go on to describe their gluttonous appetites, followed by an "Amen?" Bacon, shrimp, barbecue. I never heard these pastors talking about ever eating a delicious tomato or describing a killer salad. Ever. It was always how we were "free" from the Old Testament and could pretty much do whatever we want except what the church said not to do (which was pretty much anything that was fun). It also surprised me how many "fellowships" we had. The point of these fellowships was to bring the unhealthiest of foods and the frequency of these fellowships (if you include all of the other activities at these churches which were laced with desserts) was, well, very frequent. I wonder how many of these hedonistic get-togethers contributed to clogged arteries, cancers, acid reflux, and a myriad of other diseases of its members while they were "fellowshipping." Oh, the oxymorons go on.


At 38 I can still tumble, pommel horse, p-bar, high bar, vault, trampoline, wrestle, and spin on my head. I don't think that a huge accomplishment and I don't lord it over anybody. However, I am tired of being around people who count such behavior as "extreme" or ancillary to the "greater" concerns of Apocalypse.


I often get conflicted when I hear of people succumbing to physical diseases of their own design (not that everyone who succumbs to disease did it on purpose). When you look at all of the fear-mongering, discomfort, terror, control, and absurdity that dictates the menial life decisions of those in church congregations who propose a very specific "imminent" interpretation of the Last Days, it is no wonder why all the strong, pretty, sexy people have left. You can often go from ugly and out of shape to hot and fit just by cutting yourself off from such negativity. Oh, give us variety once more.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

VADER BABIES: CHILDREN WHO CAN'T BREATHE



Last week's Tennessean newspaper announced that Nashville is 10th largest city in the nation's lineup of cities with asthmatic children. Perhaps, the most annoying sound I have ever heard from any of my children (besides screaming at the top of their lungs or the incessant whining about what they do or do not like) is the asthmatic wheezing of my fifth-born. In addition to being generally annoying, it is unnerving because it is the sound of someone struggling to breathe. 


I can actually empathize with him. I developed asthma myself when I was about 11 years old. Living in England at the time, our groceries mostly consisted of whatever the milk lady had on her truck: cheese, bottles of chilled milk with an inch or two of thick cream stoppering the top, butter (and lard for a while), bread, and an assortment of sodas like Lemonade, Limeade, Grapeade, Rasberryade, Strawberryade, Orangeade, Appleade, Cherryade, Blackcurrantade, and Gooseberryade (I could never chug the Blackcurrantade or Gooseberry and never developed a taste for either though blackcurrants always looked tantalizing and gooseberries grew in our backyard along the fence line the little village of Aston, England). I learned twenty years later that I was lactose intolerant. I am actually glad I did not know that back then otherwise I would have been lactose intolerant and starving.


It was in the little city of Freshbrook, Swindon (Swindon being the setting for England's famous comedy series THE OFFICE) that I began having bouts of breathlessness. My parents' solution for me was to stay in bed on those days which meant that instead of being breathless while mobile, I was breathless while lying down. I was unable to perform simple chores like taking out the trash without having to take half a dozen breaks in between (I learned that if I hunched my shoulders, the asthma was more bearable). 


I finally went to the hospital after a particularly bad attack around my 17th birthday. The doctors at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany were surprised I had even made it (my dad sped down the autobahn, making it to Landstuhl in record time). They pumped me full of oxygen, and I sat there on the table stupidly dizzy and comfortable, not wanting to get up at all. That was when I received my first inhaler. I have been through dozens since.


Asthma is mostly described as symptomatic which is why it concerns me that the medical antidote for most children with asthma is breathing treatments of different sorts from inhalers to pills. Instead of effectively searching for a cause like an allergy or another inconspicuously physical problem, parents like myself spend way too much money suppressing the symptom with placebos when it rears its head.


I would not describe asthma as painful as much as I would describe it as inhibiting. It is a huge inhibitor. Besides hating everyone else for breathing normally, asthmatics suffer from the fear and anxiety asthma breeds. Oftentimes when in the middle of an asthmatic bout, I would slow down, calm my mind, and realize to my surprise that my mind was already several steps ahead of me. It was already escalating my heartbeat, exaggerating my need for several puffs of inhaler. Or my mind would ready itself for the suffocating sensation of little oxygen in which case I spent those generous minutes looking for my inhaler. Or my mind would project in movie-picture clarity that this could be the "last time", the only solution being to find my inhaler. 


Carl Louis' quote explains it well: "If you don't have confidence, you'll always find a way not to win." Every part of my mind, soul, and body was scripted for failure, and so every part of my being funneled me towards one solution: the inhaler. What is rather discouraging is that I had always believed I wanted to conquer asthma, but that belief was only a thought so totally separate from reality that it is better described as I had an illusion that I wanted to conquer asthma when I really did not.


Of course, Vader Babies need inhalers and antihistamines and all of the other medical relief at their disposal. However, what they also need (as much as medical attention) is the belief that they can actually determine the cause of their problem, be it psychological or merely physiological. Where Vader Babies (or any child who grows up taking medication as if it is as natural as eating) are done an injustice is when they are never told the "story" of their disease. Come on, their is a beginning as well as an end.


I recently went to a acupuncturist after the May 1, 2010 Nashville Flood. My asthma was particularly bad due to the saturation of bacteria in the air (which probably started the afternoon off the 1st when I was slogging in waist-high sewage water, trying to help friends retrieve belongings of importance in their basement). At the bequest of a friend, I finally went to visit Gil Ben Ami, an Israeli who practiced Chinese acupuncture. He felt my pulse while we chatted. After a few minutes, he sat back a little concerned and said "Your body is telling me a story..." 


He proceeded to ask me questions about events surrounding my birth. Of course, I knew none of them, save that my father was abroad on the Vietnam front when I was cooking in 1971 and 1972. Gil finally told me "Robbie, your body is telling me that your asthma is a symptom. Your main problem is with your kidneys. Your body is telling me that you have always operated on about 60% of your lung capacity. What happened to you in your mother's womb? Was there any trauma?" I was not certain how to answer. All I remember is that it was dark, haha. You can imagine my surprise later when I asked my mother and she responded that I was distressed and had to be pulled out with forceps. That sounds rather... extreme. 


He had me lie on my back on a table. After a few minutes he put a mineral heating lamp over me, out on some airy mood music, turned the light off, and told me he would be back in 45 minutes. When he left, I looked down and noticed at least thirty needles sticking in all parts of my body.


When I awoke, this is no lie, I felt drunk. Gil woke me up.


"Your lower diaphragm is moving!" He said elated. All I can say is that for the next two weeks, I felt happily drunk. I learned later that it was because for once in my life I was finally able to take in normal breaths of air. It proved too much for my system and resulted in an enjoyably dizzy sensation. Gil is my new best friend.


All Vader Babies are not mutants. I mean that no Vader Babies are mutants. The pharmaceutical world makes it seem that the POMO morphed a need for copious amounts of pharmaceuticals through some punctuated equilibrium that happened around thirty years ago. I'm for the alternative medical doctors like Gil who wrap the context in the narrative of stories. 


The next time your child has you up at night because of his wheezing, change tactics. While you are rummaging through the laundry, under his bed, or through her school backpack for the elusive inhaler, don't lecture him on how irresponsible he is or if she would just eat the right foods she might get better. Instead, start off with "Once upon a time...."



Monday, May 16, 2011

THE MAKING OF A MARINE: THE POMO & FINAL THOUGHTS


I heard it said more than once on Parris Island that the men and women who have become Marines since 9/11 are the best they have ever had. Of course, each generation of Marines has arisen to the combat challenges in which it found itself. In that sense, all United States Marines at any given time in history are the "best."

However, if you take into consideration traits of the current generation I lovingly call POMOS, the fact that POMO Marines are unequaled can hardly be debated.

The man below is the curator of the Parris Island Museum. His name is Aulton Kohn. He is in his 60's. Oh, crap, what a fuzzy picture. I'm seriously in need of the 4g.


Mr. Kohn was a Marine Private First Class in Vietnam on patrol when his unit of 38 soldiers was decimated, leaving only him and another soldier alive.


Both of them had to survive in enemy territory for over 50 days before they were rescued. These men are great. Aulton is a great man. These men are heroes.

Consider that we are at the apex of cultural tolerance where civil rights are pretty much guaranteed for any and everyone. For the person or group who does not have his civil rights recognized, there is pretty much a 100% chance he can secure those.

Like many African-American men, Aulton Kohn found the military a proving ground where he could distinguish his humanity through acts bravery and service. Like many African-American men, I am sure he thought such distinction might help better his status in the civilian world.

POMOS don't necessarily need to join the Marines to prove themselves to others. They do not need to go into the military to prove that their race, their ethnicity, their "group" is human and equal to others in deeds of courage. 

POMOS don't necessarily join the Marines to merely make mom and dad proud. Joining any military branch would make patriotic parents proud, because all branches contribute to the safety and welfare of our national security. Who wouldn't be proud?

POMOS don't necessarily join the Marines for "fun." I am not sure I know anybody who has joined the military for fun. For adventure maybe, but for fun I am not so sure.

POMOS are a cultural group of post-moderns who exhibit a unique baseline of behavioral traits like absurdity, suspicion of logical reliability, the re-enchantment of nature, a cynical aspiration to reason, vulgarity as a valid language, and experimental verification. Outside the military the POMO has his pick of alternative realities to pursue, his own customized illusion.

That is why I agree with the sentiment that this generation of U.S. Marines is the best. POMOS don't have to join the Marines. POMOS join the Marines because the Marines provides the POMO a position of consequence. The Marines afford him clarity for illusion, accountability for personal preference, solidarity for individualism.

Every obeyed or disobeyed order has a distinct consequence that ripples up and down the ranks to both extreme ends. Every manned or unmanned gun means something more or less to the whole. The fine integration of U.S.M.C. doctrine and protocol exhibits the integrated machinations of natural law. 

The POMO finds himself in touch with the world, and that is the first time for many of them. It is an awful and strange and beautiful place for that brotherhood of 214,000. The world starts clicking into place. The things learned in school start making sense. The U.S.M.C. affords many POMOS the opportunity to be born again.