Chaplain Emil Kapaun, 1916-1951

Some of the many unsung heroes of our military are the chaplains who serve and sacrifice for our nation. Today, on this day of remembrance, I thought that I would share a bit about one such man. The image at the right depicts a statue, located in Pilsen, Kansas, of Emil Kapaun helping a wounded comrade. Kapaun was a chaplain in the US Army during the Korean War. A few details of his inspiring service.
  • In January 1950 he was stationed near Mt. Fuji, Japan as a military chaplain until alerted into combat in July 1950. 
  • In the same month, Chaplain Kapaun's unit, the 35th Brigade from Ft. Bliss, TX landed in South Korea during a big invasion.
  • He constantly ministered to the dead and dying while performing baptisms, hearing Confessions, offering Holy Communion and celebrating Mass from an improvised altar set up on the front end of an army jeep.  
  • He regularly would lose his Mass Kit, jeep and trailer to enemy fire. He told how he was thoroughly convinced that the prayers of many others were what had saved him so many times up until his capture.
  • He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in September 1950.
  • When his unit was overrun by the enemy he stayed behind with the wounded. He allowed his own capture, then risked death by preventing Chinese executions of wounded Americans too injured to walk.
  • In November 1950, he was captured near Unsan, North Korea.
  • In the prison camp his main complaint was lack of sleep for several weeks at a time.
  • He was noted among his fellow POWs as one who would steal coffee and tea (and a pot to heat them in) from the Communist guards.
  • On May 23, 1951, he died in a prison camp in Pyoktong, North Korea. He was buried in a mass grave near the Yalu River. 
  • On August 18, 1951, Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at Unsan.
  • On April 11, 2013, President Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Father Emil Kapaun
Today I remember Emil Kapaun, and chaplains like him, who do an amazing job ministering to our valiant soldiers.
I applaud the quiet and humble way that they serve those who have given all for peace.

John Thomas Brown, 1948-1968

I went to high school with John. I remember him as a very popular guy. He played both basketball and baseball. We both graduated in 1966. John died serving our country in Vietnam eight months before I enlisted in the US Army. Here are a few remembrances of John from his childhood friends.
We were classmates at Port Richmond High School, class of 1966 and when he was a senior, he was the best outside shooter, if not the best basketball player on the team. Although shorter than many of the other players he always played with heart and was a catalyst for the many wins Port Richmond had in 1966. I did not see him much after graduation, although I heard he had joined the Army in 1967. I always wondered why he didn't get a scholarship somewhere, he was that good. Reading through his history, I see he was killed during the Tet Offensive of 1968, one month after arriving in country and with less than a year in the Army. He was killed 6 days after I entered Basic Training. It wasn't until years later that I learned of his passing. He was a good friend and I always admired his positive attitude, infectious spirit and comradery. He gave his life for his country and i hope to see him memorialized at the 50 year reunion in 2016. God Bless John T. Brown. -Bob Pineiro

John Thomas Brown, was my classmate at St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School for 9 years, where we were in the same classroom together about 7 hours every day. We hung out in a group and did many things together on weekends, such as riding our bikes to a local bowling alley to bowl on Saturday mornings. Though we went to different high schools, we continued to see each other often through those years. We both played basketball for our high school teams, and would often go to each other's games. After high school, and a childhood friendship of 13 years, we began dating each other. We were both only 19 years old when he was killed. It has been 45 years now, and I think about him, still - almost every day. When something reminds me of the Vietnam War, I still sob from the depths of my being with the loss of my precious friend. I will always love and honor him with all my heart. -Kathleen M Stuart
I remember hearing of John's death. It rocked me. It made me sad. It made me afraid. My draft status was 1A. John's death was one of the reasons that I signed up for a third year of service when I was drafted. At 19 I did not feel ready to die in Vietnam. My extra year of service involved six months of electronics training and a two and half year duty station in the New Mexico desert. My military service prepared me for the rest of my life. As I think back on 1968 I will always remember the impact that John's death had on me. On this weekend of remembrance, I remember John.

Joseph Vincent Camerlengo, 1948-1969

I grew up with Joe. We lived on the same street on Staten Island, NY. We both graduated high school in 1966.
We both served in the US Army. I was stationed in the New Mexico desert when Joe died serving in Vietnam on
October 20, 1969. Here are a few remembrances of him by the people he knew.
Today I remembered it was your birthday. So I googled you and saw pictures of your son. He has your dimples. I visit you when I go to my parents grave. I still can't believe how unfair life can be. Taken so young. Just wanted you to know as I am living my life I often wonder what you would be doing at 65 years old. I know you would be very proud of Joey Jr. -Your Friend and best man Nicky

I saw your name on the traveling wall and cried like I did when I heard you had died. I still have a picture of you and me taken in 1965 on Staten Island,New York.You are always in my prayers. Miss you. -Not Forgotten

You spoke to us this year with a letter carried by your son. Joe, you must be so proud. Your son is a wonderful young man. Through him your words and memories are with us. Thank you Joe. You are forever in our hearts and thoughts. -Rock

Joe You died so young. I have and will always remember you. Even as bad as it was we were tight. Man you were something. I often wonder about your "little girl" hell she must be 30 now. Joe, not in a hurry to hook up again but one day we shall. -RM

Joey I remember the day the 'army Vehicle' pulled up in front of your mother's house me and my brother Jimmy were standing across the street at Eddies Gulf station and we heard your mother scream after they broke the news of your death, we were devastated, you were a great friend. You are always remembered and prayed for. -Boyhood Friend
Hard to believe that it has been so long. I remember being at his house when I was young. We were not close friends but I remember how sad I felt when I learned that he had died.

On this weekend of remembrance I remember Joe.

Colonel Greg Gadsen

I saw Colonel Greg Gadsen several times this week on television because of his appearance in the new Battleship movie. I love that he is in that movie and I love the attitude this great warrior has. A bit of his story from Wikipedia:
An American bilateral above-the-knee amputee, occasional actor and motivational speaker. He has served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years as a field artillery officer and on active service for; Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Kuwait), Operation Joint Forge, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is currently the director of the U.S. Army Fort Belvoir Garrison.
On the night of May 7, 2007, while returning from a memorial service for two soldiers from his brigade, he lost both his legs and severley injured his right arm, to a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He became one of the first military personnel to use a next-generation powered prosthetic knee with technology to make it possible for amputees to walk with confidence and with a more natural gait.
On this Memorial Day weekend lets take a moment to honor, remember and pray for all of those (and their families) who have sacrificed and lost so much for the cause of freedom. We, who are free, are in their debt.

... originally posted in 2012

Money Monster | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Ann and I enjoyed this movie a few days ago. The plot was filled with twists and was pretty suspenseful. I thought Gorge Clooney did a credible job projecting (sort of) CNBC financial shock jock Jim Cramer. The movie itself was a bit of a sendup of TV and radio pundits, both financial and political. The heart of the story revolves around a person who actually believed what Clooney's character was saying about a specific company stock and "invested" all of his inheritance in it.

I also liked the twisted look at the ways that hostage crises directly and indirectly affect people as these situations take a life of their own. In such things people and groups seem to go with what they are most comfortable with. Most interesting was how Clooney's character got to know his hostage taker and began to care abut him. Also interesting how the movie portrayed the narcissistic corporate CEO.

I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Q&A with Mike Erich

I have been reading Mike's blog for several years. He and I have had rich conversations about biblical interpretation and theology. Mike and I both post at the Daily Prayer blog. Here is my Q&A with the Mad Theologian.

What is the name and URL of your blog?
I am Mike Erich, and I blog at
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have continued to blog in spite of my present struggles with pancreatic cancer. I call myself the mad theologian. By this I do not mean the angry theologian, though there are some things that tend to made me angry. I mean, rather, a theologian who is somewhat off the wall. I believe we have taken God’s true message and have complicated it with unnecessary baggage. Those who want a full list of my concerns, along with the detailed support for them, should go to my blog.
Share a few sentences about your blog.
Here are four of my basic issues.

In am opposed to all sorts of quick fixes and magic formulas for living the Christian life or improving the Christian church. I believe that growth in Christ is a lifelong journey, full of ups and downs, and there are no short-cuts. I also believe that serving Christ in whatever capacity is a process of learning that takes place over time. And I hold that the way to accomplish these is through trust in God and not reliance on our methods.

I am convinced that we in the United States live in a post-Christian nation and that we cannot go back simply by passing the right laws and electing the right politicians. Rather, we need to start again at the beginning and convince people of Christian principles on the personal level before we can have any real political influence. This means being people who know what we believe and why we believe it.

Christ has redeemed us from sin apart from our good works. Therefore, the people of God must be people of grace who reach out in love to those who are in need. We need to lay aside self-righteousness and recognize that we are sinners saved by grace. Therefore, our focus should not be on condemning people, but on helping them to find God’s love.

The Christian church is the body of Christ, which consists of all believers of all time, and which He works through to achieve His purposes. The function of the church organization is to work for the good of the people in it, to bring them to Christ and help them to grow in Him, so that they may accomplish Christ’s purpose in the world. But it is easy for the organization to think it is there to grow and perpetuate itself and to view the people as being there to build the organization, rather than the other way around.

But the bottom line is that I believe the work of serving Christ is reaching out to and loving people, so that they may live and grow in Christ, and not promoting “my group” or “my gimmick.”
Thanks to Mike for sharing. Send me an email if you are a blogger and interested in participating in my Q&A.

Caregiving vs Caretaking

I am a caregiver for my wife. I help her doing things that are a bit of a challenge for a person in a wheelchair.
So my interest was peaked when I saw an article titled "When Care Becomes Overcare". A few clips from it:
On occasion our care and compassion can leave us feeling drained and stressed. Emergency relief workers will tell you that compassion fatigue is very real – it takes practice to care for people without becoming overly identified with their challenges.

The energy drain and depletion we sometimes feel can happen as a result of being out of balance with our care. Sometimes our care can cross a line and turns into worry, anxiety and stress. In other words, our care and compassion start to drain our energy and becomes what is called “overcare.” [You can read the article in full here.]
I can relate to overcare and compassion fatigue. Ann and I have talked about this a lot. We agree that being a caregiver is not the same as being a caretaker. One controls, and is responsible for, the care of another and the other merely assists in it. Ann mostly cares for herself and, in reality, she often takes care of me more than I take care of her. ツ

Q&A with Stephanie

I was planning to post something else today. Then I realized that today is Stephanie's birthday.
I have followed Stephanie's blogging for many years. I appreciate her writing transparency.
Happy birthday to my Q&A friend of the day. Wish you a year filled with blessed joy.

What is the name and URL of your blog?
Never Been Here Before |
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a child of God, a daughter of the King. I work in ministry. I’m from Nebraska, and have lived in 5 states since I was 22. I like coffee a lot. Jesus, too. I have a ridiculous nail polish collection and way too many Kate Spade hand bags. I play guitar, though not well. I sing a bit better than that. I love bluegrass music and like to belt out the high notes when I can. (As long as no one else can hear me.) I love to read and teach people about Jesus. I’m currently doing that in Kansas, where I work for an awesome church.
Share a few sentences or a paragraph about your blog.
I’m not a regular blogger. I wish I was, but I find the process of writing often painful, so perhaps that’s why it’s not a regular activity for me. But that really is the point of my blog. I write when I need to process something difficult I’m going through. The title, “Never Been Here Before” acknowledges that I am always changing and transforming (thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit). I often look back and what I’ve written and don’t recognize it. This is the essence of being human and an artist: we, in the words of Derek Webb, are “constantly covering the material of another person” Meaning, we’ve changed since we created that art. So every place I am in is a place I’ve haven’t been and never will be again.
Share a URL link to one of your favorite blog posts and it is a favorite.
I think this is a favorite post because it was the first time I realized that by constantly labeling myself as a sinner, I was putting all the emphasis in the wrong place. Am I a sinner? Absolutely. But that’s not the end of the story. It was the beginning of the formation of my philosophy of ministry and a greater understanding of God’s story and my place in it. By reminding myself that I am a saint, I am giving glory to the one who conquered the sin, not the sin itself.
Where do you find your inspiration to blog.
To be honest? Usually pain. Writing has always been like this for me, and I’ve been writing since the 6th grade. The most tender and wise moments I’ve been given were the result of pain in my life. But I am also occasionally inspired to write about pop culture from a Christian perspective. So strong emotions and convictions are more broadly what inspire me to write. There’s a line from the song “Breathe” by Anna Nalick that comes to mind, “2 AM and I'm still awake // writing a song // If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me // Threatening the life it belongs to” I write when I have to. Usually the compulsion is pretty strong and won’t leave me along until I process it and write it out.
Share your favorite quote and how it affects you or speaks to you.
What is to give light must endure burning – Victor Frankl

This speaks to me because it, in many ways, illustrates the Christian life. We live in the “already/not yet” – the place of already being forgiven and not yet fully restored to glory in heaven. Living this life knowing things aren’t the way they are supposed to be is complicated and messy. And living it with authenticity hurts, because it means acknowledging and confronting all that is broken. Instead of focusing on easing that hurt (which is typically where idols are born) we should focus on giving light: the light of Jesus Christ. We must lean into the struggle and face the burning, because this is what makes a difference in the world.
Share a paragraph about anything that you are passionate about.
I am passionate about critical thinking in the Christian sub-culture. Because I don’t think there should be a Christian sub-culture. I think that by labeling things “secular” and “sacred” we are drawing a line that God never intended for us to draw. Everything is sacred because God created everything. (Have we perverted some of those things? Absolutely. But that’s another paragraph.) The fact that God is the creator of all things is what makes something sacred, not how many times the word “God” or “Jesus” is used in the lyric or the script. I believe the Christian sub-culture was born out of fear of being more tainted by sin than we already are. I also believe that by putting ourselves in a Christian bubble we are ignoring the Great Commission to go out into the world and make disciples. Relational evangelism is the most effective way to not only share the gospel with someone, but to be the gospel to someone. And that means entering in to the messiness of their lives to show them Jesus. (And let them see your mess, too.) We can’t do that in a bubble. But to step outside of the bubble requires discernment and critical thinking that we often are too lazy, ill-equipped, or too afraid to do.
Thanks to Stephanie for sharing in my Q&A forum. Send me an email if you are interested in participating.

Q&A with Andy Bondurant

I have known Andy since the 1970s. I am so happy to be able to share a bit of his story with you in this Q&A forum.

Andy and his Family
What is the name and URL of your blog?
Andy Bondurant |
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a full-time pastor, part-time writer who lives in Shawnee, Kansas. In addition to pastoring and writing, I also have a small t-shirt company (also at Every shirt has a story or purpose, and every shirt sold helps send a child to school.

I grew up in Olathe, Kansas (KC Suburb), and I’ve lived all over in the Kansas City area - from downtown to suburbs to rural. My wife, Kia, and I have been married for 20+ years, and we have 4 children.

In my spare time, I play and coach basketball and soccer, I binge watch The Blacklist, and I watch/listen to the Kansas City Royals.

A little known fact about me - I am related to the bad Bondurant boys in Lawless (my grandfather’s first cousins).
Share a few sentences or a paragraph about your blog.
I've found most people struggle to connect with God, so I created a tool to take the first step down the path of peace of mind and heart.

I write about life, leadership and faith. Every person has a story to tell through their life. The story only comes through finding freedom. The way we become free is living intentionally.

I write about how to live a free and intentional life, so you can tell a great story.
Share a URL link to one of your favorite blog posts and why it is a favorite. :: I had a professor in college who filled in for the regular prof while he was on sabbatical. In his 80s, Dr Metz was completely real. His response to a question so impacted me, I still can’t get it out of my head 20 years later.
Where do you find your inspiration to blog.
Daily bible reading, podcasts (Bethel sermons, This American Life, Serial, Andy Stanley Leadership, and more), reading books and news articles, observing life around me
Share your favorite quote and how it affects you or speaks to you.
I’m not a big quote guy. I tend to forget them as fast as I hear them. Here’s one I’ve enjoyed lately -

“Dream big dreams. Small dreams leave no room for miracles.” That’s my version of this quote from Dottie Boreyko, “Dream big dreams. Small dreams have no magic.”

Anything bigger than me requires help from others and God. Big, bold, outlandish dreams require God to come through. I love that thought.
Share a paragraph about anything that you are passionate about.
This week, I released my first eBook. It’s a collection of 30 devotions. It’s free, and I would love to share it with you. Sign up for it here:

Thanks to Andy for sharing in my Q&A forum. Send me an email if you are interested in participating.

Diagnosing Hemochromatosis

I saw this pic on Facebook today. It reminded me about my own journey with Hemochromatosis (HHC). Normal ferritin levels are 24-336. Mine were over 1,800 when I was first diagnosed in 1998.  According to
Hemochromatosis is a leading cause of iron overload disease. People with Hemochromatosis absorb extra amounts of iron from the daily diet. The human body cannot rid itself of extra iron. Over time, these excesses build up in major organs such as the heart, liver, pancreas, joints and pituitary. If the extra iron is not removed, these organs can become diseased. Untreated Hemochromatosis can be fatal.
HHC is a genetic disorder that my sister and I both share. My treatment over the years has involved regular blood testing and phlebotomy therapy - I donated blood every other week for a year when I was first diagnosed. These days I donate my blood at the Community Blood Center two to three times a year which keep my levels around 50.

HHC is not fatal if it is caught early and aggressively treated like mine was. A good reason to insure that your blood is screened for high iron levels when you get your annual physical. You do get an annual physical. Right?

The Greatest Barrier to Success

This image speaks to me about failure. Maybe it is because of those days when I loved to play Minesweeper - I remember getting blown up more times than not. Or maybe it is because I resonate with failing even when I have given my all and worked harder than I ever have. Sometimes failure is simply not a failing. Sometimes we have to fail, and fail hard, to re-imagine what success looks like. And sometimes we learn something. Here are a few folks who seemed to know something about failure.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." -Thomas Alva Edison

"A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else." - John Burroughs

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than
a life spent in doing nothing." - George Bernard Shaw

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” - Colin Powell

"My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents
and I lay them both at his feet." - Mahatma Gandhi

"I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong." - Ben Franklin

"Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street." - Zig Ziglar

"The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure." - Sven Goran Eriksson

Happy 100 Mom !!

My mom was born in May 1916. She passed away in 2010. She was a strong woman. She taught me to be strong. To celebrate Mother's Day I thought that I would share a few excerpts from the eulogy that I shared 6 years ago.

High School Graduation with Mom
Growing up I got to spend a lot of time with Mom’s mom. There were a lot of similarities between Grandma and Mom. They were both feisty New Yorkers. Both had a great heart and deep seated love for their family. Like Grandma, Mom was a very independent woman. She was a strong woman. She ran the house. Paid the bills. And rode herd over four New York kids and made sure that we were in church at All Saints Episcopal every Sunday.
I already miss my Mom. I want to end my talk by sharing a few thoughts with you about her. When I think about my Mom I will always think of a New York woman. It was hard to keep up with Mom. She could out-walk anybody on the sidewalks of the city. St times when I was growing up she seemed so fearless.

When I think of her, I will also think of an imperfect woman. Mom made mistakes but she was not a person who let herself wallow in those mistakes. She knew how to forgive herself and move on. It took me a while to understand that about her. As I get older I am understanding it more and more.

But most of all I will remember Mom as the woman who was instrumental in making me who I am today. My Mom showed me how to be tough in adversity – God knows I have needed that lesson. She taught me to believe in others and believe in myself. She always accepted me and loved me for who I was. Mom was proud of me whether I was in school, in the Army or working at AT&T. When I was around her I felt encouraged. You know, it was years after I left home that I realized that I had limitations. I knew no limits with Mom. Her love for me inspires me still.

The Man from Uncle | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Napoleon Solo. Illya Kuryakin. Names that have remained hidden in the recesses of my mind for decades. I remember loving that old TV show. So I was anxious to see what the show looked like on the big screen. Well. Actually on my big TV screen.

I liked the movie. Of course I did. I am a spy-action-flick kind of guy. I thought that Henry Cavill and Armie Archer did a credible job as Solo and Kuryakin. I generally do not like extended car chase scenes but enjoyed the one at the beginning of the movie. Overall I though that it was a fairly decent, yet a bit campy, reimagining of the old TV classic.

I recommend the movie to you. Especially if you liked the old TV version. Or if you enjoy a bit of PG-13 spy-ish adventure. On a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Voluntary Suffering

A few great thoughts from Greg Boyd on the subject:
If we take seriously the passages from the New Testament about voluntary suffering, it could be argued that the Church’s willingness to suffer cuts to the heart of what it means to manifest the kingdom of God.
The willingness of God’s people to suffer out of love for others—including our enemies—rather than use coercive force against them must still be considered the ultimate expression of God’s love and the ultimate resistance against the patterns of this world.
By removing the cross from the center of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, we eliminate the most fundamental distinction between these two kingdoms.
I found Greg's post to be a short but powerful reminder about how we must live. You can read it in full here.