Monthly Archives: September 2013

Poster Girl now on Netflix

I had the pleasure of meeting Robynn Murray, the subject of this documentary, almost exactly three years ago. I was living in a community in Western Massachusetts and we were hosting a weekend event on peace. Murray was one of the speakers. About 50 college students were staying in the retreat house that weekend, and they were unloading from cars and vans, five, ten, fifteen at a time, all throughout the night on Friday. My job was to receive them, get them settled in.

She showed up on the porch, very late, maybe close to two a.m., with a friend. I invited them in, groggily, and showed them one of the free spaces left on the floor where they could possibly find enough room to unroll their sleeping bags. They dropped their things, and she asked if she could have some water. We stepped back over the snoring bodies, headed to the kitchen and started chatting, in whispers so as not to wake anyone up. I asked which college she was from.

“I’m not in college.” She said, “I’m Robynn Murray. I’m speaking tomorrow.”

I couldn’t believe it. She looked no different than the kids that had been showing up all night, except with maybe a few more piercings. Of course I apologized and explained that she would be staying in my room on the top floor: there was no way I was going to make her sleep on the floor! She would have the room to herself. She shrugged, like, “Okay. Whatever.”

Poster Girl, 2010

Poster Girl, 2010

Her speech the next day was raw, brave, and powerful. She focused a lot on the lies she was told by her recruiter, and she told stories of not just hardship, but regret and disillusion. I have been trying to view the documentary, Poster Girl, for three years, and last night, I saw it on Netflix. It did not disappoint.

While watching it, I couldn’t stop thinking about how young she was when she was in Iraq. A few years ago, when The Hunger Games was getting popular, parents were freaking out because it was about children, children!, killing each other. But the main characters in that book are 15, 16, 17 years old. Is there really that much of a difference between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old?


Not Just About War

These articles from summer 2013 talk about the militarization of local police forces. I’ll never forget a couple of years ago, I was walking through a suburban neighborhood park where I had a plot in a community garden. A cop drove by in a golf cart, not a plain white golf cart, mind you — a camouflage golf cart. Why on earth he needed to be camouflaged was beyond me! The golf cart was clearly made to look like a tank or something but come on: it was a golf cart. I wanted to spray him with my garden hose, but he would probably Tase me, so I didn’t.

Everyone Deserves a SWAT » Postmodern Conservative | A First Things Blog.

“The Department of Homeland Security has handed out $35 billion in grants since its creation in 2002, with much of the money going to purchase military gear such as armored personnel carriers. In 2011 alone, a Pentagon program for bolstering the capabilities of local law enforcement gave away $500 million of equipment, an all-time high” Rise of the Warrior Cop >> The Wall Street Journal


Joshua Casteel (1979-2012)

Be careful, ladies. You might fall in love. And sadly, he’s gone.

Let’s redefine our idea of a “hero.” This man was a graduate of West Point and an interrogator at Abu Ghraib, before he converted to Catholicism and became a conscientious objector. He also wrote a book, Letters from Abu Ghraib.

Once a soldier, now he’s fighting Caesar | National Catholic Reporter.

Pope Francis rallies 100,000 for antiwar peace vigil

Last week: 100,000 answer Pope’s call, fill St. Peter’s Square for Syria peace vigil.

Question: Was it a “peace vigil”? Pope Francis said: “Violence and war are never the way…” That sounds like an antiwar rally to me. “May the noise of weapons cease!…War never again! Never again war!” That’s a protest in my book. Here is the full speech.

Quick flashback to ten years ago: Iraq War Ten Years On. Will “our” representatives be stopped this time around or will we find ourselves hurtling headlong into another “military conflict,” despite worldwide protest? Yes, pray. Pray for peace. Then oppose the war loudly in whatever way you can.


▶ The Invisible War

An important documentary about the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military. This should be required viewing for every woman considering enlistment.

It is interesting to hear these women speak about their reasons for joining the military, whether because military service was a proud family legacy, they had a desire to leave their small towns and see the world, or the opportunity  gave them a chance to challenge themselves mentally and physically. Many of them said that they loved being in the military; it was only their sexual assault that tarnished the experience. It is a good reminder that each one of us wants to “be all we can be,” to live a life that is in some way heroic. That impulse and desire should always be applauded; it is part of what makes us human.


Kingdom vs. Empire

Upon his five year anniversary of being Archbishop of Military Services, Timothy P. Broglio said the following:

“I had chosen the feast of the conversion of St. Paul because he was a great missionary, and I thought he would be a great inspiration for this archdiocese which is spread throughout the world, over which the sun never sets; an inspiration, and also an example of apostolic fidelity, and zeal for preaching about the Kingdom of God.”

Interesting choice of words (“over which the sun never sets”), considering it has been used throughout history to refer to empires. At least the Archbishop seems aware of the clear connection between the “glory” of his archdiocese and American imperialism. (Instead of colonies, we have about 900 military bases around the world.)