Tag Archives: doctrine of total depravity

Let’s Not Do Dumb Things

Back in the day when I was a young Army Medical Service Corps Brigade Personnel Officer, I had a Brigade Commander whose moniker was “Let’s not do dumb things.” The man was a really good commanding officer.  He was down to earth and cared about the troops being trained at our command.  He was a common sense kind of commander and was not terribly difficult to work for.  One day however my C.O. came in with stitches on his head.  It turned out that my C.O. and broken his own rule.  He was out with the Undersecretary of Defense for Health Affairs, the Army Surgeon General, a couple of other American Generals as well as a host of Colonels, hosting a bunch of Chinese Generals for a diplomatic-military dinner.  My C.O. who was a beer drinker decided to do the hard stuff that night.  He got flat assed drunk, made vulgar and derogatory comments to the Chinese guests and then went to the head (latrine, bathroom, WC, or powder room  for non-Navy types) fell, hit his head on a urinal and knocked himself out.  That mornig he was fired.  Not by our Commanding General, not by the Major Command, or even by the Army Chief of Staff.  No he was fired by then SECDEF Casper Weinberger.  When fired he was 2 months short of completing his command tour.  His reputation was destroyed and he retired quietly and without fanfare a few months later.

Now I know that we all are inclined to do dumb things at one time or another.  This is due to my doctrine of “the Total Stupidity of Man.” Sometimes the dumb things that we do are simply minor infractions which Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light will darn us to Heck as punishment.   Other times they really get us into big time serious trouble. Sometimes we do dumb things and somehow get away with them either because no-one noticed or because someone was gracious enough not to blast us out of the water for them.  Sometimes being lucky is better than being good. The key here is not to keep doing them until they are noticed and when we get blasted out of the water.

This was the case for me when I was a young Army Chaplain.  Back when I got thrown out of the Army Chaplain Officer Advanced Course, I can honestly say that I did a number of dumb things.  The consequences were relatively minor although embarrassing and I am forever grateful to Chaplain Rich Whaley for bailing my sorry ass out of the bind which I found myself.  Damn, you say.  Padre Steve got thrown out of the Chaplain advanced course.  Yes he did and it was dumb.  You see I was selected to go to the advanced course when I was still an SS Officer.  No, no, no, not Waffen-SS, but the Army Staff Specialist branch.  It is a branch set up for officers training to be Chaplains or JAG Corps.  In seminary I had already done the Chaplain Officer Basic Course where I was the assistant course leader for 159 chaplains and seminarians.  I had not come off active duty too long before this and was still very undeveloped as a clergyman.  I was however not far from being a Company Commander and Brigade Staff Officer.  My emotions often overflowed as I saw chaplains do things that in the rest of the Army that you would be crucified for doing, much like Jesus without any salvific purpose.  Once in the Basic Course I had a young seminarian tell me that he didn’t have to obey orders from the student chain of command because his class adviser, a Major in the Chaplain Corps told him so.  He snottily told me that Chaplain so and so was a Major and that I was only a Captain.  Resiting the temptation to rip the young man’s throat from his neck, I said “We’ll see about that Lieutenant.  I then went up threw my cover across the milquetoast Chaplain’s office, blasted him on the chain of command and how it worked.  I told him in pretty rough language that he was going to get people killed. As I ranted he  tried to hide behind his desk and others in the outer office dove for cover I stopped and said: “Thanks so much sir, now I have to go to confession. ”  I then went and told Rich that “I cussed out so and so.”  Rich stammered, “You did what?”  I then explained the situation that Chaplain so and so had told a Lieutenant that he didn’t have to obey orders from the student chain of command.  Rich then said “He did what?” and told me that he would handle it.  He made the incident go away. That too was a dumb thing, I should have gone to Rich in the first place, but I was young and dumb.  Anyway, moving on there was also the time in a class that another seminarian had me so pissed that I stormed out of the classroom and was in the hallway ripping my pin on rank off my collar.  My dear friend Father Jim Bowman who commiserated with me the entire length of the course, and who I still stay in contact with grabbed me.  Father Bowman asked: “What the hell do you think that you are doing?”  I “Yelled back, I’m done, this isn’t the Army that I joined!”  Jim jammed my collar devices back into my collar and said, “You can’t leave.” I said “Why?”  Jim said “Because I can’t leave and you won’t either.”  It was like Stripes where Bill Murray tried to escape boot camp and Harold Ramis tacked him and kept him from leaving.  I think that they exchanged similar words.

Boy I chased a rabbit there…going back to the Advanced course.  I was still an SS Officer, not that kind of SS Officer but the Staff Specialist like I told you before.  So anyway, I showed up orders in hand as well as a letter from the previous Director of Training signed on behalf of the previous Commandant of the School authorizing me to be there.  Unfortunately for me there was a new sheriff in town.  The new Commandant denied me entrance into the course.  His reasoning was that though my Chaplain paperwork was sitting on a desk in DC awaiting the final stamp of approval that since there was a chance that my application could be denied that he didn’t want me there.  Who knows, maybe he got wind of my previous antics.  I was pissed.  Actually I think that most of of us who attended the  Chaplain School spent the better part of our time pissed about something.  However, instead of being smart,  I threw a Billy Martin type of home plate argument and was tossed.  Thankfully they didn’t stop me from becoming a Chaplain and they allowed me to come back for the course a couple of months later.  This was likely again due to the intervention of Rich Whaley.  Rich saw in me potential to do good.  I was like “Wild Thing” in Major League. Rich helped get me straightened out.  A couple of years later I was promoted to Major.  Then I took it off to come in the Navy in 1999.  The point is that I did a number of seriously dumb things that could have gotten me punished under the UCMJ and or thrown out of the Army.  I’m grateful as hell that Rich was there to save my ass.  A lot of people don’t get that kind of support and protection and do get hammered.  I was lucky beyond belief.  I lived to tell about it.  Many don’t.  My job now is to help young guys and gals not step on the same land mines that I did.

I’m not going to go through the list of idiotic things that I have seen other Chaplains do in the Army and Navy.  I could but that would that would be unseemly.  What I will mention, based on my experience is that I had to learn a lot the hard way that I hope to keep young Chaplains and other Officers from trying them out themselves.  I don’t like to see fellow chaplains and  officers do things that embarrass them, their service  or hurt their life and careers. In the case of chaplains, God and the Church, or God and whatever religious organization that they belong.  Heck I won’t even put a Jesus Fish on the back of my car for fear that God might get the blame for something that I do on the road.

However, doing dumb things is not limited to chaplains or the clergy, though we do such things quite well thank you.  Others do them too.  Politicians, sports stars, business leaders and others do them as well.  I’ve noted a number of ways that I have done dumb things.  At the same time I hope to have learned from them.  I will and I’m sure that you my readers know that we will all do dumb things.  I’m not a fan of Calvin’s “Total Depravity of man” theology but I am pretty sure that there is a “Total Stupidity of man”  which you can make a great case for from the triad of Scripture, Tradition and Reason.  In fact I am positive that the Deity Herself even tonight has kept me from writing some really dumb things.

So let’s not do dumb things.  Pray for me a sinner,

Peace,

Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, Military, Religion

Let Lying Dogs Sleep

her-sulking-majesty-resized

Frieda glaring and sulking after surgery to remove a tumor on her tail at the age of 10. We sometimes refer to this picture as “The Ass in a Sling.”

The term “Little Shit” in reference to  a Wiener Dog is one which may offend some people who have not been owned by one.  However as a descriptive term there is little better to describe them.  Those of us owned by them who struggle against them also mean it as a term of endearment.  Using the term in this post I mean no offense to the unenlightened, yet as we who know and love them understand deep in our hearts, that these little shits are to be treasured each in their own way.

Wiener Dogs, sometimes known as Dachshunds are among the most peculiar animals. Almost anyone who has been owned by one can tell you stories of how these little shits manage to do things that, well….to put it mildly convince you of the existence of purgatory.  They will make your life Purgatory for the 12-16 years or more that they will own you.  Sorry Protestants who don’t believe, if you aren’t owned by one here there will be one in Purgatory.  She is a Wire Hair named Frieda to run your life until you get straightened out enough to get to heaven.  After all, Purgatory is, like my home of record, West Virginia, Almost Heaven.

Judy and I have had these little wonders for oh… the last 25 years or so.   We have grown attached to them, much as hostages attach to their terrorist captors in the Stockholm Syndrome. We are convinced John, no I’m not having fun Calvin had a Wiener Dog.  Probably a Wire Hair, although I don’t think that the Wire Hair was around quite by JC’s time.  I do think that they came later.  However, that being said and despite the influence of Augustine’s understanding of predestination, Calvin had to have one of these little shits to come up with the doctrine of  Total Depravity. There is no question in my Anglo-Catholic mind of this fact. Likewise,  I’m sure that the Deity Herself will confirm this someday. Maybe John Calvin himself will thank me for bringing this up as we warm up on heaven’s lush green outfield.

For those of you who don’t believe, all you need to do is look at the first chapter of the orginal edition of Jame’s Dobson’s book The Strong Willed Child. Even Dobson cannot escape a power fight with his Wiener Dog named Max.

For us we had Frieda, a beautiful classic Wire Hair Dackel (what the Germans call them) from deep in Bayern (Bavaria). Frieda  took ownership of us on Christmas Eve 1984.  We also had Greta, a fat little red Dachshund from San Antonio who we got in 1988. Finally we have our current little shit and mischlinge (mixed) Long Hair Dachshund-Papillon and defender of the realm, Molly, in 2001.    We lost Frieda at the age of 16 1/2 in 2001. Greta at 15 1/2 in 2003.  Molly still acts like a puppy at 8.  Molly though a mixed breed flips from being the happy and obedient papillon to the obnoxious and stubborn Wiener Dog in nothing flat.  There is no in between setting for her, she goes from the good side of the Force to the Dark side at a moment’s notice.  Sometimes I think that she is channeling Frieda when this happens. Though they never met, they are somewhat kindred spirits.  Molly is not nearly as extreme as Frieda and  we can thank heaven for that. As it were we spent 16 plus years in a constant power fight with Frieda. Despite being a  little shit, Frieda weighed in at 28 pounds and had teeth and jaws like a German Shepherd.  Patently the little shits in Germany are bred to hunt badgers and foxes.  They are incredibly strong and have an attitude just this side of a Klingon in a bad mood.  Most dogs, once you have established dominance as the “Alpha Dog” in your little pack accept their place.  Not Wiener Dogs, especially Frieda. She spent 16 years trying to force us into doing what she wanted be it through passive or aggressive means.  If you have ever seen the Peter Sellers movie The Pink Panther Strikes Again where Inspector Cleauseau visits Oktoberfest and gets a room at a small hotel, you will see what I am referring to here. The good inspector sees a dog laying on the floor near the front desk. He asks the desk clerk if his dog bites.  The clerk replies no and Cleauseau reaches to pet the dog who attacks him.  Cleauseau tells the desk clerk “I thought you said your dog did not bite.” To which the clerk replied; “that’s not my dog.”  The dog is a Wire Hair, who looks just like Frieda in her early years. This was our life for 16 years.

Going back to the subject line of this post, it is more about Frieda than the other two. Although both Greta, as we affectionately called her Poo had her moments, and Molly like I said sometimes channels Frieda.  Frieda was unique. From what I hear from others owned by Wire Hairs that some of what she did are common to all of these miscreant creatures.  I can’t go into too many details and like John the Evangelist I would have to say that there are many more things that Frieda did which cannot be contained in this one blog.

Among other things, Frieda was a liar.  This began early when as a puppy in Germany she would try to fake Judy out about taking a pee.  She knew that if she went outside that she would be rewarded.  Rapidly catching on the little shit began to do “touch and goes’  faking the pee and hoping to still get a reward.  Judy noticed this and thus began an intricate dance of death with the little shit attempting to fool us, and us trying to catch her.  This usually involved looking to make sure that there was wetness where wetness should be on a female dog after they urinate.   If there was no wetness Frieda would not get her reward.  Likewise, Frieda lied about other things.  When she did something that she shouldn’t and you discovered it she could act more innocent than a Nazi at the Nurnberg Trials.  “What? Me? Do something wrong, I was in the Hofbrauhaus while the others we making those decsions.”  If you decided to push the issue she became 28 pounds of razor blades.  Actually it was more like a Sherman tank blundering into an ambush by a Wehrmacht Jagdpanther with the long 88.  Not a fun and often violent.  I think Judy and I still have scars from some of these encounters.

Frieda lied in other ways, occasionally we would catch her.  Once while living in Texas we went to take a blind friend to the store.  This was just before Christmas and Judy had just made a butt-load of cookies.  We didn’t expect the call from our friend so we left the apartment rather quickly.  When we got to our friends’ house we were struck by a terrible thought, the cookies were in striking distance of Frieda and Poo.  Reacting quickly I asked our friend for his phone. This being in the dark ages before cell phones we affordable to the average person.  Calling my house I waited for my version of Bill Clinton’s voice to play through the message on the machine and as soon as the “beep” signaled I was live I began to talk.  “Dammit, get away from the cookies now! I’m coming home and if I catch you you’re dead!” Slamming the phone down I ran to the car and raced the 5 miles back to our apartment.  As I rushed the door I noticed that indeed to cookies had been pilfered, However the dogs were nowhere to be found. I found Poo hiding in the bedroom and Frieda behind the toilet.  I can only imagine the looks on their faces when my voice called them out in the middle of the crime.

Frieda would also play dead.  I mean play dead enough to make that you think that she was dead.  She would be on her back, eyes fixed forward and unblinking, chest not moving. She would do this until we or her various puppy sitters were screaming “Oh may God she’s dead!” When she was happy the little shit would wag the very tip of her tail as if to say gotcha!

If you asked if she knew about the ripped up clothing, eaten socks, opened child proof medicine bottles her eyes would turn to steel.  Molly can do this too when caught.  Thankfully she is only half of Frieda’s weight and not as heavily armed. She also being a mischlinge has to fight the Papillon urge to please, something that Frieda did not have to contend with being fully in tune with the Dark Side of the Force.

As I said before the stories about Frieda could fill volumes.  Those who knew her can attest to these and many other nearly unbelievable stories.  Maybe she was an X-File. I don’t know, but if so she was our X-File and we loved the little shit, we still miss her.  One thing that we know.  Always let lying dogs sleep.

Peace, Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under dachshunds, Loose thoughts and musings