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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Lt. Gordon James Klingenschmitt, the self-starving chaplain...

Mr. Klingenschmitt, and I refuse to refer to him by his rank given his recent actions, is a Navy chaplain who is in his 17th day of a hunger strike over the denial of his "right" to proselytize at public functions and in settings where attendance is involuntary. Klingenschmitt's claim is that he is being denied the right to pray in a manner consistent with his beliefs. A Navy spokesperson said that this is not an accurate depiction of Navy policy, and that the prayers are only restricted at command events where attendance is involuntary by the servicepeople. Even so, the restrictions are only insofar as they pertain to the specific naming of his deity of choice, and in those settings, more generic terms are preferred. Sunday services, Bible study, and other services for which attendance is voluntary are unrestricted, and according to a Navy spokesperson, in these settings, prayer in the manner in which the individual chaplain believes is actually encouraged by the Navy.

William of Ockham, a 14th Century Franciscan friar, had a very useful saying that is used in modern logic, "Numquam ponendo est pluritas sine necessitate." In English, that means "Multiples should never be used if not necessary," or more commonly, "Given two equally predictive theories, choose the simpler." This is Ockham's razor, and has been taught to students of philosophy and logic for centuries. Applied to this scenario, the two theories are that the Navy is picking on a poor, helpless Lieutenant, or that a Lieutenant is bringing dishonor to his uniform and generally being a cunt. The latter is the simpler and more logical explanation.

My question to Mr. Klingenschmitt is this: How does Christianity view suicide, specifically, your evangelical ultraconservative branch of Christianity? I ask this because that is exactly what he is doing to himself and making a spectacle of himself in the process. As for the Navy, I suggest they allow him to do what he wants. It's his body. If he wants to destroy it in this act of self-indulgent pseudomartyrdom, let him. I think he'll be unpleasantly surprised by how hot it is on the other side.

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