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A Bridge in Babylon: Stories of a Military Chaplain in Iraq Paperback – June 15, 2021
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Experience the battlefields of Iraq with army chaplain Owen Chandler.
As an Arizona Army National Reservist, Chandler was deployed to Iraq as chaplain of the 336th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, leaving behind his wife, three young children, and a congregation for more than a year. In this painful but eloquent memoir, Chandler shares his story of serving as an "embedded presence of hope" in Iraq through personal letters, journal entries, scriptures and photos exchanged with family back home. Expanding far beyond the military chaplain caricature of M*A*S*H's Father Francis Mulcahy, Chandler reflects on the brutal realities of war, his fellow soldiers, and the families waiting for them all to come home. He shares the struggle to hold onto faith and hope in the midst of battlefields, opening readers' hearts to the challenges of military chaplaincy and the plight of veterans shattered by their experiences. A Bridge to Babylon inspires readers and provide tools to create bridges to our veterans, especially Reserve soldiers with shockingly high rates of suicide and substance abuse.
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From the Publisher
If military chaplaincy invokes images of M*A*S*H's Father Francis Mulcahy, then A Bridge in Babylon will expand your horizons beyond the TV caricature
Bronze Award recipient and Army chaplain, Owen R. Chandler takes us to the battlefields of Iraq, the biblical land of Babylon, in this gripping spiritual memoir of war, love, family, church and God.
Through this eloquent memoir, you will see the realities of war that affects soldiers, especially those on the Reserve who are viewed as those who didn't make it to Active Duty, dodging deployment, or part-time soldiers. The reality is that all men and women in uniform are deeply impacted. Holding on to faith and hope is often tested.
From this memoir, you will witness the unique spiritual perspective from a war veteran on service with Iraq, gain insights into the tension of being a Reservist serving in a combat zone surrounded by Active Duty military, hear the real talk on the relational, emotional/mental, spiritual toll of deployment, and listen to a four year story arc that acts as a time capsule of what veterans go through try to “come back home”.
"Captivating, original, honest. Seeing war—and peace—through a chaplain's lens is a necessary and insightful read."—Kathryn Bertine, author, STAND: A memoir on activism. A manual for change.
“Owen is the voice we need right now as a nation engaged in endless war. With both humor and hope, he offers a blue print for congregations to better support soldiers and their families as we wake up to the terrible cost of war upon the soul of our nation.”—Alison Harrington, Pastor of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona
“A Bridge in Babylon is a must read for every church leader whose congregations and classrooms include veterans, military reservists and military family members. This intimate and authentic record of one chaplain’s deployment and return home clearly demonstrates the joys, frustrations, sacrifices, doubts, fears and successes of ministry within highly diverse, pluralistic, and often, lethal environments.”—Kyle Fauntleroy, Captain, Chaplain Corps, USN (Ret.), and Director of Development, Brite Divinity School
“Owen Chandler’s A Bridge in Babylon is searing testimony about the effects of war abroad and at home, a tender love-letter to his family and the Tucson congregation he left for more than a year, and a compassionate tribute to those whom he served as “padre.” A master storyteller – with an ear like Raymond Carver’s, an eye like Tim O'Brien’s, and a heart like Carolyn Forché’s – Chandler proffers a gift we didn't know we needed so desperately: compelling inspiration to care with renewed commitment for soldiers whom we have sent into “perpetual war.”—Robert Lee Hill, Minister Emeritus, Community Christian Church, Kansas City, Missouri
“Chandler invites us into the realities of ministry in the context of war and the emotional and relational costs of deployment for families as well as troops.”—Nancy J. Ramsay, Director of the Soul Repair Center, Brite Divinity School
About the Author
- Publisher : Chalice Press (June 15, 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0827203179
- ISBN-13 : 978-0827203174
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #697,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Chaplain Chandlers gift as a Master Storyteller, laced with humor, compassion, empathy, faith, doubt, honesty and more had me laughing, crying and more importantly, learning about a world I'll never know firsthand. I have a new appreciation for the toll it takes to be deployed, and the price our troops pay in doing so.
I appreciate and respect Chandler’s sensitivity and ability to tell stories while maintaining the privacy and details countless troops confided in him during their deployment - a rare gift indeed in the intimate role as their trusted "Padre".
Told through the eyes of a Chaplain, I was honored to glimpse what life is like for someone in that sensitive and important role - away from his family, church, friends - a stranger in a strange land - being called to minister to others amid his own loneliness, fear and struggles. I am grateful he kept journals and is willing to share his experience with others. What a gift he gives with his candid honesty of that journey as he gently shares his humanity with the reader.
I have the utmost respect for this author, for his story, and highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever been directly or indirectly touched by war...which I believe is ALL of us!!
I pray the best for Chaplain Chandler in his upcoming deployment. And from the bottom of my heart, I say to him, “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!”
One might assume that a chaplain would write confidently about their decisions and their relationships. After all, they are led and directed by God. Chandler, however, lets us in on the fact that he is human with questions about what will happen to those he leaves behind, especially his wife and three young children. He questions his ability to meet the needs of the troops but also assures himself that he was selected for this mission and so there must be confidence in his abilities. He is frank about the lack of human touch --- even handshakes and pats on the shoulder --- in the military and ponders the reason and outcomes of such behavior. Chandler doesn’t shy away from discussing the more basic needs of human touch and discusses celibacy during deployment at two points in his book.
There is an overriding sense of commitment to those with whom he served that pervades the book and a looming questions about how the United States can better prepare for deployment and return to civilian life of our military people, especially considering the lengthy warring engagements to which our government commits our forces.
This should be read by many to understand more of life behind the headlines.