I have not yet watched American Sniper (but I plan to rent it as soon as it is available). I decided to listen to the book first. Honestly, I have heard from several sources that the film is actually better. I can see how that might be the case. It is not that I did not appreciate Chris Kyle’s first-hand account, I can just imagine how Hollywood would dramatize (and even at times romanticize) particular events.
So here is my struggle… first, I appreciate and enjoy all sorts of history (biography, military, etc.). I am fascinated with the motivations and actions of various individuals from various places at various times. Second, I aim to honor those who do serve or who have served in the armed forces. I, myself, do not fully understand what this type of discipline and sacrifice demands (but I especially respect my relatives who come from various branches – especially my father and father-in-law). In response, I have taught my children to thank every man and woman in uniform that they happen to come in contact with. Movies such as these might help (age-appropriate) young adults better appreciate (and even exercise) their freedoms.
That being said, I was truthfully uncomfortable with some of what Kyle said (or at least how he said them). Like I mentioned before, I cannot even begin to comprehend his thought processes or the extent of his training – all that went into who he was and what he did. However, as a Christ follower, I feel (what I consider) a healthy-bit of tension between my allegiance to my country and then to my King. Human justice, though sometimes necessary, is more often than not incomplete. Violence almost always begets more violence. War rarely brings peace… at least not true peace (the absence of conflict) and hardly furthers the rule and reign (and ways) of Jesus. I also grieve for the young men and women who see so much that was never meant to be seen. Real people are involved (on both sides). Too many lives are lost. Even more are forever damaged.
All things considered, I would cautiously recommend this book… with the suggestion that one follows it up with Reborn on the Fourth of July. Again, another incomplete and imperfect account. But another troubling and transparent look at being a soldier.
Let me know what you think. I would love to hear how do you are able to show respect for the flag but are still able to cling to the cross?