I’m pretty sure that’s sarcasm

One of our soldiers in Iraq leaves an interesting comment on the web:

Here’s a picture of me celebrating Ash Wednesday shortly before going out on mission. The Catholic Priest also blessed all of our Gun Trucks. You can’t ask for much more protection than that when doing Convoy Security. Unless of course, I painted a picture of a unicorn on the side of my Gun Truck. I don’t know anyone who could hurt a unicorn. Especially one that has magic dust. Those are my favorite.

I think he’s mocking the whole business, but I note that he’s still getting the magic ashes daubed on his forehead.

Let’s hope the fairy sprinkles work.


  1. Will E. says

    Maybe he’s getting magic ashes put on him so his fellow theist soldiers won’t harass him? Hasn’t that been happening a lot with non-believers in the military?

  2. says

    The best protection is not to go over there in the first place. I’m all for defending the nation, but I don’t see how this fits that role.

  3. The other Dan from Milwaukee says

    I suppose if I were in his place, I wouldn’t turn down the fairy sprinkles either. I’d keep wearing the Kevlar though, just to play it safe.

  4. Lilly de Lure says

    Well, I suppose the ashes make sure he’s only fending off attack from one side of this mess.

    Best of luck to him and everyone who works alongside him, I just hope they all come back home safe whatever they’re having sprinkled on their trucks (or indeed on them).

  5. says

    As a usedtabee Catholic, I have a soft spot in my heart for Ash Wednesday: it’s the only Catholic holiday that isn’t a complete lie. Unto dust I shall return? Damn straight.

    Admittedly this is not the sentiment I’d expect priests to be daubing on the heads of US soldiers, though perhaps it helps out in that “this is a good day to die,” “come on you apes do ya wanna live forever” kinda sense.

  6. Hank Fox says

    I’m with Will E. Probably the guy felt he didn’t have any choice but to go along.

    If everybody you know carries guns, and the “us vs. them” line is the decider on who gets shot and who doesn’t, you don’t want to seem like one of the “them.”

  7. True Bob says

    Every time Ashday comes around, I find myself telling people, “hey, you got a little schmutz there…”

  8. Ken says

    In his situation you accept any and all help even imaginary. Rabbit’s feet, 4 leaf clovers, God, lucky pennies. Anything.

  9. Vagrant says

    Anointing soldiers and equipment before they go off to flight in a country which practices a different brand of religious insanity. Now where have I seen this before?

    If OIF is not a crusade by another name then humans were intelligently designed.

  10. True Bob says

    Ken, that sounds like a marriage between the fallacious “no atheists in foxholes” and Pascal’s wager. Superstition = superstition = superstition.

  11. maxi says

    Better make it The Invisible Pink Unicorn.

    The faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can’t see them.

    Just to be safe.

  12. says

    Let’s hope the fairy sprinkles work.

    All they ever did for me was make my forehead itch. Oh, and it stings like hell when you sweat the ash runoff gets into your eyes.

  13. Bob L says

    Lilly de Lure “Well, I suppose the ashes make sure he’s only fending off attack from one side of this mess.”

    You forget that Catholics are pagans in the eyes of the Evangelists.

    Me, I’d put kitten all over my vehicle. Who can shoot a fluffy kitten?

  14. says

    My cousin (a good Catholic) enlisted in the Army two years ago despite suggestions that he wait till we had a sane commander-in-chief. This month he was killed in Iraq. What a waste. The flags at the State Capitol in Sacramento were lowered to half-staff in his honor. I took photos to send to his folks, but it’s small, small comfort. Pink unicorns and ashes on the forehead would have been as useful to him as the inadequately armored Humvee he was riding in. Thanks, Rumsfeld. Thanks, Bush. Please go to hell.

  15. says

    One pair of hands working does more than all the rest of the hands in the world praying.

    I’ll take an uparmored hummer over a smudge of ash on the forehead any day.

    And besides… doesn’t that mark you as a target ?

  16. Jeff says

    As an OIF vet I understand his sentiments. Before we went out the gate on a convoy, everyone would gather and do a prayer. I always opted out. It did alienate me a bit from some of the more religious soldiers, but I thought it prudent to stand up for what I did not believe in.

  17. says

    I have a friend who works on the specter gunship. He is a firm atheist. Their plane and equipment gets ‘blessed’ every time they go on a mission. I once asked him how he handled it. He said ‘You just go along. The pressure to fit in with the faith heads is extreme, so you just bow your head and stare at your shoes.’ When I heard this I was raging mad, but I had no idea what to do about it. He just accepted it as part of life.

  18. says

    It may backfire however, and they will see the unicorn, think it’s the attack of the First Battalion Transvestite Briggade (kudos to Eddie Izzard), and demolish them.

    Or it could catch them off guard and they run away screaming from the power of the magical unicorn.

    I’ve always been scared of unicorns…I think I’d drop my weapon and run.

  19. says

    Possibly the soldier thinks the theology as silly as the magical unicorns, but still identifies as culturally catholic in some way and so still observes the various rituals. There are Jewish atheists who have seders, so why not a nonbelieving* catholic with ashes on his forehead? Although there is the very real downside that moon grrl points out.

    * Not necessarily an actual atheist or agnostic; he might have some vague, vestigial theistic belief but see the various rituals and superstitions of his religious tradition as a cultural matter only — a functional deist, if you will. Clearly he thinks the priest’s blessing of the tanks is worthless, at least; if I understand the message of the ashes thing, it is, as Chris ponts out, a rare religious claim that is empirically verifiable.

  20. Rick says

    As the ashes were rubbed in, the soldier had a friend taking a picture. Likely, he had photo and caption already in mind for each other. A snapshot of absurdity. And, the priest – are they paid with tax revenue or is there another payment system set up? I don’t want my money going to war, and I certainly don’t want it going to warrior priests.

  21. MH says

    BobL: “Me, I’d put kitten all over my vehicle. Who can shoot a fluffy kitten?”

    Plus, if you’ve ever owned a kitten, you’ll know by the way they throw themselves around, they are virtually indestructible. Kitteh tanks are the future!

  22. Junkjungle says

    I’m hoping that it’s sarcasm, because he’s from my hometown. We need to represent NOVA with pride, not superstition.

  23. Holbach says

    So when he has had all the imaginary blessings and the
    feelings of security by his god, and then goes out on
    patrol and his gun trick is either hit by a mortor or
    roadside bomb, and all his partners are killed outright
    and he is lying there with both legs blown off and
    almost disenbowled and on the verge of death, I wonder if he thinks of the miraculous protection that has most
    assuredly guaranteed his invincibility from those uncaring
    and intelligent designed bombs. The insanity of the
    unquestioning belief in blatant nonsnese!

  24. Alex says

    I remember a long time ago I used to wear my dad’s wood-working gloves he kept in the garage. They made me strong and powerful and gave me special powers.

    KJV 1Cor 13:11

    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (like make-believe?)

  25. MikeM says

    Stupid fucking war.

    Sorry, I had to get that out.

    Well, given that this photo appeared on a Trudeau blog, I figure the text is sarcastic. So on the bright side, at least our soldiers are figuring out some way to keep their sanity, by using humor. Any and all coping skills are valuable at this point.

  26. Larry says

    Poor bastard. Its truly criminal that he and his buddies had to be in the Army with Commander Cuckoo-bananas in charge.

    Best of luck to them all. With any luck we can get them home next year.

  27. says

    Anointing soldiers and equipment before they go off to flight in a country which practices a different brand of religious insanity. Now where have I seen this before?

    ‘Bout time we dropped all the bullshit pretenses and admitted this is an all-out “my god’s got a bigger pecker than your god” pissing contest.

    Wouldn’t the most effective thing to paint on the truck be verses from the Qur’an?

    Now that’s a puzzler for the theologians: do you still get 72 grapes if you kill an infidel with Allāhu Akbar written on his helmet.

  28. says

    In other breaking news (good news at that), Florida passed the new teaching standards including evolution. The only concession… we have to call it a “scientific theory”. Oh no, what ever will we do now that we have to call the Theory of Evolution a theory?

    Link here

  29. Eric Paulsen says

    Me, I’d put kitten all over my vehicle. Who can shoot a fluffy kitten? – Posted by: Bob L

    Yeah, and I always said if I ever end up going to prison I will get an ‘M’ tattooed on each ass cheek so if I ever had to bend over for the soap in the shower it would spell ‘mom’, and who would ever get freaky with mom? Right?!?

  30. Mooser says

    Let’s hope the fairy sprinkles work

    All you gotta do is dangle a picture of an young Marine and the flag and PZMyers backs down awful fast, don’t he?
    God may not exist, but He’s bigger than the enemy’s!

  31. Jan says

    I doubt that Quran verses on the trucks or helmets will be of any help, because most of the insurgents don’t care about religion but about power. It is about getting your piece of the cake in the power vacuum Iraq has become since the invasion.People align with whatever nominally religious or ethnic faction that they deem best. Remember, most of this messy civil war is muslims killing other muslims.

  32. says

    Zeno, I’m sorry to hear about your cousin.

    MAJeff: Too many stories like this. Far too many.

    We lost someone last October, too. “Far too many” is exactly right, for all the ones already gone and the ones yet to be lost.

    Zeno: Thanks, Rumsfeld. Thanks, Bush. Please go to hell.


  33. Nan says

    Sarcasm is an understatement.

    #28 – military chaplains are on the U.S. government payroll. There’s been some controversy recently because they’re not supposed to proselytize or push any particular cult, but a significant number of Xian fundies have been ignoring those rules. There’s a chaplain’s school at Fort Jackson, South Carolina: http://www.usachcs.army.mil/

  34. says

    Thank you, #47 (Nan). There should be controversy over military chaplains on the payroll of the U.S. government. It’s very difficult for me to see it as anything but a violation of church/state separation. And insofar as them not pushing or proselytizing any particular cult, a priest is anointing soldiers’ foreheads with ash on the first day of Lent (a period of 40 days representing Jesus’ time in the desert). That sounds very particular to a certain cult.

  35. says

    Pretending to be religious in the army gets you benefits as well as acceptance. My brother-in-law is about as religious as a prune, but after enlisting he suddenly “rediscovered” his family’s religion because he would get time off to attend church sevices. Who would want to be an atheist in a foxhole, when putting a religion on your tags means you get a regular freebie break?

  36. Woodwose says

    Has there ever been a chaplain that has gotten up and said “Ooops guys. I’ve reread the instructions and we’re NOT supposed to kill. So why don’t you just sit there and wait until I straighten this out and we all can go home?”

  37. James F says

    Re #21: Zeno, let me add my condolences to you and your cousin’s family.

    Re #24: Because people don’t say it enough – Jeff, thank you for your service.

  38. Inky says

    Monty Python said it best:

    “O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.”

  39. LisaJ says

    Good for him! That’s fantastic. Now we can only hope that he makes it home soon. What a terrible and stupid war.

    Zeno and thalarctos, I’m also really sorry to hear about your losses. My thoughts are definitely with you and your families.

  40. says


    I’m sorry for your family’s loss as well.

    I HATE this war. I remember when it was prepping to start. I provided a space in my classroom to talk about what students were going through. One student said, “I just had my fifth goodbye party and I don’t know if I’ll ever see my friends again.” I had ROTC students whom I would have hidden or driven to Canada to keep them from going over.

    It’s a completely different atmosphere where I’m teaching now. Almost none of my students know someone over there. That’s the diff between teaching at a second-tier state school versus an elite eastern university….social class–these kids don’t see military service as an economic opportunity like the kids I used to teach did…and I had to make that point explicitly clear today when talking about poverty on Indian reservations in this country. what an awful choice–in order to gain any economic opportunity, you have to place your life at risk for Georgie’s bullshit.

    I can’t describe how down I’m feeling tonight. I hate this war. I hate the people who got us into it. I’m thinking about former students and hoping beyond hope that they didn’t get sent over and didn’t die.

    I almost wish there were a Hell just for Bush and his fuckwit cronies.

  41. LisaJ says

    Good for him! That’s fantastic. Now we can only hope that he makes it home soon. What a terrible and stupid war.

    Zeno and thalarctos, I’m also really sorry to hear about your losses. My thoughts are definitely with you and your families.

  42. Andrew Cooper says

    OK, I confess: I’m a card-carrying atheist but I’m also just a tiny bit superstitious. I’ll walk under ladders, for example, but I think to myself ‘Should I really be doing this?’. I also notice when black cats cross my path.

    Why did our clearly sceptical friend even let the priest near him? I suspect there’s a just a touch of superstition there, but nothing more.

  43. Green head says

    #59: I walked under a ladder when I was 3. I got a bucket of paint on my head for my troubles. Someone might leave a wrench, hammer, or a electric drill setting on top. Someone or something on top may come crashing down. Walking under ladders is really not such a good idea.

  44. Lilly de Lure says

    I’d like to add my condolences to the others already posted to Zeno and Thalarctos for your tragic losses in this criminal war.

    Thanks, Rumsfeld. Thanks, Bush. Please go to hell.

    Well said Zeno.

  45. says

    I’ve gone to a couple of Ash Wednesday peace services since the war started and gotten myself daubed. I don’t believe in the least, but sometimes it feels good to participate in a communal rite (which is why and how such rituals got started in the first place, right?).