Monday, November 9, 2009

Reel To Reel: The Men Who Stare At Goats

Greetings newcomers! If you got here from a source on how to live a better spiritual life, I highly encourage you to click "CrossWalking" at the right side of this page... or read my testimony.

Here's the Truth: Praying to Earth will not save your soul. It will not help you get right with GOD or account for your sins. GOD created the Earth and all things in it. You belong to HIM, not to the planet. But you must choose whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15). I included this "prayer" (which I don't consider a prayer) as an example of the First Earth Battalion's weirdness, not to aid or abet any apostasy.

Thank You So Much! --Christopher

Make love and war -- at the same time!

Going Rate: Worth matinee price.
Starring: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey
Rated: R
Red Flags: Language, war violence, brief casual nudity, drug references

Yes, it's true. Your tax-supported Army has flirted with far-out psychological soldiering techniques, like training people in "remote viewing" -- a way of seeing something from afar using ESP. It got the idea from Lt. Col. Jim Channon (Ret.), who advocated a hippiesque "First Earth Battalion" where recruits walk on fire, try to walk through walls, shun calisthenics for yoga, drop acid, channel spirits, and rely on good vibes to eliminate the need for an M-16. It's not clear whether these soldiers salute or hug each other. I don't know whether they recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but they do say the "Earth Prayer:" "Mother Earth… my life support system… as a soldier… I must drink your blue water… live inside your red clay and eat your green skin. I pray… my boots will always kiss your face and my footsteps match your heartbeat. Carry my body through space and time… you are my connection to the Universe… and all that comes after. I am yours and you are mine. I salute you."

All of this is documented in the book The Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson, now adapted into a engaging if only mildly satisfying movie. Reporter Bob Wilton (McGregor) is writing for a small-town newspaper when his wife dumps him for his editor. Thinking he needs to man up, he goes to Iraq during the 2003 U.S. strike to chase down an article with guts and glory. While in Kuwait, he runs into Lyn Cassady (Clooney), who says he's an American businessman. But Wilton knows from a previous interview he's a secret psychological operative. After blowing Cassady's cover, Wilton convinces the op to let him tag along into Iraq, and we have a road picture with sand dunes. Cassady is a likable enigma: part hippie, part soldier, but all business. He tosses Wilton the manual for the "New Earth Army," the standard operating procedure for a new breed of soldier whose aura can be a deadly weapon.

The film flashes between Cassady and Wilton's trip and the trippy history of the New Earth Army, a unit of long-haired weirdo warriors which manages to live in harmony with the rest of the military given some powerful support from the top and a charismatic commander, Bill Django (Bridges in Big Lebowski mode). The only time I ever see military officers with ponytails is when I'm fighting redcoats. But Django's outfit proves themselves at least useful and mostly harmless until an experiment with LSD goes awry.

Wilton is wondering about his own mission in life, weighted down by his failing marriage and an apparent midlife crisis. (Boy, here's somebody who needs The Cool Church badly.) Sometimes he's more whiner than reporter. Ultimately, he gets a shot at redemption.

It's not hard to believe the U.S. Army flirted with exotic tactics. We found out a couple of years ago the military had researched a "gay bomb." When the film explores the origins and progress of New Age soldiering, it really works. But it's juxtaposed with a meandering story and tinges of a stoner film, like Cheech And Chong's Nice Dreams mashed up with Stripes. Could you even imagine Cheech and Chong doing covert ops in Afghanistan? No, perish that thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I know you said you didn't want to include the mother earth prayer to promote any sort of apostasy, paganism,etc. But, thanks my wife and I were looking for a prayer to welcome our third child to the world and your post was just what we were looking for. Not being a Christian anymore myself, I am glad that some Christians still include generosity in their "value systems" (intentionally or not ;) )