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This morning I’m blogging on NEO about Neptunus Lex, a legend on the Milblogs, the American blogs that deal with the military, almost all of us read him until his untimely death on 6 March 2012. But what death of an honored leader is ever timely?

In any case, of all American services, perhaps the Navy and its Marine Corps are most cognizant of its tradition, and that transcends the military to many other things including the faith. Lex wrote this:

So, we were 231 years old yesterday. And still have our hairline, most of our own teeth, and a good resting heart rate. And we’re still at sea, or getting ready for sea or coming back from having been at sea, pretty much all the time. Being, you know: The Sea Service, and all.

Which, in terms of enduring connections to our storied past, is worth keeping in mind. There’s a tendency for people inside institutions to lose the big picture sometimes, a tendency to look back at some memory-shrouded and idealized past, or look forward to some hazy, perfectly realized future, if only this decision had been made or that program had been supported, or if that other institute of higher learning could be shut down until it had been re-habilitated until it once more clove to our own concept of the ideal.

The fact is that we’ve never had a perfect Navy, and we have never all of us been content. Our ships and aircraft have never been perfect, and the vagaries of fate may mean that fools will rise further than they ought to while good men are all too often left behind. But we have always been better than the sum of our individual parts and always the mission has remained. We have always accomplished that mission effectively, even if not always perfectly, if not always efficiently. Being an interlinked and interdependent pyramid of imperfect beings, our vision is clouded at times; we see the world darkly, as through a glass. We err.

We have a grave responsibility to the republic, and it would be irresponsible of us not to focus on our imperfections – although, perhaps we might not do so on our birthday, but never mind: While doing so, we should always strive to maintain a decent degree of humility and proportion. We must see ourselves in the mosaic.

There are activist legal scholars who discover to their gratified amazement that their personal policy preferences were enshrined in the Constitution all along, that they had been secretly encoded. Not unlike them are many of us who love our service so well. We often think that we could love it just that little bit better, if only it would be more like we would like it to be. More ships, better airplanes, a couple of those submarine thingies. SEALs. CB’s. EOD. More nearly perfect.

It’s necessary to remember though that we are but ghosts and we pass through, leaving only traces behind. The institution endures, the mission will be accomplished.

It strikes me that this is even more true for us, as Christians, our mission is 2000 years old instead of 240 and change. It strikes me as unlikely that the same thing that appealed to King George II will appeal to a young woman in 2017, so perhaps the message must be repackaged, with all due respect to our beliefs and traditions.

Chalcedon’s report from Flame strikes me as that. The same message, but repackaged for a new age. And that’s the thing:

The Mission goes on, it always will.

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