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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What I’m Reading: American Sniper


Others have suggested that Chris Kyle, touted as the “Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History”, may have had a tendency to self aggrandization.  They cite his claim to have killed 30 looters after hurricane Katrina, and his claim to have given a black eye to governor Jesse Ventura, as well as his claim to have donated the profits from his book to Veteran’s charities (claims rebutted by National Review).  This tendency toward …exaggeration… may call into question the veracity of his autobiography, American Sniper.   But it’s not the factual accuracy of the book that I want to address; it’s the theology.

Toward the end of the book, Kyle describes his tattoos:  “On the front of my arm I had a crusader cross inked in. I wanted everyone to know I was a Christian.  I had it put in red, for blood.  I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting.  I always will” (Kyle 219).  Here he’s missed the point, didn’t even hit the target.

Christians are not identified by their hate but their love.

Kyle was full of hatred.  Through the book he consistently refers to the people he killed as evil and as savages.  And he enjoyed killing them.  “I only wish I had killed more” (Kyle 4).   In this he is indistinguishable from those who crashed the planes into the World Trade Center towers, or those who strap explosives to their chests and run into crowded markets. 

Chris Kyle may have been a terrific sniper – but he seriously misunderstood his faith.  

Klyle, Chris, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice.  American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. New York. Harper Collins, 2012.

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