I’ve known about Pat Tillman for a decade. I began hearing about him when he was a walk-on at ASU here locally. The reason I remember him was the consistency of the comments about him: “He’s too small for his position, but he makes up for it with a big heart, a huge amount of discipline, and a lot of thinking.” When the Cardinals drafted him, everyone said, “He’s too small. He won’t make it.” He did. And when he turned the sports world upside down by turning down millions to become an Army Ranger for a whopping $18,000 a year, you had to give the guy credit. So today the media here in Phoenix has been almost wall-to-wall covering his death in action in Afghanistan.
Why all the attention? Well, here in Phoenix, we all knew the name. So, someone we felt we knew has been killed in action. A guy who had “made it” financially and professionally gave it all up to serve his country. That’s the story.
But I really wonder. I have not heard a word about Tillman’s spirituality. I don’t think he would really like all the accolades: he seems to have been a humble man. But I have often thought that our high-speed, high-tech culture is exposing, so very quickly, the one thing that really, really concerns me: war is a horrible thing. It is supposed to take place in service of justice and right, in opposition to tyranny and injustice. War tests the moral fabric of a nation. Dedication to what is right, what is just…to freedom…these are the things that make a nation willing to pay the steep price seen in Tillman’s death. But when we no longer believe men are created in the image of God—when we don’t believe God is King and that He demands justice from His creatures—when we betray our own alleged love of human life by the constant denigration of that life through our immorality—how long can this nation stand firm? Yes, I really wonder.