...every step I took in faith betrayed me and led me from my home...
Religion had never done anything for Hawkeye Pierce. At ten, he'd watched his mother die. She'd faded slowly, strength ebbing like a wilting flower, but with a serene smile that never left her face. Hawkeye had never understood that smile. And the man who was supposed to protect him from these things, the man Hawkeye had once, in childish awe, though of as God, had proven to be just as helpless and afraid as the very young boy Hawkeye had once been but never was again.
If he'd thought about it, long and hard and deep, Hawkeye might have connected the loss of his trust in God with the loss of trust in his father, but Hawkeye didn't like to think much about that. After all, in time, he'd grown to realize that humans make mistakes, and can be forgiven for them. Humans aren't perfect. But neither was God. And that, to Hawkeye Pierce, had always been unforgivable.
And now to be here, in this place. This hell. What part could any merciful God play in this endless parade of bleeding innocents, ripped, like him, from home and family? Every day Hawkeye spends in Korea is a mistake for which God will forever bear the blame. Who could possibly wake up here and think otherwise?
...i hope i won't
disapoint you when i'm down here on my knees...
It's common knowledge that the life of a priest is one dedicated to God. Many forget the subsequent required obligation to God's children, but this oft-overlooked fact had never been far from Francis Mulcahy's mind. As a student, he'd had visions of himself as some sort of super priest, able to hear confessions, comfort the downtrodden, forgive the guilt-ridden, and still have time for dinner with the orphans. In wasn't conceit; merely a zeal for his calling, and a deep understanding of the unmeasured importance of the human soul. In his mind, he saw himself as useful. Helpful. Needed.
changed here. As each long month of his position as an army chaplain
had faded into the next, Mulcahy's perspective had been forcibly
skewed beyond all recognition. Still in his head were those shining
visions of the importance of his work, but they were only daydreams.
He'd heard many a weary nurse or wounded soldier refer to this place
a bad dream, a terrible nightmare, but to Father Mulcahy, it is the
worst kind of reality: Neither doctor nor nurse nor even soldier,
Mulcahy is faced constantly with his own sheer helplessness. True, he
still hears confessions, visits the orphans once a week, but so many
of his days are spent hovering in the background like a timid
vulture, purple stole draped over shoulders, the Last Rites waiting,
dry as ashes, on his tongue.
Mulcahy wades through the ugliness of life in a war zone alongside every other man and woman in the 4077th, but he feels now that he walks alone. At night, in his tent, when the confessions are heard and absolution given, when the last penitent has walked away with a lighter heart, Father Mulcahy lies in his bed and drowns in his own humanity. In the darkness, there is only God to wipe away his tears, only God to hear his prayers -- and God isn't known for talking back, or even for giving very straight answers.
Who will confess the confessor?