American Sniper is the autobiography of Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. history with a total of 160 confirmed kills after 4 tours in Iraq. I’m sure that much of this book was dictated because it is written heavily in Chris’ voice. (I heard Marcus Luttrell, the Lone Survivor who is also a Navy SEAL and from Texas, speak at a recent event and he told stories exactly the same way.) Based on his account, Chris and all Navy SEALs, as well as most people in the armed forces for that matter, are incredible and inspiring. It’s taking all of my willpower to not go and enlist right now!
As usual, respectfully, I have criticism and disagreement with some of Chris’ philosophy. He frequently reiterates his priorities: “God, country, family,” in that order. Yet I would contend that, based on his own account of his thoughts and actions, God did not make his top 3. In his entire account, he mentions praying and reading the Bible only once. He never said that he prayed and asked God for guidance in his life, such as when deciding on whether or not to redeploy – he just did what he wanted. He also frequently got drunk and into bar fights. His motto is, “despite what your mamma told you, violence does solve problems,” with no nod to the non-violent victory of Jesus on the cross. On top of that, he unabashedly demonizes the enemy. I understand that that mentality is necessary on some level to kill, but there was no effort to “love your enemies,” or even to understand where they’re coming from. Chris believed that Jesus saved him, and that seems to have been the extent of his relationship to God. “God, country, family” is an attempt at self-justification and image manipulation, a tone that he maintains throughout much of the book in my opinion.
Despite my differences with Chris’ mentality, I have a great respect for him, and I am thankful for his incredible service to our country, and to me. Sadly and unbelievably, Chris Kyle was murdered back home in Texas after a decade in war. The movie will be released in 2015.