2014 Lycoming Winter Magazine - page 34

Wendy (Park) Myers
Capt. George Tyger
(theatre) had
an article published in the 2013 summer
edition of the UU World Magazine
Meaning in the Midst of War
. This
article was excerpted from George’s book
“War Zone Faith: An Army Chaplain’s
Reflections from Afghanistan,” which
was published by Skinner House Books
in February.
Courtenay (Wells) Arendt
Malena (DeMore) Pearson
Milton Glenn III ’91, director of education at the
historic Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, N.J.,
was honored to have all 53 2014 Miss America
pageant contestants visit the lighthouse.
Julie Makatche Collins
Andrea (Ruble) Miller
Michele (Wawroski) Hogan
Mark your calendar for your
25th Reunion at Alumni
Weekend, May 16-18, 2014!
If you’d like to be involved
in planning an event, please
or call 570-321-4231.
Building meaning in the midst of war
By Savannah Hanford ’15
When Capt. George Tyger ’89 entered Lycoming College as a philosophy
major, he never imagined he would end up in Afghanistan as a military chaplain,
let alone writing about his experience.
His book, “War
Zone Faith: An Army
Chaplain’s Reflections from
Afghanistan,” was published
by Skinner House Books in
February 2013 and details
his experiences as a minister
in the Middle Eastern
As a student, Tyger
changed majors from
philosophy to theatre,
a seemingly odd move
for a future cleric. Tyger
says, however, that it all
contributed positively to the
person he became and that performing on the stage helped him “develop a sense
of creative imagination that is essential in any kind of ministry.”
“Whether it is creating a meaningful worship service, counseling a couple or
writing with imagination, the ability to think about ‘more than’ what is at first
apparent is essential,” Tyger said.
After college, Tyger still questioned what he wanted to do with his life. It
wasn’t until he discovered the Unitarian Universalist tradition, an association
of religious congregations that celebrates “diversity of belief,” that he decided
ministry was the right choice for him. He battled through his initial fears of failure
and went on to be a civilian minister for 14 years in places such as Rochester,
N.Y., Springfield and Palmer, Mass., and Harrisonburg, Va.
Tyger’s career then took an unexpected turn: He joined the military. He
wanted to challenge himself and knew the experience would be exciting. He also
knew progressives were needed in the military and that his help would make real
differences in people’s lives. Tyger decided to become a military chaplain and was
then deployed to Afghanistan, where he still serves today.
“I have decided I need to be here because I am called to be here by something
greater than myself,” he stated. “No matter how you choose to run and hide from
the reality of war, it will keep coming at you until you recognize that you are the
only person who can give meaning to your own life.”
Tyger’s book started as a series of reflections of his military experiences during
his second year-long deployment, which served as a writing outlet for him to deal
with difficult things he saw in combat.
“There were things I saw and experienced that made no sense, things that were
difficult to reconcile with my deepest-held beliefs,” Tyger said. “My writing was a
way to work those questions out and bring others in on the experience.”
For Tyger, the book wrote itself. He began writing the reflections in a book and
sent them to Skinner House, a small, nonprofit, religious publisher that accepted
the work and helped refine it for print.
The book is a juxtaposition of military experiences and Tyger’s own musings.
He is a religious liberal who supports gay marriage and questions many of the
accepted teachings of Christianity.
In his book, Tyger writes, “As a Unitarian Universalist, I understand there are
no easy answers. Instead, I seek to engage the young men and women I meet in
the struggle for human meaning. Many chaplains do not share this approach to
ministry. They offer the easy answers. They imagine a deity that has charted each
of our courses in life from our first breath to our last. I cannot share this point of
Capt. George Tyger ’89 is the author of “War Zone Faith: An
Army Chaplain’s Reflections from Afghanistan.”
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