Book Introduction

by admin on April 7, 2011

Introduction to “The Jungle”


The chatter of a machine gun was the first announcement to Lt. Joe Green 1 that his platoon had been ambushed as they walked down a jungle trail in Vietnam. As I read the account of Joe’s death in S.L.A. Marshall’s, “Battles in the Monsoons”,2 I kept asking myself what was he doing on a trail, an obvious danger area in hostile jungles.

That first burst of fire from the enemy mortally wounded Lt. Green, and killed his radio operator. Subsequent fire hit him a second time. Lt. Green turned his command over to a subordinate.

Although it has been over 30 years since I read that passage, I will be forever haunted by the author’s closing statement. “Then Lt. Green died and it began to rain.”

I knew Joe had been killed, as had a number of our classmates. (Note: two classmates received the Medal of Honor posthumously, Bob Hibbs and George Sisler. See their citations at

I graduated from Infantry Officer Candidate School (OCS) on June 22, 1965. That was the last OCS class to graduate before the 1965 build up of American troops in Vietnam. About thirty of us had signed up for Ranger and Airborne School before reporting to our units,  including Joe Green.  I remember Joe Green particularly because he had asked me to sing at his wedding the day we graduated from OCS at Fort Benning.

At the time we graduated from OCS, the only American soldiers in Vietnam were Special Forces and some Marines, which had been committed in March of 1965.  This changed dramatically with the large commitment of American forces that summer. 

We reported to the U.S. Army Ranger School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, on July 8, 1965. 3  About half of the Ranger class were told that their orders had been changed and they were to report to their new units immediately, “do not go home, do not pass goal, do not collect $200.”  Joe Green was among those whose orders had been change.  He reported immediately to the First Infantry Division.  Joe Green did not get to attend Ranger School.

The build up of American forces was fast and furious. I remember at the time we graduated from OCS there was one student battalion at the Ft. Benning Infantry School with six companies. A year later there were six student battalions, each with six companies.

The Second Infantry Division was in support of the Infantry School at Ft. Benning. Our OCS company commander had announced during the spring that six officers from each graduating class would go to the Second Infantry Division. Preference would be given to married men who wanted to stay in Columbus.

Six of my married classmates requested assignment to the Second Infantry Division. I was assigned to the 1st Cavalry in Korea. Then a month after we graduated, the Second Infantry Division at Ft. Benning swapped colors with the 1st Cavalry in Korea. All those troops at Ft. Benning, including the six married volunteers out of our class, became a part of the 1stCavalry Air Mobile. They were in Vietnam by the end of August.

Each time I’ve thought of Joe’s death, I’ve wondered if he had been allowed to go through Ranger School which taught Rangers about the dangers of trails in the jungle, would he ever have been on that jungle trail entrapped in an ambush.

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The Reason for This Book

Becoming a Christian is hard to understand but easy to do. Being a Christian is easy to understand but hard to do! This book is about the latter. Since you are reading this book, the assumption is that you are a Christian, and like the rest of us Christians can use all the help you can get in being a Christian day in and day out.

Most of us spend a majority of our waking hours at work earning a living. Because of the amount of contact with other people there, and the many decisions each person makes about work tasks, there is no other segment of our lives where our values and philosophy of life are revealed more clearly and tested more rigorously. For Christians, this is where living their faith or failure to live their faith is most observable.

For most of my adult life I have worked for state governments, churches, the military, or universities. On several occasions over the past 36 years I’ve tried to write a book about the Christian in the world of work. But my efforts basically came to the conclusion that to live a successful Christian life in the world of work you simply needed to just go and be a good Christian. That never seemed to be enough guidance for the many Christians I’ve known and observed at work who continually failed as Christians in the workplace. Often they found themselves ensnarled in doing things that in retrospect were not consistent with their claim to be a Christian. They often seemed to have been surprised by their entanglement.

Some Christians state that knowing what they should do in a given situation is a very simple matter. They just ask, “What would Jesus do?” I don’t think that works very well for most of us. It is too little too late! Continuing with my military analogy, that would be like a soldier asking in a combat situation, what would General Patton do, or a jungle fighter asking what would Che Guevara do? It assumes that you know that person so well that you know what he would do in a situation in which he may never have been. It also assumes that the individual thinks well on his feet, will be able to recognize the real situation, and will come up with the ideal solution and act on it in a very short time.

As you will see, the apostle Paul tells us spiritual warfare is much more complex. At the same time many of the spiritual danger areas that are found in the work place are as common to most of us as a road or trail in a jungle. For those danger areas which we can identify with the help of those who have “been there and done that”, we do not have to wait until we face a danger area to decide what we are going to do.

I’ve also found that doing what is right, even when it involves actions, which goes against management or the power base of the organization, seldom has the dire consequences I’ve been warned of by my colleagues.

In numerous discussions with my friend and minister, Fran Buhler, I eventually made the connection that the world of work is like a jungle, having many analogies to a real jungle. There are swamps, “wait-a-minute” vines, trees with a canopy that makes the jungle floor almost dark at mid-day, and all of the creatures found in a jungle that I was taught about in the U.S. Army Ranger School.

One of my areas of concentration in my graduate school days was General Systems Theory. General Systems Theory is the study and application of processes in one system that can be applied to help understand the working of a completely different system. In some sense General Systems Theory is the use of analogies from one system to another. I should have more quickly connected my Ranger School training on the jungles of Vietnam to the jungle of the world of work that Christians face daily, but it was slow to come. However, once it did, the analogies came fast and clear. The work place is a dynamic and ever changing environment, a jungle. I’ve come to believe that understanding the many elements of that jungle can help a Christian live his or her faith more successfully.

What This Book Is Not:

This book is not about evangelism. Evangelism is about enlisting new troops, recruiting new soldiers into God’s spiritual army.

This book is not about discipleship. Discipleship is about training new troops. It’s about making them better soldiers, teaching basic skills for recruiting more new troops.

This book is not about ethics or ethical behavior. There are many non-Christians who are ethical. Being ethical is not dependent on a person’s relationship with God, although people who have real relationships with God will be ethical. Ethical behavior will be a by product of the Christian following these procedures.

This book is not about missions. The overall mission of every Christian is to be in God’s will and evangelize the world. As a Christian, you must determine what is God’s will for your life and what is your God given mission.

This book is not intended to help you understand or enrich your relationship with God. The underlying assumption of this book is that you already have that. As a Christian, you have a personal relationship with Christ that is real. You have the Holy Spirit living in you as a result of your conversion to Christianity. You do everything you can to keep attuned to the presence of the Holy Sprit in your life.

This book is,about events, people, and thoughts that can critically wound and damage your relationship with God.

This book is, about what is out there in the world of work that can threaten your relationship with God. It is about recognizing situations that make that relationship vulnerable to the forces of evil. This book will help you protect that relationship.

This book is, about developing procedures before you need them for dealing with spiritual challenges. This book is about the need to know and practice these procedures. Does it seem a little strange to think about consciously developing and practicing procedures for dealing with sin? Think of how many events we plan for and rehearse, such as speeches and presentations, athletic contest, etc. The positive impact of such planning and practicing are obvious. Why not do this for spiritual challenges?

This book focuses on the spiritual jungle we know as the work place. I want to help you better understand that jungle. I want you to know how to read the jungle, and not only survive your journey through that jungle, but live successfully and victoriously as you travel through that jungle.

This book has a modest goal of teaching you how to recognize some of the dangerous places in the work place jungle, places where you are likely to be ambushed by “the forces of evil.” In Ranger School these were called “danger areas”. In this book these will be called “spiritual” danger areas.

Through the years, the U.S. Army Ranger School has developed many tools for the jungle fighter to help him recognize and deal successfully with danger areas. This book attempts to do the same for the Christian in the world of work. It is an attempt to develop tools that will help the Christian identify spiritual danger areas, learn protocols for dealing with spiritual danger areas when they cannot be avoided, and know immediate actions that can be taken when the Christian finds himself caught in a spiritual ambush.