A speaker is talking to staff members about leadership and character. “The academy has been isolated and has drifted away from standard air force practice," he says. "If you see anything that doesn’t jibe with standard practice, please question it.” He is no doubt referring to indecent behavior by drunken cadets or incidents of sexual assault. The most recent controversy, however, has nothing to do with violence or drunkenness among cadets. It's about religion.
As some friends and I ate a picnic lunch, we fell into a rambling conversation about politics, real estate values in an earthquake zone and the virtues of sauvignon blanc over chardonnay. Then I mentioned offhandedly that perhaps I viewed something or other the way I did because I was a Christian. This revelation did not strike me as a big deal. After all, they had been talking about Buddhist meditation, Sufi parables and personal spiritual rituals.
When I was in kindergarten, one of my favorite activities was “What’s in the box?” The teacher cut a hand-sized hole in a box and placed a mystery object inside. You could reach in the box, smell the box, shake the box—everything but open it. Each one of us would take a turn guessing the right answer. “It’s kind of fuzzy.” “Is it a teddy bear?”