Last Week, Today: I was a closeted Christian in the Pentagon

Last week's roundup on faith, politics, and culture

Blog update: The second part of Sarah's interview with Jonathan Merritt is now up for our #ThinkerThursdays series. It dives into how Merritt understands his vocation and the personal experiences that have shaped how he writes and thinks. 

1. "I was a closeted Christian at the Pentagon" 

Matthew Spence, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy, describes how he initially kept his faith a secret, but then became more public about his faith in the Pentagon. His faith didn't change his policy-choices in planning for war, but it gave him the "discipline, courage and inspiration to question and do more." 

2. Religious liberty and intolerance in the air

Two fascinating incidents illustrate the thorny tension between religious liberty and liberalism. Air France, since deciding to resume flights to Tehran, has mandated that its female cabin crew don headscarves, causing a backlash for the flight crews' union. El Al, Israel's flag carrier, is in trouble for asking a woman to move seats because the haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jew) man next to her claimed that such close proximity to a woman was against his religion. 

3. The Clintons: Abortion & Race

Hillary Clinton, after being criticized for calling a fetus an "unborn person," went on The View and explained her views on the government's proper relationship to abortion, including her belief that one can be "pro-life and a feminist." 

Her husband, Bill, caught fire a few days ago for how he engaged #BlackLivesMatter protesters and defended his 1994 crime bill (he has since "almost apologized" for his behavior). Jamelle Bouie comments that this incident illustrates how drastically our politics of crime has shifted since Bill Clinton was in the White House. Clinton won black voters back then by telling them, "Your communities deserve to have the same police protection as white ones do." The times are a-changing. 

4. Teaching Men to be Emotionally Honest

Around the age of 4 to 5, researchers find that boys are more emotive than girls. And then something changes around age 15. Feelings get suppressed. Relationships, friendly and romantic, suffer. More and more academics are devoting courses towards unpacking the norms of "masculinity."

5. Bipartisanship Isn't for Wimps, After All

"Rejecting polarization is more than self-improvement; it is an exercise in self-respect. Perhaps you, like me, are close to people who differ in their ideology. When I hear fellow conservatives say that liberals are stupid or evil, I can’t help but remember that they’re talking about my friends and family, and I take that personally."

- Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute

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