personal narratives

"Confronted with the Gospel of John, I could not hide behind metaphor..."

Singing the Passion

A Jewish chorist tries to harmonize with the Gospel of John.

"No deus climbed from the machina..."

Praying the Deus ex Machina

Can words pull God from his machine?

“I wonder if I will fall over, under the power of the Spirit of God…”

Fresh! Joy!

Not quite slain in the spirit at Oral Roberts University.

"I’ve never had a student fail with me,” he said. "But with you something is different."

Dreading the Buzzer

A tale of God, lies and audiotape.

"The hose stretched just long enough to insert one end over the tailpipe and the other end into the driver’s window."

The Only Truth That Mattered

How I lost my father to Buddhism.

Sudanese street scene

Drinking in Tongues

In Sudan, a wayward youth faces the wrath of Mom, Dad, and Allah.

Art by Michael Allen Potter

God is Electric, Jesus Electrochemical

The author goes in search of God and his birth mother. Only one gets found.

"Naomi entreating Ruth and Orpah to return to the land of Moab," William Blake, 1795 (Detail)

The Book of Ruth

An excerpt from Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible‘s “Book of Ruth.”

"This New Year is a time to look carefully at all the missed opportunities, the things we meant to do, but didn’t do in the year we are leaving behind..." (High Holy Days postcard, circa 1915.)

To Pardon All Our Fucking Iniquities

A half-Jew writes her own Yom Kippur prayer.

Rush Limbaugh called the author’s book “highly portentous.”

Rush Likes It?

Do conservatives own God? One big fat idiot thinks so.

 An Easter service sponsored by US military chaplains, in the public plaza adjacent to the Imperial Palace, 1948.

Red Flags and Christian Soldiers

Operation Gospel – A primer from the last time the U.S. occupied foreign lands.

Members of the Kurdish militia listen to a radio as President Bush's deadline expires.

Shock and Awe, Fear and Trembling

War. Huh. Good God, y’all. What is it good for? Depends on who you ask.

Black Darkness at rest

St. Patrick’s Purim Shpiel

An American Jew dresses up like an Irishman, and tells of his odyssey through the land of blarney.

"My one-girl betrayal of the Catholic community was something I kept to myself."

Oh Come On, All Ye Faithful

A Christmas story about lost faith and the routine of prayer.

Polly Trout does not really have a minivan. This is her art car.


Careening towards nirvana in a mid-sized American vehicle.

Bird in Space, 1923 Constantin Brancusi

Raw at Creation

What is the point of examining the soul in a time of fire?

“It’s hard to be a priest,” says Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk

Confessions of an Ex-Seminarian

Porn, drugs and the devil in a Cincinnati seminary. And that’s nothing compared to the sins of the archbishop.


Raised by Jews

Reflections on a belated apostasy.