reviews and commentary

Whose passion exactly are we're talking about here?

Whose Passion?

How Mel Gibson turned the blood of Christ into a marketing plan.

Image from "Knocking of Heaven's Door: American Religion in the Age of the Counterculture" by Mark Oppenheimer (detail)

That Old Time Religion

Still strange, but different: Three new books look at the changing shape of religion in America.

Bostoner Rebbe

In the Court of the Bostoner Rebbe

A black hat diaspora in the city on the hill.

Another heresy goes up in smoke

Burn This Book

Melvin Jules Bukiet is the worst writer alive.

Page from the Gospel of Thomas, detail.

What It Is, What It Was

How many one true religions can dance on the head of a pin?

Cover art from The Book Against God (detail)

The Book About The Book Against God

Critic James Wood’s sanctified blasphemies take fictional form in his new novel.

Abraham mourning for the death of Sarah (detail), Marc Chagall, 1931-1939


The new neocons ask: What would Abraham do?

Madalyn Murray O’Hair

Don’t Stop Unbelieving

A new biography of America’s most godless woman.

Behind the Pulpit

Behind the Pulpit

“Are you talking to me?” and other tough-love questions from the Church.

“[Streisand] is much more beautiful than ‘pretty’ people…. The banality of mere prettiness is a blight on American movies.”

The Long Moan

What did Pauline Kael really think about Jews on film anyway?

Piss Christ (detail), Andre Serano, 1989

His So-Called Life

Pogroms, plagues, Jesus books… ‘Tis the season.

Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman

Punctuated Equilibrium

In Adaptation, the evolution of art occurs in fits and starts — and is never free of the hand of its creator.

Scribes of an unfinished canon. Yiddish writers gathered in Vilna, Lithuania, 1919.

Canonizing Yiddish

Find me a find, catch me a catch, make me an anthology.

“As bad as it gets.”

Schmidt Happens

Sold your soul? Buy it back for $22.

Leonardo DiCaprio, catching God if he can

Gods of New York

America began in the streets — with religious violence.

“You will not wear upon yourself a garment made of two different kinds of materials.” -- Leviticus


Don’t blame Gap ads for the current trend in fashion. A look at the history of the Devil’s vogue.

Buy the book.

Image Conscious

Dara Horn sets out to write the Great American Yiddish Novel — in English.

Smells Like Christian Spirit

The Young and the Angstless

A new book about GenX Christians shows just how god-damned happy they really are.