Pony Up, KtB!

Powell Holloway wrote to us late last night with some thoughts about my post on anti-cult press releases at the Dallas Morning News religion blog. Best to read that first before proceeding.

I’ll bet you have “a soft spot” for the now defunct Wittenburg Door… But wait! Before we have the DMN “pony-up”, let’s talk about “Killing the Buddha’s” fanciful position in this little drama. Your “Manifesto” says, “Killing the Buddha is a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the “spirituality” section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God. […]”

Keep reading the manifesto here.

With the demise of “The Door” (more succinctly – the untimely passing of Harry Guetzlaff, The Door’s soul and/or doppelgänger, last summer) “Killing the Buddha” now has an entrée into the world of spiritual and religious humor. Harry (vis-à-vis “The Door”) left a void that should be filled. Perhaps you ARE up to the challenge. Time will tell. However, dismissing the Duncan’s seems counterintuitive to your stated mission. The Duncans represent an ally to the very people you say you are trying to reach. Again, your own “Manifesto” states emphatically, “Killing the Buddha insists that if religion matters at all it matters enough to be taken to task.” And, the Duncans have done just that in the real world, in real time. Wendy Duncan, the author of I Can’t Hear God Anymore – Life in a Dallas Cult shares her story about living within The Trinity Foundation elegantly and simply. She isn’t proselytizing, in fact, she’s ringing an alarm to your target audience of exactly what has been done, is being done, and will continue to be done in God’s name to those enquiring souls who are searching for a God who they can talk to in the first person – call him/her what you may. I suggest you re-read Wendy’s book in light of our discussion here. I am confident that you will see that they, Wendy and Doug Duncan, are on the same spiritual path as you profess except that they, literally, lived through the “Gitmo on Columbia”… I know this because I was there with them.

We appreciate the vote of confidence! I’m not sure we really qualify as “spiritual and religious humor,” or would want to, but yes, we’re interested in religion (including whatever people prefer to call “spiritual”) and our stuff is sometimes funny.

Let’s be clear about one thing, though: Killing the Buddha is not on a spiritual path. Maybe—just maybe—particular people involved with it are. I may even be—still not sure about that. But the magazine as a whole? No. It’s hard to be on a path when you try to kill every Buddha you meet along it, including those, like the Duncans, who seem like such fellow-travelers.

And, yes, if Wendy Duncan sent us an article about her time at the Trinity Foundation, and it was beautiful, gripping, and revealing, we’d be totally eager to publish it. Sounds great. But so does the stuff about folks from Trinity rooting around in televangelists’ dumpsters! All I’m asking for in that post is some recognition that there’s something more interesting going on in these press releases than a simple case of good people decrying nasty “cults.”

You say that you “are endlessly amazed and enraged that religious discourse has become so bloodless, parochial and boring.” If that be so, then stop it! Forget about the DMN, ABC, CNN, Fox or any other media outlet doing the job for you. The Master is right: If you meet Buddha, kill him. He is nothing more, or less, than your own image of the Buddha and that construct will keep you from finding the real King of the Universe.
So, “pony-up” KtBniks, and do what you have set out to do.

I’m not really asking the DMN to do our job for us—to publish great literary writing on religion—but I am asking them to do theirs: investigating what they report on.

Anyway, we can always use the encouragement. Hear that, KtBniks? Time to pony up! Hope we won’t disappoint.

In conclusion, Powell adds:

“Join the company of lions rather than assume the lead among foxes.” (The Talmud)

Good advice! Um. But, wait, can someone explain that to me? I thought foxes were smart. And aren’t lions insanely patriarchal? Where the males don’t do anything except eat the children of other males? Who wants to join that company?

In case there’s more discussion, I’m going to open this comment thread. Feel free to join in!

Nathan Schneider is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about religion, reason, and violence for a variety of publications. He is also a founding editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, published by University of California Press in 2013, are God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Visit his website at The Row Boat.