Should KtB Be “Killing the Jesus” Instead?

Mr. or Ms. “Anonymous” from Brooklyn wrote in today with a comment that goes very much to the heart of what we do and strive for:

Having subscribed to your blog for the past few months, I’ve always been curious why the magazine has the title that it does.  At first, I thought that the content of this magazine would be an intellectual companion to the work of something like Diana Eck’s excellent Pluralism Project, a broader examination of religious life in the West, but rather than dry academic prose, the essays and insights here would be more nuanced, sometimes biting, often more complex. What I didn’t expect was a magazine that mentions the Buddha, and even includes a provocative koan from the Zen tradition, yet whose essays almost exclusively concern Christianity.

Sure, it’s a mostly Christian country, and many of the authors of the pieces are in the US.  Articles about Lent and crosses in Houston can be expected from a magazine about Christianity in America, but it’s a misrepresentation to call such a magazine “Killing the Buddha”, isn’t it?  I suspect that there’s something that titillates about the title, the multiculturalism it conveys, that may be appealing to your target demographic, which I assume to be educated, white and Christian.

But for those of us who are not in those groups, the title is simply misleading.

Thank you, A.

For starters, what has always drawn us to the title is not as much its origin as its meaning (see the Manifesto for a refresher on that). It happens to come from Buddhism, but what it means to us is an attitude that could apply to anything, just as Mother Jones doesn’t necessarily have to have an article about mothers in every issue.

That said, we do believe that we have a responsibility to reflect more of the diversity of religious cultures around the world, and even close to home as well. It’s important that you call us out on that, and we get letters of this kind relatively often, so we know diversity of coverage matters to our readers. The last few months, it is true, have been highly Christianity-centered (with a bit of Judaism and this week’s piece on paganism mixed in). And we do think that our coverage of Christian traditions is of a kind you won’t find elsewhere. The only excuse we can give is that our writers tend to have Christianity on their minds, and we focus on publishing the best writing we can get more than on ensuring all traditions are appropriately represented, as a project like Eck’s must.

Your point is well taken, and we thank you for reading. Keep an eye out for quite a bit of material on Indian religions coming out in the next few weeks. Submit an essay to our contest with the Himalayan-oriented Rubin Museum. And we’ll keep trying, with your help, to kill our “educated, white and Christian” Buddhas.