Flooded highways in Louisiana

Into the Flood

An EMT drives from Texas to Louisiana to do what he can.

"If Buddha had played a trick like that on me, I would've torn his goddamn head off."

White Ashes

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the loss of a loved one will haunt you forever.

The Ten Plagues, detail


A Passover reading from Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible.

Pope John Paul II

The Last Papal Picture Show

The life, death, and ever-changing image of an icon.

"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.”

The Great Crowd

Who Wants to Live Forever?

There’ll be pie in the sky when you die — but what if there’s not enough to go around?

"It's Easter-time. They sell these at the drugstore."

Easter at the Jewish Ritual Bath, 1962

A tale of love, loss and submersion.

"The idea is to get the other side to quit by not firing a shot..."

Dear Doctor Ullman

An email exchange with Harlan Ullman uncovers the doubts of a defense intellectual.

"He could no longer be certain whether he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was a man."

Persistence of Memory

Can we mourn for those who aren’t dead?


Entrance Wound

We believe in cells and protoplasm and sex, and stench and dirt and slime
and screams in the night.


Amos Awake

Reading the book he’ll never write.


Anointing the Sick

An altar boy grows up just in time to watch his mother die.

He's much taller in person.

In Pop We Trust

Has Tom Cruise abandoned Scientology for Bob Dylan?

"War birds of the Irish, come to remind us they are hungry for eyes."

A Mantra for the Mujahedeen

How do you pray for an enemy?



In God’s waiting room with a nation of unbaptized babies.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Still Seeing the Rebbe

Pilgrims at the Lubavitcher Grand Rabbi’s grave in Queens.

The author and his mother, 1975

The Many Times My Mother Died

If the body is a temple, what happens to faith when it’s destroyed?


Zen Mind, Alkie Mind

Lust, Liquor, and Bill W.’s Elegant American Buddhism.