Do Not Strive for the Life of the Immortals

The philosopher Patrick Lee Miller has an intriguing new book out—Becoming God—which I’ve been privileged to follow from the dissertation stage some time ago. It’s a daring philosophical argument wrapped up in a close reading of ancient texts. In the pre-Socratic thinker Heraclitus, he finds an alternative to the most cherished axiom of philosophy, from…

Maccabees killing a Hellenizer.

What’s the Real Story of Hanukkah?

Our friends over at Obit are taking a super-revisionist approach to the Hanukkah story: Some time ago, a group of fanatics grew irritated and agitated by the lack of zeal demonstrated by some of their co-religionists, many of them wealthy and educated. A number of these non-zealots were assimilating at a fast pace into modern…

Dead Sea Scrolls

Confessions of a Dead Sea Scrolls Groupie

At the age of nine, I fell into a into a life of preteen crime by stealing Tiger Beats to feed my David Cassidy fix. After outgrowing The Partridge Family, I vowed that never again would I succumb to the lures of fandom. I’ve mocked those who follow the trend du jour, whether it is prepubescent girls…

Buy the book.

Long Live the Occult

Over at BigThink, Mitch Horowitz gives a whirlwind tour of American occultism, from its Renaissance origins to New Age spirituality, from Lincoln’s White House séances to quantum physics, from the Ouija board all the way to Jay-Z. Horowitz, the author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, strikes a fine…

Mongolia_gobi03 by Alec East, via Flickr.

Only a God Can Save Us?

Peter Kingsley and the dangerous dream of a spiritual elite.

Richard Smith as Henry David Thoreau. Photograph by Maria Lewis.

Becoming Thoreau

A living historian’s peculiar communion at Walden Pond.

God in America

Liveblogging “God in America,” Day 2

Okay, day 2, hours 3 and 4, of PBS’s new special, “God in America.” See yesterday’s liveblogging here. Please join the conversation live in the comments! (Also, check out Patheos’ discussions with the directors each day.) Hour 3: “A Nation Reborn” :00. It just began. Our friend and expert-extraordinaire Stephen Prothero promised a green shirt…

Glenn Beck, Joseph McCarthy, Sarah Palin.

Tea Party and McCarthyism Mashup Quiz

Over at The Revealer I asked if Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are ushering in McCarthyism 2.0. As a way of exploring this question further, I propose a guessing game. See if you can figure out which quotes were said by Senator Joseph McCarthy, Glenn Beck, or Sarah Palin: We Americans live in a free…

God in America

Liveblogging “God in America” on PBS

I’m doing this because… why not? Never done it before, and thought it might be fun. Here’s the official website. Join in if you like in the comments! Also: Day 2. Hour 1: “A New Adam” :02. Our own beloved Stephen Prothero is in the first minute telling us that God thinks we’re special. Did…

Haymarket Martyrs Memorial

Going to the Graves on Labor Day

I tend to avoid cemeteries. White marble slabs creep me out in a clown-like way. But when I arrived in Chicago on Labor Day, my hostess suggested that I check out a piece of Chicago’s anarchist past. We traipsed down to Forest Home Cemetery to pay homage to the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument. She explained to…

Aristotle gives teaching Alexander the college try.

Truth-ing Mythology

There’s this passage toward the end of the all-important book XII of Aristotle’s Metaphysics that I keep coming back to, one of those bits that reaches out of its antiquity and walks among us. Book XII is where Aristotle’s account of the world beyond physics reaches up from the chains of causes acting on causes…

From the Godblock website.

What’s the Web without God?

We all wish we could block out some things we see on the internet. No matter how carefully you try to tailor a search query, you’ll often find yourself with stinging eyes at the various dreadful things that populate the electronic collective consciousness. And often those examples of violence, sexual degradation, bigotry, and racism come…

"Tea Party tax day protest 2010" by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

Outside a Tea Party

Mongrel politics and an American mind.


Martyr City

If you don’t know the name Hypatia, you should. In the grand mythology of the Enlightenment (to which, on optimistic days, I subscribe), her murder at the hands of a Christian mob marks more or less the end of Greek philosophy and the beginning of the Dark Ages. Now, for those of you who don’t…

Stephen Higa singing "Ave Maria," photographed by Phoebe Neel.

Naked Voice

Reflections on resurrecting medieval song.

Look into those Stark eyes.

The Crusades: Actually Not So Bad?

The sociologist of religion Rodney Stark is back (just in time for Medieval Week) with yet another in his always-controversial oeuvre, this time with a book about the very thing we all thought we could love to hate about Christian history: the Crusades. Our friends over at Patheos recently put up an interview with Stark…

Photo courtesy of Heather Strait.


On the 21st-century passing of a 12th-century bard.

Killing the Buddha

An Interest in Women

Unearthing what two New Orleans brothers—a priest and a photographer—did with their spare time.