Bent Too Far: A Missionary, A Bookstore, A Change of Heart

In my last life, back in the late 1990s when I was a fundamentalist missionary in Papua New Guinea, I came upon the online magazine Killing the Buddha. Although I was quite aware that my life as a fundamentalist was nearly over, I did not know that I had about four years before any ontological…


Art in Dark Times: A (Made-Up) Solstice Ritual

Around this time of year, I often find myself telling people about the mixture of holidays I grew up celebrating as a child. My back-to-the-land hippie parents, one Jewish, one not, both fairly atheist, kept what they liked from their respective family traditions, and added some new ones of their own. My brother, sister, and…


The Endless Watch

On fighting complacency in America.

Killing the Buddha

An Open Letter to The Antioch Review

Dear Antioch Review, In your May 5th statement regarding the essay, “The Sacred Androgen: The Transgender Debate” by Daniel Harris, you celebrate an admittedly “deeply offensive” essay for “stirring debate.” In doing so, you note that a “key Antiochian value” is to offer a forum for free expression, to encourage critical thought and dialogue. I…


Scripture For A Dead God

Celebrating 160 years of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.


On Black Anti-Semitism

From the new memoir Letter To Jimmy (Soft Skull Press), translated from the French by Sara Meli Ansari.

Art by Josephine Ferorelli

Thank You, Zadie Smith

Beginning this summer and escalating through the winter, as I spend more of my waking hours reading, writing, and talking with people about the climate crisis, I have become insatiably hungry for fiction. The goal is to get dragged by skillful plotting so far into another world that an open door will always be waiting…

H. P. Lovecraft. Image from The Los Angeles Times archives.

Dark Mysticism

H. P. Lovecraft as soulcraft.

Zora Neale Hurston.

Muddy Modern Love

A new testament from Zora Neale Hurston.

The Holy Bible, King James style.

Richard Dawkins Loves the Bible

Richard Dawkins, the supposedly angry New Atheist constantly accused of knowing nothing about the religion he rails against, couldn’t even wait until January 1st to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible—”warts and all.” He riffs, in the New Statesman: The King James Bible occupies nearly 42 pages of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations,…


Gods Must Die to Live

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while; it’s an arresting passage from C. S. Lewis that came to me on a page sent to my by a friend, a Trappist monk, on the subject I’ve been touching on from time to time here (and here), truth and mythology: The gods—and, of course, I…

Eastern State Penitentiary, from the series "Abandoned Souls" by Ted Daniels. Click the image to see more.

Imagining Prisons

From a Protestant monastery to the prison-industrial complex.

Abbess of Crewe

O Felix Culpa!

Here’s a fun read for troubled times, fellow People of God (and everyone else)! Dame Muriel Spark’s 1974 novel, The Abbess of Crewe, is a tart tale of a Catholic abbey in England where traditional ways are adhered to in the face of recent conciliar reforms (observing the offices and Matins and Lauds at midnight…

Life in Year One

James Agee to Toast Scott Korb’s New Book

Friday, March 19th, 2010, 7-9 pm KGB Bar 85 East 4th Street, New York, NY What do first-century Palestinians have in common with Depression-era tenant farmers? Find out on March 19th at KGB Bar in New York City, as the writer James Agee (1909-1955) is expected to return from the dead to celebrate the release…

"RIP J.D. Salinger" by cowicide, via Flickr.

Fluent in Silence

Was J.D. Salinger crazy—or just quiet?

Mini-bells by iowa spirit walker via Flickr

This Is All One Colon

Grappling with James Agee’s punctuation, one hundred years after his birth.

Killing the Buddha

Sentimental Repression

It has been a welcome relief from the busy romantic adventures of a single fellow in his mid-twenties in New York City, with my cellular phone by happenstance out of commission, to indulge in a reverie of reflection. Its occasion—in addition to the missing phone—was the discovery of Mark Greif’s challenging new essay at n+1…

'infinite lights' by LiveFromAmsterdam via Flickr

Why I Don’t Pray

God just might not be that kind of God.