Crocodile Prayers

A reptilian pilgrimage in Spain.

Killing the Buddha

St. John Paul II’s Blood Books East Coast Tour

Great news, first-class relic lovers! A small Vial of St. John Paul II’s Blood is going on tour this summer! It will hit Boston, NY, Philly and Baltimore. I have it on good authority that the Vial of Blood has only a few special items in Its rider other than the usual 100% percent French…


Inside Hadyn’s Head

During a press trip to Austria’s Burgenland region, we visited Eisenstadt, a town billed as Haydn’s Graceland.  Being a non-disciple of Elvis, I’ve never possessed a desire to tour Graceland. But I can attest that both sites  glitter with the ethos of their respective musical icons, be it in the sequined styles of Las Vegas…

Copyright Edele Confrerie van het Heiling Bloed.

Virgin Apparitions, Holy Blood, and Me

During a panel discussion for The Virgin, the Copts and Me, held as part of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, Namir Abdel Messeh, a French filmmaker of Egyptian origin, admitted he had embarked on a seemingly impossible quest. How can one make a movie that proves if an apparition exists or not? After he watches…


Family Tree

All in the Coven

Photo by Dale Prince.

Holy Haulers, Baltimore!

Baltimore is the land of a million amateur haulers. The streets are teeming with old trucks hand-painted with phone numbers and offers to haul anything—telephone poles always have handwritten ads for the same service. Having moved into two old-lady houses since moving here, I can see the need. One was still full of a hoarder’s…

Posters of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.


An excerpt from Rag and Bone, in which a soccer-playing Syrian calls Bashar al-Assad a lizard.

Scary postcard.

The Bad Old Days

A dear friend who was recently on a family vacation in Wisconsin went above and beyond the call of duty. Way beyond. When she returned, she presented me with a clutch of souvenirs from the Queen of the Holy Rosary, Mediatrix of Peace Shrine in Necedah, Wisconsin, a place she knew holds some fascination for…

Ryoji Ikeda's "The Transfinite." Photo by James Ewing.

Oh, Infinite Stream of Data and Light

Ryoji Ikeda’s sublime, mathematical awe-machine.

Most Holy Rosary.

The Desiccated Finger of Fate

I reported to the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center yesterday for an appointment in the Avon Foundation Breast Center(!). The first thing I saw as I exited the parking structure was what I assume to be an Episcopalian priest in a dog collar. Then, while I waited in the waiting room, considering just how ugly the…

Chance Card

Shine On, You Crazy Diamonds

In a recent Guardian article about Italian Bishop Domenico Mogavero’s flash new Armani-designed liturgical duds, mention was also made of the Pope’s rumored penchant for Prada footwear. “The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano scotched the rumours, pointing out that the shoes in question were in fact made by an Italian artisan. ‘The Pope is not dressed…

Some obstacles persist.

Why Not Share?

Since Mary Valle’s digging through her archive, I’ll post something from my own: a workbook page from Youth for Christ’s DC ’91 “Congress on Youth Evangelism,” the occasion of my first visit to the capital. Now, what image will you send us from your religious youth?

The Communicant and her brother Tom suited up for another day of Catholic education.

Mother/Daughter Chat: Catholic School

“What was that kind of school you went to, Mom?” asked my seven-year-old daughter, Margaret, the other day. “Catholic, honey.” “And what were those things—those outfits?” “Uniforms?” “I’m glad I don’t have to wear those. And what else did you have to do?” “Go to church, learn about God, line up a lot, I don’t…

Killing the Buddha

Science and Belief—Truce?

Today, over on the Huffington Post, Nina Burleigh’s piece Science and Belief in Turin is calling for a truce between science and religion, and warning that all those believers who are fighting with each other, well, they might just have more in common with each other than with those who don’t believe at all. Read…

Killing the Buddha

Turn off the History Channel and Read an Article

Whenever I see an ad for or flip past a showing of one of those History Channel “religion” documentaries—something about Revelation or Nostradamus or the Bible Code—there arises a feeling of all the mighty, righteous indignation my stomach can bring itself to squeeze out. I know, I should enjoy it, it’s just entertainment, like the…

Bedouin Coffee

The Collector’s Lair, part 3

“I’m a real motherfucker,” he says. “But I won’t sell a fake.”


The Collector’s Lair, part 2

Finding a fix in the dust of the Holy Land.

Shlomo Moussaieff

The Collector’s Lair, part 1

An atheist descends into the underworld of the Israeli antiquities trade.