Killing the Buddha

“I Only Desire”: Poet Monks

Running into a monk at a hostess bar in Kyoto was as jarring to me as bumping into a rowdy rabbi or Baptist minister at a strip club.  Though all may marry, there is still something incongruous when holy men revel at establishments where women are the entertainment.  But maybe I shouldn’t have been so…



An illicit afternoon hike on a sunny day. What could go wrong? A short story from KtB’s new contributing editor.

sukisuki via Flickr

Christian, for All Intents and Purposes

Unpacking religious baggage in Jerusalem.


One Variety of Impiety

There are lots of ways of being disrespectful during church, especially if the church is Catholic. The rules are a lot easier at your average megachurch, where shorts, t-shirts, and Starbucks are as welcome as Bibles. Basically, there, whatever’s clean and decent outside is good also for glorifying the nondenominational, American Protestant God. But Catholic…


Curious, Obscene, Terrifying, and Unfathomably Mysterious

I am going off to write about people. An ordinary proposition, it would seem, particularly for a person who makes a living writing for people and, typically, about people or the things they think about and create. For the next month, I’ll be joining my friend Lucas Foglia in Costa Rica to spend time with…


The (One, True) Way to Go

I stand corrected. Quince Mountain (whose racy memoir “Cowboy for Christ” appears in our forthcoming book Believer, Beware) wrote in with a note about my Memorial Day post from yesterday, in which I had made the mistake of calling biking and hitchiking the eminent forms of travel in the United States. I appreciate the Memorial…


A Country to Die For

Memorial Day has never been my favorite. In Arlington, Virginia, where I grew up, it always meant the roar of Vietnam Vets on motorcycles all day. And the occasion can bring out our most jingoistic spirit. As I passed three separate suspension bridges across the Hudson River today, each with a giant American flag hanging…

Noemi Vagus, an Ashaninka shaman, standing in front of an Ayahuasca vine in the Peruvian Amazon

Meeting the Madre

A night high on ayahuasca with the Ashaninka of the Peruvian Amazon.


All I Ever Wanted

A skeptical vacationer laments the lack of cock fighting at Club Med.

All photos by Munir Virani of the Peregrine Fund

The Bright Half of Bhadra

In the forests of Rajasthan resides the god of invisible things.

Bedouin Coffee

The Collector’s Lair, part 3

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


A Crook for Souls

Today I arrived in Wyoming to visit a dear friend. On the way, while in what she approvingly called “the Wyoming part of Colorado,” we passed the Benedictine Abbey of St. Walburga and decided to stop. On the road in we passed a magnificent little canyon and a pair of smiling alpacas. We were greeted…


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.


Getting Godly in Mysore

We’ve  come to the hilltop where the Chamundeshwari Temple overlooks the city of Mysore, India, but we can’t pass up the free admission to the Godly Museum across the parking lot. It feels like the love child of a Hindu goddess and L. Ron Hubbard, midwifed by a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m a little frightened, but maybe…


A Hundred Unspoken Rules

Bloodlines bridge the divide between belief and disbelief.

By XirannisX back On via Flickr

Wanderlust and the God of Experience

The seeker’s lifestyle requires a certain set of what most people would call dysfunctional qualities.

Photo by Andrew Boyd

Testing the Vows of Celibacy

Scenes from a spiritual bootcamp.