Ramadan is over, and Christmas is coming; so who better to celebrate the season than a Buddhist named Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey? “Jesus Christ rose from the dead to save these fucking people,” Vega-Frey’s Muslim boss asked him, “and what do they do to celebrate? They go and buy all kinds of junk.” You want to thank God, the boss said — try Ramadan. So Vega-Frey did, and here on The Revealer‘s kissing cousin site, Killing the Buddha, is his Ramadan fasting diary. Going without for Allah turns out to be a lot different than the inner-directed, American “spiritual” fasting he’s familiar with. “The fast during Ramadan begins and ends according to completely external factors,” he writes. “Ramadan messes with you.” Fasting, of course, is a kind of mortification of the flesh — but if going hungry doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other well-respected religious paths to holy hurting: “so many,” says Georgetown U. theologian Ariel Glucklich, “it’s hard to list. There are mystics who cut themselves or prick themselves with thorns, who drive crosses into their bodies, wear garments with nails pointed inward, sit in cold streams or walk barefoot in the cold…. There are painful body postures, walking barefoot for long distances on hot ground, sitting in front of burning fires, sleeping on hard surfaces, having people whipping you, or whipping yourself. There are various forms of body mutilations (circumcision, subincision, superincision, female circumcision), scarifications, tattoos, piercings. There are hangings by hooks inserted into the flesh, dancing in the hot sun. The list could go on and on.” Yes, indeedy, there all kinds of ways to hurt for God. Even Christmas, it turns out, includes a little helping of pain, as Suzetta Tucker explains in this essay on the bitterness of myrrh.