–Jeff Sharlet

KillingTheBuddha.com — “cheaper than church,” “paved with good intentions,” “Allah in the family,” “god for the godless” — lives.

When I took the job of running The Revealer two years ago, I swore to my fellow Buddha killers that I wouldn’t abandon the webmagazine we started in the fall of 2000. The Revealer, I hoped, would be a worthy, if wonkier, cousin of Killing the Buddha, a site we named after a Zen Buddhist aphorism we took as manifesto material in the cause of “a religion magazine for people made anxious by churches and temples, people embarrassed to be caught in the ‘spirituality’ section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God. It is for people who somehow want to be religious, who want to know what it means to know the divine, but for good reasons are not and do not. If the religious have come to own religious discourse it is because they alone have had places where religious language could be spoken and understood. Now there is a forum for the supposedly non-religious to think and talk about what religion is, is not and might be.Killing the Buddha is it.”

Or was. For the last several months, we killed Buddha a little too well; the site has effectively been in hibernation. Running The Revealer, publishing Killing the Buddha,the book, and getting busy on my next book took me off the job, and the rest of the Buddha killers came under similar pressures. One launched a successful career as an actor. Another moved to Pittsburgh and began teaching university courses about vampires. One published a book. And Peter Manseau, co-founder of the site, just finished his second, Vows, due from Free Press this October. With nothing left to write but a subtitle (it’s about his parents, a Catholic priest who married a nun), Peter has turned his attention back to KillingTheBuddha.com, and reformed the gang.

Killing the Buddha reboots with “The Soul Molecule,” a new short story from Buddha killer Steve Almond, author of Candyfreak, and “Praying the Deus Ex Machina,”by Daniel Silliman.

The Revealer has been a forum for debate about what religion journalism and writing is and should be; KillingTheBuddha.com is place to experiment with possibilities. At its best, it’s a laboratory for a new kind of religion journalism. Here’s a guide to some Revealer-relevant material:

“Mortal, Eat This Scroll!” — Killing the Buddha co-founders Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet try to justify themselves.

“Righting Waco” — Phil Penningroth, author of a prime time apocalypse ponders ratings, truth and redemption.

“Do the Right Thing, Dammit” — Scott McLemee talks to America’s leading theologian about laying bricks and taking the Lord’s name in vain.

“Being Black at Bob Jones U.” — Florence Williams on Schimri Yoyo, a black man in a white Christ’s world.

“Prime Time in Kampala” — CBC reporter Blake Lambert on The Passion in Uganda.

“Because Allah Wills It” — Ali Eteraz on the fundamentalism of fatalism.

“Wari Family Barbecue” — Francine Travis on corpses as religious media.

“Hutch Owen: Emerging Markets” — Comics artist Tom Hart on selling soda to third world monks, and other challenges of globalization.

“Rush Likes It?” — Kristin Ohlson on accidentally joining Limbaugh’s religion.

“Seeing Things” — Bia Lowe on desire and vision.

“Jesus Kitsch, Lord and Savior” — Erik Hanson asks: Can bad art be good religion? Joanna Ebenstein takes pictures.

“Elven Like Me” — Nick Mamatas on the true-believing children of D&D: the “Otherkin.”

“Real Death Angel: Confessions of an Outlaw Christian Biker,” with photographs by Rich Remsberg.

“Muhammad Speaks” — Peter Manseau on the media’s Muslims — Osama bin Laden and Muhammad Ali.

“The Long Moan” — Laurence Klavan on Pauline Kael on Jews on film.

“Burn This Book” — Anders Zabotinsky on the worst writer alive.

“Still Seeing the Rebbe” — CUNY sociologist Samuel Heilman on a hasidic messiah who lives forever in media.

“Unveiled” — Anthropologist Fadwa el Guindi finds sex, God, and power behind the veil.
“Like the Goddamn Internet” — Holly Berman on artist James Martin and painting as just another virtual reality.

“Advertising Allah” — art deco posters of Islam hock holiness as a dream vacation.

“I Am a Sea” — Patton Dodd on the sound of 500 evangelicals clapping.

“God’s Own Knowledge” — Jeff Sharlet on “Radical Orthodoxy,” a theology of sex shops, movies, and nothingness.

“The Hazards of Holocaust Theology” — by Peter Manseau.

“Ouga Chaka Zen” — Paul W. Morris on the persistence of pop.

The Killing the Buddha archive, chock full of tranny shofar blowers, hermaphrodite terrorist angels, spiritual warriors, monks who forgot how, celebrities (Springsteen! Cash! Slayer!), holy hurters, and a recipe for gluten-free communion wafers.