Reviews

Emerge, Submerge, Repeat

23 January 2005 Sharlet: John Leland, author of Hip: The History, retreading the oft-told story of Jay Bakker, punk-rock-son-of-a-preacher-man? I was about to trash this piece of reporting-without-ideaswhen I recalled a young guy I met a little while ago, whom I’ll call Raf. Raf lives in seriously churched-up city, a gathering ground for divisions of moral values Christian...

The Capitalist Spirit

20 January 2005 The new New Age in the era of globalization. By Jeff Sharlet I first met Bhakti Sondra Shaye, née Shaivitz, B.A., M.A., J.D., guide, teacher, and adept member of the Great White Universal Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Light, ritual master in the High Council of Gor, universal Kabbalist, Reiki master, and metaphysician,...

Michael Murphy and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

17 January 2005 Can an excess of Christian entertainment trigger a fundamentalist crisis of faith? Tim LaHaye, The Secret of Ararat (Bantam Books, 2004) Reviewed by Jana Prikryl It was the religion that made them do it — that was the immediate liberal response to last November’s election. The country’s secular minority suddenly went into crisis mode,...

The Secular Experiment

The Secular Experiment 16 December 2004 What’s freethought got to do with it? Susan Jacoby, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (Metropolitan Books, 2004) Reviewed by Brendan Boyle “John Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending,” teased the Bush-camp after the first presidential debate. Kerry cried foul, but he should have known better. He wasn’t...

Cultists Are People, Too

02 December 2004 Why journalists push new religious movements to the edge. Sean McCloud, Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives, and Journalists, 1955-1993 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) Reviewed by Gal Beckerman In 1976, The Saturday Evening Post ran an article sure to startle a group of readers who could probably do without something else to worry...

Apologetic Islam

Apologetic Islam 29 November 2004 Natana J. Delong-Bas, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). Reviewed by Adam Becker “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and...

Ammo for his Enemy

Frank Rich accidentally writes a Republican’s dream review. It’s a shame the job of disassembling George W. Bush: Faith in the White House fell to The New York Times‘ Frank Rich. If just the facts of Rich’s account of the film are correct, it’s the worst kind of hagiography, thuggish and hokey at the same time. But the...

Randall Sullivan’s The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visions

Reviewed by Scott Korb It’s become fairly commonplace among Christians and writers concerned with Christian mysteries to maintain that God has quite a sense of humor. In fact, Stephen Prothero concludes his chronicle of cherished images of Jesus in the United States, American Jesus(2004), with a figure of Jesus that has been gaining currency in America...

“The Question of God” Questioned

Notes from Dr. Armand Nicholi’s militant past. By Jeff Sharlet PBS’s latest God offering — “The Question of God,” blogged below — will no doubt be a well-researched program centered around the ideas and interpretations of its two stars — Freud and C.S. Lewis — and the man who has pitted them against one another, Dr. Armand M....

Fragmented Journalism

Pamela Constable’s Fragments of Grace is a better illustration than diagnosis of what’s wrong with foreign religion reporting. Reviewed by Jeff Sharlet FRAGMENTS OF GRACE My Search for Meaning in the Strife of South Asia By Pamela Constable. Brassey’s. 263 pp. $26.95 Pamela Constable has been reporting from abroad for nearly two decades, and for The Washington Post since 1999;...

Godzilla, Born Again

The original Godzilla, a parable of atomic hubris, is playing in America for the first time. Is its hero — a suicide bomber — even scarier than the monster?  By Kathryn Joyce “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” –1 Corinthians 9:22 “I am...

Who Killed Pat Tillman?

As far as we can tell, New York Press columnist Matt Taibbi doesn’t give a damn about religion. But that doesn’t stop him from writing some of the most incisive — or, at least, the sharpest — religion media crit out there right now. Even when he’s not writing about religion. Last week it was Negroponte & the Nuns. This...