This blog will cover the actions that people, groups and even nations take in the name of religion.
In the United States and around the world, people conduct themselves in accord (or total discord!) with their religious beliefs. And those beliefs are in front of us constantly — reflected in campaign promises, special legislation, trials over textbooks, the latest blockbuster, the latest deal on Wall Street, fantastic feats, incredible foibles and, of course, holy wars.
“Under God” will treat religion at its most broad: an adherence to a particular theory about the ultimate meaning and mechanics of the universe. Keeping that definition in mind, I will look at the ceaseless ticker tape of news and events that chronicle our sense of devotion (or absence thereof) to our religious beliefs. Daily, I will try to describe, explain, comment, celebrate, shame, and criticize our living history of living under God.
Beyond looking to the news, I will draw insight and inspiration from both experts and people I know who will serve as a regular cast of characters for this feature. From religious scholars to my ten-year old friend Jack who’s wrestling with ideas of the infinite, I want these people to give you their sense of what it means to live under God.
And who am I to do this? I grew up in a fringe religious movement in the Midwest. I started practicing Transcendental Meditation when I was three years old, and my religious background is a swampy-yet-exciting mix of Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and like eight other world views. All of that has left me absolutely convinced that there is no answer. But nothing makes me happier than thinking about how our beliefs about God (or no God) transform and define our lives.
I studied cultural anthropology in college with a focus on religion and later received a masters degree from the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. In between and after, I’ve been a working journalist for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Condé Nast Portfolio, Rolling Stone, and others (I’m currently a contributing editor at Portfolio). I’ve written about education, railroads, the entertainment business, pornography, celebrities, gasoline, and a bunch of other stuff. All of which is to tell you that people fascinate me, and most of all the ability of their religious beliefs to move them to do the incredible, the evil, and the enlightened.
The idea of sitting in a room alone talking about living under God sounds too much like crazy and not enough like a job, so my hope is that readers of this page will challenge my opinions and ideas. The plan is to bring in a range of voices besides my own, both religious expert and novice and lots of in betweens, and I hope that readers will consider themselves part of this community and engage passionately (if politely!) with them as well. Part of this will be readers of this blog sending in their own carefully gathered evidence of religious belief in action. Like it or loathe it, religious belief is powerful and all around you.