Lisa Miller

BeliefWatch: Fasting

Now two things devour my life," wrote the poet William Butler Yeats. "The things that most of all I hate:/Fasting and prayers." This week, the world's billion Muslims and 12 million Jews will be fasting and praying in honor of Ramadan and Yom Kippur.


A decade ago, book publishers discovered a fertile market in the growing number of liberal-minded Jews interested in Buddhist meditation—the publishers called them "JewBus." Rodger Kamenetz started the craze with a book called "The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India," and soon Jewish meditation centers were open all over the West Coast.

Beliefwatch: Memoirs

Some experiences just inspire people to pick up a pen. Convinced that what they saw, felt or heard was profound and unique, these writers are moved to share.

Campus Crusaders

Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville, Va., is the kind of place that would make most coastal liberals run screaming. A tiny college with about 500 students, its stated goal is to "prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture." Its dorms are filled mostly with kids who have been home-schooled all their lives by Bible-believing Christian parents and who were taught that homosexuality is an abomination and that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs in the Garden...

Ever After

No group is more emphatically and publicly opposed to the practice of polygamy than the Latter-day Saints. The topic is, however, irresistible and perennial.

BeliefWatch: Banned?

Moshe Milstein, a religious Jew who is incarcerated at the federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., wants his Maimonides back. Officials at the Otisville prison recently removed hundreds of books from the chapel library there—including, Milstein charges in court documents, works by the great 12th-century rabbi and physician Maimonides as well as the Zohar, the ancient text upon which the mystical practice of Kabbalah is based.

BeliefWatch: Is 'Harry Potter' a Christian Story?

Have you finished reading? What do you think? Is Harry Potter a Christian story after all? Harry has made news, ever since his arrival on the scene in 1998, for provoking the ire of some right-wing Christians who believe his magical powers and wizardly aspirations—not to mention his boarding school peopled with eccentric friends and demonic villains—promote occultism and Satan worship.These enemies of young Potter arm themselves with this quotation from Deuteronomy: "There shall not be...

BeliefWatch: Ground Zero's 'Shrine'

Carole Pizzolante, from Ontario, Canada, is standing in a historic church in New York City, and she is trying not to cry. Before her is a wall, plastered with the faces of people killed on 9/11. "It's all so bloody senseless, I can't get through it," she says with a wave of her hand, and then her composure falters.

BeliefWatch: Budding Buddhists

The post is typical teenage angst, but with a twist. Mother is a zealous new convert to Roman Catholicism. Father is along for the ride. "Silentmist" wants an answer to this question: "How should I go about telling [my mother] about my Buddhism?"We should have seen this coming.

BeliefWatch: Entombed

In interviews with NEWSWEEK in the days before the announcement of the "Jesus family tomb" (the suburban Jerusalem cave said to contain the bones of Jesus and his relatives, a claim that later turned out to be overblown), publishers and publicists worried aloud that the public might be suffering from what they called "ossuary fatigue." What they meant was this: how many first-century bone boxes can archeologists boast of finding before people stop caring about first-century bone boxes?...

BeliefWatch: Drinkers Vs. Drivers

Who are you for? The cabbies or the airport commission? In Minneapolis, that most open-minded of American cities, the debate has gotten vicious. This week the airport will begin imposing strict sanctions on cabdrivers who refuse to pick up passengers carrying alcohol.

BeliefWatch: Circumcision Debate

Poor "Misha." Caught in a terrible custody war, this 12-year-old boy from Washington state has become a cause célèbre for a diverse group of activists. Here are the facts, in brief: Misha lives with his father, who has sole custody and who recently converted to Judaism.

Are Americans Ignorant About Religion?

Steve Prothero is the kind of professor who makes you want to go back to college. During an hour lecture of his Boston University course "Death and Immortality," 200 students sat rapt last week as his train of thought led him from the Docetics (early Christians who believed that Jesus was all-God, not flesh), to reincarnation, to Disney World, to Hindu cremation rituals, to Plato's account of Socrates' trial (the day's assigned reading), to "Beauty and the Beast," to a hypothetical suicidal...