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Retreat Into Silence

THE NIGHT IS COLD. A SILENT NIGHT. I am alone on a hill above the sluggish Shenandoah River and below the bare winter forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Like a handful of other guests, I have come for a long weekend retreat with the Trappist monks of Holy Cross Abbey outside Berryville, Va.

The Death Of Jesus

THE PASSION AND THE DEATH OF Jesus, which Christians celebrate this week, may well be the world's best-known story. For believers, it is the core of Christian faith and identity, the drama that gives Easter its meaning.

A Lesser Child Of God

OUTSIDE THE MAIN stream of Christian Bible study, iconoclas tic scholars are piecing together the portrait of a Jesus no one ever encountered in Sunday school.

Iisus Khristos Loves You

For at least two fifth-grade girls at Moscow's School No. 443, the foreign film they were watching was just too scary. It was a movie of the life of Jesus, produced by American evangelists, and when the Crucifixion scene began, the two 11-year-olds fled the school auditorium, then crept back to find out how the violent scene had ended. "He dies and then they bury him," explained their braver friend, Olya, "and then three days later he comes back to life." That millions of Russian children do...

1992: Came The Revolution

Like Lenin and Trotsky returning from Swiss and Siberian exiles, the American left, at long last a winner of a presidential election, has, as it were, surged forth from the Finland station and stormed the Winter Palace, so now America's propertied classes are at the mercy of ...

Talking With Madonna: The Unbridled Truth

A few weeks before the release of Madonna's book, "Sex," and her new album, "Erotica," the star talked with NEWSWEEK'S David Ansen in Los Angeles. She was dressed in a striped jersey bodysuit and fashionably clunky shoes.

A Glitch In The Gospel

In one of Gore Vidal's 1991 Harvard lectures on film, history and himself, now published as Screening History (96 pages. Harvard. $14.95), he claims his "Seventh or so cousin" Al Gore once stayed away from a family reunion to dodge him.

Of Hopelessness And Hope

Francis Bacon, who died in Spain of a heart attack at 82 last week, made ugliness beautiful. And vice versa. Bacon, who almost singlehandedly kept figure painting alive as an important expressive vehicle during the Pollock-to-pop 1950s and '60s, specialized in twisted, translucent human bodies that nevertheless seem eerily realistic.

An Innocent's Blessing

Ron Hansen's Mariette In Ecstasy (179 pages. Harper Collins/Burlingame. $20) may not be quite as different from its predecessors--"Desperadoes" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"--as it first seems.

Confessions Of A Serial Killer

Kimball is utterly unaware of how truly vacant I am," says Patrick Bateman, the young investment banker who moonlights as a serial killer in Bret Easton Ellis's third and latest novel, "American Psycho" (399 pages.