Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible

Front Cover

"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

The ninth-century sage Lin Chi gave this advice to one of his monks, admonishing him that this Buddha would only be a reflection of his unexamined beliefs and desires. Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet took Lin Chi's advice to heart and set out on a car trip around America, looking for Buddhas along the road and the people who meet them: prophets in G-strings dancing to pay the rent, storm chasers hunting for meaning in devastating tornados, gangbangers inking God on their bodies as protection from bullets, cross-dressing terrorist angels looking for a place to sing.

Along the way Manseau and Sharlet began to wonder what the traditional scripture they encountered everywhere -- in motels, on billboards, up and down the radio dial -- would look like remade for today's world. To find out, they called upon some of today's most intriguing writers to recast books of the Bible by taking them apart, blowing them up with ink and paper.

Rick Moody recasts Jonah as a modern-day gay Jewish man living in Queens. A.L. Kennedy meditates on the absurdity of Genesis. In Samuel, April Reynolds visits a man of tremendous vision in Harlem. Peter Trachtenberg unravels the Gordian logic of Job by way of the Borscht Belt. Haven Kimmel dives into Revelation and comes out in a swoon. Woven through these divine books are Manseau and Sharlet's dispatches from the road, their Psalms of the people.

What emerges from this work of calling is not an attack on any religion, but a many-colored, positively riveting look at the facets of true belief. Together these curious minds tell the strange, funny, sad, and true story of religion in America for the spiritual seeker in all of us: A Heretic's Bible.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Seven.Stories.Press - LibraryThing

This was an interesting book, if for no other reason than it inspired me (a fundamentally non-religious person) to learn more about the Bible so I could actually understand the stories a bit better ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

Overall, this book was like the curate's egg: good in parts. The parts that the two authors wrote themselves were consistently interesting, as they traveled around the country meeting people in ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet are the founding editors of the online literary magazine, winner of the Utne Independent Press Award. They began working together at the National Yiddish Book Center, at which Peter designed exhibits and Jeff edited Pakn Treger, an award-winning magazine of Jewish culture. Peter studied religion and literature at the University of Massachusetts and Boston University. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Jeff has written about religion and culture for numerous publications, including Harper's Magazine, The Washington Post, The Baffler, and He lives in Brooklyn

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