About Me

I write the monthly “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and also report for The Atlantic, The Nation, This American Life, and elsewhere. I have four daughters and two dogs.

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I speak often to universities, civic groups, public forums, houses of worship, and ideas festivals.

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Don’t read me—hear me.



The new podcast has begun. It’s called Unorthodox. Updates on this site will be light, because I am thinking Unorthodox, all the time. Subscribe on iTunes here, read more about it here. Meanwhile, I am taking the show on the road, doing a lot of public speaking. Drop me a line if you want to hear more of me.


Off with their tax exemptions!


The nice thing about writing a piece that in any way threatens the extraordinary amount of privilege and deference religious groups have come to expect in America is that you will get a lot of angry tweets and a few rambling emails, the kind that make you have new respect for the grammar of jailhouse lawyers who write to you in longhand. You also get a lot of talk-radio invitations. Here is such a piece, from, “Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.”

Of course, as careful readers (or just readers) will see, I am not talking about religious institutions so much as nonprofits more generally, from Planned Parenthood to the National Rifle Association, from the Masons and Elks to the Society for Preservation of the Moose (okay, I made that one up).

The picture above, by the way, has nothing to do with anything. It’s just my daughter Ellie playing piano.


The Opus Dei priest who makes converts of Republicans



Here’s my Times piece about the Rev. C. John McCloskey III, the man responsible for bringing Sam Brownback, Robert Bork, Robert Novak, Lewis Lehrman, and others to Catholicism. Oh, and he baptized Rick Santorum’s son.


Follow the THREAD . . . 

I was pleased at how well the inaugural THREAD, a conference I organized at Yale from June 8-10, came off. The idea was to do narrative nonfiction, but across platforms—not just writing, but podcasting, photojournalism, etc. To that end, we welcomed not just Anne Fadiman but Gillian Laub, not just Steven Brill and Emily Bazelon but Moth artistic director Catherine Burns, not just John Branch but Snap Judgment host and creator Glynn Washington.

Here’s a nice roundup from one of our participants.


Don’t blame the media! The Jews did it!

Are reporters responsible for negative stereotypes of Jews? I tackle that and other questions in this short interview, done after I have a speech (full disclosure: paid speech) at Beth Adam in Cincinnati last weekend.