Run Like Fire Once More

On the world’s longest foot race, which takes place entirely within Queens, N.Y.:

Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.

Sniffing Glue

A youth set to the shifting sounds of CCM, Christian Contemporary Music:

This, by the way, is considered the ultimate sign of quality CCM, even amongst Christians: the ability to pass as secular. Every band’s goal was to have teenagers stop their grooving mid-song and exclaim, like a soda commercial actress who’s just realized she’s been drinking Diet, “Wait, this is Christian?”

The Life and Death of the Chosen One

Ricky Rodriguez was born in the role of the messiah. His father was David Berg, the leader of the polygamous/incestuous cult The Children of God, which published a book documenting his early life:

In 1982 a shop in Spain printed several thousand copies of a book that was then distributed to group members around the world. Bound in faux leather, illustrated with hundreds of photographs, the 762-page tome meticulously chronicled Ricky's young life and was intended as a child-rearing manual for families. Its title, The Story of Davidito, was stamped in gold. With its combination of earnest prose and unabashed child pornography, it is perhaps the most disturbing book ever published in the name of religion.

Eventually, he left the cult and found work as an electrician. But revenge called him back.

The Romance of Birthright Israel

On the Birthright Israel program, which sends young American Jews on a tour of Israel free of charge, thanks to massive funding from both the Israeli government and philanthropists like the conservative casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

A new era is dawning for Birthright. What began as an identity booster has become an ideology machine, pumping out not only Jewish baby-makers but defenders of Israel. Or that’s the hope.

The Abortionist

Doc moves quickly. He takes off his windbreaker, tosses his leather bag on the counter and unzips it. He pulls out a slate-blue polyester vest, V-necked, with six buttons. He raises his arms and jumps into it and then says, with an air of deep satisfaction, "Aah." Doc is proud of his bulletproof vest.

Rajneeshees in Oregon: The Untold Story

Twenty-five years ago, a guru from India showed up in rural Oregon with 2,000 followers. Here’s what happened next: they legally turned their multi-million dollar ranch into an incorporated city, imported homeless people to swing local votes, poisoned hundreds and attempted to assassinate the state’s U.S. attorney.

  1. Part 1: 25 Years After Rajneeshee Commune Collapsed, Truth Spills Out

  2. Part 2: Thwarted Rajneeshee Leaders Attack Enemies, Neighbors with Poison

  3. Part 3: Rajneeshee Leaders Take Revenge on The Dalles’ with Poison, Homeless

  4. Part 4: Rajneeshee Leaders See Enemies Everywhere as Questions Compound

  5. Part 5: Rajneeshees’ Utopian Dreams Collapse as Talks Turn to Murder

The Last Temptation of Ted

What has Ted Haggard, who left the New Life megachurch after admitting he purchased crystal meth and sexual favors from a male escort, been doing in the four years since? Selling insurance door to door and then… founding a new church and returning to the pulpit.