The Portfolio contributing editor and former LAT writer — she covered the porn beat for a time and did that great West magazine piece on Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame — now writes the Under God blog for a religion website produced by the Washington Post and Newsweek. She got an early tip on today's death of Transcendental Meditation creator (and Beatles friend) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi via text message from a high school friend. Hoffman has been working on a book about her childhood growing up in the TM movement.
"Under God" will treat religion at its most broad: an adherence to a particular theory about the ultimate meaning and mechanics of the universe. Keeping that definition in mind, I will look at the ceaseless ticker tape of news and events that chronicle our sense of devotion (or absence thereof) to our religious beliefs. Daily, I will try to describe, explain, comment, celebrate, shame, and criticize our living history of living under God....
And who am I to do this? I grew up in a fringe religious movement in the Midwest. I started practicing Transcendental Meditation when I was three years old, and my religious background is a swampy-yet-exciting mix of Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and like eight other world views. All of that has left me absolutely convinced that there is no answer. But nothing makes me happier than thinking about how our beliefs about God (or no God) transform and define our lives.
I studied cultural anthropology in college with a focus on religion and later received a masters degree from the University of Chicago's Divinity School. In between and after, I've been a working journalist for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Condé Nast Portfolio, Rolling Stone, and others (I'm currently a contributing editor at Portfolio).
Hoffman is still based in Los Angeles, I'm told.