Over the past few weeks, we at Sick Pilgrim have watched with unease as the Church has responded to the allegations of scandalous and predatory behavior on the part of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. We have seen bishops offer bland platitudes and assurances that they will improve “procedures.” We have seen bishops blame contraception, or deflect blame by talking about Church abuse scandals in other countries. We have seen the bishops talk about their anger, and their shame, and their betrayal… Read more

The theater is tiny, curtained on all sides, with carpeted benches rather than seats. There I perch, legs curled sideways, ankles crossed. One film after another. Jugglers and clowns. Pointy-breasted showgirls. A rattlesnake. A painted cave. Pina Bausch, dancing en pointe with cow flesh in her slippers. My neighbors gasp, and sigh. They exhale wonder, and it fills the room like smoke. I grit my teeth, head turned at an ugly angle, my body twisted and tense. Supremely unreasonable, I… Read more

  Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.”  He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. 1 Kings 4:5-6 Growing up, my father worked for a small commercial airline in Alaska and as part of this job, our family could fly pretty much anywhere we wanted to for free if the plane had empty seats.  We’d show up at the gate wearing business-casual clothes… Read more

People ask me the same question a lot: How can you still be a Christian? They usually aren’t asking how I could still believe in God. What they really want to know is, “How can you stand to be around Christians when they cause so much damage?” The person who asks me this question knows my backstory. They know I can (and have) easily justified walking away from the whole mess. I grew up in a fundamentalist, evangelical-type environment. I… Read more

  “Hello, I am calling to speak to Mrs. or Mr. Grumbley?” Growing up, when the landline would ring and who ever was on the other end of the line asked for a Grumble or Grumbley we knew it was a telemarketer. My last name is Grumley, and I grew up in a strict no grumbling household. Complaining was not well tolerated. Complaints had nothing to do with hard work, or integrity, and they were often seen as disrespectful. I… Read more

On June 16th, 2012, as Radiohead’s crew was setting up the elaborate LED stage lighting system for the band’s show in Downsview Park in Toronto, the stage suffered a collapse, injuring three and killing the tour’s drum technician, Scott Johnson. The show was cancelled, the sellout crowd sent home, and the media speculated about whether the band would continue the globe-spanning tour behind their eighth album, The King of Limbs. Not only did the collapse damage their custom lighting system… Read more

I’m not sure about this. This whole series, I Want To Believe, scares me, even though it was my idea. I was born into a Catholic family. I went to Catholic school for my entire primary school career. I grew up in a reality that was obviously created by an invisible God who spoke to us through the Bible, through Jesus, and through the Republican platform.  Apologetics –arguing why one should believe in Christianity and Catholicism– was, for me, cathartic:… Read more

For me, one of the most difficult lessons to learn is the one expressed in the Gospel passage concerning the multiplication of the loaves. The theme is simple: the line that divides what we need from what we desire is a very thin line, difficult to distinguish clearly. I am aware that in Catholic spirituality (and in a certain Protestant spiritualities) desire is often presented as a facet of our personal spiritual journey. For devout believers, it is suggested that… Read more

I can remember my first class in grad school, Intro to Counseling, almost a decade ago. I remember fidgeting with a brand new ink pen, tapping it against a pristine 3-subject notebook I’d just bought as I hungrily devoured my professor’s words.  “A lot of people will question whether they want to talk to you. They live with the mindset that if you don’t talk about your personal issues, you will be able to get over whatever you’re going through,”… Read more

Original art by the sparkly and crystalline Brian Jocks. “There is nothing so secular it cannot be sacred.” Madeleine L’Engle I am not Catholic. Nor do I identify with any of the Protestant branches, not even Anglican or Episcopalian. I do not identify with the Bible or even Jesus. But the God I imagine does most closely align with the Judeo-Christian tradition. She is someone I can get mad at, as the Psalmist does. She is love and mercy and… Read more

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