About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His paranormal series can be found in book outlets everywhere from Open Road Media. Jonathan currently lives near Notre Dame where he works as an editor for Ave Maria Press.

The Theology of Suffering Questions the Benedict Option

Allow me to tell you a story. A few years ago, I went through the worst period of my life so far, a time of personal suffering that I pray to God I never will have to through again. A painful divorce resulted in a move away from my children so that I could get a job that would cover their insurance. I gave up friends and a sixteen year career as a Presbyterian minister to enter the Catholic Church.Needless to say, I didn't enter the church with a shout of triumph, profound theological … [Read more...]

13 Reasons Why: Netflix Invites us to Spiritual Works of Mercy For Holy Week

(Two alerts. This review talks about rape, bullying and suicide. It also contains a lot of spoilers for the TV show and book, 13 Reasons Why.)One of the terrible beauties of Holy Week is an invitation to not only enter the sufferings of Christ, but through our union with Him, be united with others in their suffering. This is not something we do willingly or embrace gladly. And, there are many areas of suffering we don't wish to enter into or even consider.Suicide is one of those topics. … [Read more...]

Road Trip Homilies: Wounded Knee and the Snake Givers

As I walked along a sandy path in Badlands National Park, I noticed a sign warning me to "Beware of Rattlesnakes." The wind stinging my cheeks reminded that even if the snakes decided to brave the cold, they'd be sluggish and unlikely to bite.  Still, as I walked, I listened for the tell tale "rattttttttttetattatt" and prepared myself to leap out of the way.For some reason, I couldn't get snakes out of my mind as I drove to the Pine Ridge Reservation located south of Badlands. I'd taken this … [Read more...]

Why Are We So Afraid of Mercy and Our Own Heretical Little Hearts?

As I sort through the events of the past few months, I've tried to figure out what bothers me the most about the Trump presidency and what it's revealed about Catholics and Christians in America. Every time I think I've pinpointed the problem, it vanishes into the air. Sure, I'm bothered by the misogyny, the myopic views of pro-birthers, and the barely disguised hatred of Muslims. But, every time I pick up my computer to write about these things, something stops me, prompting me to go … [Read more...]

Are You a Child of Thunder? Or a Vigilante of Love?

  On the first Sunday of the year, my priest printed out slips of paper with saints' names on them. He told us to choose one out of a basket after mass. Whomever we got, he assured us, would pray for us and be our patron for that year.It seemed like a good idea. But knowing the way God usually deals with me, some obscure saint I never heard of would probably pick me and I would have to really dig to understand the reasons why.So, after I mass, I pulled out the … [Read more...]

Tim Powers: Trying to Say God

*This is the second post in our series of features on the writers, musicians and artists who will be speaking and performing at the Trying to Say God Conference, June 22-24 at the University of Notre Dame. One of the reasons that Catholic literary culture has become,  in the words of Kaya Oakes, a "funeral for multiple corpses," is that genre fiction, specifically science fiction, fantasy, and weird fiction, are often left out in the cold when these sorts of discussions take place. This gl … [Read more...]

Screwtape Does America

 (At four o'clock this morning, I (Jonathan) woke up and thought about the events about the past few days. They've been weighing heavily on my head and my heart. For some reason, I thought about my favorite book of spirituality, The Screwtape Letters by. C.S. Lewis.For those not familiar with the book, Lewis uses the character of a senior devil writing advice to his "nephew." So, I tried to process everything I've been thinking the past few days by writing my own "Screwtape … [Read more...]

St. Francis de Sales and the Artist-Theologian

Before I was confirmed in the Catholic Church three years ago, I had to choose the name of a saint as my "new" name. It's not just for popes, after all.  The reason for picking a "patron saint" is that this person is to be our guardian throughout the rest of our lives by interceding for us in heaven. And usually, it is someone whose story we identify with in some way.Peter seemed like an obvious choice, because I've always loved and identified with the apostle who has a bit of a passionate … [Read more...]

Trying to Say God (as artists)

A few years ago, Kaya Oakes wrote in America Magazine that "Catholic literary culture today might best described as a funeral for multiple corpses. This, for living Catholic writers, makes for a rather depressing set of circumstances to enter into."Soon after, I went to the Future of The Catholic Imagination conference at USC and saw this funeral on full display.What depressed me most was that no one ever really defined a Catholic artistic imagination, how it gets formed, and what we can … [Read more...]

Sick Pilgrim and Sacramental Weird Fiction Writer, William Paul Blatty, Has Passed.

I'm sad today. William Peter Blatty has gone into the Unseen realm. As the writer of  The Exorcist, he blazed a trail for us modern sacramental weird fiction writers. He is a big influence on my own philosophy of writing and story telling. My favorite quotes of his: “It’s an argument for God,” he says today of the novel more often considered an entertainment. “I intended it to be an apostolic work, to help people in their faith. Because I thoroughly believed in the authenticity and validity … [Read more...]