Introducing Brian Jocks, Sick Pilgrim’s Illustrator

Louisiana artist Brian Jocks will be contributing original illustrations to the Dark Devotional, Sick Pilgrim's weekly meditations on the Mass readings.Sick Pilgrim ("a decidedly dark and offbeat, yet stubbornly hopeful blog founded by misfit Catholic writers") is meant to be a platform for artists. As a blog, most of the artists we've gathered are writers, and we’ve been excited to feature so many (with more than 60 guest posts in our first year online), each with a unique voi … [Read more...]

That Old Catholic Magic: Jacob Popcak Explains St. Patrick’s Day to Sick Pilgrim

We invited some Sick Pilgrims over to talk about one of our favorite saints, St Patrick, in honor of his feast day this Friday, March 17. And then Jacob Popcak took us all to school.First things first. St. Patrick wasn't Irish.Jacob Popcak: Patrick was a slave of the Irish, who escaped, became a priest, and came back to convert his captors. He loved them. Which is ... insane, from a modern perspective.David Russell Mosley: He wasn't "Celtic," or at least not Irish.Jonathan Ryan: H … [Read more...]

Blog of the Year

When I told my fellow pilgrims that we'd received an award for faith-based blog of the year, our associate editor Matt Lafleur responded, "Does this mean we're....winners?" Good question.Jonathan Ryan and I created this blog for the margins, the narrow audience not being served (or published) by Christian presses and magazines -- those of us who've never felt at home anywhere but are tired of traveling alone. That audience has turned out to be a lot bigger than we anticipated.The Wilbur … [Read more...]

Beyonce and the Black Madonna

 A few thoughts on Beyonce's pregnant body:It is breathtakingly beautiful.It is unashamedly sensual.And it is holy.Full stop.No qualifiers.Watching Beyonce's Grammy performance, I nearly wept. We've seen stylized photos of pregnant celebrities before--they're hardly controversial at this point. But I can't remember seeing a pregnant woman on stage at a mainstream cultural event, doing her thing--being an artist, interpreting, performing, working--instead of … [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...]

The Artist’s Fiat: An Interview with Sister Sinjin

I’ve been listening to Sister Sinjin’s new album, Incarnation, as a daily Advent prayer, and I was so inspired by their dark-folk-Medieval vibe that I wrote this essay last week about women and suffering and art and faith instead of the album review that I’d set out to write.Sister Sinjin is Elise Erikson Barrett (vocals, keys), Elizabeth Duffy (vocals, cello, banjo, guitar), and Kaitlyn Ferry (vocals, violin, mandolin, keys). They’re three mothers who connected through various church events … [Read more...]

Art Won’t Make You a Better Person

A guest post from a Lutheran Sick Pilgrim, Joel WesterholmI’m in what I hope is the final stage of writing a book, and I’m getting more and more aware of the fact that the book will not change its readers’ lives.At least, not substantially.I say this from experience: my experience as a reader of books written by people wiser than myself. I just finished two books by people I heard at the Festival of Faith and Writing: Norman Wirzba’s Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating and James K. A … [Read more...]

Mud Wrestling with Angels Unawares: When Catholic Art is Dark (Or Ugly)

As a Catholic poet, I was excited to read this article about why the Catholic Church desperately needs artists, and was particularly taken with Pope Saint John Paul II’s reference to art as an evocation of our “nostalgia for God.” But as I kept reading, I felt something was missing, and this something was the question of what to do when art is dark.It's great to talk about the role of beauty in our communication and evangelism as a church. This has been important for centuries. But I can't he … [Read more...]