A Band of Misfits

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17) "Heaven must be messy." --Eric Elnes, Gifts of the Dark Wood Last week I wrote about Eric Elnes's Gifts of the Dark Wood, but there's something more I want to share. Something so central to the mission of Sick Pilgrim that it merits its own post. Elnes calls it "The Gift of Misfits."To recap my last post: The Dark Wood is an ancient metaphor for emotional, psychological, and spiritual distress. Nobody chooses to enter the Dark Wood. Who'd do … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: First Sunday of Lent: The Devil Inside

 Click here for the complete Mass readings for the First Sunday of Lent 2016.A reading from the Gospel According to Luke. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan  and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,  to be tempted by the devil.In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus faces three tests that all believers face. Satan tempts Him with immediate needs (turn this bread into stones), the desire for power/popularity (all this can be … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Ash Wednesday 2016: Bring on the Night

Click for the complete Mass readings for Ash Wednesday 2016. Psalm 51: 12 Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me.Last Ash Wednesday, my brother sent a text asking what my spiritual goals were. I wrote back, "stay alive."I was lying in my best friend's bed in Chicago, so depressed I could barely move my fingers, but I vividly remember answering his text, then scrolling through the weather app on my phone to see the high that day would be -1.  F … [Read more...]

The Misadventures of a (Divorced) Pilgrim Dad

 I’m not ashamed to say the new Star Wars movie made me cry. But it wasn’t for my lost childhood or because I once traded away my original Millennium Falcon (now worth thousands of dollars) for a dented baseball bat.*Spoiler alert if you’re one of the few people who hasn't seen the movie*In the film’s climax, Han Solo confronts his son, the evil Kylo Ren, and tries to get him to come back to the light. At first, you think that Ren will actually join his father and our heroes. Ins … [Read more...]

The Dark Devotional: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Deep Waters

Click here for the complete mass readings for Sunday, February 7, 2016.I'm drifting in deep waters Alone with my self doubting again I try not to struggle this time For I will weather the storm I gotta remember Don't fight it Even if I Don't like it Somehow turn me around No matter how far I drift Deep waters won't scare me tonight~Portishead, Deep WaterA Reading from the Gospel According to Saint LukeWhile the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the … [Read more...]

The things that are saving our lives right now

To be from Southern Louisiana and endure the winters of Northern Michigan is to understand that hell is certainly cold and monochromatic and not a lake of fire. Can you point me in the direction of a lake of fire? Because I'd gladly dive in right about now.A friend of mine sent me a link to this post at Modern Mrs. Darcy in a cautious effort to cheer me up (she knows how I feel about facile self-help—especially cheap gratitude). But it's February in northeast lower Michigan, which is known ev … [Read more...]

A Canticle for the Alien Church (The Real Clash between Mulder and Scully)

Sixteen years ago, I was driving across the Texas desert in the middle of the night. My friend was asleep in the passenger seat, continuing to renege on his promise to share in the driving. We'd decided to drive to Phoenix for the wedding of a college buddy so that we could see the west by the open road. It had been a great idea until I was driving at two in the morning, fighting to stay awake. Somewhere in the west Texas panhandle, I turned on the radio and came across Coast to Coast AM. As I sp … [Read more...]

How Writing a Foreword for an Inkling Smashed My Idols

A few years go, I was having dinner with the editor of my first two books (3 Gates of the Dead and Dark Bride) and friend, Betsy Mitchell, in Columbus, Ohio, where she was speaking at conference.  What I love about Betsy is that even though she's edited some of the biggest names in the business (Michael Chabon, Dean Koontz, Octavia Butler and Terry Brooks), she is willing to hang for a few hours with a struggling writer like myself. Plus, she's been a great mentor as I've started my second c … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: God Disappears

Click here for the complete Mass readings for January 31, 2016.A reading from the book of the prophet Jeremiah.The word of the LORD came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew youA reading from the Gospel according to Luke.But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.In today's Gospel, Jesus pulls a neat trick. He causes a riot and then disappears. The pairing with Jeremiah seems strange at first. In one reading I hear of a God who knows me … [Read more...]

For Her: Conspicuous Consumption Catholic-style

Aleteia has launched For Her, a web magazine for women that is "finely focused" through a Christian lens. As much as I dislike being shunted into a special section for girls, I was at least a little bit excited to see how a Catholic site about "what the church really teaches" would speak directly to me. The evangelical magazine Christianity Today has a blog, her.meneutics, where women writers analyze secular and Christian culture, books, and media. I've written for them, and I recognized some of … [Read more...]