Séance with the Freudenabteilung (or, Communing with Dead Nazi Sex Slaves): Listening to Joy Division as Religious Experience

  “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” – Neitszche   When you struggle with depression, it’s tempting to juxtapose your own horror stories with the real horror stories of history in an attempt to gain a more sober perspective. But these efforts usually backfire and cause even more despair. Pilgrims must be on... Read more

Trapped in the Nightmare: A Bloomsday Dark Devotional

Cyclical, original art by Brian C. Jocks June 16 is Bloomsday — a special day for Irish literary geeks, on which fans of James Joyce’s Ulysses gather in Dublin to retrace the steps–and drink the drinks–of the novel’s hero, Leopold Bloom, who both starts and finishes his surreal Odyssean journey in his wife’s bed.   Ulysses, with its ring-like structure and themes of transformation, is a story for moderns trapped within the cyclical “nightmare” of history,... Read more

Pest’s Letters: To My Friend Who Died of an Overdose

Artwork by Brian Jocks Dear B, They found your body on the floor of your house last week. I don’t know any details, but the cause was an overdose…surprising few if any. You were my best friend in high school. We’d complement each other using quotes from Friends (especially from Phoebe), our shared love of movies and deep conversations, and our strange crush on Joan of Arcadia. Our friendship in high school was not  predictable –... Read more

Dark Devotional: Frankenstein and the Most Holy Trinity

Frankenstein, the solitary monster, art by Brian C. Jocks The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. –St. Paul   “I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species, and have the same defects. This being... Read more

Dark Devotional: Speak My Language

#blessed, original art by Brian C. Jocks I don’t sound very Christian. That’s what I was told after I proudly mentioned to my neighbor, a white haired and thoroughly religious grandmother-type, to check out the blog I sometimes wrote for, Sick Pilgrim. A couple of days later, she got back to me with that assessment. And she didn’t mean it as an insult, just a blunt and honest statement from a very kind lady who respects... Read more

Dark Devotional: Go and Make a Mess of Things

Eleven, original art by Brian C. Jocks Raised in a Catholic lay missionary family, dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel–the Good News of God’s love–all over the world, I’ve long been a big fan of Jesus’ mandate in Matthew 28, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” I’ve seen with my own eyes time and time again the desperate desire, especially in the poor and forgotten of the world, to know the boundless love and forgiveness offered... Read more

Dark Devotional: Don’t Lay Your Hands on Me

original art by Brian C. Jocks “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city.   Now... Read more

Things Keeping Us Alive, May ’17

Sometimes April showers don’t bring May flowers. Sometimes the thing keeping you alive last month gets taken off Netflix a few short days after you say it’s a small joy in your life. Netflix is a cruel, cruel mistress. RIP, Scrubs.    I need to hear about small joys in peoples’ lives. I love it. Those small, seemingly trivial things that make people smile are meaningful to me. And hopefully to you too. *** Sarah Walsh owns a small coffee company in... Read more

Looking Past the Miracle: The Poetry of Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist I first heard Mary Szybist’s poems about 13 years ago in a St. Louis reading series. The illustrious restaurant/bar that hosted the series was dimly lit that night, save for strings of small white lights around the picture window to the street. The lighting created a large halo behind the readers—Szybist, a professor at Lewis & Clark College, and her husband, Jerry Harp. Szybist’s poems like “Via Negativa” enthralled me: Sometimes it’s too hard... Read more

Dark Devotional: Three Ways to Survive the Mother’s Day Homily

Original art for Sick Pilgrim by Brian C. Jocks Dear Catholic Women, If none of your children have any embarrassing quirks, or if your children are all under the age of 12 and haven’t made choices that cause you to want to crawl under the pew, then feel free to move on.  Enjoy the homily, enjoy the blessing your priest bestows on all the women in the parish and the flower they give you on the... Read more