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...]

Dark Devotional: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

5 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the [a]mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,3 “[b]Blessed are the [c]poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.5 “Blessed are the [d]gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.7 “Blessed are the merciful … [Read more...]

Mary Karr: Trying to Say God

This post begins 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."Talking about spiritual activity to a secular audience is like doing card tricks on the radio," Mary Karr, bestselling author of and "unlikely" Catholic convert, told Terry Gross. I remember hearing Karr on Fresh Air as I pulled into the parking lot of my desk job after a miserably cold and g … [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...]

What it Means to be a Catholic Woman in Trump’s America

2016 was the year of my disillusionment.The election of Donald Trump seemed like a very laughable bad dream, like being in middle school when we used to devise masked ways to cuss (“Twat, did you say? I cunt hear you!”), only in Trump’s case, he really did say it, he most likely did it, and, my gosh, the Middle School just elected him president.And this was the candidate that I, as a Catholic woman who supports the protection of life from conception to natural death, was expected to line … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: We must be crazy

Mark 3:21: For they said: He is become mad.He was crowded by so many people that he couldn't even eat, Jesus was. And so were those who followed and served him faithfully. And his family, not so much the ones who loved him best or knew him best, but the ones who thought themselves most qualified to judge, decided that he must be crazy.The leap is large and confusing to me at first, until I remember back a couple of weeks ago.After a total emotional collapse, I was resting and … [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...]

Dark Devotional: I Don’t Have to Hide My Sins

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.There are two images that drew me to the Catholic Church: the Eucharist and the Crucifix. They are separate, but in essence, the same. The Body of Christ, lifted up before all of man.I wasn’t always drawn to this imagery. In fact, I was taught to loathe it.Let me explain. In my early 20’s, I found myself in a mire of sin - lust and drunkenness mostly - and ended up at … [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...]