Dark Devotional: Pardoning Thomas

I was hospitalized twice for a total of 28 days in a period of 38 days for bipolar depression. When I reveal this, Christians tend to give me one of two responses: “Oh, that’s great!” What the hell? Oh, yeah, I forgot; how good of God to direct me to a safe place in his care. How careless of me to not think of that. Or a look of sympathy. Great. You’ll probably pray for me, too. Thanks.When I was in the hospital, I had one openly Christian nurse. But the nurses are the only reason I am able t … [Read more...]

It Didn’t Count: Sexual Assault and Virginity

“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” 1 Timothy 3:2“Deacons must be husbands of only one wife.” 1 Timothy 3:12When I was 17 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a classmate. It was my first sexual experience, and it changed the course of my life. In addition to the psychological damage, I had to reckon with what my status as an assault victim meant in the context of a Christian campus ministry … [Read more...]

Praying with Depression (and Children)

"I want us to recite the Lord’s Prayer together in the mornings as a family before we leave for school or work,” Sergei tells me.I roll my eyes. Our mornings are hurried. There is barely time for breakfast, clothes, teeth and hair. Do we need to add another thing? And mornings are still hard for me. Some days, although I try to be more present in my life and work the program, I don’t come downstairs to help at all. But we start learning the Lord’s Prayer anyway. Sergei prints it out from his … [Read more...]

Dark Devotional: Tourists vs. Pilgrims

An archeologist writes about the empty tomb. He says, “Pilgrims come to touch Golgotha and the tomb because the events that took place here define our faith. Everything we believe flows from this center. Tourists travel away from their center to go and experience other lands -- to learn, or to rest, or to be entertained. But a pilgrim, in contrast, travels toward the center. The core of his faith in essence is to touch and be touched by the holiest, most significant place on earth.”My friend … [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...]

Dark Devotional: Who is My Neighbor?

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."But because he wished to justify himself, he … [Read more...]

Standing on My Head

“Do you recognize that as self-harm?” the therapist asks me at the tail end of my extended hour and half visit. “This tendency you have adopted to ratchet up the stress level and the expectations of the things you enjoy most in life until they hurt you?”I tumble that around in my head for the days and weeks after as I plunge into the darkness of grief, filling my lungs with its inky wetness. It is the anniversary of my son’s death, and I can’t remember how to breathe.Inevitably, my though … [Read more...]

Surprised by Dangerous Joy: Lessons from Chewbacca Woman

By now, everyone has seen the video of Chewbacca woman, the lady who buys a cheap Chewbacca mask and laughs hysterically at its absurdity. This video has gone uber viral and many people on my Facebook feed talked about how it brought them joy.I'll be honest, my first reaction when I watched the video was a cynical sneer. This woman seemed, at least to me, to be demeaning herself in front of the world. She should have more self respect, I thought to myself. Doesn't she get that she looks like … [Read more...]

The North Remembers–Kind Of–On Good Days–If You’re Lucky: A Note From Sick Pilgrim’s Viking Correspondent

I laugh when my Facebook feed advertises some inspirational book or other called The Way of the Viking or something like that – I imagine its probable romantic perspective – the usual “be strong and tough and persistent and good things will come to you” line, packaged this time under the image of a figure part historical and part the product of fanciful romance. I laugh because the mysterious Facebook algorithms are trying to pitch it to me who, in spite of possessing a Viking patronymic calcifie … [Read more...]

The Dark Devotional: Christians Drive Me Crazy

"My children...This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13) I was involved in a mom's group at our church. Just a couple of women each time, led by a nun a little on the serious side. There were no thrills, no frills. We looked at what the reading would be for the next week and Sister Joanne would ask probing questions to pry words out of our modest little mouths.  We mostly sat around looking at our hands silently begging for someone to just … [Read more...]