Desperately seeking Sinéad

I’ve been obsessed with Sinead O’Connor since she tore up the pope. I wrote about her memoir, Rememberings, and the recent documentary Nothing Compares for the Century. She’s one of the most famous lapsed Catholics (another obsession of mine) but what intrigues me most is how many elements her life story shares with the hagiographies … More Desperately seeking Sinéad

Covid Mystics

I find myself repeating a prayer cribbed from Flannery O’Connor’s A Prayer Journal (Farrar, Straus and Giroux): “Oh Lord, I am saying, at present I am a cheese, make me a mystic, immediately. But then God can do that—make mystics out of cheeses.” I wonder if a pandemic might also do the trick. Evelyn Underhill, one of … More Covid Mystics

The Church as Muse

In my writing about faith, I’m always trying to keep my footing on the highwire. I hope that struggle speaks to people. Thanks to Sister Julia Walsh for inviting me to be her guest on Messy Jesus Business. We talked about the arts, the usual suspects (Greene and O’Connor), and the Roman Catholic Church as … More The Church as Muse

Major Malfunction

The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger was a defining moment for my generation. We remember where we were when the shuttle exploded on January 28, 1986, killing all seven crew members. Most of us were watching the launch on live television. I was 9 years old and at home, sick with a January cold, … More Major Malfunction

How Young Sisters Are Changing the Catholic Church

According to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, 90 percent of Catholic sisters alive today are over the age of 60; most are closer to 80. The majority are white. Many younger religious sisters, who reflect the increasing diversity of the general population, have no peers in their home congregations. These women … More How Young Sisters Are Changing the Catholic Church

On Robert Macfarlane, and how the words we use define us

Toni Morrison said that language “arcs toward the place where meaning may lie,” but life also arcs toward language. This is beautifully explored in the movie Arrival, when a linguist’s apprehension of an alien language shapes her own experience of time. But it is terrifying when language lies, oppresses, steals, and erases—and life distorts in … More On Robert Macfarlane, and how the words we use define us