“You aren’t religious are you?” a co-worker asked me after she opened The Glorious Mysteries and saw the title of the first story in my collection, “The Baby Jesus.”
“What do you mean by religious?” I asked her. “If you mean a strict follower of a particular religious doctrine, no,” I said. “But if you mean, like the Latin root of the word, religio, to bind together, then yes, I very much have religious sensibilities. I look at the world as a place of connections.” What I didn’t tell her is that many of my stories critique or subvert the Catholic tradition itself, and I am not alone in this.
Last weekend I was at a brilliant performance at the Citadel Theatre (in Edmonton) of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night. ONeill’s characters are deeply influenced by Catholicism, often tragically so. Yet the divided family he presents in Long Day’s Journey could be any family dogged by addiction, failing, and disappointment and that is what makes his particular rendering of it, universal, Catholic and all.