Thank a Nun: Sister Wendy

I’ve not heard her speak at a conference, have never been told charming dinner party anecdotes about her (even from my most well-connected Roman Catholic friends), and have not had occasional to glimpse, live and in person, Sister Wendy Beckett.


Chances are, neither have you. The British nun and art historian, now 82 years old, lives in seclusion in a trailer (or “caravan,” if you like) on the grounds of a monastery in England. Reportedly, she converses with only two people: the nun who brings her daily provisions and the prioress of the monastery. She speaks mostly to God; she spends her days in prayer.

Although the women who have the privilege of exchanging words with her over stacks of fresh linens or freshly-baked loaves of bread have been satisfied to keep her to themselves, in God’s mercy God obviously felt like it was important to share Sister Wendy with the rest of us. Over the past twenty years, through her numerous books and documentaries on art and faith, Sister Wendy has made profound – though admittedly occasional – forays into my life.

Observing her faithfulness and humility (she describes herself as “shabby and cowardly”), I have found my shallow faith and self-absorption challenged.

++ Join us in showing our appreciation for Catholic women religious (aka nuns or "sisters") on Thank-a-Nun Day, May 9. Click HERE to send a thank-you note online. ++

Afternoon Links of Awesomeness: April 11, 2012

Jon Stewart compares Easter and Passover, The Lion King surpasses The Phantom of the Opera in sales, Central Africa's only all-black symphony gaining attention, Rube Goldberg machine sets new world record, electronic music made from fruits, a fish delivers a TED talk, Webby Award nominees announced, local Chicago music, The Hipster Games, the joys of a nine-year-old's cardboard arcade, and a dramatic twist of events on a quiet square... See this and more on today's Links of Awesomeness...

Holy is the Sound

There's much to contemplate this Holy Week, from Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Many artists have traveled this path, creating sonic accompaniment for the varied emotions evoked during this sacred week.

Here are a few tracks that move us, and that we’ll have in heavy rotation throughout until Easter Sunday and beyond, including one of the more unusual Resurrection Day songs you've likely ever heard from the Yeshu Bakhti band Aradhna, pictured at right.

A Sci-Fi Take on Adolescence's Brutal Truth

Along with the silent film The Artist, Haywire, and War Horse, the smartest wide-release recent movie is Chronicle, a kinetic fusion of Breakfast Club-style teenage angst with post-9/11 violence-as-a-way-of-life (or at least way-to-be-noticed).

Gareth Higgins is a writer and broadcaster from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who has worked as an academic and activist. He is the author of Cinematic States: America in 50 Movies and How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films. He blogs at and co-presents “The Film Talk” podcast with Jett Loe at He is also a Sojourners contributing editor. Originally from Northern Ireland, he lives in Asheville, North Carolina.