This site belongs to Jay Nelson, a Christian mystic and hermit, writer and artist, retired priest in an Independent Catholic church, one-time mad monk in a medieval recreation society. Oh, and I’m a survivor of clergy sexual and ritual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, too, and a long-time activist for survivor issues.
Despite my intense upbringing in the Catholic Church, I fled the dogmatic prison of the Church of Rome as a young adult long before I even realized I had been sexually molested while serving at the altar.
But the “call” would not go away. For several decades thereafter, I played a leading local religious persona in a local medieval recreation society. So I’ve not only administered the sacraments “for real”, I’ve anointed kings, cursed them, created relics, and sold indulgences, too. Funny thing about my blessings, before my ordination, they seemed to work exactly the opposite from the way intended…
Though an excellent real-world education in how religion actually works, just playing at priest was never enough for me. But my prayers to find a liberal church where I could I pursue my spiritual interests without sacrificing my intellectual freedom were ultimately answered. I “went legit” on August 24, 1991, when I was ordained in the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch. Made it up to the rank of Archpriest or Monsignor, too, before I retired.
Less than a year after my ordination, on April 17, 1992 (Good Friday no less, while visiting my old parish church), I first realized I had been a spectacularly “unlucky” altar boy, who had been raped and ritualistically abused by a parish priest for years. Sure didn’t see that one coming…
Recovery proved a lengthy, tearful, and difficult struggle; in some ways, an unending task. Survival was due to good therapists, the unwavering support of my family, friends, and church, and the inspiration of countless other victims and survivors. Plus, of course, the mysterious grace of God.
The discovery completely overturned my life, and my efforts to found a parish soon withered. My main focus turned to outspoken clergy abuse activism. I participated in local protests and even led the only group of victims to demonstrate at World Youth Day in 1993 – 5 of us against 500,000.
For over a decade, I published both the newsletter and website for The Survivors of Clergy Abuse Linkup (now sadly long gone), at the time the leading national clergy abuse victim support and advocacy organizations in the US. Most of the articles I wrote then, plus historical “smoking gun” documents and much else, will be republished here.
Many of them — along with nineteenth century academic histories, Church decrees, and much else — form the basis of my self-published exposé, Sons of Perdition: New Mexico in the History of the Catholic Sex Scandals.
Before that, I’d also written a novel: The Harrowing, a psychological horror tale about a survivor struggling against a diabolical cult in the Southwest. Personally therapeutic even if universally ignored.
I’ve also written a movie script which eventually inspired a novel about a modern comic quest for the ultimate lost holy relic. The novel, Hunters of the Holy Tub, under the pen name of “Tony Caganer”, is a romp through 2,000 years of religious history. It explores the strange vagaries of religious enthusiasm, with fake miracles, sex cults and conspiracies, visions, and deadly traps. It has been described as “Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code by way of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Professionally, I’ve enjoyed a career graphic designer and and more recently as an online essayist. As a researcher, I’ve made several important discoveries – including the very early and ongoing involvement of the Holy Inquisition and Pope Benedict’s surprising role in it all. I’m an inspired albeit mediocre artist, and even have been blessed with a few mystical experiences as well.
At my own request, I’ve been voluntarily granted a full and complete excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church. However, my spiritual adventures did not end there. By the merciful grace of God, I have also received a truly miraculous spiritual healing, which has empowered my research to continue.
In the meantime, as my patron saint did, I continue to wait in the desert for the Trump of Doom with my cats. Which judging from the headlines, could be any day now.
+ Jay Nelson
Very Reverend J. Nelson, AA, BA, LST (ret.)