An Open Letter to Fellow Artists Michael D. O’Brien Dear Friends I receive a very large number of letters from young Christian painters, writers, and musicians, and ask those of you who have written to me to forgive the lack … Continue reading
the Apocalypse foretold by Old and New Testament prophets and by Christ must not be viewed as a purely symbolic mega-drama enacted as high theatre sometime in the safely distant future. When the foretold events actually occur, they will be experienced at ground level by all kinds of people, in a variety of subjective ways. If our times prove to be the ones prophesied, we too will experience it in our particular personal ways. The book asks, “Am I awake? Am I spiritually ready?”
Children of the Last Days is not the title of a novel, but rather the umbrella name for the six novels within the series. In addition, five other novels have been published by Ignatius Press.
The story takes place in the Balkans. What inspired you to situate the novel in this place?
O’Brien: The seed of the novel was planted several years ago, in 1995, when I was writing my novel, “Father Elijah” [Posljednja vremena]. Without warning, a fictional character appeared in my imagination, though he was one I had not expected, named Brother Jakov, a Franciscan friar who had survived terrible experiences during the war of independence, 1991 – 1995. Years later, my books were translated into several foreign languages, among them Croatian. The publisher Verbum in Split, in conjunction with the Catholic apostolate MI, sponsored my visit to Croatia, where I gave several talks throughout the country. That was the first of four journeys I have made to the Balkan region. As I heard more and more stories told to me by Croats in both Croatia and Bosnia i Herzegovina, I began to realize that an enormous catastrophe had occurred here—more terrible and more significant than we in the West realized. I had read much about it, of course, but I learned that the media of Europe and North America had not really seen beneath the surface. I began to understand that the situation was more than a geo-political crisis, more than the horror of genocide. I saw it as a spiritual crisis that had consequences for the whole world. In prayer it came to me that I must tell this story in a way that people of the nations outside former-Yugoslavia would come to a deeper understanding. Readers would then see that your sufferings are representative of the cosmic war that will continue until the end of time—and is a warning about what will come to all the world, if mankind does not repent of its sins.
Once utilitarianism, in theory, is defined and exposed, every Catholic would say, “Oh, yes, that’s evil.” Yet, all too often there is a disconnect between theory and practice, as if we feel that such evils are regrettable but unavoidable; and that it is impossible for us personally to bridge the great chasm between what we conceive as a Christian “ideal” and practical reality, what we feel are our sad but necessary compromises with evil. To the degree that we think this way, that is the measure of how badly we have become infected by utilitarianism. The objective reality here is that other human beings, who are as beloved by God as we are, will pay for our disconnect with their suffering and/or their deaths. We will continue to vote for the utilitarian who seems less evil to us or who offers us an apparent good, such as security or economic stability (which we have, consciously or subconsciously, decided is a higher good than the sacredness of human life). A problem deeper still is the inability to even see the disjunct. What is the cause of this? Is it utilitarianism alone, even the worst kind, religious, or is there something else that needs pondering here?
Sophia House is set in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation. Pawel Tarnowski, a bookseller, gives refuge to a Jewish youth (David Schäfer) who has escaped from the Ghetto, and hides him in the attic of the book shop. Throughout the winter of 1942-43, haunted by the looming threat of discovery, the two discuss good and evil, sin and redemption, literature and philosophy, and their respective religious views of reality. Decades later David becomes a convert to Catholicism and is the Carmelite priest, Fr. Elijah, called by the Pope to confront the Antichrist in Michael O’Brien’s novel, Father Elijah: an apocalypse. In this “prequel” the author explores the meaning of love, religious identity, and sacrifice viewed from two distinct perspectives.
Plague Journal is set in the near future. The novel is composed of both written and mental notes made by Nathaniel Delaney, Ann and Stephen’s grandson, who is the editor of a small town newspaper. The story takes place over … Continue reading