Interview about Theophilos

My fictional character Theophilos is a Greek physician, like his adopted son Loukas, and he is a man formed by the best of the classical pagan age. He is intelligent, educated, cultured, gifted, humanitarian—and proud. The novel is the story of a literal voyage as he seeks to rescue Loukas from the “cult of the Christos”, and Theophilos’s deeper voyage into the core of his unbelief, which hides his unacknowledged despair. In this sense he is very much a modern man.

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Theophilos

Publisher’s Press release

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St. Luke addressed his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to a man named Theophilos.

Who was Theophilos? Scripture scholars do not know, making him a fit subject for Michael O’Brien’s vivid imagination. In this fictional narrative, Theophilos is the skeptical but beloved adoptive father of St. Luke. Challenged by the startling account of the “Christos” received in the chronicle from his beloved son Luke and concerned for the newly zealous young man’s fate, Theophilos, a Greek physician and an agnostic, embarks on a search for Luke to bring him home. He is gravely concerned about the deadly illusions Luke has succumbed to regarding the incredible stories surrounding Jesus of Nazareth, a man of contradictions who has caused so much controversy throughout the Roman Empire.

Thus begins a long journey that will take Theophilos deep into the war between nations and empires, truth and myth, good and evil, and into unexpected dimensions of his very self. His quest takes the reader into four ancient civilizations—the Greek, Roman, Jewish, and that of Christianity at its birth, where he meets those who knew this man that some believe is the Messiah.

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Preface to Harry Potter

Preface to Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture

by Michael D. O’Brien

[published May, 2010] 

This book grew out of a series of articles which were written over a ten-year period for various Christian periodicals. At first, I had no interest in reading the Harry Potter novels, and indeed felt that I had already expended considerable time researching the field of fantasy literature when writing a book on the subject in the mid-1990’s. Moreover, the constant reviews of the Potter series had given me a general sense about the stories and the popular opinions. Oceans of spilled ink and electronic text seemed to cover the pros and cons well enough. No need for me to add my opinion.

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Preface to Harry Potter

Preface to Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture

by Michael D. O’Brien

[published May, 2010] 

This book grew out of a series of articles which were written over a ten-year period for various Christian periodicals. At first, I had no interest in reading the Harry Potter novels, and indeed felt that I had already expended considerable time researching the field of fantasy literature when writing a book on the subject in the mid-1990’s. Moreover, the constant reviews of the Potter series had given me a general sense about the stories and the popular opinions. Oceans of spilled ink and electronic text seemed to cover the pros and cons well enough. No need for me to add my opinion.

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Interview with Fronda (Poland)

This is not the time to hide in the catacombs.

An interview with the Polish news service, FRONDA, www.fronda.pl, January 16, 2010

1. You had some trouble getting your books published. What is the general reaction to them in the secularized West. Are Catholics the only people who read your books?

O’Brien: I receive many letters from believers and non-believers, telling me how much my books have meant to them. It is always a deep consolation, because for many years I could not get my books published in Canada, my homeland. My country is extremely secular, socio-politically similar to Germany and Holland. I wrote manuscripts from 1977 until 1995, and always the publishers told me they would publish my books if I deleted the Catholicism, or warped it. I always refused, and thus remained unpublished in my own native land. Even now, none of my novels have been published in Canada. When in 1995 I finally sent my manuscripts to a publisher in the USA, they were immediately accepted. Since then, during the past 15 years more than 12 of my books have been published. It was a good lesson for me about many things. For one, the true nature of secular culture, which is always tending toward the neo-totalitarian suppression of cultural freedom (as well as political freedoms); it is ever willing to lock Catholic culture into a ghetto. As Orwell once wrote:  “Some of us are more equal than others.”

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TWILIGHT of the WEST

The astonishing success of the Twilight series of vampire novels written by Stephenie Meyer ranks second only to the Harry Potter series in publishing history, and the two films released to date also repeat this pattern. Meyer’s series builds upon the foundation of older novels and cult films, themselves based on the European legends of vampires. The legends predate even these, for there is a long tradition in ancient religions of supernatural beings who are predators on humans, consuming the blood or flesh of the living, tales that can be found in Babylonian, Greek, Persian, Hindu, and Hebrew lore, as well as throughout Africa and the pre-colonial Americas.

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Moral Compass or Golden Compass?

The conversion of traditional archetypes of evil into morally good ones makes a quantum leap in a film based on a novel by British author Philip Pullman. It is titled The Golden Compass, which is also the North American title of the first volume of Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. According to interviews with Pullman, the author’s stated intention is to reverse the traditional Biblical account of the war between heaven and hell. In his introduction, Pullman says that he “is of the Devil’s party and does know it” (a line adapted from a poem by William Blake).


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War in the Heavens

Where is the road of modern culture taking us? The real question is not whether there are intriguing, entertaining, and even edifying details along the route, but what is the final destination. Are we Christians asking this question as we consume contemporary cultural material? Or are we gradually losing our bearings, the moral compass spinning aimlessly? What is the dominant terrain, the pitch of the slope? I believe it is heading downward, and the occasional bumps in the road that offer a sense of upward mobility (such as the “values” in the Harry Potter books) contribute to an illusion. In order to see clearly the extent to which we have been absorbed by the illusion, we first must recognize how strong is the need in human nature for confidence in the world, and the instinctive aversion to the threat of “negativity” or “intolerance.”

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Pan’s Labyrinth

Most contemporary films are infected with some degree of symbol-erosion. A case in point is the Spanish language Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno, 2006), by the Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro, whose previous work includes Hellboy and Backbone of the Devil, films that draw on strange fiction, fantasy, and war themes. Pan’s Labyrinth is particularly interesting for its integration of fairy-tale, classical myth, horror, and political propaganda. Profoundly beautiful in parts, it is graphically brutal and subtly anti-Christian in its use of symbols. It won several international awards and three Academy awards and was listed in the top ten favorite films of many film critics.
 

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The Year for Priests

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Saint Jean Vianney

To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Curé of Ars. It was his fervent prayer life and his impassioned love of Christ Crucified that enabled John Mary Vianney to grow daily in his total self-oblation to God and the Church. May his example lead all priests to offer that witness of unity with their Bishop, with one another and with the lay faithful, which today, as ever, is so necessary. Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to his Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: “In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Curé of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!

 

Pope Benedict XVI, Letter proclaiming the Year for Priests, beginning on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2009.
 

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