Michael O’Brien on “Twilight”: modern man’s futile flight from conscience

From a reader:

I think Michael O’Brien’s new piece (12/19/09) on "Twilight" and its popularity is a much better analysis than the one written by Sophie Caldecott.  I have both read and written a lot on Twilight and O’Brien’s piece is the most thought provoking, and, I fear, accurate analysis I have read yet. 

Here is an interesting segment from O’Brien’s article:

"E. Michael Jones has written that at the root of the phenomenal rise of horror culture [I would add dystopia especially in movies.] is suppressed conscience.

Tracing the pattern from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (first published in 1818) through to Ridley Scott’s film Alien (1979) [The only that made me crawl the back of my chair.] and its sequels, Jones argues that the denial of moral law produces metaphorical monsters that arise from the subconscious of creative people and spread into society through their cultural works. The monster in the Alien films, for example, is a ghastly abomination of the feminine, and salvation is possible only through expulsion of the offspring it implants and incubates in humans—a subconscious eruption of internal conflicts (and guilt) over abortion. [!]

As Jones points out:

By following our illicit desires to their logical endpoint in death, [cf. John  Paul II's discussion of a "culture of death".] we have created a nightmare culture, a horror-movie culture, one in which we are led back again and again to the source of our mysterious fears by forces over which we have no control.

Even though modern man denies the authority of moral conscience, he cannot escape it. He is created in the image and likeness of God, and deep within the natural law of his being the truth continues to speak to him, even as he adamantly denies the existence of God (in the case of atheists) or minimizes divine authority (in the case of nominally religious people, the practical atheists). In order to live with the inner fragmentation, which is the inevitable effect of violated conscience, he is driven to relieve his pain through three diverse ways:

a)     He makes open war against conscience and all its moral restraints, and pursues with radical willfulness an aggressive consumption of sensual rewards—generally a plunge into various kinds of addictions and a life of sexual promiscuity;

b)    More passively, he simply ignores the inner voice of conscience and distracts himself from it by sensual and emotional rewards—generally the search for love without responsibility and a restless striving for worldly success;

c)     He tries to rationalize a self-made form of conscience for himself, based in values such as “tolerance” and “non-dogmatism.” Generally this produces a new kind of perverse moralism, a self-righteousness which is, paradoxically, quite intolerant of genuine righteousness. Its anti-dogmatism is its dogma. Here there is no absolute rejection of morality, but rather a rewriting of it according to subjective feelings.

None of the foregoing coping mechanisms need be conscious. Indeed they tend to be largely subconscious processes through which a person feels that he is finding his personal identity, is living out the principle of freedom, discovering his path in life, and getting from it a portion of happiness. Though he is afflicted from time to time by a sense of the inner void, he presumes that the remedy for these dark moments will be found by increasing the dose of the very drug that is killing him.

The Twilight series, it would appear, follows the third coping mechanism mentioned above in c), the one which appeals to the broadest possible audience."

Grist for the mill.

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26 Responses to Michael O’Brien on “Twilight”: modern man’s futile flight from conscience

  1. Causus Omnium Danorum says:

    So, Father,

    What do you think of his intimation that the ideas for both Twilight and Harry Potter may have been ‘planted’, perhaps by the forces of evil?

    Thanks

  2. Jaybirdnbham says:

    Having never read the Twilight series (and no intention to do so), but having read all 7 of the Harry Potter books, I’ll venture this tentative comparison. There is a clear theme of good vs. evil in Harry Potter, and good eventually triumphs. And it triumphs not by simply “blowing Voldemort out of the water” in predictable fashion. Good triumphs by a good person stepping forward more as a victim and not as an avenging warrior. Harry was protected from death as an infant by the power of love. And that theme of love and it’s very real power carries all the way through to it’s victory over evil at the end of the series.

    With the Twilight series, what people are saying about it seems to indicate that there is a blending of good and evil in such a way that the two opposites become confused. They are calling light dark, and darkness light. Would those who have actually read the Twilight books be willing to say if this is the case? I don’t know, and don’t intend to find out.

    I’m just not seeing much similarity between Twilight and the Potter series. And to put the Potter series in a more realistic light… if I had the time to re-read the series, I’d opt to re-read Lord of the Rings instead.

  3. lofstrr says:

    It seems to me that their is also a good bit of b) in twilight. “the search for love without responsibility.” Everyone wants to be loved rather than to love. It is the dominate theme of most love stories these days.

  4. Mike says:

    Interesting. I think the Alien films take as a starting pt. a rejection of all transcendent moral norms. The Company has taken over everything. Merciless pragmatism rules. Ripley deals with this nightmare–that is the basic plot. Her death at the end of the third film, if I remember correctly–is a refusal to live in this hellish existence. When they–the Company–slice her DNA, the nightmare–and the series goes on. In a way, I think these films are actually positing the inescapable nature of ethical obligation, and that hell that results in the denial of these norms.

    I teach English lit. at a boys school. We recently read Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. Written in 1902, it’s all there–the ruthless efficiency, the moral void, the lies. Kurtz is Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the Abortion Culture that spins its lies.

    But the “horror” can not overcome the Light.

  5. James Locke says:

    Indeed, I would argue that the Harry Potter series differs wildly from the Twilight series such that a moral foundation is clearly found within the structure of HP while there is no such stable foundation in the twilight series.

  6. What Jaybirgngham said, for the most part (I wish I had time to read both HP and LOTR again).

    And like Jay, I have not read the Twilight series and have no plans to. But having now read O’Brien’s article, it looks like he brings to his criticism of Twilight the same combination of puritanism, shoddy scholarship, and basic dishonesty as he brings to his HP criticism.

    SPOILER ALERT

    O’Brien cannot resist drawing parallels between Twilight and HP, though none exist. O’Brien’s linking of the inspirations of Meyer and Rowling for their respective works is especially laughable. In HP, there is a clear demarcation between good and evil, and a particularly stunning and sublime rejection of consequentialism (briefly, Dumbledore embraces consequentialism in having Snape murder him as a set-up for Voldemort’s destruction. But the plan backfires and, in the end, it is grace that saves the day, not Dumbledore’s scheming).

    The core theme of HP is the power of sacrificial love. Whatever the core theme of Twilight is, it is not that. In any case, given O’Brien’s history of rank dishonestly in his HP criticism, I would not trust his opinion on any book.

  7. Mariana says:

    I am not familiar with the series mentioned, but Mr. O’Brien’s comments make a lot of sense to me in explaining the current culture.
    And of course “anti-dogmatism” is a dogma. “We will have no dogma” is dogma.

  8. ttagert says:

    I read EMJs cultural commentary a few years back and found it quite compelling. And I did think of it in connection with some of the reactions I’ve read to Twilight… But as compelling as EMJs analysis, he is also a bit unbalanced, no? Just my thought. His published works are quite good, but some of his online / periodical writings are a bit out there…

  9. Causus Omnium Danorum says:

    The lines of this discussion had me thinking–maybe the ‘fault’ lies in the ‘poor’ execution of these ideas by insufficiently evil authoresses–perhaps a better writer than I could pen Screwtape-like accounts of Satan’s attempt to “inspire” Rowling, Meyer and others, and of the ways they unwittingly botched his nefarious schemes……Rowling, by viewing her tale through the prism of Salvation History; Meyer, by entrenching her tale in the simple morality of a Mormon housewife; and even maybe Pullman, by being a sanctimonious and preachy git…..Anyone?

  10. Melania says:

    The consequences of the denial of the moral law and the suppression of conscience on our society and culture is a very important topic and I don’t see it discussed often enough. I’m glad to see it brought out in this article.

    The best discussion I’ve seen so far is J. Budziszewski’s “Revenge of Conscience.” Like O’Brien, JB asserts that because we’re made in the image of God, the moral law is indeed “written on our hearts.” It may be denied but it cannot be escaped. He says that in an immoral person, conscience is not weakened but twisted. Its power is still very strong but the refusal to acknowledge sin and repent directs its force in sometimes monstrous ways. When we violate the moral law, we have a natural need to repent, confess, atone, reconcile and justify. This is the mechanism God has built into us to repair the damage we do to ourselves and others by sin. It is a blessing.

    People who refuse to repent can be driven to confess and confess again without relief. Think of all the confessional books out now in which people reveal the most shameful acts they’ve committed. This never happened 100 hears ago. Think of the Jerry Springer show in which people week after week expose themselves to the derision of the crowd by confessing shamelessly the most awful acts. What could drive them to so punish and humiliate themselves?

    When people refuse to repent, their need for atonement can just drive them to repeat the sin as in the woman who aborted her second child “because I wanted to hate myself more for what I did to the first child.” I think this may be driving the anti-human ideology that has infected a lot of the ecology movement today: humans are destroying the planet and therefore must be limited … or even eliminated in the minds of some deluded individuals.

    Sin separates us from the community and we feel a need to be reconciled. However, if we refuse to repent, we cannot rejoin the community so we can be driven to recruit others to their sin and create a false community of immorality. We can be driven to force the community to accept us in our sin. I can think of the desperate need of people with same-sex attraction to force churches, schools, businesses, the government to accept their “lifestyle choice” as normal.

    Finally, when we sin, we cannot escape the consciousness of what we’ve done. We need to feel good about ourselves. We need justification. But if we refuse to repent, the typical strategy is rationalization. Examples are too numerous.

    I think this whole topic needs a raft of people investigating, analyzing, writing about, speaking about it.

  11. Tominellay says:

    …E. Michael Jones has interesting things to say…

  12. Father S. says:

    Re: Sean P. Dailey

    Two brief comments. First, I was struck that you were commenting on “Twilight” after having admitted to not having read it. I am not saying that your points are invalid. I just thought that your statement was strange. It reminds me of those who claim to be scholars of Sacred Scripture and who cannot read Greek or Hebrew. It is odd that one would feel comfortable expressing an opinion openly based on ignorance. I do not mean that rudely; it just seems, again, strange. Of course, now that I think about it, perhaps you have seen the film.

    Second, I find your comment about sacrificial love interesting. I read the first two and a half of the “Twilight” books simply because a number of our parents here in the parish were asking about their moral quality. I did not care for the books and do not recommend them because I think that there are far finer books to read. But, the theme of sacrificial love is certainly present, although in a twisted manner. From the part of the series that I read, the main vampire protagonist wrestled chiefly with the notion that he had to sacrifice his own desires for the female protagonist. Also, he was willing to put his safety and that of his family on the line to protect her. Granted, there are all kinds of moral issues with the text, but even amidst them, there certainly was, at least on an adolescent level, the expression of a theme of the power of sacrificial love. It was different than the HP novels, but it is inescapably there.

  13. The problem with Michael O’Brien is that he loves to create The Big Fat Theory What Explains Everything, and then proceeds to shove everything into it. If anyone points out that certain facts refuse to fit his theory, he doesn’t modify his theory; he attempts to discredit his facts.

    For example: His refusal to credit that any positive Christian portrayal of dragons, snakes and other reptiles exists, even when given direct primary evidence from pre-modern tradition. His morbid refusal to grant the Harry Potter stories or their author any good qualities. His bizarre separation of fantasy works into sheep and goats by the most arbitrary standards imaginable. Etc.

    Gothic romance and Gothic horror is intimately associated with anti-Catholic guilt about how the English government treated all those shrieking headless nuns in the dark forbidden castles and ruined monasteries. The monsters, historico-literarily speaking, are the sinned-against, not the sinners.

    I hereby sentence him to read the three volume Gothic novel of The Lancashire Witches until he learns better.

  14. joecct77 says:

    But what if all this focus of living forever is because we’re afraid to die? If we’re so sure of eternal life, then death is merely a transition point from A to B.

    But if we’re not sure of what happens at death, then the alternative of not death is an interesting point to explore??????

  15. Father S.,

    Thanks for your comments. I was commenting on Michael O’Brien’s analysis of Twilight, not Twilight. Probably I should have kept to that rather than veering into uncharted territory in my last paragraph (“Whatever the core theme of Twilight is, it is not that.”). Most of what I have heard about Twilight from those who have read it jibes with what you say. So, apologies for the confusion.

    That said, I stand by what I wrote about O’Brien. His scholarship is abysmal (to take just three examples, how can he talk about the modern trend in vampire fiction without once mentioning Ann Rice? – and a brief reference to a film based on one of her books just does not cut it; he is wrong about syphilis – it came to Europe via Columbus’ crew and had spread across Europe centuries prior to the Enlightenment; finally, why does he not mention Meyers’ Mormonism? I would think that would be key to understanding her books, but O’Brien ignores it).

    Furthermore, O’Brien has a puritanical mindset with regard to fiction and his take on Harry Potter is patently dishonest. And why has he not even once tackled Philip Pullman, whose books are explicitly about “killing God” – to use Pullman’s own words – and shilling for atheism? If anyone has any clue as to why O’Brien picks on Twilight and HP, but ignores Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, I’d like to hear it.

    I don’t have to have read Twilight to not trust what Michael O’Brien says about those books, given his track record. In fact I would point anyone curious about the books to people who have read them, such as yourself.

  16. avecrux says:

    Sean P. Dailey -
    I would venture to say that Pullman’s work is so blatant there is no need for analysis, and perhaps that is why O’Brien does not spend time on it. There were campaigns launched in the evangelical community to warn people about it. Similarly, a novel like “The DaVinci Code” has had a lot of attention – books written, etc. I am always wary of the use of the word “puritanical” when critiquing the review of another. I think it is loaded language. I would rather see examples of the mindset you suggest than labeling. As for the claim of “abysmal” scholarship – isn’t that a bit harsh? Two of the points you bring up are simple judgement calls – the fact that, in your estimation, he didn’t make sufficient reference to Ann Rice or Meyer’s Mormonism. Fair enough. You would like to have seen him address that. As for the reference to Syphillis – I know nothing about it, so I can’t give an opinion either way. But “shoddy” (the word you used in the first comment) is even milder than “abysmal” – and in both cases, I would rather see a more constructive way of discussing the disagreements you may have with O’Brien. I am a far shoddier and abysmal scholar than either of you, I suspect – but I can say with conviction as a parent and a religious educator, that the Twilight saga is having a discernible negative impact on women – young and old.

  17. Father S. says:

    #2 Re: Sean P. Dailey:

    Thank you for your post. I am not sure what I think about O’Brien, simply because I really only know his fiction. Of that, “Father Elijah” is a wonderful read and “Strangers and Sojourners” was good, too. Other than that, I do not care much for his writing. His most recent work, “Island of the World” I found to be cumbersome and ponderous. I unfortunately read half of it before putting it down. I kept waiting for it to be good. I think that we need to apply the same principle to fictional authors that we apply to other entertainers. For example, just because Mel Gibson is a fine actor, it does not mean that he is a theologian. Just because Itzhak Perlam is a fine violinist, it does not make his opinion about Prop 8 in California any more weighty than that of anyone else. O’Brien is a fine novelist, having good works, mediocre works, and some duds, too. He is in good company with Dumas, Faulkner, Austen, etc. I think I like him as an author because I do not read his non-fiction.

    Given the link attached to your name here, I do wonder what Chesterton would say about current questions surrounding this current trend of quasi-religious and quasi-magical writing that is so prevalent today. Two of my favorite works are “The Ball and the Cross” and “The Man Who Was Thursday.” When I read and reread them, I find the fantasy elements contained in them to be far more satisfying than this popular fiction. On the one hand, Chesterton was a far greater writer than almost any living writer today in the English language, so that is certainly understandable. On the other, his fantasy feels less contrived. Perhaps my favorite essay in the entire English language is “A Piece of Chalk.” If what is said here about O’Brien’s non-fiction is true, particularly the aversion to anything serpentine, I wonder, too, what O’Brien would make of the monstrous creation Chesterton describes in this essay. To me, it is an interesting thought.

  18. Fr. S, good question. Chesterton writes there about drawing demons and saints with equal enthusiasm. My guess is that O’Brien would ignore it, since he ignores anything that exposes the inconsistencies in his writing. What Chesterton would say about the current popularity of vampire lit specifically is hard to say, though you could start with his essay “A Defense of Penny Deadfuls,” which defends adventure stories, stories with dragons, and so on. And as Chesterton leaves a heap of corpses in his wake in his Father Brown stories, I think he would not be so averse to violence in literature.

    I tried reading O’Brien’s fiction once but it was not to my taste. But a lot of people like it, and his art. He should stick to what he knows, just as, as you say, Gibson should stick to acting and Perlman should stick to music. They are all entitled to their opinions, but skill in one area of art does not make them experts in other fields.

    Avecrux, that Pullman’s work is so blatant is no excuse for O’Brien to ignore it while spending time on Twilight or HP. A lot of people still like Pullman, yet he passes under the radar of people like O’Brien. Hm.

    I am sorry you do not like my use of harsh words like puritanical or abysmal with regard to O’Brien. But if you are going to do a complete, thoughtful critique of an author, then you omit a big part of what makes him (or her) tick if you omit her religion. Most critics of Tolkien focus on his linguistics background, but he himself said that the most important thing about him was his Catholic faith, which the critics ignore. Just as you can’t fully understand Tolkien without taking into account his Catholic beliefs, I am sure you cannot really understand Meyers without taking into account her Mormon beliefs, which, unlike O’Brien, literary critic John Granger has done. So for O’Brien to ignore this is slipshod, shoddy, and – as he does try to pass himself off as a knowledgeable scholar – abysmal. Ditto him ignoring the single most influential writer in vampire fiction in the past quarter century.

    Suburbanbanshee above also delves into other examples of O’Brien’s slipshod scholarship, particularly with dragons, so don’t just take my word for it.

    As for Puritanism, yes O’Brien is a puritan. Here’s one example. In the introduction to his book Landscape with Dragons, O’Brien tells the story of how, once, his young daughter asked, “Daddy, if God is good, why did he make dinosaurs? They’re so scary.” O’Brien describes the whole long-winded spiel he goes into for his reply: God IS good, but we live in a fallen world, dinosaurs represent man’s sinful nature, bla bla bla. I am sure O’Brien did the best he could. But that is the problem: it was the answer of a puritan. It would have been much more theologically correct – and much more Catholic – for him to reply, “Honey, God made dinosaurs because dinosaurs are cool.”

    I am not going to comment directly on the Twilight series because, as I said, I have not read it and have no plans to. But I comment on O’Brien because I have read him, and read other things he has written about, and I can say with conviction that he is not a reliable guide.

  19. Supertradmom says:

    Many years ago I read the first three Harry Potter stories in order to write reviews for a homeschooling magazine. I found the books extremely disturbing in several areas, including the disrespect shown to adults, the adulation of lying, the use of traditional occult symbols as good symbols (confusing on purpose), and the general use of magic and witchcraft, as if these activities were morally neutral, which they are not. Also, at the time, the head exorcist in Rome plainly stated that the Potter books were unfortunate doors into the occult and that many children were led astray by the stories. If one goes to HP websites, one finds links to wicca groups, fortune-telling, and the sale of such items as Ouija boards. Not accidents. In addition, I personally know of families where the children as young as nine and ten got into the occult, including “blood sacrifice” of animals by reading HP and playing the games. As to Twilight, I am thrilled that the Vatican had something negative to say about the movie as a “deviant moral vacuum”.

    Did not our good Pope state of HP that the ‘subtle seductions’ in J.K. Rowling’s stories, which could ‘ corrupt the Christian faith’ in impressionable young children.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1229300/Vatican-slams-vampire-blockbuster-Twilight-deviant-moral-vacuum.html#ixzz0aTaXAuNG

  20. An American Mother says:

    Thus Father Brown:

    “It’s part of something I’ve noticed more and more in the modern world, appearing in all sorts of newspaper rumors and conversational catch-words; something that’s arbitrary without being authoritative. People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other. It’s drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.” He stood up abruptly, his face heavy with a sort of frown, and went on talking almost as if he were alone. “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can’t see things as they are. Anything that anybody talks about, and says there’s a good deal in it, extends itself indefinitely like a vista in a nightmare. And a dog is an omen and a cat is a mystery and a pig is a mascot and a beetle is a scarab, calling up all the menagerie of polytheism from Egypt and old India; Dog Anubis and great green-eyed Pasht and all the holy howling Bulls of Bashan; reeling back to the bestial gods of the beginning, escaping into elephants and snakes and crocodiles; and all because you are frightened of four words: ‘He was made Man.”‘

  21. avecrux says:

    Re: the Puritan accusation about Michael O’BRien- I have a copy of “A Landscape with Dragons” – so I thought I would look at it to verify Mr. Dailey’s representation of the text. Here is what I found on page 23:
    “When our daughter Elizabeth was eight years old, she asked me, “Dad, why did God make dinosaurs?”
    An excellent question. I glanced hastily about the room, wishing that someone would write a book titled ‘How to Answer Children’s Unanswerable Theological Questions’. We groped around the matter together for awhile, and her questions were really pressing: she wanted to know!
    “I mean,” she said, “God is so good – so why would he make something so scary?”
    “Uh, maybe at first God made them to be very big and friendly like whales and elephants, but the devil corrupted the world and changed them from plant-eaters into meat-eaters. Then they started killing…”
    All the answers seemed to ring hollow. She knew it, and I knew it. I prayed silently. Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit who prompted a thought:
    “Elizabeth, I don’t really know for sure, but maybe he wanted to make a creature that looked like something we can’t see. Maybe somewhere in the universe there’s an invisible dinosaur on the loose, and it hates people.”
    She thought about it for a while. After a few minutes she said “I get it.”
    We nodded together, although there was a little faking in Dad’s nod, because he was still straining to get it himself.
    “Yes,” she said, musing, “maybe God wanted to tell us that it can be dangerous here. Like the angels and the devils and all that stuff.”
    “Yep, maybe like that.”
    “But the dinosaurs weren’t really evil, were they?”
    “No, not at all. They looked big and mean and ugly, and they were dangerous, but they weren’t bad. Same as a snake or a shark isn’t bad. They’re creatures. And each of them tells a part of a big story. All of creation is like a book with millions of chapters.”
    “Some are scary and some are wonderful.”
    “Right! The dinosaurs are gone now, and the world is full of people, but they left a powerful message for us in the fossils, didn’t they?”
    “Yes”, she said, getting really excited. “And that means we’ll never run out of good books to read. There’s always a new story.”

  22. Thanks for the full, word-for-word excerpt, avecrux. It supports what I said: that O’Brien’s answer was long-winded and tiresome, and a much more theologically correct and Catholic answer would have been him to simply say, “God made dinosaurs because dinosaurs are cool.”

  23. RC2 says:

    I thought I was going to escape having to read Twilight, my daughter having no interest in it, but then a lady in my book club chose it. Sean P. Dailey is exactly correct. Twilight is moral nonsense from a Christian point of view (and a good deal of it is just the main characters panting after one another) but it is merely an analogy of faith if one is Mormon: Bella becomes a “god,” which is the end of human striving.

    I thank him, too, for the defense of HP. MO’B bewilders me; he cannot possibly have read the HP books beyond the first or second volume when it wasn’t clear where they were going.

    I cannot understand how Christians raising kids in this age can be so against a work whose main character is saved by love but retains the mark of evil in his person, has a mother named Lily, progressively purges himself of sin, learns to act by love alone, transcends the wholesome but pagan morality of the magnanimous man (“Great man. Dumbledore.”), whose portal between the material and spiritual realms is King’s Cross, and who presents himself as victim as Dailey has described above. JK Rowling accomplishes that difficult task in literature: she makes the good characters more interesting than the evil ones.

    Additionally, a central theme of the story is the answer to the question how one seeks the good and lives by truth when the media and bureaucracy are organs of propaganda and it is literally forbidden to call evil by its name. That is the world my kids actually inhabit once they leave our home, and I am glad they have HP to accompany them!

  24. avecrux says:

    Actually, Mr. Dailey, the word you had used to describe Mr. O’Brien in both of your prior comments was “Puritan” – a word I objected to because I said it is loaded. Here, I have actually quoted the text of Mr. O’Brien you attempted to use as proof of the “Puritan” accusation.
    Now you have responded, stating the text citation supports your claim – yet, now you leave out the very word we were disputing – “Puritan”.
    Was that an accident? I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you meant to write “Puritan”… that somehow you are trying to imply that word through mentioning what may or may not be “much more theologically correct and Catholic” – although you have left that claim entirely unsubstantiated as well. Since you used the words “slipshod”, “shoddy”, and “abysmal” (in addition to “Puritan”) to critique O’Brien’s work above, the burden of proof is upon you, Mr. Dailey. Whether something is long-winded and tiresome or not… well, again, that is a matter of taste, and you have already said Mr. O’Brien’s writings are not to your taste. Regarding this conversation with his own daughter cited above – a conversation during which he holds the office of primary catechist and has the grace of state, as her Father; and during which he prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit would hear that prayer and help him with his answer, so that he could fulfill the duties of his vocation. Whether or not you think he should have retold the story in a book is something else entirely. Although it isn’t a citation from a scholarly journal, it just might be true – and at the end of the day, that is what seems to drive Mr. O’Brien: truth. (I forgot – you also said he is dishonest…) While I am sure he puts great effort into what he does, I have seen evidence on Mr. O’Brien’s part of a real humility and detachment, which St. Teresa of Avila calls the foundations of holiness. In looking for assistance in making judgments on these cultural matters, holiness is the most important quality to look for in the guide, not “scholarship” defined in an academic way – although a combination of the two is preferable. Scott Hahn is often dismissed as a Biblical scholar by those in the scholarly community because, among other things, he cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church in his work. This is not considered “scholoarly” – but it is the correct thing to do. I see the same detachment in Dr. Hahn when it comes to his work. Holiness is always accompanied by humility and detachment. And now – I will leave this discussion to prepare for Christmas. I hope the words you have directed towards Mr. O’Brien in critique have not steered others away from reading his observations and being challenged by them. Like Supertradmom’s comments re HP above, I can speak to Twilight and say that O’Brien’s insights are right on.

  25. Bornacatholic says:

    E. Michael Jones is, sadly, too little known amongst too many Catholics. I have several of his great books and I am soon to purchase his, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History

  26. momravet says:

    The “Twilight” series isn’t bad, just overwrought. In the last book, SPOILER ALERT, Bella is ready to sacrifice herself for her unborn baby despite all who want to “abort” the bavy so she will live.

    In the last book of the HP series the main character sacrifices himself to destroy the primary antagonist despite his own fears and attraction to evil.

    Can’t say anything about Pullman – I’ve tried to read his stuff twice and totally unable to read his stuff due to the obviousness of the atheist message he pushed.

    Books aren’t totally useless if themes of self-sacrifice and love can be extracted although most of them aren’t as totally uplifting as “The Lord of the Rings”.

    Every bird I see has a hint of the dinosaur about them, isn’t God’s creation wonderful.