Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lucia A new book by Michael O'Brien

One of my favourite authors has a new book out: Theophilos, A Novel.
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.
Ignatius Insight have just published an interview with the author, who reveals how he was inspired to write the book.
I've always been intrigued by the mysterious figure to whom St. Luke addressed his Gospel and the Acts. However, I never considered writing a novel about him, and felt no need to supply an imaginary, speculative "life" for him. The inspiration actually came while I was praying before the exposed Blessed Sacrament three or four years ago. I was feeling unusually exhausted that night, quite brain dead and poor before the Lord, wondering if I would even be able to pray. In all honesty I had felt sure my adoration hour would be extremely dry, without lights or consolations. I'm ashamed to say, all I wanted to do was sleep.

From the moment I entered the chapel, completely to my surprise, a series of vivid images of the life of Christ poured into my interior "seeing." An extraordinary peace came with them, and the dissolving of all sense of time. The scenes were nearly visual and far beyond what I could have produced in my natural imagination. I have rarely if ever experienced anything like it in prayer. Perhaps the closest to it was my novel Father Elijah back in the early 1990s, and certain passages in Island of the World.
I've read both the books he mentions above and they are seriously amazing. On a level beyond the normal book. Even though the writing style in Father Elijah is a little annoying at times (I kept losing track of who was talking in the very long conversations). But, by the time O'Brien wrote Island of the World, his prior novel, he was far more skilled as a writer and there were no more annoying, long conversations. Just an amazing story that took you on a journey of metamorphosis, even through extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

These are Catholic books, written by a devout Catholic with a Catholic point of view. That isn't to say that non-Catholics can't read them, they can. But I think the books kind of choose their readers. Those that can't handle what is in them, can't read them. That's been my experience with the people I've lent them to.

1 comment(s):

ZenTiger said...

Father Elijah was excellent and I also recommend Plague Journal and Eclipse of the Sun.

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