From Nightfall to Lightfall

Describing Dean Koontz as a popular author of suspense novels is an understatement. His books have been published in 38 languages and sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. But what I discovered when I read his book Brother Odd a few years ago was that you can enjoy a Koontz story strictly for its engaging writing, characters and plot–but if you read the same story through a spiritual lens, you’ll be able to appreciate it on an even deeper level.

One of the main reasons for that is the fact that the author converted to the Catholic faith many years ago.  During an interview with me on “Christopher Closeup,” Koontz explained, “By the time I was going to college, I was looking for a different path from where I had been…I [became] engaged by the intellectual rigor that lies behind the Catholic Church. A lot of people will possibly laugh at that, but if you know St. Thomas Aquinas and some of the other famous writers of the Church—or laymen who wrote brilliantly from a Catholic perspective like G.K. Chesterton—then you understand what I’m talking about.”

Koontz’s study of Catholic history also taught him that, contrary to the modern assertion that religion and science are enemies, the opposite is true.  He said, “Through various times in the Catholic Church, various sciences were founded and encouraged. There is no distance between [faith and science] except for what people try to make for political reasons.”

Koontz often integrates a Catholic worldview into his stories, though it’s done in subtle ways in which the casual reader might not even notice.  This is especially true when it comes to issues dealing with the sanctity of life.  Koontz’s interest in these issues developed because he and his wife, Gerda, have long worked with a charity for people with disabilities called Canine Companions for Independence. The organization trains service dogs for people who are paraplegic or quadriplegic so they can live on their own.  The animals also have a great effect on autistic children.

After working around the disabled, Koontz became troubled at the world’s view of them.  He explained, “I saw that a lot of these [disabled] people were shunted aside. There are also a lot of people who think they shouldn’t be given medical care. People like Peter Singer think a disabled child should be allowed to die or should not be given antibiotics because they have nothing to contribute to the world. He’s an idiot…I’ve never found one [disabled person] who whined or complained like average people do. I’ve never found one who wasn’t grateful for every good thing that comes their way. And I haven’t found one that wasn’t an inspiration to people. If you can inspire other people by your own courage, you’ve had a valuable and important life. That’s why I wish people would stop thinking that you have to be the perfect physical specimen in order to be worthy of living. That is far from the truth.”

Koontz believes that addressing these issues in story form can be an effective means of getting the point across without doing any actual preaching.  He concludes, “You disarm people with a story, you charm them with humor, and then you let them think about these other issues. For me, it’s a wonderful method by which to promulgate at least the thought of these things, to make people wonder if they’re really right to think these things.”

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