|"Real joy comes from those moments during the writing when you feel the great beating heart of the divine." 1|
Ash Wednesday is approaching. It’s a time for meditation and reflection, a time to contemplate our morality and mortality. Taking time to consider our lives and the world around us is a cornerstone of Catholicism, resulting in the advancement of science, the founding of systems of education, and of the building of whole societies of counter-cultural contemplatives (but don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself). With this in mind, I introduce a cool cat who looks evil in the eye and asks the tough questions: Dean Koontz.
Koontz knows firsthand what he is up against. Childhoods like Koontz's are often what people have in mind when they ask, “If there’s a god, why he does let bad things happen?” Koontz grew up under the whim and oppression of an abusive, alcoholic, and sociopathic father. Even as an adult, Koontz could not maintain distance from him because there was no one else to take care of the man in his later years. Rather than a heartwarming story of a father-son reconciliation, Koontz had to endure several attempts on his life. Indeed, why does God let these things happen?
A staple of Koontz’s books seems to be that though evil might triumph in the short term, good always prevails in the long run. This belief in the power of good, or perhaps in God’s plan, is what allows Koontz to confront evil and not shy from addressing it. He admits, he does not find it glamorous and so will never portray anything but a pathetic villain. (NRC)
Evil, as part of this world as it is, is offset by the wonder of this world: “If you remain alert to the lessons of life and aware of the mystery of the world, it is difficult to deny the existence of design in all things.” 1 This acknowledgement of the wonder of reality, while also providing a meaning and a form to truth, is part of what Koontz loves about being Catholic. What drew him to the church in the first place, however, was witnessing the closeness of his then girlfriend/current wife’s Catholic family. After some reading, he was particularly drawn to the “intellectual rigor” of the faith as evidenced by St. Thomas Aquinas and G.K. Chesterton. 2
Koontz finds science and faith to be complementary, and many of his books deal with quantum physics and biology. He also explores bioethics through his disabled characters, and he doesn’t draw the same conclusions as a certain Peter Singer who measures human worth through output:
If you bring these [disabled] people into your life, I’ve discovered – I’ve never found one 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 and your own stoicism, you’ve had a very valuable and important life. So they bring a great deal to the world. - Catholic Exchange, 2009In a good example of stewardship, Koontz works extensively with Canines Companions for Independence, a group that trains dogs that greatly contribute to the lives and opportunities for the physically and mentally disabled.
More on Dean Koontz:
2 Catholic Exchange Interview, 2009