Skip to comments.Book Review: Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
Posted on 04/30/2006 4:03:53 PM PDT by Teófilo
Friends, this book, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse written by Michael D. O'Brien was for me a revelation, or a series of revelations about God and man, the divine and human, good and evil, truth and anti-truth, coming through a series of dialogues occurring against the backdrop of the End Times.
We see a godly Pope, patterned closely after Pope John Paul the Great, in fact, at times the hints are too strong for the reader to ignore that the late Pope plays an active role in this novel's plot. We also see world politicians, priests and cardinalseven evil cardinals who have sworn allegiance to the ascendant Antichrist. He's not the Antichrist yet, he will only become it after he has made an educated decision between God and Satan. The Antichrist may yet be converted to the Gospel.
Enter the main character: Fr. Elijah, a successful Polish-born Israeli and Holocaust survivor who once prosecuted Nazi criminals, but then converted to Catholicism an abandoned the world for the Mother House of Carmelites in Israel. His background makes him the perfect emissary to the Antichrist to attempt the latter's conversion. But the path is fraught with great difficulties fed by a world which has turned decisively against God and his Church.
"Apocalypse" is a word derived from the Greek which means "unveiling" and which is often translated "revelation." Hence, the last book of the New Testament is the Book of the Apocalypse, also known as the Book of the Revelation of St. John, Apostle and Theologian. Because of the nature of the events narrated in the Apocalypse, you may expect the "end times" theme permeating the book and it does, too. But to get to the "final revelation" the reader must witness a series of "revelations" involving all main characters. The author "unveils" something deeply intimate of every character which always a direct impact upon the plot.
Father Elijah: An Apocalypse takes place in locations worldwide: Israel, Rome, Paris, London, Finland, Warsaw, and Turkey. It involves heavenly, earthly, and hellish beings. The author perfectly balances intellect and spirit, art and waste, and explores humanity from the heights of holiness to the depths of its depravity.
This book is deeply Catholic and that's another revelation for those who are not familiar with the Church. Catholicism is an eminently reasonable religion. Nothing divine or human is foreign from her and the author captures the depth and breadth of the Catholic faith with perfect artistry.
Theologically, this book runs circles around the Left Behind series; Father Elijah: An Apocalypse is not captive to the simplistic Protestant dispensationalism that dominates pop or Evangelical culture today. Plus the dialogue leaves that of the Left Behind series in the dust. Fr. Elijah is deep, while Left Behind is just the epitome of shallowness.
In terms of literary merit and ability to thread a plot involving mysterious, dark characters and complicated murder plots, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse surpasses the vaunted The DaVinci Code, with the added advantage that here, the Lord is ultimate Victor at the close of history through a heroic Carmelite monk, bishops, priests, and lay men and women, all contemplatives, who often gave their lives as witnesses to the faithlet's not forget that "martyr" is the Greek word for "witness."
This is why, perhaps, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse will never become featured in the Oprah Book Club or in the New York Times bestseller list. For you see, non-Catholic Christians in our country are culturally predisposed to see the Church of Rome as the Whore of Babylon, incapable of giving a true Christian testimony and active cooperator with the forces of evil in a quest for global spiritual and political domination. Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, is not for them.
Nor it is a work for the masses of our Post-Modern, Post-Christian public for whom the Church is a quaint relic of the past at best, or a dangerous patriarchal oligarchy at worst, bent upon imposing its antiquated, oppressive moral code upon a world enlightened by science, technology, and a libertarian code of autonomous, hedonistic ethics. These masses are unable to tell good from evil even if riding on the train to Auschwitz. Father Elijah: An Apocalypse will have little to teach the masses of the reading public for this reason, for Good and Evil are clear and distinct once the fog of confusion reigning in the consciences of men and women is lifted by the light of Christ.
If you want to read the standard fair, go ahead. Numb your mind. But if you want to read something refreshingly new, something that will challenge your entire worldview and then some, something that will set you aglow at the End, read Father Elijah: An Apocalypse.
An interesting twist between Old and New.
Very INTERESTING book.Recommend highly!
Being curious, I'll look at it.
No reference to Enoch is also interesting.
Who, then, are the final witnesses?
Read it once but need to read it again. It is mind blowing.
Oh, man! I can answer this but that'll spoil the ending! There's an answer to your observation, but, ah, I can't tell you. :-D
I have it on my shelf ... so many books, so little time!
(By the way, just to change briefly into annoying copy-editor mode, "fair" should be "fare" in the last paragraph.)
When I say "typos blunders mine" is for a reason...:-)
"These masses are unable to tell good from evil even if riding on the train to Auschwitz."
Now THAT's a quote!
So, it's fiction and I already know the answer.
It's a favorite here too. Pax et Bonem.
Pax et bonum tibi!
"Father Elijah" is indeed a great book, which I've read and enjoyed twice.
Thank you for your kind suggestion.
I was suspicious that O'Brian has written something like "DaVinci Code" or the "taken away" drivel. Instead I hear that this is a serious story about a most serious situation.
Excellent book, we enjoyed it very much. "Overtaken by events," unfortunately, and there's no sequel!
O'Brien is a wonderful author. I have loved everything I have read by him. I also recommend Bud MacFarlane's series of books. They are " House of Gold", Pierced By A Sword and Conceived Without Sin. The books can be ordered for free at St. Jude's Media
You're correct. The point is that the MSM has ignored this excellent book for years and now swoons over so much drivel. I never implied this was written as a response to the DVC etc. Only that it is an infinitely better work than it or the Left Behind series. But, since in this book the Church is the victim and Catholics are heroes, the MSM and the Evangelicals have seen fit to ignore it.
"The Antichrist may yet be converted to the Gospel."
I find this implausible since the Antichrist's acts, like Judas, are foretold - as is his destiny.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Right away, I was reminded of Year Zero by Jeff Long.
Thanks for the recommendation!
There is no sequel but there is a prequel! The book, Sophia House, is the book which precedes Father Elijah. I have not read it.
Search string, Michael O'Brien
Well, this is a work of fiction.
Having said that, prophecy does not exclude human freedom, which I think was the author's thesis, which he handled masterfully. As Judas before him, the Antichrist will freely choose to oppose God and his Christ, thus fulfilling prophecy.
A fantastic question! I will not presume to dissuade you otherwise in a few lines--or even in a whole treatise.
I'll say that "dispensationalism" was one of those manifestations of the same 19th century mentality that gave us Campbellism, the 1833 fiasco, and the birth of Christian sects such as Adventism, and others clear out of Christianity, like Mormonism, Christian Science, the Christadelphians, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. Theirs was an attempt to make sense of Salvation history by imposing a rationalist framework on it, and them formulate extrapolations about the End of the World and its likely date.
Methinks that "dispensationalism" imposes an eisegetical (not exegetical, I am sure you know the difference) framework on Scripture, by lifting verses out of their primary literary context and concatenating them in order to forge a series of doctrinal tidbits which are different from what the earthly author(s) originally intended--which is where "revelation" occurs, in the literal sense, the sense they intended not the sense one literally understands.
I disagree with another of the premises underlying dispensationalism, which is that "Scripture interprets Scripture." This is not to deny that there are verses in the New Testament that are interprations of the Old, but I become very skeptical when the onus is transferred from clear New Testament interpretations of an Old Testament saying or prophesy, to the individual believer, no matter how well-versed or well-intentioned s/he might be, alone approaching the Scripture alone (this is not a typo, I mean both "alones") via free examen. I judge that to be the case because of the fisciparous results we observe in history derived from the Protestant tenets of "free examen," "sola Scriptura," and the ability of the individual believer alone to approach Scripture, not only to bind his/her own conscience--and there might not be anything wrong with that--but others' as well, including imposing erroneous interpretations as "binding" upon other people's consciences.
In my view, the risk of spiritual tyranny are higher here than the risk the Reformers decried against the Papacy. But that's another ball of wax.
So there you have it. I am sure that others have said it better than me. I hope this lets you know where I stand--pun on Luther not intended. Verbosity not intended either.
I don't want a prequel; I want to know what happens NEXT!
I just finished reading it. What fun that was!
Enoch and Elijah together just as described. I thought I had interpreted that part correctly, and now I find may people agree after all.