Artist and novelist Michael O’Brien to keynote at conference

Author and artist Michael O'Brien

Organizers for the 2010 international pro-life conference have announced the list of individuals who will be speaking at the conference this October in Ottawa. Michael D. O’Brien, Canadian author and artist, will be joining Bill Saunders of Americans United for Life, John Smeaton of The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, and Brad Mattes, winner of a 2010 Emmy Award for his pro-life TV show, to name just a few.

The theme of the conference will is “Building a Global Culture of Life,” is hosted by Campaign Life Coalition Ottawa, and is sponsored by LifeCanada, CLC, International Right to Life Federation, and LifeSiteNews.com.

Michael O’Brien is a prolific author and painter residing in Combermere, Ont. O’Brien has written nine novels, six belonging to his apocalyptic-themed series called Children of the Last Days. The most famous is Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, a story about a Jewish Holocaust survivor who converts to Catholicism and becomes a priest, eventually being assigned by the Vatican to confront the anti-Christ and bring him to repentance. His latest novel, Theophilos, published this year, is set in the time of Christ and is about the enigmatic individual to whom St. Luke dedicated his Gospel.

O’Brien’s non-fiction writings include A Landscape with Dragons, in which he critiques fantasy works of the modern era in the light of traditional Judeo-Christian symbolism, and The Family and the New Totalitarianism, a collection of essays on the state of the family in contemporary society. His latest non-fiction work is another collection of essays titled Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, in which he comments in his signature meditative style on recent developments in popular literature and entertainment, continuing the theme first opened in 1998’s A Landscape with Dragons.

O’Brien’s paintings, which can sell upwards of $10,000, are generally done in a neo-Byzantine style with contemporary interpretation, and often feature religious themes.

He told The Interim “I’ll be speaking generally on the topic of different ways of looking at what we do in the pro-life movement: Do we think of ourselves as engaged in a hopeless cause but one that we should do – on one hand – or are we proceeding with faith remembering that the whole of Salvation History is about overcoming evil in impossible odds with faith in God’s power?” O’Brien said he will be using the story of David and Goliath, a favorite of his, to illustrate the nature of the pro-life battle.

When asked why it is important to “build a global culture of life”, O’Brien simply replied, “The alternative is a culture of death, in which every human being would be devalued, absolutely devalued, and ultimately disposable.” Expanding further he said, “We must build a culture – a civilization really – that values every single human life from natural conception to natural death. That’s the great treasure of mankind – not its burden, but its treasure. If we lose this vision we will lose the basic memory of mankind; we will also lose our humanity. That’s what this conference is about – asking ourselves the true question, the real question ‘Who is man and what is he for’?”

How does O’Brien’s art tie into the pro-life movement? “Well all of my novels really deal with the struggle between good and evil in our civilization,” he explained, “often dealing with question of abortion, and, beyond the issues of abortion and euthanasia, the larger question of this tendency to murder that is in the heart of man.”

Then, laughing as he admitted that his message may come across as rather negative, he concluded, “Ultimately we defend life in order to build a better world where all human beings can be loved and valued. I think that would have to be the foundation of everything we do.”

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