Saints vs. Scoundrels Series

Fr. Mitch welcomes speaker and writer Dr. Benjamin Wiker to discuss his new series, “Saints vs. Scoundrels.”

“Dr. Wiker: This series actually came from the Architects of the Culture of Death at the start of it.  So that gave us kind of an idea about what we wanted to do.  I didn’t just want to do bad guys.  Architects of the Culture of Death is kind of a downer.  Fr. Mitch: Villains are always the most interesting characters in the movie! Dr. Wiker: Well that’s true?  But saints can be interesting.  When I signed on for this I said I want interesting saints!  Because they are they are exciting and three dimensional.  That’s the goal of the series, we want these people to be super alive.  Saints and scoundrels. We are going to have three dimensional evil and good.”

“A writer writes about the concrete, people with real lives and personality.”

Flannery O’Connor:

A writer writes about the concrete, people with real lives and personality.  Ayn Rand in contrast talks about abstract ideas and her characters are just places to hang them.  A story always involves, in a dramatic way, the mystery of personality.

The peculiar problem of the story writer is how to make the action he describes reveal as much of the mystery of existence as possible.

There is no mystery to Ayn Rand’s characters and no personality. Serve yourself above all and only your self.  Go, make money and be a Nietzschian superhero.  That’s the whole theme of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. When you can state the theme of a story… when you can separate it from the story itself… and state it in a nutshell like that… you can be sure the story is not a very good one.

There are a whole lot of people like Rand.  She just happened to make good.  They want to write about problems not people, about abstract issues not about concrete situations. They have an idea or feeling or an overflow of ego.

(A Good Man Is Hard to Find.  The most famous and grotesque short story written by Flannery O’Connor in 1953.  A misfit kills an entire family on their vacation.)

The concrete situation in A Good Man Is Hard to Find:  Grandmother is alone with the misfit.

The Misfit: Jesus is the only one that raised the dead, the misfit continued, and he shouldn’t done it. He thrown everything off balance if he was who he said he was.  Then there is nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow him and if he didn’t then there is nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness.

The sledgehammer makes a tenderizer for grace sometimes.

How can a story that strikes terror be so connected to Christianity?

Why strike terror in the reader?  The Christian writer today must do his craft within the context of an audience largely defined by unbelief.  In fact hostile unbelief.  One of the awful things about being a writer when you are a Christian is that for you the ultimate reality is the incarnation. The present reality is the incarnation nobody believes in the incarnation that is nobody in your audience, my audience, are the people who think God is dead.  Very nearly deaf to grace and almost blind to redemption.  So a Christian writer may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience.  To the hard of hearing you shout and to the almost blind you draw large startling figures.  The misfit and grandmother are startling figures.

The grandmother is a self-seeking hypocrite and she is annoying and petty.  And her faith doesn’t run real deep.  The truth about Grace, the Catholic truth, is that Grace can and does use as its medium the imperfect purely human even hypocritical.

Like the old lady sewing a quilt for the bed, He uses whatever scraps He has on hand that’s us sinful human beings.

The grandmother in the story is the real medium for Grace of course as the misfit rightly said she is only purified as a medium for grace by having the gun put to her head.  That is the sad but very real truth about us isn’t it?

We are only receptive to the truth about ourselves about her own need for redemption about our terrible love of God when we’re standing face-to-face with death.   Death cuts through selfishness the hypocrisy the lies we surround ourselves with it forces us to ask about the caliber of our lives.  That’s why the misfit says at the end ‘she could’ve been a good woman if it’d been somebody been there to shoot her every minute of her life.’  I think that’s true of everyone including me.

 The last line is worth repeating.  I think that is true of everyone including me.
– 3rd Dog
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The Brand StoryHome

…is in honor and memory of Tessa, my small Maltese born October 6, 1993, and passed away September 18, 2009.

I was considered the 3rd dog in Tessa’s pack. Her first master was the first dog, Tessa was the second dog, and I was the third dog. No matter what I’d do to gain respect or position in Tessa’s eyes… I was “ the third dog.” She was so adorable and such a character. I caved to her demands…and she was very demanding…which brought me joy and contentment. Her demands were begging for food and sitting on my lap.

Tessa had a few quirky personality traits based on her past…growing up in a less than ideal environment thrown into the backyard with two Dobermans to fend for herself. She was about 3 pounds at that time the runt and a spitfire. Not far from being a replica of me….she made me smile with joy at her attitude.

Quite the problem solver

She also liked mischief and got herself into some severe problems. Like the time she discovered chocolate candy on the coffee table and laid in wait for her moment to snatch the candy bars run upstairs and hide them under the bed until nightfall. In the middle of the night, I awoke to a banging noise. It was Tessa banging her water bowl against the metal stairs to get my attention. I soon discovered several empty candy wrappers, piles of vomit everywhere, and Tessa hitting the bowl. It is unbelievable that she survived that terrible episode eating more candy bars than I could… at one time!

Filled with inspiration

She will always be my inspiration and a reminder of perfection.

As I emerged in the second half of my journey as a storyteller, launched myself into the world of screenwriting, and left behind an entirely different phase of my life, I also had to let go of my friend…my companion my little spitfire Tessa.

I will forever be the 3rd dog.