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When Heaton was 12, her mother died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. The resulting emotional and spiritual struggle lasted for years, but Heaton credits her Catholic upbringing with helping her achieve a level of acceptance and peace. On the Christopher Closeup radio show/podcast, she explained, “Many churches (say) if you’re a Christian, you really shouldn’t be suffering. In fact, suffering is a part of the walk, and I think that’s a very important torch the Catholics carry. You get made fun of for it a lot. The nuns always used to say, ‘Just offer it up.’ But it’s important because rain will come into your life and you need to be able to know that God is still there with you despite those problems.”
Knowing that God is with you through struggles is a personal belief of Heaton’s that has also found it’s way into her work, specifically through her role as a producer of the film Amazing Grace, which told the story of William Wilberforce’s efforts to end the slave trade in the British empire. She was introduced to the story by her husband who is British, and drawn to it because Wilberforce’s commitment to solving this social problem was propelled by his Christian faith.
Heaton said, “Probably the only thing that was able to keep him going was his faith because it literally took him forty years . . . And Wilberforce was sort of shunned from society . . . There’s a price to pay and I think that is one of the messages -- you have to be willing to sacrifice everything to follow God and to follow what He’s called you to do.”
(To continue reading, go here.)
“Infertility is one of the most painful things I have ever seen a couple or woman suffer with,” says Dr. Anne Mielnik, Director and co-founder of Gianna: The Catholic Healthcare Center for Women which opened less than a year ago in New York City. “For most of them, it is a hidden suffering.”
Dr. Mielnik is doing her best to heal that pain, but unlike many doctors, she’s doing it in a way that’s completely pro-life.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) has become the default method by which infertility is treated. Since it involves the creation and sometimes destruction of embryos, it’s morally incompatible with the fact that life begins at conception. That’s where Dr. Mielnik comes in, offering treatment through a relatively new method called NaPro which stands for Natural Procreative Technology.
On the Christopher Closeup radio show/podcast, Dr. Mielnik explained, “NaPro refers to a comprehensive approach to evaluating and treating a woman’s reproductive problems including those that lead to infertility, recurrent miscarriage, pregnancy problems, and other disorders. It then treats the woman in a way that doesn’t shut down her cycle or try to bypass the cycle … We use what originally developed as a natural family planning chart - a woman recording the signs of her fertility—as a diagnostic tool.”
(To continue reading, visit http://www.faithandfamilylive.com/features/a_hidden_kind_of_suffering)
21-year-old Haylee Cain, feeling alone and hopeless, lay in her bed in an Alabama nursing home for senior citizens. She didn’t yet know that an article written by journalist Michelle Eubanks from “The Times Daily” newspaper would soon change her life in a dramatic way.
Haylee was afflicted with a form of cerebral palsy that produced a lot of spasticity in her arms and legs. She wasn’t able to stand and had limited use of her hands. Though she had previously lived with her grandfather, his own health problems resulted in him not being able to care for her anymore. Haylee ended up in the nursing home of infirm senior citizens because Alabama has no state agency for people 21 or older “who suffer from physical, rather than intellectual, disabilities.” Though Haylee struggled with her body, her mind was sharp.
One day, Michelle Eubanks from Florence, AL, “The Times Daily” got in touch with Haylee because she wanted to write a story about the disadvantage faced by people with strictly physical handicaps. Though reluctant to be interviewed, Haylee agreed to Michelle’s request thinking it might help others who found themselves in similar dire straits.
The morning Michelle’s article was published, Tuscumbia, AL, resident Judson Emens brought the newspaper to his wife Donna and showed her the picture accompanying the story. “Do you know who that is?” he asked. Stunned, Donna happily exclaimed, “That’s our Haylee-bug!”
It turns out that when Haylee was five-years-old, Donna was her aide in the Head Start program. She recalled on the “Christopher Closeup” radio show/podcast, “(Haylee) was absolutely the brightest spot in anybody’s day! She was so full of life and love.”
Haylee often spent weekends and holidays with the Emens who came to love the girl’s unconquerable spirit. When Haylee eventually moved to Texas to live with extended family, Donna lost touch with her. She had recently heard through the grapevine that Haylee was back in Alabama. Though she desperately wanted to re-connect with her, she couldn’t because of privacy laws. The newspaper story was an answer to Donna’s prayers.
Donna discovered that Haylee’s nursing home was only 10 minutes away from her home so she rushed over to visit. She said, “When (Haylee) saw me she started screaming, “Mama-bear!’ because that’s what she used to call me. I just started crying, I couldn’t help it. She was laying there so pitifully…She said, ‘Mom, I don’t belong behind these walls. I belong out there.’ And when she said that to me, I knew immediately that I was going to have to do something…When I came home, I was crying and my husband said, ‘How was it?’ And I said, ‘I just wanted to scoop her up and bring her home with me.’ His very next words were, ‘Go get her.’”
Though the intention was good, Donna realized it wouldn’t be that easy. She and Judson were already in the process of adopting a 3-year-old girl named Nadia who they’d taken in when she was 4-months-old. Donna also held a job she loved at a cancer center. Their house was small and not particularly handicap-friendly. But as Donna said, “It just all started coming together. We prayed about it, we talked about it…We knew that if we didn’t bring her home with us that she was eventually going to be so depressed that I didn’t know if she would come out of it or not.”
When asked where she got the courage to take someone with physical challenges and mobility issues into her home, Donna responded, “From God. God inspired my life with my brother who was Down Syndrome. He died five years ago at age 48. All my life, he has been the light of my life. I think God putting him in our lives helped us to realize that it’s good to help other people with needs.”
The Emens’ lives have become more physically demanding since welcoming Haylee into their home because she needs to be lifted up or carried. “It’s a lot of physical activity,” says Donna who left her job to care for Haylee full time. “It just so happens that my husband and I have strong backs and strong arms and we’re very willing to do this for her.”
A special van that could accommodate Haylee’s electric wheelchair would be a big help. The spasticity in her legs causes her to shake a lot, but her electric wheelchair keeps her muscles and legs steadier. Donna and Judson’s cars can only accommodate a manual wheelchair, however, so it makes going places more problematic. Locals have set up a fund to raise money for the vehicle.
Living with the Emens has done wonders for Haylee’s physical condition and spirits. Whereas before, she couldn’t stand on her own or feed herself, she is now improving in both those areas. She also has a laptop and cell phone which she uses to communicate with friends. More importantly, Haylee has a new goal in life. Donna explains, “She wants to be a motivational speaker, and I really want her to because she is such a good speaker. She has a story and people need to hear it.”
Though the Emens are focused on both Haylee and their adopted daughter Nadia, they’re keeping an eye on the bigger picture too. In January, they plan a trip to Montgomery, Alabama to see if they can get some laws changed so physically-handicapped people have better options than being placed in nursing homes like Haylee was.
In thinking back over everything that’s transpired over the last few months, Donna concludes, “I knew she was going to bless us, but I didn’t have a clue she was going to bless us like she does. She is far more a blessing to us than we are to her. She brings joy and laughter. And you know, it’s a lot of work but it is so much fun!”
Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy are the real-life couple who were portrayed by Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock in the Christopher Award-winning film “The Blind Side.” That movie told the story of an African-American teen named Michael Oher who grew up surrounded by drugs, violence, and a lack of stability. A chance meeting with the Tuohys, a well-to-do white family, led Michael to become a part of their family. They championed his education, and nurtured his talent for football that has now led him to the NFL. Sean and Leigh Anne chronicle their story in a new memoir called “In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving.” I recently interviewed Sean and Leigh Anne for “Christopher Closeup” (full podcast at www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast). Here’s an excerpt:
TR: One of the misconceptions you say you want to dispel in this book is that Michael Oher needed saving. Why did you feel the need to address that and where do you think he was headed if you hadn’t stopped the car that day?
Sean: He certainly needed help; he didn’t need saving because he was already immensely talented, intelligent, athletic, gifted. What he needed was an opportunity. Where he would have ended up? He would have fallen through the cracks. That’s what really scares us and that’s one of the reasons we wrote the book. If probably the most obvious success story walking down the streets of Memphis can fall through the cracks, imagine who gets left behind. It really ruined our day to think about that. So we’re challenging people out there to turn around, find somebody. You really could be sitting next to the next Michael Oher. You know, we didn’t make Michael smart when he came to the house. We certainly didn’t make him athletic or talented. All we did was allow him to be who he was supposed to become.
TR: People who come from that kind of background can go one of two ways. They can go down the gangs, drugs, violence road – or they can choose the right path like Michael did. What do you think it was in his background that put him on that right path before you even met him?
Leigh Anne: I think that the Lord has had a purpose for Michael’s life before he was ever on this earth. We don’t believe in coincidence; we don’t believe in fate; we don’t believe that Michael had been to 3 or 4 schools that day and Briarcrest just happened to be the one that took him in, that he happened to land in our daughter’s class, and he happened to be walking down the street that day. That’s not how we live our life. We believe it has been God-driven from the very beginning, and that the Lord has had a message and a reason for this happening and that this is the time this message is to be told. There’s kids that need help, our foster care system needs to be improved, there’s kids that need adopting – and we are going to talk about it until people stop listening because we just think it’s that important.
TR: These seeds of giving were planted in your lives by your families so Leigh Anne, let’s start with you. You say in the book that both your mother and your father were “open handed givers.” What does that mean, how did they set that example for you?
Leigh Anne: My father was a police officer and a United States Marshall which is a giving profession in itself. And anyone that had a need, he was always willing to step in and go that extra mile. My mother would bring in anything from a bird with a hurt wing to somebody that needed a home. A poignant memory in my mind is we had an exchange student come to live with us when I was in the 9th grade. She stayed all 4 years of high school and graduated because my mom just couldn’t let her go. That’s how my mom is. She would literally give you the last shirt off of her back.
Growing up, I never realized that was setting a foundation. But when you are raised like that and you see that, it shows. Your kids are mirror images of you. We know that from Michael because Michael’s habits are our habits. The kid will get up and Windex a kitchen table off just like I do after he finishes eating. He didn’t learn that in the hood. So they are little spitting images of us. If you look at your kids and go, “I hate when they’re doing that,” look at yourself because you’re probably doing that too.
And neither (Sean or my) family had large amounts of money to give away. We’re not telling you that you have to come into a situation and write a big check. That’s great if you have the ability to do it. But give of your time. This is what the book is really about. It’s just as important to give of your time and yourself and your talents and your energies. We could have written a check for Michael. The same results would not have happened. It took us investing our time and ourselves into this young man to make him the person that he is today.
(To hear the complete interview with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, visit www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast.)
Audrey Assad’s gift for music developed while she was growing up. She eventually realized she wanted to use that gift to open people’s hearts to God. She does exactly that on her debut album “The House You’re Building.” Audrey and I recently spoke on “Christopher Closeup” (full podcast at www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast) about the challenge and blessing of feeling like a “misfit soul,” her struggles with God, and the yearning for God among teens. Here’s an excerpt:
Tony Rossi: The title track for “The House You’re Building” was inspired by the fact that you said you felt like a bit of a misfit when you were in middle school. What was your experience like in middle school and how did you deal with it?
Audrey Assad: I grew up in New Jersey in a small town. I lived just down the street from my school so I went to the same school system all my life. I just never felt like I fit in because from the beginning, I was super into band, super into my school work – and kids at that age don’t really let you forget that. It’s sort of like everyone wants to be the same as each other. You don’t discover until you’re in college or older that it’s better to be different from everyone else. So I relate to a lot of girls who, for whatever reason, just aren’t accepted by their peers because that was my experience. I had a couple of close friends, and pretty much stuck to myself. At the time, I hated it. Now I look back and think it’s been a valuable lesson for me that God has had a plan for me all along, including then. You don’t have to fit into any kind of peer group to be used in the kingdom, to do valuable things, to do life-changing things. (God) uses us with all our quirks and with all our faults as well.
TR: One of my favorite songs on the album is the closing track “Show Me.”…To me, it sounds like you’re wrestling with destiny in that song. You’re coming to terms with the fact that God has another plan for your life than you wanted and you need to come to terms with that. Is that what you were going for?
AA: In a sense, yeah. It was written after my heart got broken a couple of times for various reasons – falling in love and that not working out, my parents divorcing a few years ago. Yeah, that’s me saying (to God), “I know you’re going to redeem even these things and all that I’ve lost in terms of my heart and my expectations…You will restore those things to me by healing my heart later, but right now…I know I need to walk through it and not run away from it, but please be here. I can’t do it without you.” So in a sense I am wrestling with destiny and the disillusion of past hopes and realizing you can’t just walk through that like it’s nothing. You have to wrestle through that.
TR: When you’re performing for young people, how do you see them today as relating to faith. I know there’s a song on your album called “Restless” and it’s about dealing with the restlessness they have for God. Do (young people) even understand that they’re looking for God or is that something you try to help them discover?
AA: I definitely think there are a lot of young people who don’t realize that’s what they’re looking for. I certainly didn’t. I never knew how to quantify that feeling I used to get when you’re hiking or you go to the beach and you see creation in some awe-inspiring form like the ocean or a view from a mountain. And you feel this feeling of sadness, like an ache or sorrow or emptiness…We have this feeling like, “I want to absorb this view, I just want to dive into it and I can’t.” I never knew what that feeling was until C.S. Lewis put it so wonderfully (explaining) that is our feeling of longing for God and wanting to have intimacy with the One who made this beautiful thing. So it’s something you don’t know how to quantify when you’re young especially, even when you get older. I think we do fill it with a lot of stuff. Sex is a big one. I think that underneath it all, we know in the bottom of our hearts that…communion between spouses sexually is this picture of Christ and the Church, of intimacy with God. So we go running to it like it’s going to fulfill that need and that longing, but it can’t because it isn’t a substitute for it. It’s the closest picture we have to it, and only in a certain context. So I definitely think kids know they feel something. They know they feel emptiness for some reason but they may not know why that is. I hope and pray that my story or my witness or my songs in some way, shape or form play a part in them discovering why they have that loneliness.
To listen to Audrey Assad's full interview, visit www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast.
Saying that Julie Woodley had a troubled past would be a massive understatement. She was physically and sexually abused by her father growing up, worked as a prostitute after running away from home, and eventually considered suicide. It’s only thanks to what Julie sees as a divine experience that she managed to turn her life around. She now helps others who have undergone similar traumas in their lives through a non-profit called Restoring the Heart Ministries. I recently interviewed Julie on “Christopher Closeup” (full podcast at www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast). Here’s an excerpt:
Tony Rossi: You’ve gone through a series of events in your life that most people couldn’t even fathom. And it all goes back to the abuse you suffered at the hands of your father when you were a young girl. How did the abuse start and then develop as the years went by?
Julie Woodley: My father was a pretty volatile man. He was a very successful man in the community. If he had a bad day, he’d come home and beat me up. He sexually abused me. It was a very, very traumatic childhood.
TR: Did you ever tell anyone about what was happening to you?
JW: I tried, although it was really hard because he was so respected in the community. He was very wealthy so he owned businesses, he owned some of the streets. I tried to go to a school counselor but she was actually my mother’s good friend and she didn’t believe me.
TR: Where was your Mom when all this was going on?
JW: I really truly believe she knew what was happening. My father had a number of affairs…She knew that. I believe she knew he was sexually abusing me. I did confront her with it but she blamed it on me...It’s interesting as I work with sexual abuse (victims) – it’s common that the mother is jealous of the girl.
TR: Growing up, if you don’t have another reality to compare these experiences to, did you eventually come to see that as normal?
JW: Absolutely. I just thought this is what Daddys did with their little girls. The only time he ever said he loved me was when he was sexually abusing me.
TR: How did that affect the way you thought about love and sex as you got older?
JW: I became very promiscuous because the only way I learned how to receive love was to make a man happy sexually…I became very sexually addicted. Mostly I think I was love addicted because I just wanted to be loved.
TR: When you met a friend who introduced you to Bible study and the message that you could start your life over with a clean slate, were you skeptical at all or was this message something you’d been waiting to hear?
JW: I was skeptical because, to be honest with you, I didn’t like Christians. They would judge me. I was afraid to tell them my story because it was so traumatic. They didn’t know how to handle it and they didn’t know how to handle me. So I was pretty distasteful of Christians and Church. But I met this young woman and she was different. She was interested in me and she seemed to have this love for me. I tip-toed towards her and she asked me to go to Bible study. That night I went… and I was just blown away by the love in that room. I’d never really seen men and women love each other when it wasn’t sexual…It totally turned my life around.
To hear more of Julie’s story, download the podcast at ww.christophers.org/closeuppodcast.
Popular columnist and author Danielle Bean is the mother of eight kids so a lot of her writing has to do with parenting, especially from a spiritual perspective. Along those lines, her latest book – co-authored with Elizabeth Foss - is called “Small Steps for Catholic Moms.” I recently interviewed Danielle on “Christopher Closeup” (full podcast at www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast) so here’s an excerpt:
Tony Rossi: In the book’s Introduction, you write, “Many mothers struggle with finding balance between accomplishing daily duties and maintaining an active spiritual life.” Being that you’re the mother of eight kids, I imagine finding that balance for yourself was – and maybe still is – a journey or a process. How did you first achieve that balance, and how do you do it now?
Danielle Bean: First of all, I have not achieved that balance perfectly and I think nobody can really say that they have because achieving balance is an ongoing process…Your situation changes and your family changes and you’re constantly needing to make adjustments. But I think having in mind that balance is something that’s key for Catholic women and Christian women of all kinds. We sense this need, this calling…to have this deeper spiritual relationship with our God and our Creator. At the same time, we have this very real pull on our pant leg which is these kids that need us in so many different ways, in so many physical ways. Finding that balance is going to look different for every Mom, but I think it’s key that every Mom be aware of the need for that balance and find ways to meet those kinds of personal needs for a spiritual life, the physical needs of her family, and emotional needs of her family at the same time.
TR: One of the concepts that seems inherent to the advice in the book is that ordinary tasks can be sanctified and made holy. Is that something you were always aware of or did that idea develop over time?
DB: I can’t take credit for that idea. It’s St. Therese’s Little Way. For people who aren’t familiar with her Little Way, it’s the philosophy I became familiar with when I read her book “The Story of a Soul.” It was the first book I ever read about spirituality where I wasn’t overwhelmed by it, where I didn’t feel like this person was talking way above my head and I was struggling to keep up. She really presents a call to holiness that every single person can answer in their own humble way, where every tiny bit of our days can be a gift to God if we choose to make it a gift to God…if we start our days maybe with a morning offering consciously giving our days to God and make that habit of turning to God in prayer and turning our hearts toward God several different times during the day, giving Him every little thing that we do. That adds up to an enormous gift. Because God is God, He can turn our tiny gifts into something amazing and beautiful.
TR: Danielle is also the Editorial Director of FaithAndFamilyLive.com. Their tag line is ‘the spot for anyone grappling with the meaning of life or the cleaning of laundry.’ (laughter)…Do you offer prayers to God when you’re doing the laundry? Is that how you fit it into every day?
DB: Yeah, I think that’s a great way to do it….God calls us to have a parent/child relationship with Him. He asks us to call Him “Our Father.” I think, as parents, that’s something we can understand very well. Something I think is very touching when my toddlers go through…is where they…naturally want to share everything with me. Anybody who’s a parent has experienced this - a kid will stack their blocks just so, and it’s a real accomplishment. And the first thing they do is they turn to you. They want to share that experience with you. They don’t consider the experience complete – whether it’s getting hurt or some source of joy – they don’t consider it complete until they turn to you and you’ve shared it with them. That’s the kind of natural relationship God wants us to have (with Him). We should work on cultivating that kind of attitude in ourselves, that no experience is complete until we’ve turned to God and shared it with Him whether it’s a joy, a sorrow, a challenge, a triumph. He wants us to be turning to Him as naturally as our children turn to us.
To hear the complete interview with Danielle Bean, visit www.christophers.org/closeuppodcast.
At a time when churches are concerned about attracting young people to an active faith and parish life, award-winning author, speaker and self-proclaimed “Bible Geek” Mark Hart shares his first-hand experiences achieving that goal on Christopher Closeup, the half-hour weekly radio show produced by The Christophers. The two-part interview can be heard online at www.christophers.org/CloseupPodcast. It also airs on Sunday June 27 and July 4, 2010 on The Catholic Channel (Sirius 159 and XM 117) at 7:00am and 7:30pm EST and on the Relevant Radio network at 2:30pm EST.
Hart admits that he didn’t see the church as relevant while growing up despite attending Catholic school and going to Mass with his family every week. That slowly changed through various experiences over the years including an emergency plane landing and a couple of earthquakes that brought him face-to-face with his own mortality. Hart laughingly admits to Christopher Closeup host Tony Rossi, “I was really stubborn. I think holier people would have figured it out a lot sooner than me.” As he notes during the interview and in his new book “The ‘R’ Father: 14 Ways to Respond to the Lord’s Prayer,” a key factor in his turnaround was nurturing a personal relationship with Jesus, a concept that is popular in Protestant circles and gaining ground in the Catholic world. The sacraments combined with a relationship with Christ continue to be the powerful foundation of his rich faith life.
As the executive vice president of Life Teen International who has worked in full-time youth ministry for 16 years, Hart understands the challenge of reaching today’s youth who are growing up in a world where they’re constantly engaged in social networking or texting – “I work with young people every day…and they have a harder time having conversations and looking you in the eye (because) they’re a screen-based culture.”
Yet Hart is hopeful about the future because he’s seen what teens are drawn to - “Modern teenagers…want depth. They want deep relationships...They’re really drawn to the mystical. When you start walking them into the mystical elements of the sacraments and the depth and breadth of the mysteries of the church, their hearts become enlivened… They’re looking for reasons to turn screens off and to engage. They just don’t know how.”
Hart believes the convictions of the person running a youth ministry program is vital - “My prayer life, my holiness, my desire for God, my pursuit for God – that is where ministry needs to flow from… Teenagers are honest. While they put on masks, they’re also far more authentic than most adults I encounter…If they think that you are inauthentic, they will tell you.” Hart also offers advice on avoiding a common mistake in approaching teens, explaining, “A lot of times, catechists and adults talk at teenagers, but not necessarily to teenagers. We should take a lesson from Christ on the road to Emmaus. He walked and listened before He taught.”
Despite the challenges of reaching teens, Hart concludes, “People talk about all the negatives of teenagers (but)…I am consistently amazed and blown away by the quality of our young people!”
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. I recently had the opportunity to interview Koontz on "Christopher Closeup." Here's an excerpt:
TR: Dean, there’s a line in your latest Odd Thomas book “Odd Hours” – it’s spoken by him but I was wondering also if it reflects your own view too. The line is, “I love life because of what the beauty of this world and this life portend.” Where do you see beauty in this world and how does it point you toward the life beyond this one?
Dean Koontz: I see it everywhere in this world. I really feel for people who are depressed or think life is terrible or don’t like the world they’re living in. I just want to say to them, “Stop and look. Look at everything around you. Look at the incredible intricacy of it.” A lot of people think science has explained (everything) but it hasn’t explained anything; it’s described. The intricacy is just awesome and it’s there everywhere you look…There are so many things in the world that are here to make the world a better place that make no sense scientifically or biologically. Flowers don’t have to be beautiful; they just have to attract with pheromones of one kind or another bees that they need. So much in the world is so much more extravagant and delightful than it has to be that it points me to a creative place.
TR: So when you see mystery in the world, whereas for some people that could be a stumbling block to faith, for you it makes it more real or more appealing?
Dean Koontz: Oh yeah. I think if you look around and you say, “The world is a deeply mysterious place,” then you can’t live alone by the materialist viewpoint. You have to say, there’s deep mystery in the world. And that makes it more fabulous…Recognizing deep mystery in the world gives us a great sense of wonder – and it is a sense of wonder that makes life worth living.
TR: Dean, another thing you deal with in your books like “Brother Odd” and “One Door Away from Heaven” – you talk about the dignity of special needs children, you talk about modern bioethics. How and why did these life issues become so important to you?
Dean Koontz: My wife and I have long worked with a charity for people with disabilities – Canine Companions for Independence. They train service dogs for all kinds of people with disabilities. People who are paraplegic or quadriplegic, with one of these dogs, can live on their own when they couldn’t before. They have great effect on autistic children. Working with that and being a part of that, I saw that a lot of these people were shunted aside. There’s 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 give antibiotics because they have nothing to contribute to the world. (He’s) an idiot. 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…I’ve featured Down Syndrome kids in books at times and I’ve gotten literally thousands of letters from people who have Down’s children . Every single one of them says, “This was the best thing that happened to me.” They’re not pretending; they’re not trying to make the best of a bad situation. They’re saying it really was a tremendous benefit to their lives. That’s why I wish people would stop thinking that you have to be the perfect physical specimen in order to be worth living. That is far from the truth.
TR: Do you think that addressing those issues in story form may be a more effective way of getting the point across than say, a priest in a homily or an op-ed piece in a newspaper?
Dean Koontz: I think so because 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, at least to make people stop and wonder if they’re really right to think these things.
To listen to the full interview, visit http://www.christophers.org/podcastarchive2