Having returned to the Catholic Church, I want to share my passion about God and all I didn't know that I didn't know about the Catholic Faith the first time around. This is a Catholic centered blog about the faith, music, movies, books (especially fantasy), writing, and Catholic homeschooling in California.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
The bad guys aren’t the only ones who need redemption. We all do.
The title of today's post is a quote by our guest blogger, Declan Finn. Check out his novel, Codename: Winterborn, available in paperback and on Kindle.
After a small nuclear war in 2090, a third of the world is in ruins, along
with the Western half of the United States. Three years later, spy Kevin
Anderson and his team are sent to find the nuclear arsenal of the Islamic
Republic of France. When his team is betrayed by the politicians who sent them,
Kevin is out for blood. Hunted by an army, Kevin must kill the Senators before
the next team is sent to their deaths. Without resources, or support, it's
almost certainly a suicide mission. But Kevin will gladly make this sacrifice,
for his codename is Winterborn.
How do you write a Catholic “revenge novel”? Heck, how do
you write a Catholic thriller that doubles as a science fiction novel,
including the requisite dystopia?
To full answer the latter question would involve spoilers, so if
you’d like the answer, you’d have to read my science fiction novel Codename: Winterborn, which has all of the
above elements, as well as a sequence that involves Catholic missionaries
riding to the rescue.
First, let’s look at the standard revenge novel. Take someone who
has an abundance of combat skills, and then promptly kill off a girlfriend /
boyfriend / spouse/ fiancé(e) /best friend / random family member.
After that, you have said person go on a murderous rampage, and (usually) a
person of the opposite sex to replace the person killed off in chapter
two. This is a pretty standard plot, filled with the usual clichés.
However, last time I checked, there is no such thing as revenge in
Catholic doctrine. At least, not the last time I read the Baltimore Catechism
(okay, it may have been more of a scan than a reading). Killing people just to
make you feel better isn’t justifiable. Catholics forgive our enemies and
move on, even if our every instinct is to rearrange their dental work with a
Then again, there is an argument that can be made in Catholicism –
via the natural law of Thomas Aquinas – for tyrannicide (killing a tyrant who
needs killing). You could take the example of suggesting that someone
should shoot Saddam Hussein, and thus preventing a war, as well as preventing
his routine slaughters.
In Codename: Winterborn, intelligence officer
Kevin Anderson is sent on a mission to the Islamic Republic of France – yes,
France – and his team is betrayed by the politicians on the Senate Intelligence
Committee.And just how do you arrest a
senator in the United States? There has been more than sufficient evidence to
arrest senators on everything from bribery and corruption to manslaughter, but
no one leaves in disgrace, and if anything happens, they get a slap on the
wrist. So, what’s a lone spy going to do against 14 senators who have betrayed
their country, and who have not only killed his friends, but will probably kill
others in the future?
Welcome to a new look at tyrannicide in a democracy – enforcing a
new definition of term limits.
Morally ambiguous? Depends on how fine a line you walk. And how
much fun you have pushing your main character. Most of my lead characters are
highly detailed, and make choices that I don’t see coming. With Kevin Anderson,
he has thought out his actions, and has come to the conclusion that the only
way to protect the country is to fulfill his oath to defend against enemies
both foreign and domestic – and these folks are very domestic. Rational,
reasoned, and his actions fit within his conscience.
Unfortunately, then you get to a sticking point – when does a
righteous cause become entangled with a personal vendetta? All the reason in
the world can’t separate a person from his own emotions for very long. What
happens when Kevin Anderson starts to enjoy his work? Answer: his conscience
gut-punches him and leaves him crying into his New England clam chowder (long
In short – the key to Catholic “revenge novels” is making it so
that the protagonist isn’t an insane, vengeance-driven fruitcake. The lead must
be thoughtful, and reasonable, and s/he should take great care that the actions
taken aren’t driven solely by revenge. And should the lead fail on the latter,
s/he should stand up, dust themselves off, repent, and try harder next time.The bad guys aren’t the only ones who need
redemption. We all do. If everyone could easily be perfect on their own, there
would be no need for the crucifixion.
A final element to a “revenge novel” from a Catholic point of view
– consequences. We are responsible for our actions, and our actions have
consequences. And in the case of Codename: Winterborn, the consequences would
spoil the plot.
And the Catholic missionaries in act three are another story.