Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview with "Religious Life" Magazine

Here's a link to an interview with me which is featured in the July / August 2010 issue of Religious Life Magazine. Thanks to Michael Wick for permission to post this!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interviews with Kevin O'Brien

Here are some links to some interviews with me on radio, TV, and in print concerning Theater of the Word Incorporated and various subjects.

NATIONAL REVIEW John Miller interviews me about G. K. Chesterton and Father Brown on his podcast "Between the Covers".

DEEP IN SCRIPTURE On Marcus Grodi's EWTN radio show, he and I discuss Scripture verses that have meant a lot to me in my life and work.

JOURNEY HOME - BL. DOMINIC BARBERI INTERVIEW My television appearance as the 19th Century Apostle to England, the man who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church.

CATHOLIC CREATIVITY PODCAST Fr. Jim Tucker interviews me on creativity and its role in reclaiming Catholic culture.

CATHOLIC ANSWERS LIVE Jerry Usher interviews me on radio on the topic "The Soul of an Actor". And we take calls!

ROCKVILLE OBSERVER Print article entitled "For Actor, Drama is a Vocation"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Colin O'Brien's Graduation Speech

I gave the commencement address at Washington High School in 1978, and my theme was "resist conformity". My son Colin, who apparently thinks exactly the way I do, offered to give the commencement address at Lindbergh High School in 2010, but alas! it was not to be.

But that doesn't mean I can't publish it, does it? And so I present below ... Colin's speech.

Colin O’Brien
Graduation Speech

Good Evening Lindbergh High School class of 2010, I am Colin O’Brien, here at your graduation, and this is your graduation speech…

I’ve had the opportunity to give a similar introduction on many Fridays on J.E.T. 98 news just before reading the daily announcements. And I figure that those daily announcements are really quite representative of high school as a whole. They occur every day at the same time, they hold some significance but few people listen, they’re boring, typically uninteresting, and monotonous.

High school is similarly monotonous. Seven hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for four years, day in and day out, we all wake up and repeat the process of classes and schedules perpetuated by alarms, clocks, and bells. This repetition is the struggle of high school.

The monotony, however, was not always dominant, and it is the moments that broke the monotony that were the good ones. It might have been a particularly interesting class. It might have been cutting through the rhetoric with Mr. Meyer, learning how to make the legendary foods one mac’ ‘n cheese with Mrs. Kimker, juggling a bunch of seemingly useless papers given to you by Mr. Donnelly, or just having a chat with the one, the only, Sherp-Attack. The breaks in the monotony might have been with friends. It have been falling in love for the first time, it might have been getting down at Incrediball (or Snowball, if that’s your kind of thing), or it might have just been hanging at Jack in the Box with some friends on a Friday night. These moments that broke the monotony of high school are the important ones.

Now, from here, I could go on to discuss the future. I could deliver the cliché ideas which have been delivered a thousand times before. “You are the future and the future is now, go out and change the world.” But giving that speech would just add to these four years of monotony. I will take a different path.

Tonight you leave here as high school graduates. Do what you want. Be different. You don’t have to go to college, you don’t have to get a four year degree, you don’t have to get a job in a cubicle, you don’t have to have 2.1 kids, you don’t have to have a picket fence and a golden retriever, you don’t have to stay in St. Louis, you don’t have to vote, you don’t have to take standardized tests, you don’t have to do anything. Leave here tonight and start to live the rest of your life the way you want to. Do what makes you happy and dare to be different. Go out into the world tonight and for the rest of your life break the monotony of society.

Two Extremes of Customer Service

This morning I noticed three unauthorized charges had gone through our home banking account within the last twenty-four hours via our debit card, totaling just under $50. The payments were made to Skype, the internet telephone service.

Now I knew I had signed up for Skype, but I signed up for the free service, not the paid service, and I never would have given them our debit card number even if I had agreed to pay them anything. In addition, we’ve never even used Skype. The program languishes on our upstairs computer.

But when you visit Skype’s website, they make it impossible for you to cancel your account (especially when you haven’t paid), and they give you no opportunity to contact them directly. The company seems to be based out of Luxembourg, and they provide no phone number for customer service or for billing errors.

A quick Google of “Skype billing fraud” turns up over 70,000 sites, and the top of the list is Skype’s own forum, where users have been complaining about what I’m experiencing for at least five years. Skype’s official reply is, “This ain’t our fault. Talk to your bank.”

So I went to our bank, which is Montgomery Bank, and dealt with Flery Langholz, Client Services Manager. She not only cancelled my debit card immediately, she also was smart enough to realize what I had missed – the charges were coming through on my wife’s debit card, not on mine. So Flery quickly reinstated my card and cancelled my wife’s, all done efficiently and genially, and though this took all morning, it simply points out the difference between good customer service and rotten customer no-service.

So if you’re on Skype, watch what you’re being charged. Even though this was probably fraud perpetrated by a third party, there seems to be a flaw in Skype’s security that they have for years been refusing to address. In addition, Skype has no system for interaction or support, and that tells you all you need to know about the kind of people they are and what they think of their customers.

And if you need a good bank, check out Montgomery Bank. They’ve been very helpful and friendly since we started using them, and this kind of customer service and attention tells you all you need to know about the kind of people they are and what they think of their customers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Conspiracies, Evil, and our Perplexity

Chesterton, in analyzing the forces that are attacking Christian culture, makes the distinction between the “innocent outer circle” and the “supremely guilty inner circle”.

What has happened to liturgical music is a perfect example of how a “supremely guilty inner circle” took advantage of the “innocent outer circle” and stole from us not only a patrimony of beautiful music developed over centuries, but also in so doing robbed our churches of the Fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom.
This process is detailed by Msgr. Richard J. Schuler in an online document “A Chronicle of the Reform: Catholic Music in the 20th Century” available here.

The villains in Msgr. Schuler’s piece include all the usual suspects, most notably Rembert Weakland, who seems to turn up everywhere. Weakland is the Bishop Spong of the Catholic Church – anti-Christian, notoriously homosexual, vandal of architecture, embezzler, and perverter of minds and souls – he, along with a cadre of associates, managed to keep from U.S. dioceses and parishes the implementation of the Vatican II documents on the role of sacred music in the liturgy, and with the dithering acquiescence of the bishops, in no time at all replaced legitimate Catholic worship with what we have now. This fraud was swallowed by the “innocent outer circle”, those over-volunteering church ladies and histrionic men who for some reason like the Marty Haugen / David Haas virus that has infected us.

How tempting it is for us curmudgeons to blame Vatican II on the evisceration of the Church, when, in fact, it was all those acting (they said) in the “spirit of Vatican II” who were most vehemently opposed to the documents of the Council and their implementation – who were most opposed to the true spirit of Vatican II.

Reading Schuler’s piece it becomes difficult not to assign to the “supremely guilty inner circle” all of the benefits of conspiracy, from international coordination to communist connections – and indeed, these things are probably more true than we wish to acknowledge. What is undeniable, however, is the spiritual conspiracy at work. International communists or not, these men were at least the tools of a great supernatural conspiracy that is clearly well-organized and bloodthirsty for the ruin of the Church.

But it’s odd how these things appear to us. On the one hand, if we refuse to see these guilty ones for who they are, we can not fight them. Their minions and followers (the “innocent outer circle”) might have the best intentions – including a confused desire for ecumenism, a hope to appeal to the world at large, a legitimate reaction against legalism and Puritanism – but the leaders are clearly not well-intentioned. They are the “supremely guilty inner circle”. It is their goal to destroy the Catholic Church, period. Ye shall know them by their fruits, and also by looking squarely at what they’re doing.

But on the other hand if we start assigning to them conspiratorial powers (which they may in fact have), it’s tempting for us to romanticize bad behavior. For example, there’s a video making the rounds on the internet about how Planned Parenthood was supposedly giving low-dose contraceptives to teen age girls, in the hopes that the girls would get pregnant and come back to procure abortions. Now this may indeed be true, but is it not enough to see what Planned Parenthood is doing up front and not in secret? Do we need to assign secret motives to them in order to know that they are out to kill babies and need to be stopped? Why do we need to up the ante by coming up with conspiracy theories? They’re very up front about who they are and what they’re doing.

In the same way, if we don’t see clearly what Rembert Weakland and his cronies are up to – if we need to assign dark and secret motives to men who make it very clear that they already have dark and secret motives – we are clouding our vision.

In short, what I’m saying is we know who the real conspirators are. St. Paul tells us, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” But when we see men doing evil around us, we tend either to avert our eyes and make excuses for them, or get caught in a maelstrom of hate and suspicion, which is both spiritually and practically counter-productive.

I think the temptation to do this, to bounce from one extreme to the other, from the extreme of denying any bad motives to people behaving badly to the other extreme of seeing an invincible human conspiracy behind everything the villains do, is how good they are at whitewashing and at how docile we’ve become in tolerating them. We are out of shape, and have lost the practice of thinking clearly.

And so we have to look for guides. One guide is this: how clear is the language?

If I’ve learned anything from Judge Judy, I’ve learned to be suspicious of something with this kind of language (which Schuler quotes from “Music in Catholic Worship”, a document issued by a committee set up by the USCCB):

“We are Christians because through the Christian community we have met Jesus Christ, heard his word in invitation, and responded to him in faith. We gather at Mass that we may hear and express our faith again in this assembly and, by expressing it, renew and deepen it. We come together to deepen our awareness of, and commitment to, the action of his Spirit in the whole of our lives at every moment. We come together to acknowledge the love of God poured out among us in the work of the Spirit, to stand in awe and praise.”

Now this is a great example of using vagueness to cover up your intentions. The authors of this document have the worst possible intentions. But they know better than to say anything in particular that’s wrong and that you can point your finger at. It’s the tone of the document that is enervating and leaves us slack-jawed, unable to counter with an argument. That’s because it’s what they leave out that is telling. It’s the fact that while we may “gather at Mass that we may hear and express our faith again”, this is like saying, “I have sex with my wife in order to spend time with her” … well, yes, but that sure ain’t the whole story, nor the most important part of it. As Schuler points out, there is no mention of baptism, sacraments, sacrifice, the cross, etc.

Last Sunday, I heard a priest deliver a homily on the reading from Acts where Paul and Barnabas set right those who have been troubled by the Judaizers. While the whole point of the reading is that the Church has the authority to correct error, the whole point of this man’s homily was “let’s just get along and tolerate one another’s differences of opinion.” I wanted to scream. He later prayed for us to “respect Mother Earth”. I wanted to confront him at his car, but I couldn’t find the one with the “coexist” bumper sticker.

So my point in all of this is look at things clearly and squarely. Recognize when you hear someone “fudging”. Pay attention to what is not being said, to what is being deliberately left out. Spot the ulterior motives in our Church leaders and Church neighbors. It’s easy for us to do this with our friends and families, so just extend the common sense to those you can’t imagine sinning. Well, they sin; we all do, and the sins of the “supremely guilty inner circle” are sins that are aimed at victimizing you.

We need not make a big deal of the human conspiracies that may or may not exist behind the scenes, but at the same time we should not shut our eyes to the fraud that is being perpetrated around us by the wolves in sheep’s clothing who are dismantling the Gospels and disemboweling the Church.

Pray for Rembert Weakland, who is still outrageously unrepentant, and for those who know what they’re doing, and for the rest of us who don’t.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bl. Dominic Barberi on "The Journey Home"

Kevin O'Brien appears as Blessed Dominic Barberi on THE JOURNEY HOME on EWTN this week.

Who was Dominic Barberi? An Italian Passionist priest who dedicated his life to the evangelization of England, and who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church. His story is astonishing, entertaining, and gripping - and you can hear it if you tune in to the EWTN cable network at the following times ...

Monday, May 10 at 8:00 pm Eastern / 7:00 pm Central
Tuesday, May 11 at 1:00 am Eastern / Midnight Central
Thursday, May 13 at 2:00 pm Eastern / 1:00 pm Central
Saturday, May 15 at 11:00 pm Eastern / 10:00 pm Central

Also you can watch live streaming video at and you can watch episodes of EWTN's prime time programming via the above website or at

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Law of Creative Production

Anything anybody produces on stage or on film, must have

1. Quality
2. Distribution (an audience)
3. Funding (money)

When considering whether or not to do work for a producer, 1) Quality can never be sacrificed, and at least one of the other two - 2) an Audience or 3) Money must happen.

In other words, I'll do a good show with a big audience for little money (under certain circumstances) or a good show with a small audience for lots of money (under certain circumstances), but preferably we should be doing good shows for the largest possible audience and for the most amount of money.

Some places we've worked for can't even guarantee 1) Quality, and end up shafting us on 2) Audience and 3) Money. Such places are, to put it kindly, "problematic".