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Revealing the Invisible

Catholic author offers Christian view of the spiritual world

In his fifth book, The Invisible World (Doubleday), bestselling author Anthony DeStefano connects heaven and earth. Writing about angels and demons, he shows how humans stand at the center of an age-old war between good and evil – and highlights the consoling fact that good does win in the end.

Fathers for Good posed a few key questions to DeStefano, who lives in New York and is a lay executive with Priests for Life.

Fathers for Good: Your first book was A Travel Guide to Heaven in which you explored the “invisible” world above and how to get there. How does this book differ or add to that one?

DeStefano: The main point of A Travel Guide to Heaven was to show that heaven isn’t going to be so cloudy and unclear as many people seem to think. People sometimes have an overly spiritualized view of the afterlife. They forget that it’s going to be very real — as real as the world in which we’re living now. After the Resurrection, there’s going to be a physical component to heaven, and that physical component is going to be something very familiar to us. My main reason for writing my first book was to show more vividly that part of heaven that will be familiar to u s—  the physical, material part.

The Invisible World, on the other hand, is all about the spiritual component of this world. People today have an overly physical view of this life. It’s completely opposite to their view of heaven. They forget that the most important part of life is spiritual and invisible. So I wanted to write a book that helped to dispel that myth. In some ways, The Invisible World can be viewed as a photographic negative of A Travel Guide to Heaven. Or two sides of the same coin. Ultimately, both books were written to give a fuller, truer picture of reality.

FFG: Your book cites studies showing that although most Americans believe in the devil, a majority of them don’t think he's a real being but just a symbol of evil. How do you dispel this view?

DeStefano: Two ways. First, by showing that Scripture and the Church absolutely teach that the devil is a real, personal being. He is not a symbol, and he is not some kind of “theological construct,” as some academics have erroneously claimed.  The Bible and the Church are quite clear on this matter, and people need to be reminded of it.

The second way of showing that the devil is real is by showing how he operates. As the movie The Exorcist correctly says, the devil’s attack is primarily “psychological.” And moreover, it usually involves deception. Satan, says Scripture, is a liar and the father of all lies. So understanding lying is really the key to understanding the nature of the Evil One and the nature of spiritual warfare in general.  In The Invisible World, I try to explore this point in depth and make it clear how the devil goes about his business of deception. My hope is that people will recognize how this demonic strategy has played out in their own lives. Once they see that, I think they will be more inclined to believe the biblical truth that the devil is like a “lion, prowling about, looking for someone to devour” (Ptr) and less inclined to view him as a mere symbol.

FFG: How do you move people from a generic or even New Age spirituality to the actual world of biblical faith?

DeStefano: I think you move them to the Christian view by telling them, as simply as possible, what Christianity teaches about the spiritual world. When you do that, it becomes very apparent that the Christian perspective is actually much more interesting and provocative than all the new age nonsense you see in the majority of books being published.

FFG: What is the main message you would like readers to take from your book?

DeStefano: First, it’s important to know that you don’t have to be some kind of a “religious fanatic” to believe in the invisible world. You can be a level- headed pragmatist and a realist. You certainly don’t have to check your brains at the door before entering this world. And you don’t have to be afraid that deep thinking is going to nullify what you learn there.

Second, it’s absolutely critical to understand that, if you only pay attention to visible realities, i.e., the world of the senses, then you are doomed to live only half a life. And the half you do lead is bound to be shallow and meaningless. Why? Because the most important things in life are invisible: Love, honor, trust, faith, emotion, passion, philosophy, God.

The hidden realities of life affect everything you do — whether you know it or not. They affect how you conduct your business, what kind of person you decide to marry, how you raise your children, how you look at suffering, how you face death. The invisible realm is the lens through which you filter all the experiences of your life. By learning about this realm, your life will become much fuller and richer and more balanced. Also, if you have a strong faith in the invisible world, then no amount of suffering — physical, mental or emotional — will ever be able to destroy the profound inner sense of peace that you’ll experience on a daily basis. That’s the main vision I want to impart in this book.

Learn more about The Invisible World.