A series of supernatural events led him to believe there is life after death
The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty came to Washington last week on a promotional tour for his latest book. For fans of his 1971 best-selling novel about demonic possession, his visit was no disappointment.
Blatty has dipped into the supernatural again. This time with a non-fictional account of his communications with his dead son.
In his new book, Finding Peter: A True Story of the Hand of Providence and Evidence of Life After Death, Blatty asks:
The event was held at the Catholic Information Center in downtown Washington, and billed as an interview with Raymond Arroyo, host of the EWTN TV show “The World Over Live, and held in the CIC’s chapel-cum-auditorium.
Blatty told the crowd that his son Peter thought he was in a righteous state before he died in November of 2006. A few days before Peter’s death, Peter and his mother were in church at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda, Maryland. At his mother’s urging, the 19-year-old walked into the confessional and the priest heard his confession, Blatty said. On the phone with friends later, Peter said, “’I’m good with God.’” Not long after, following a night of pizza and drinking beer, he died of heart failure, probably caused by the alcohol’s effect on Peter body, already overwhelmed by heroin use.
Two months later, Blatty noticed something unusual about a favorite tree of Peter’s in the family backyard in Maryland. It had grown buds in the middle of winter but lost them the next day. Later, a broken halogen light stayed on for half a minute.
Blatty does not discount the possibility that each incident was an unexplained natural event; the subtitle of his book uses the word “evidence” rather than “proof” to show that life extends beyond the grave.
But Blatty is a believer. This book, he said in his talk is the culmination of a writing career which he views as an apostolic act. The truth must be told: If there are demons, there must be God.
It’s likely that most of the attendees in the packed hall arrived eager to learn about Blatty’s encounters with the mystical, numinous, and diabolical. Or perhaps they came for an update from Blatty about his 2013 petition to the Vatican to revoke the Catholic status of his alma mater Georgetown if the school does not implement Ex Corde Ecclesia, the apostolic constitution that defines the mission of Catholic colleges .
While Blatty touched on both topics, his 70-minute interview focused mostly on the emotional and career pressures he faced as he wrote The Exorcist in the late 1960s.
Although Blatty is associated with the genre of supernatural horror, he made his name as a comic script writer in Hollywood. His credits included the 1964 film Shot in the Dark,, the second installment of the Pink Panther series, and A-List actors like Peter Sellers, Peter Ustinov, and Shirley MacLaine starred in his films. Blatty wrote black comedies, farces, spoofs. In both “A Shot in the Dark” and “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!,” he satirized a professional-class hero as a good-hearted but bumbling incompetent. Although he was best known as a screen writer, critics liked his novels. A New York Times reviewer compared Blatty favorably to S.J. Perelman, the great comic writer.