Monday, June 22, 2009

Angels or Demons?

I got to see “Angels and Demons” tonight at the theater, something that I’ve been looking forward to. Dan Brown’s novels have always intrigued me for many reasons…not the least of which is the historical context in which he has placed the Robert Langdon stories. I love to hear the rich history that he weaves in and about his fictional characters and their stories. It’s just important to note that there are additions of fiction, and you need to wade through what is actual fact and what is Dan’s imagination.

Some have had a difficult time discerning between the two, and found the books offensive. I do a little research and educate myself on which is which, and then I can completely enjoy the novel without worrying about whether or not he ‘got it right’.

Many things came to mind as I watched the movie, which is beautiful and set in Rome and Vatican City. (although I understand that they had to build a scale model of St Peter’s Square, as they were not allowed to film there) Since I’m unlikely to visit there any time soon, it allowed me to see this area and learn some of it’s rich historical significance. I am a complete sucker for anything OLD, and particularly if there are good stories to accompany said old. Add incredible architecture and breathtaking art, and I’m hooked.

I loved reading the books, which of course go into much more detail. It then sends me to the internet to research the places and things that he describes. It is always hard for me to believe there are so many places and people that seem to exist without my having any knowledge of them. Is that egocentric, or what?!

I also realized, both reading the book and watching the movie, that there are people in this world whose intelligence is awe-inspiring…symbologists, historians, hadron collider scientists…and I am not one of those people! Whenever you feel yourself getting a bit big in your britches, lay your knowledge end to end with one of these geniuses, and it will bring you right back down to earth!

The overall theme of the movie is science versus religion, which I always find an interesting discussion. It is a recurring theme in many novels, including John Case’s The Genesis Code, another book that I have read more than once. (I guess I think that if I keep reading them, eventually, some of that knowledge will sink into my puny head!)

The argument goes something like this: Does science explain away God, or does God override science? To me, the answer is clear. God IS science, and science is God! There’s a line in the movie that is something to the effect that there are things that science cannot explain, and that is where faith comes in. I believe that the two go hand in hand, and that someday, we’ll understand how they coexist.

With Evolution versus Creationism, for instance, each has evidence to support their theory, which suggests to me that science is just too new to truly understand the big picture. We keep trying, but we don’t have it all figured out yet. For me, it is enough to know that we are created in the image of God…that He somehow made us and put us here on this earth…and that is all that I need to know. The specifics will come later.

When I was in college, I had a psychology professor that pointed out that you could explain away religion with psychology. I believe that the reason that religion so perfectly uses psychology is because God himself is ‘familiar’ with how our minds work. Don’t you think?

There are ethical concerns, to be sure, when science challenges religion. This is addressed in passing during the movie. Stem cell research, cloning, and anti-matter are good examples. How far can man go to challenge the powers that God has, and can we recreate what He has done? Are we ethically bound by any moral obligations, or should we forge ahead in any technology?

I also loved the concept put forth by one of the cardinals, who says, “Religion is flawed because man is flawed.” It is of the utmost importance that we understand that religion is often PEOPLE, not God. People make mistakes, and they have their own agendas to support. We can’t confuse the people with the Gospel, which is perfect. We cannot let someone’s behaviors, beliefs, or propaganda to deter us from the things that we know to be true…and the only way to know those things is to study and pray about what you are learning. Only then will we be able to discern what is human flaw, and what is God. Our relationship to Him is very, very personal!

The book has a piece in which the Camerlengo suddenly has an epiphany, seeming to be from God. The onlookers are amazed that perhaps God does still speak to His children. I was utterly fascinated by the concept. I have answers to my prayers nearly every day…I cannot imagine not knowing that He can still speak to us! I thought of how sad it is that many feel that He is now silent.

And finally, once you have seen the movie or read the book, you have to ask yourself…who are the angels, and who are the demons? There are injustices on all sides, and there are atrocities committed for good reasons. When does something good become evil because of our motives, and when does something evil become good because of our motives? Hmmm…ponder that one!

What I know for myself is that if I am right with God, then I am right. As long as I align my will to His, and follow the paths that He wants me to follow, then nothing else matters. In the end, it will all be for good, because He will not lead me astray.

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