Angels & Demons

Some of the gargoyles and icons depicted in this movie are ugly to the point of being disturbing. Click to enlarge.

Liezl and I don’t have a TV, so over the last four or five months we’ve only watched two movies, The Kite Runner and Fireproof. Although both are great stories they fall firmly into the chick flick category. And so, when we had the opportunity to go to the bioscope last Monday evening I was hoping to watch a skop, skiet en donner. A real date, kids taken care of, holding hands, snuggling, popcorn, Coke and Wine Gums.

Figuring out what to watch was a bit of a trick. My vote, obviously, was for Star Trek and I am still struggling to see why Liezl didn’t jump at the chance, the account of the guys at the office was that it is a work of art to the highest calibre. Even Barry Ronge gave it two thumbs up. My wife however holds more sway than me on decisions like this and so we went and watched Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons.

A few years ago we watched The Da Vinci Code. I can remember as I checked it out of the video store that I felt like a bit of a heretic. I mean there was so much hype around the movie at the time that I suspected it was a Christian no-no and was embarrassed in case anyone spotted me. Thing is though I’m glad we did watch it. In our day and age mass media pretty much defines social belief and effectively swings popular opinion. I’ve been struck by how many people I’m in contact with have the same questions, questions which I think were spawned by the film and virally propagated by the media machine around it, questions like, “Maybe Jesus was just a man, that makes sense doesn’t it?”, “What about the books that didn’t make it into the Bible, didn’t Thomas write something? And Peter?” and “Who decided what did and didn’t make it in? The Catholic Church?”.

I found watching The Da Vinci Code preparation for engaging with others around issues of faith. It enlightened people to ask questions of importance which they normally wouldn’t have raised. I believe that Angels & Demons will create more of those opportunities and this is why:

Dan Brown really does spin a yarn doesn’t he and Tom Hanks is just an amazing actor. Angels & Demons employs the same story telling technique that was used in the first instalment, a symbolist, Harvard University Professor Robert Langdon, needs to solve a plot to prevent a catastrophe. It’s Indiana Jones stuff but with a deeper back story and amazing sets (Vatican City is displayed in it’s iconic splendour, a delight to the eye. I can see that a lot of the churches which I found cheesy in Israel are just cheap imitation rip offs of the Renaissance beauty of the basilicas in Vatican).

The Da Vinci Code was very transparent in it’s attack on orthodox Christianity and got a slap across the wrist for it’s effort, Angels & Demons less overtly so. I’m not going to pick the whole movie to pieces but I can say that most of the slights against Christianity were made as throw away remarks between characters rather than the underlining script which this time round really highlighted the power struggle between religion and science.

I think when questions come they’ll look like this, “Who defined what Christianity is and what it looks like? The Roman Catholic Church?” And the attack will be, “If the Roman Catholic Church defined Christianity then isn’t it time for a rewrite?” The world is poised to ask this question. Why? Because the emergent conversation is challenging Protestant thought by offering deconstructed post modern eclectic spiritualism which sounds like a guru who swallowed a copy of The Message. Dan Brown seeds the viewer with enough ammunition to start the debate.

He does this by simply presenting the wrongs in history as having been written by a corrupt power and then demonstrates that this continues today. After every dead body or problem that crops up in the movie the Vatican issues a press release giving some spin which the media gulp up and regurgitate.

Now why should it bug me if someone gets into the ring with the Roman Catholic church and starts punching them around a bit? I’m a protester of that religion in any event aren’t I? Well I am, but I know that very few in the world draw much of a distinction between them and us and so I can smile while the cardinals in the movie are made out to be a bunch of twits, but at the same time can strap on my breastplate and ready my shield knowing that the questions will come.

“So what did you think?” I asked as we left Santon City.

“It doesn’t make the church look very good does it?”

“No. No it doesn’t”

“How can we trust…” And so the conversation began.

Ephesians 6 says:

13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil {one.} 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
19 and {pray} on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in {proclaiming} it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Will you go and see the movie? Do you think having an opinion like this about a movie is ridiculous? What did you think of Angels & Demons? Is Christendom due for a rewrite?

Enjoy reviews? You might enjoy Shacking up.


4 thoughts on “Angels & Demons

  1. Hi Mark
    Great review. Your grasp of the subject and ability to articulate your thoughts and (primarily) your faith never cease to amaze me. Your readers have a lot to learn from you.

  2. A great review.
    As we both know, Scripture defines what the Bride should be like.

    I will wait to see the movie when released on DVD over here.

    I realize you do not have a TV but you do watch movies.
    Have you noticed in movies like V for Vendetta and those like it. The ones where an oppressive government takes over etc.., that the government symbol is almost always some variant of the cross.

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