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Angels and Demons. Where are they in the Film?

I entered the film Angels and Demons as a virtual Dan Brown virgin. I was excited about the movie because I knew that Brown was a good plot twister. Plus, the spiritual realm has always fascinated me. So much so, that I have devoted a large part of my studies to gods, angels, demons and Satan. I expected to see Angels and Demons in a movie with that title but left the theater disappointed. (The next paragraph contains spoilers.)

The film and book are about something else entirely. The pope suddenly and dramatically dies. But before a new pope can be elected the Vatican is informed that a secret anti-Roman Catholic group of scientists, known as the Illuminati, has obtained the newly created anti-matter (the God particle) and plans to destroy the Vatican before midnight. But before that happens, they will kill the four candidates for the papacy, one every hour. Enter Indiana Jones, I mean Robert Langdon, to save the day. Langdon teams up with the co-creator of anti-matter Vittoria Vetra to stop the Illuminati before all hell breaks lose. But this hell won’t involve any demons, at least not literally.

Fascinating story—and a good film in fact, though it can be gruesome at times. But what about the historicity of the story? Well, the Illuminati were anything but the way they are described in most of the film. And actually, St. Peter wasn’t the first pope like the film and catholic tradition suggests. Peter was never a pope -- he was just a dominant Christian leader -- and it wasn’t even until late second century AD that popes started to have power over more than just their own city. I say popes (plural) because there was a pope in Rome, one in Alexandria, and several others in various cities.

Much of the movie is about how Christians have resisted science, which indeed has happened. But in many ways, this is beginning to change. There are several great lines in the film in this regard, perhaps the best being, “Science is so young and has so much to learn. If the world could see our tradition [the Catholic tradition] like it really is, they would be astonished and call it nothing short of a miracle” (paraphrasing here). Christians can learn from science, but science can learn from us as well.

At the end of the day, though, I am left wondering why name a book and a movie Angels and Demons when there are no angels or demons in it? Simple reason: To sell more novels and movie tickets. Slightly more complicated reason: The angels and demons are people in this story and they will elude you just like the actual beings. But let’s not forget for all of Brown’s novel ideas, he is an illusionist. Enjoy the book and movie, but just don’t take it too seriously.

Comments

Hi, John,

I've not seen the movie nor do I plan to--I'm not a movie person. I agree with the point you made about Brown's story being fiction; I think, in our minds, some of us blur the distinction between reality and fantasy. For example, I wouldn't be surprised if some based their understanding of the return of Christ on the Left Behind series rather than on what is logical and what is found in the Bible.

I also agree with your point that Christians can learn from science and science can learn from Christians. I recently read that some scientists believe that before any planets or other heavenly bodies came into being, the first thing that happened was the appearance of light. Sound familiar? Also, some scientists believe that evolution took place in sudden bursts of change in DNA--in other words, rather than the slow steady change that many have envisioned, there were definite spurts of change.

Henry David Thoreau once said that we can determine truth through analogy. As I have thought about that, I came up with an analogy for evolution: Evolution of species would be like a single oak tree in a 470 square mile dirt field evolving into New York City. Think about it: a single-celled organism evolving into a human being.
Then, on the other hand, using an analogy from the Bible, let's say God is a potter. While the artist may use the same materials and elements in his collection, none of the pieces evolved one from another. For example, although a handle may be used in a cup, a bowl, a platter, a vase, and an object d'art, each piece would be created individually. Without the hand of the potter, no change would have taken place.

Have a wonderful week!

--Patricia

Hi Patricia,

Thanks for your comment -- interesting stuff. Anyone else want to add to what Patricia said, or add something to my thoughts in the original post? I would love for us to be able to use Brown's work as a starting point for discussion.

--John

Hi John-

I also saw the movie and read the book. My favorite notion of the movie and written text is the subtle persuasion of Christian characters to ever so slightly make an impact on Robert Langdon. Robert is a man who appears to worship knowledge more than anything else, and doesn’t find room for God along that personal quest. The dead Pope’s personal assistant asks Robert if he believes in God and Robert tries to skirt the question with an educated scientific response, but one can see that Robert is wrestling with this question in his own life. When pressed further by the man, Robert eventually states that faith is a gift he has not yet received. It seems that many scientific people struggle with finding a balance or understanding of how God and science can co-exist. Faith is a hard concept to grasp when you spend your life trying to provide or find an explanation for everything. The movie ends with the new papal assistant (a very wise elderly man) telling Robert that “religion is flawed because man is flawed, including this one (as he motions to his own heart).” I was reminded that we need not accept a religion or a church to know God through Christ, we must only seek God for ourselves. God does the revealing when hearts are ready. And for that revelation, I continue to execute my faith through prayer for my non-believing scientifically bound loved ones.

Hi Barbie,

Very interesting and thought-provoking comment. Does anyone else want to follow-up on the very important issues Barbie has addressed.

--John

Hi, Barbie,

I absolutely agree with your statement that we must seek God for ourselves. And, as we seek God, I believe answers to our questions will come.

--Patricia

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The Infinite God is everywhere, are you looking? I am dedicated to finding God in all aspects of life – the Bible, the news, and the arts. Because I find that the most fulfilling journey of all is searching for heaven here on earth.