Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Angels and Demons – Should You Watch It?

For those of you who don’t know, Angels and Demons is the sequel to the controversial and popular movie and book The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown. Angels and Demons will open in theaters May 15, 2009. I will readily admit that I have not read these books, but they are wildly popular for their page-turning and mysterious elements. I did watch The Da Vinci Code and thought it was a terrible movie, both in content and in quality, and watching it was a complete waste of my time. So why are Dan Brown’s books and movies so controversial?
These books and movies are controversial, because they present numerous lies about the Catholic Church and Christian beliefs by way of historical fiction story telling. Dan Brown is a master at weaving fictional information with some factual background. Historical fiction can be particular dangerous because people are generally gullible and uninformed in their faith, or in the case of non-Catholics, the faith of others. The fear is that numerous people will watch this movie or read this book and believe that the Catholic Church is an evil institution or that Christianity in general is just a big conspiracy. While conspiracy theories make for interesting mysteries, they most often times don’t represent factual information.

It would be a mistake to dismiss the possible damage movies like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons might have on our culture. It might also be a mistake to make a huge issue out of these movies. When the Da Vinci Code movie came out, the Vatican was very vocal in its objection for the movie. While the Vatican has every right be outraged at the misrepresentations and lies, their response may have actually led to more publicity for the movie they were arguing against. In their vocal defiance, more people actually watched because they wanted to see for themselves what all the fuss is about. The Vatican is taking a different, much less vocal, approach with Angels and Demons. I think this is a wise approach and it appears the director of the movie, Ron Howard, knows that controversy is good for the box office. He is trying to pick a fight with the Vatican because he was not able to shoot some scenes he wanted to shoot. Poor Opie Taylor! Another reason why I believe that not making a huge vocal outcry against this movie is a good idea is because the movie is a fictional story. The Vatican knows this and all good Christians know this, but the ignorant may not know that it is fiction. By making a big fuss about the obvious myths presented in these movies, it in some ways brings more attention to the myths themselves. This could lead to people questioning their faith. Examining our faith is healthy, but when we question our faith based on reading or watching of fictitious work people can easily be misled by their own minds. Sometimes we need to protect ourself from oneself. We do not create truth, we can only discover truth through following Jesus and his teachings. When we fill our minds with false information, it is possible that the truth will eventually escape us.
Dan Brown’s books and Ron Howard’s representation of Browns books in his movies are openly sacrilegious and slanderous. Howard has said publicly that these movies are not an attack on the Catholic Church and could be enjoyed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. He could be right that the movie could be enjoyable for some, but there is no question that they are a direct attack on the Church even if it is acknowledged that the information contained in the movies is false. Imagine if you will we take what is happening here and apply it to a different situation. Recently there has been a great scare caused by a virus called the swine flu. Although it has been determined that this virus is not passed through food, say that a journalist writes a sarcastic article in the paper that if you eat roast beef you are 10 times more likely to get swine flu and that Arby’s stores should stop selling Roast Beef for 1 year. Those people who know that swine flu is not passed through food consumption will probably shrug this off and catch the sarcastic humor, but there will be people who read that article and take it literally. Even though it is obvious to many that the article was sarcastic and not based on fact, the result is that Arby’s will probably see a reduction in the number of customers. Is Arby’s not then negatively affected by this? Very much so. This may not have been the greatest anaology, but attacks on the church, whether they be incredibly unbelievable or not, will have a negative affect on the church. There will be some people who buy into the lies. How then can we support such sacrilegious and slanderous works?
The only way we can defeat this anti-Christian culture, this culture of greed and of death, is to educate the people in the true faith. We must educate those inside the Church just as much as we have to educate those outside the church. In many instances, those outside the church know more about the Christian faith than those in the church. This must change. We must be educated in our faith and then we must evangelize. Once we are educated in our faith, we can be confident in defending our faith from attacks on our faith. We also must guard against apathy. The media tries to downplay important life and religious issues, but will blow up stories that suit their agenda. Bishop Wenski of Orlando Florida, who led a mass of reparation this past weekend for Notre Dame’s invite and honoring of President Obama, spoke wise words in his homily which I believe apply to this situation of media influence on our culture. He said that we should not just be IN the world, nor should we be OF this world, but we should be FOR this world. If we are simply living in this world, we are oblivious of our surroundings and the effect both negative and positive that we can and should have on the world. If we are of this world, we are living our lives simply to gain wealth, power and prestige. We are trying to impress people and we fail to live for God and for our eternal destination in Heaven. However, if we live for this world, we are living a life of service to others and in so doing we are living a life pleasing to God. Jesus lived a life of service to others, and so must we live our lives. By evangelizing and spreading the word of God, we are living for this world, not in or of this world. We should keep this in mind in everything we do.

So am I telling you that you absolutely should not watch Angels and Demons? No. However, I would ask that you ask yourself how and why you are spending your time. How will taking the time to watch this movie make you a better person? We all have hobbies and pleasures that we enjoy, but we must evaluate how those hobbies and pleasures effect our lives. We should also analyze the information we are taking in and evaluate whether or not this knowledge will help us become a better person or if it will lead us and others astray. So should you watch Angels and Demons? I guess that's a question each individual has to answer for themselves. As for myself, I will pass.

Julie is doing well. Mom and dad are starting to figure out how to be good parents. It certainly is easier now than it was a week or two ago. Thanks again for everyone who has supported us and I have a greater respect now for my parents and all parents than I ever had before. Spend a quick minute tonight and pray for all parents, especially new and young parents. Thanks and God bless!


Mike said...

New York City, N.Y., May 6, 2009 / 07:30 pm (CNA).- Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput exhorted Catholics to follow the example of St. Paul by understanding their own times and being “possessed by the God of Truth.” Stressing the need to recognize the impact mass media has on thought and action, he warned that Catholics are losing the habits on which they have traditionally relied because of “vanity and compromise.”

The archbishop delivered his remarks to the American Bible Society in New York City on Wednesday. The Archbishop of Denver is in town to receive the Becket Fund’s Canterbury Medal, which is given to persons who “most resolutely refused to render to Caesar that which is God's.” Beginning his remarks with a reflection on the life of St. Paul, Archbishop Chaput said Paul was “a determined man.”

“As even St. Peter discovered, Paul never let shallow courtesies interfere with his witness for Jesus Christ. In fact, by today’s standards, Paul’s passion for Jesus borders on the unseemly. But of course, that says more about us than about him.”

Paul would go to such extremes because he knew the truth not only as a “collection of doctrines” but was “possessed by the God of truth, who gives life to those doctrines,” the archbishop said.

“There has never been, and there never will be, a greater missionary for Jesus than St. Paul. Through Paul, the Gospel reached the world. And our job as believers today is to be Paul once again to the world around us.”

“If we’re serious when we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, then we need to understand our own times as well as Paul did his,” he counseled the Bible Society members.

The archbishop said this can be a problem because “the tools we rely on to inform us are the same tools we use to delude ourselves about the real world.”

“The American news and entertainment media, which now so often overlap, are the largest catechetical syndicate in history,” he continued.

Saying the media has helped create a culture based on “immediacy, brevity, visual stimulation, celebrity and self-absorption,” he warned this has great implications for the Christian’s place in American society.

To know our times, he said, it is crucial that we understand how mass media works on us. We can learn to judge them “soberly and critically,” but if we do not the consequences may be “very unhappy.”

Noting that the United States was founded in a time of print-based patterns of thought, he warned:

“The more sensory, immediate and emotional our culture becomes, the farther it gets from the habits of serious thought that sustain its ideals.”

As a remedy, he advised Catholics to give up computers, televisions, cell phones, and iPods for “just one night” a week.

“One night a week spent reading, talking with each other, listening to each other and praying over Scripture. We can at least do that much. And if we do, we’ll discover that eventually we’re sober again and not drunk on technology and our own overheated appetites.”

Turning to questions of public life, the archbishop noted President Barack Obama’s comments about America not considering itself a Christian nation. Saying the president’s words should not be taken out of context, he remarked that his comments come at a time when American leaders’ attitude towards religion and Christianity is “very different from the past, and much less friendly.”

The archbishop said it would be “foolish and delusional” to deny the United States’ Christian roots. He quoted Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, who respectively said America was “born a Christian nation,” “founded on the principles of Christianity,” and firmly reliant on God’s providence.

Archbishop Chaput said that the public witness of many American Christians is “softening,” with some groups working “very vigorously” to secularize or de-Christianize public life and popular culture.

American Catholics have successfully fit themselves into American culture, so that “too many of us are happy with our complacency, vanity, compromises, comfort and bad formation.”

The habit of “vanity and compromise” is what is at work in the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama at commencement, the archbishop remarked. Though “a sincere and able man,” the president’s views on life issues “run directly against Catholic belief.”

“And a Catholic institution should not honor that kind of behavior,” he said.

While human sinfulness is always present, the archbishop said, “What’s new about our current moment is that too many Christians have made peace with that sinfulness, baptized it with the language of personal conscience, and stopped trying to convert anybody -- including themselves.”

While a “post-Christian” society may seem similar to the world St. Paul confronted, it is in fact “much worse” because the old pagan world was ignorant of Christ, but today’s paganism involves “a specific choice against Jesus Christ.”

He denied there was such a thing as a “post-Christian” society, saying “The redemptive mission of Jesus Christ is unique, unrepeatable and forever. Christ is the center and meaning of history.

“There is nothing after Jesus Christ except a void.”

When Jesus commissioned the apostles to make disciples of all nations and baptize them, the archbishop said, “he was talking to you and me.”

“The lesson of St. Paul, now and for every generation, is that we need to engage the world with intelligence, a creative spirit and, most importantly, charity, which ‘bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.'”

Real charity depends on truth, not “shallow courtesies” and “false compromises.”

“Paul reminds us that charity ‘does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth’ (I Cor 13:6). In fact, no greater gift of love exists than sharing the truth with others. Only God’s truth sets us free.”

“Jesus himself did not claim to ‘preach’ the truth but to be the truth. That’s why a Christianity based only on technique or useful ideas or a system of good social principles will always fail. Christianity can only be anchored in a love for Jesus Christ.”

“The cross of Jesus Christ is not a ‘philosophy.’ It’s an instrument of killing stained with the blood of a Person who was once dead but is now alive.”

“Only if we really believe the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in our bones, only if we endure in proclaiming that truth,” he concluded, will we be able to share St. Paul’s relief and joy in “the crown of righteousness.”
Copyright @ CNA

BK said...

Why would someone need justification to watch this movie? They can watch what they want. It actually it doesn't affect christians. If you're not informed enough of you're own religion to let a hollywood film question your beliefs, then you shouldn't be a part of that religion in the first place. If the information in the book/film is greater than a person knows about their religion, then that person isn't able to say they're a part of that religion because they know so little it doesn't count. Because of this, no "actual" christian will stop believing, only those who are missinformed will stop believing, which isn't a loss at all.

Mike said...

All people have the choice to watch or not watch whatever they want. No one needs permission from me what to watch or not watch (except for my child when she gets to the age of reason). How we spend our valuable time is ultimately up to us. In my opinion, it is not wise to waste two or three hours of our life to watch a movie with questionable morals or motives. This is a personal opinion. Others may feel differently. I can respect that. I must however disagree with the idea that we must not care about those people who are ignorant of the faith they profess to believe. I believe these people are exactly the people I and we need to reach out to and help them learn their faith. I for one am not willing to give up on these people. The fact of the matter is that many people are easy influenced by false perceptions of the Christian faith, and as someone who loves my faith and wants others to experience the joy of learning and loving their faith, I intend to do all that I can to help others discover and be inspired by their faith. I don't do this for myself, but to better the lives of others. Any time someone loses their faith or fails to put in the effort to better understand their Christian faith, I see this as a huge loss not just for them but for all society. For the record, I have not seen this movie so I don't claim to be able to properly review Angels and Demons the movie. The purpose of my post was direct people to evaluate their lives and ask themselves if they are spending their time wisely.

Mike said...

Note: I have revised my original post slightly. I had originally made a comment regarding having justification for watching this movie. I have revised my post to more accurately reflect the purpose of my post. Each individual must decide for themselves how they spend their time and whether or not it is a wise use of that time.