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!