02 January 2010

Angels & Demons

I’d attempted to read Dan Brown’s “Angels & Demons” about three times before actually succeeding earlier this year. I was surprised at my recalcitrance, as I’d loved “The DaVinci Code”.

Anyway, it was a great read, and my husband and I finally got around to watching the movie. Great movie! Yes, things were changed from the book, but fortunately, it’d been so long since I’d read it – ignorance was bliss.

There were two lines that I thought were very profound. The protagonist (Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks) is explaining to Ewan McGregor’s character before he goes into the Vatican archives his stance on religion and he says, “Faith is a gift I have yet to receive.” I don’t know what is it really about that sentence, but it’s really deep. I just liked it.

The second one occurred much later in the film. One of the cardinal dudes tells Tom Hanks, “Religion is flawed because man is flawed.” And it struck me that perhaps that is my problem with organized religion. Christianity makes me uncomfortable because of its enormous dependence on one man (Jesus), twelve men (the Disciples), and many men (the Council of Nicaea). Their teachings and decrees were interpreted by more men, and as time passes, cultures and attitudes change radically, and after a thousand years, Christianity has become something I am positive Jesus did not intend it to. Wars have been fought, innocent people slaughtered, ignorant prejudices created that cannot be erased – all in the name of Christianity.

All right, all right, I’ll stop. Believe me, I used to be a lot more virulent than this.

I think that movie’s line pinpointed and clarified for me why Paganism holds such appeal. It is a nature-based religion, and nature does not change and is not subject to the whims and desires of man. And because it is such a personal experience, any flaw in a man stays within that man. Paganism does not have any organized, hierarchical clergy, and thus, nobody is responsible for “spreading the gospel”. Therefore, Pagans don’t rely on one man’s interpretation. There is no God, no Bible, and no Commandments.

Again, I must stop. My essential point is that “Angels and Demons” is a great book and movie. It’s been a long time since I’ve watched something that really provoked me and made me think.

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