Sunday, May 24, 2009

Angels and Demons

Catholic Church history is fascinating. How's that for an opening sentence?

Though I'm not practicing Roman Catholic I am a variant thereof. Anglican. Both churches share similar histories and tradition. I guess that could be said of all Christian faiths and denominations. That is to say they, we, believe in Christ as one in the three (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) as the same. So let's jump in that that last statement.

Heheh. no.

Angels and Demons. Ron Howard's latest. Some say, boiled down it is a work against the clock to disable the bomb thriller. Some say no more, no less. I would like to say that it is much more. Anytime you bring in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it is going to be more. So I recommend you stop reading any reviews that say "it's only _______". Anytime someone makes a point to single out anything in reality it's going to be more. Especially when you have a popular book and writer behind it.

The Roman Catholic Church is so large it is almost incomprehensible (1 billion members) and so old (1600+ years), it's history shapes half the planet's history. Put something out there directly about the church and it is never "just" anything.

So where to start? I liked the Da Vinci Code (the movie). I like Dan Brown's approach to history in that everything is sort of tied together and that there is a massive undercurrent in the world. Some would call that conspiracy theory. I tend to agree. Yes, there are secret societies. Many of them. Heck, every major university has them. Masonry is a self proclaimed "Secret Society" that my grandfather participated in and devoted much of his later life to. I do think that the society the movie deals with, Illuminati, still exists under the umbrella of Freemasonry. In fact, the people who founded the Illuminati came along almost a century after a handful of Freemasons publicly wrote there ideas on science and religion. Once the Illuminati where shutdown (yes, mainly by the church) the 'johnny come lately' Illuminati founders joined the Freemasons only to realize they were already, for lack of a better word, illuminated.

But when I say the movie deals with the Illuminati, it isn't in the wild, hair brained idea that a group of decedents still roam the streets plotting their revenge against the wrongs of the Catholic Church. But the idea is toyed with to play with people who may believe this to be true. In other words, half of the folks who have set up websites on the internet. Those folks are taken for a ride. And a good one.

The movie isn't anti-catholic. In fact, some of the dialog about the church were strangely moving and powerful. Ewan MacGregor gives a stirring speech to a large group of Cardinals that was particularly moving. The movie has to be seen for more of those tidbits. Well worth watching if not for just that.

This movie passes my dad test. In that, my father, an Anglican Bishop, would find it interesting. I grew up with symbols of faith and ancient traditions so anything dealing with these things works for me. Do I know enough to poke holes in Dan Brown's theories? Probably not. He knows much more then I and he probably knows where he took license with things.

What I personally know is that he believes that symbols have meaning. Powerful meaning. Anyone who dismisses symbols, particularly when the Holy Church is involved, will think this movie a fictitious treasure hunt. But I have news for those folks... The symbols you see in broad daylight on buildings, in statues, in paintings... all have deep meaning, and then meanings underneath that, then some more under that. Most of them are not as cryptic and interesting as in the movie, but some are actually, maybe more. Heck, look at your keyboard right now and research some of those symbols and see what you come up with. That's just a keyboard. Now walk into an old church in England or Germany and let me know what you find or how about watching an orthodox service closely. Every movement, every word, every piece of furniture, every item in there has mean upon meaning that date back to long ago.

So, woops... got off topic, yep, I liked the movie. It passes the "my dad would like this movie" test. Not for the overt story, but for the little things in between. For the things the movie touches upon that connect us to the still used ancient traditions of the past and the symbols that can reveal our history since Christ walked the earth.

Resources on the Anglican Church:

1. The Church of England

2. The Anglican Communion (My Father's Church)

3. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (One of the most beautifully written books in the English language)

3. The Tutors. The Showtime Original Series (why not).

4. Clip from Elizabeth (1998) on the Book of Common Prayer

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