Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown

Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling get a bad rap. "Christian" critics of Harry Potter who think The Lord of the Rings is a Christian allegory are idiots. If Gandalf can represent Christ, so can Dumbledore.

It's the same deal with Dan Brown books. While Robert Langdon has an admittedly areligious bent to his professed world view, he is constantly confronted with situations his atheism can't explain. Yes, there are evil church figures in the books, but there are also legitimately pious ones. Are Brown's critics claiming that religious history doesn't contain figures who behaved in non-exemplary ways? It's not anti-religious or anti-Catholic to explore that dynamic.

Brown gets it from both sides: the culturally conservative who don't want depictions of religious shortcomings, and the culturally elite who look down their nose at the literary value of the books. Give him a break. Being an author requires writing skills and storytelling skills. What Brown lacks in writing, he more than makes up for in storytelling. Yes, any one particular paragraph might be somewhat silly when pulled out of context, but the novel is read in context, where the story is pulling you along.

This book gave me incentive to look up the sculpture The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, which was decidedly less PG-13 than the text led me to believe. I guess in the 1600s, it was the equivalent of "Showgirls." I'm glad I live in the 21st century.

I know a woman who started reading this book and thought it was so evil she threw it away. I laugh at that woman when I think about that. I came away from reading it with a stronger affirmation of my faith.

Rating: five out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

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