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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book Review: Angels & Demons


Every now and then I need to read fiction. I get busy and my regular reading slows up as tiredness kicks in and to restart the reading habit and a page-turner is my usual remedy. As the film of Angels & Demons is currently in the cinema and the book was sitting on my shelves the choice wasn't difficult.

Mostly the book is nonsense. It's enjoyable nonsense but nonsense all the same and so I won't waste anyone's time by trying to sum up the plot. There are two interesting themes though that run through the book, one is the differences Dan Brown potrays between spirituality and religion. One is overwhelmingly positive and the other almost entirely negative. As in The Da Vinci Code the worst protagonist is the Roman Catholic church. Those who are spiritual are seekers of truth, tolerance, peace. Those involved in organised religion are hypocritical, power hungry, conservatives and fundamentalists.

The other main theme that runs through is the battle between science and religion. Interestingly Brown sees this as a false battle and doesn't side with science, instead the heroes of the story, the most sympathetic characters are those who seek to harmonise the two.

As a result it is a book of our times and would reinforce the popular held beliefs of many people. All religions are essentially the same, there is one truth and all religions can lead you there, Jesus is much on a par with other religious figures, tolerance is the greatest virtue etc...

Brown certainly hasn't engaged with good Christian apologetics and there's nothing here that should bother any Christian with their brain engaged, but it's interesting to see how this novel reinforces the popular spiritual beliefs of those who value the vague sense of being spiritual over the specific relationship with a saviour.

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