Idol Chatter

angelsanddemonsposter.jpgHaving lived for quite a while in the wonderful media city of beautiful Downtown Burbank, I got to play men’s league basketball with “The DaVinci Code” and “Angels & Demons” director Ron Howard and his brother, Clint. Ron was known for being competitive but not overly so. He was known for being a balanced guy who rarely picked fights, took low-blows, or complained to the officials.
But when something got under his skin, we always knew the jig was up. He was a pit bull. He’d never give up. If an opposing player had done something to him, he’d hawk that guy the rest of the night. If he just couldn’t hit the 15-footer from the wing, he’d keep calling for the ball and shooting it until he started making ’em. And when he decided to get on a referee, he’d never let up.
So I wasn’t at all surprised to see him step out from behind the usual veil and engage in the apparent controversy over “Angels & Demons,” due out May 15. Beliefnet has covered it from both the news perspective and the Catholic perspective.
I’m curious about it from the pop culture perspective, and the spiritual perspective. Is this, really, purely entertainment, or is there a spiritual message behind the film. No, I’m not asking about why Dan Brown wrote the books. I’m asking about why Ron would want to make these pictures. Is it purely financial, since popular and controversial books often make for good box office revenue? Or is it for purely artistic reasons–to have the opportunity to take on a historical theme and create a unique story from it?

Or, perhaps, there is something truly spiritual going on? If so, I hope so.
There is no secret to the fact that controversy begets publicity and Mr. Howard’s participation in it fuels the fire. But so much of the political and gossip intrigue around a movie like this is based on either our media culture’s appetite for controversy or a large church organization’s desire to protect its reputation, or at least the part of it that remains.
The Barna Research Group reports that most American Christians–that is, people who claim to believe in God and the Bible–do not believe in either the Holy Spirit or the existence of Satan. Ah, the irony, then, of a movie called “Angels & Demons” being released amidst a sea of controversy.
While Mr. Howard is claiming that this is pure mystery and intrigue–and while opposing groups are asserting that Mr. Howard and his team have an anti-Catholic agenda–I believe it’s possible that many of us will get more than a wonderful movie experience when we go check this one out. We may, perhaps, be challenged to reflect and ask significant questions about what we really believe about God, spiritual matters, and churches.
And if a movie can accomplish that, then it will be one of the more successful movies of the year, regardless of what the box office reports say. Movies should be about more than just selling tickets, and I suspect “Angels & Demons” will take us deeper than “The DaVinci Code” did. I think there’s more there, and I wouldn’t want step up to argue the point with Mr. Howard!

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