I just finished Angels and Demons (finally) on Wednesday, a few weeks after the movie was released in theaters. The book beats the movie any day, of course. But as I raced through the last 100 pages of the book, which to me, were the most interesting, I realized I was coming to the same conclusion as I did with The Dark Knight. It all comes down to restoring faith. In this case, it’s restoring faith in a people who have become so jaded with earthly problems and distracted by science and technology that they lose faith in a higher power. But the overall message, as indicated by the book’s title, is about identifying the angels from the demons. Whom can we trust?
Incidentally, I had just been thinking Wednesday morning before finishing the book, about how I’d lost my own faith in people. When you’re a kid, you trust everyone. As you grow older, you trust no one. At 21, I’m starting to see that I’ve already become more skeptical. And while it is good to be cautious or prepared for pitfalls, happier people have advised me that constant suspicion and cynicism only makes you more miserable. Besides, sometimes you come across an angel who helps you in the most unlikely of circumstances.
The story follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, as he is forced into helping CERN researchers locate a stolen of container of antimatter, which if not restored to the CERN facility in Switerzerland within 24 hours, will create an explosion forceful enough to vaporize Vatican City. Langdon and the CERN researchers soon discover the antimatter has been stolen by an ancient brotherhood of scientific thinkers, the Illuminati, who seek revenge against the Catholic Church. We find out later that the container has in fact been stolen by a Church official, in an attempt to point out the dangers of science when it tries to imitate the powers of God–creation, destruction, etc.
We feel disappointed, betrayed and disgusted when we find out which Church official stole the antimatter and threatened to blow up Vatican City. In the process, he murders several innocent lives. With a plot full of twists, we start wondering which characters we can really trust. Even the sweetest of the Church officials seems corrupted.
But readers, have faith. Langdon plays savior, which is ironic because he is not a religious man himself. He is repeatedly described as such (in both this book and The Da Vinci Code), but by the end of the book he has escaped death countless times and saved Vatican City as well. It’s hard for him not to believe that there is not some higher force protecting him so he can fulfill his ultimate mission of saving one of the holiest cities from crumbling to mere rubble.
Thus the man of the robe whom we trust throughout the book reveals himself to be a demon, and the Harvard professor who seems impervious to religion restores our faith.
Angels and Demons, just like The Dark Knight, shows that even if some people break our trust or fail to meet expectations, others will, as if by a miracle, rise to the occassion.