Saturday, May 16, 2009

Keeping the Faith

Dan Brown has angered many a Catholic with his unflattering portrayals of Catholic history and practices in his bestselling novels "The DaVinci Code" and "Angels & Demons". Was that his intent, though? Or was he just really hoping to tell a story set in this world?

Epic adventure in modern times almost always centers around paganism, or pseudo-paganism. Stories about demons and dragons, gremlins and goblins, wizards and witches, and even the occasional superhuman mutant or alien tend to have more ... flexibility as far as plot goes. The Chronicles of Narnia, for example, while a parable for Christianity, is still set in a fantastic realm. Even J.R.R. Tolkein, a devout Catholic himself, went the other-worldly route with The Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter is a bright, young modern hero, but he is training to be a wizard, not a priest.

Where are all the Christians? In classic times, Christianity was the basis for every epic. King Arthur, despite traveling with the wizard Merlin, was a Christian, and famously searched for the Holy Grail. The Three Musketeers were all Christians; one studying for the priesthood, in fact. In modern times, though, Christianity just doesn't have the same "epic" appeal. With the exception of Indiana Jones (the first and third movies), regular old Christian "superheroes" just aren't that popular.

Dan Brown may be anti-Catholic; he may even be anti-religion. That's not the issue, I feel. The issue is, can a good epic fantasy center around the Christian faith? He's proven that it can; though that fact may not make Christians happy. Because, you see, every adventure needs a little conflict, a little drama, a little controversy; otherwise, whether your hero lives in Middle Earth or the Vatican, he's just going to sit around all day. Anybody can do that. We pick up books to read about what people not ourselves are doing.

Does that mean you should go see the movies, or even read the books? *shrugs* Nope. That's still your decision to make. I don't plan to, personally. I just appreciate that someone out there recognizes that a great fantasy story can be told in this world.