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Jul 1, 2013 - Kind of Random    No Comments

Day 13: A Pope of science and spirit

Dear Pope Francis,

It’s hot today. I mean really hot. We’re having something of a heat wave where I live. Nothing like it is in Death Valley right now. But, still, it’s hot.

It was a perfect day, then, to take refuge under my ceiling fan and watch a trashy movie. I had Angels & Demons on my PVR. It’s a movie based on the Dan Brown book of the same name. For obvious reasons, it might not have been your favorite when it came out. I wasn’t too sure of it myself. But, I thought I’d give it a try.

The movie is trashy and crass, and manages to inaccurately portray both religious people and scientists. It also beats the drum, at least at first, of that old divide between science and religion. The main character, Robert Langdon, can’t even bring himself to say he believes in God when asked. He is an academic, you see, and must not let his brain be sullied by what cannot be proven.

Dan Brown is famous for making a straw man out of the Vatican. And, to be honest, some of the corruption and evil he writes about does hit rather quite close to home.

It was also interesting, Pope Francis, watching this movie so soon after your election as Pope. The whole movie revolves around a Papal Conclave. There are shots of St. Peter’s Square filled with people waiting for white smoke. The Sistine Chapel chimney even makes an appearance — though without the seagull who was a fixture during your Conclave. And the movie ended with a walk onto the famous balcony by the newly-elected Pope.

The Pope in the movie chooses the name Luke. One of the characters, a scientist, remarks on it. Someone else says Luke was rumored to be a doctor. Tom Hanks, playing Langdon, muses that maybe this Pope was bringing science and religion back together. Everyone smiles knowingly at that.

Given how I began writing this blog, this scene struck home. I think our conversations (ok, so far they’re a bit of a monologue) are all about putting the lie to that false dichotomy many still want to draw between science and spirit. It’s something that irks me at times, and makes me despondent at others. I see them synergistically; many others don’t. I’m hoping our chats will help change that.

Your friend,


(BTW, the book and movie titles are links to those items on Amazon. If you make a purchase through those links I get a bit of money.)