Sunday, November 8, 2009

What I Am Reading

I have been saving this one for a trip. A few years back my spouse LostSymbolhanded me a tattered paperback he had just finished- Angels and Demons. I took it to the airport, and I did not close my eyes until I finished it. The mix of history, symbolism, science, and some anti-papacy undertones kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. I then devoured The Da Vinci Code, a much weaker book that still kept me turning pages. I have been waiting since then for Dan Brown’s next efforts.

If you liked the first two novels, The Lost Symbol will provide a lot of the same. Massive conspiracies that could end civilization as we know it all come together along with Robert Langdon. The Harvard Symbologist (can you really get a degree in that?) has less than 24 hours to decode a complex mystery to save his friends and the world as we know it. Substitute the Masons for various Roman Catholic groups… you get the picture.

Sometimes I pick up sequels because I want more of the same. The Lincoln Rhyme novels provide procedural murder mysteries with a familiar cast but novel twists in each one. The Lost Symbol is too much of the same.

However, I did enjoy one aspect of this novel immensely. When I was a freshman in high school, during the year of our bicentennial, I researched a year-long report on the signers of the Declaration of Independence. What struck me, growing up in the heart of the Bible Belt, was the lack of traditional religion among this group of men. Most were deists; a creator exists but has little to do with the day-to-day issues of human beings. They believed in intellectual curiosity and seeking answers to the way the world worked, that the creator wanted us to seek these answers for ourselves.

In Angels and Demons, one early scene in the book (not included in the movie for some inexplicable reason) sticks with me. The dead physicist-priest and his adopted daughter have been using particle physics to attempt to provide scientific proof of the existence of god (sound familiar?). This hot female yoga-master physicist demonstrates the interaction of a teensy bit of anti-matter with matter, resulting in a brilliant explosion. After witnessing this feat, Robert Langton utters, “My god!” The woman replies, “Exactly.” I loved this scene because it suggests that the creator is a source of energy and initiation, not some judgmental bearded guy on some heavenly throne. Much more believable than anything I have heard in church.

The Lost Symbol entertained me through a couple of airports and plane rides, but the plot was too familiar. Robert Langdon still appeals, and there are still symbols to unravel. Freshen something up next time, please.

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