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Recently I sat through a viewing of The Divinci Code; an interesting drama and mystery, but not more. I’ve actually not been all that interested in viewing it, but did so out of interest and because the person I was viewing it with was interested in watching it with me. What I’m intrigued about is how readily some people are to accept Hollywood dramas regarding religious content and matters of faith yet quick to dismiss the reality of a personal experience of the Divine. That is, it seems to be that movies such as the Divinci Code take questionable material and some how sell it as fact and people will believe it; perhaps because they need to, perhaps it helps them to ignore the reality of a personal faith, perhaps it offers an easy way out for them to not do their own soul searching about what it is they believe in.

What is more interesting to me, is that people assume that because of the Church’s sometimes dubious and roller coaster past that when ever something comes along ‘putting down the Church’ people are quick to dismiss the reality of a lived faith with God. The trouble with this is that it assumes a shallow understanding of faith and belief in the Divine. It assumes that those who have a faith and belief in the Divine do so only because of the human existance of the Church, and not the lived experience of a personal encounter with God.

I would be the first to admit that if I relied on the frailty and sometimes unworthiness of the Church I would have no faith or belief at all. As some who know something about me know I like many people have more excuses to distrust and dismiss the Church than reasons to believe in the Church. Fortunately for me, my faith and belief in the Divine does not rely on the humanity of the Church alone, for all it’s frailties, faults and positivities. My faith is based on a living encounter with the Divine in my life.

I’m aware of brief moments in my life when I have truly encountered a moment (even if for a nano second of time) of being in the presence of the Divine. In small, miniscule ways; through looking into the eyes of a dying person, washing the feet of a woman with infected sores, seeing a baby born, watching a person make their first Communion or Confirmation, being a part of a football team who pray together (not to win but to give thanks to God and intercession for their loved ones), seeing a person survive tremendous abuse, I see that there is a God who is alive and who does carry us when we most need it. There are times too when it is much harder to express; but moments when, for a blink of the eye, I see and touch the presence of God. This is from where comes my faith and belief in the Divine, not some man made Church which seems to agree or disagree at the drop of a hat.

The Church is falable, despite how much we might try and make it not so. We are human, trying to interpret and express an encounter with the Divine. And we can do this only in so far as our human language and frailty can allow. Let us give thanks to God that our faith and belief in the Divine does not need to depend on the humanity of the Church, rather let us give thanks that our faith and belief is derived solely from a personal encounter with God.

One of the difficulties of helping people today to understand this (that faith is a lived real experience and not something we get from simply reading words on from an ancient manuscript) is that we cannot give them our ‘God experiences’. They need to discover this for themselves. The trouble too is that it requires that people be willing to be open and vulnerable to the presence of God in their lives. Often people can be to content to be wrapped up in their own sense of self and self-righteousness to bother to look at how God is speaking to them today. They dismiss that a personal experience of God can be real and lived and encountered, often doing so by finding the path of least resistance in attacking the humanity of the Church rather than encounterting the Divinity of God.

No, the Divinci Code cannot shatter my faith. My faith and belief in the Divine is not reliant on humanity but rather the Divinity of God and the reality of the Graces that God gives in my life. The moments of encounter with the Divine in the simple acts of being in the human world. The Church will fail us, as surely as we will fail the Church and God on more occassions than one. But it is important to know that God will never fail us and the Divine will continue to exist within the world for all of us. We simply need to open our hearts and minds, the be vulnerable, trusting, and open enough to take off our blinkers and see that God not only exists but God calls us into a relationship with the Divine.

Leave movies like the Divinci Code on the shelf of the video store. Or at least remember what they are, Hollywood selling it’s latest blockbuster. Take time to find your own ‘God experience’ allow God to become real and lived in your life. For it is here you will discover what is true faith and belief.

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