At the very end of the book and the movie, Robert Langdon is confronted by the newly selected pontiff, whom he saved through the course of events. During their conversation, the pope reminds Robert that God and science do not have to be mutually exclusive. Langdon is not so sure. He sees religion as an impediment to knowledge. The Vatican sees Langdon as a critic bent on tearing down years of tradition. Now, you must realize that this book makes for great fiction, and having great respect for the Catholic Church, we certainly don't believe that there are vast conspiracies and deception behind the walls of the Vatican. But the lessons in the book are about what happens when people build idols to their ways of thinking—mostly without even realizing it. The result is what they thought was incredible scientific advancement was also capable of great destruction, and the church realizes that it no longer lives in a world where it can ignore such conversations.
However, this process is not new. Whether our experiments or situations have been about something as extraordinary as the creation of anti-matter or something as simple as obsessing over having just a little more money to make us feel safe, the chronic life lives the patterns of idol worship well. How? you may ask. Idol worship? But I have never made an idol. I have no golden calves in my home. Or do you?
We scoff at the children of Israel for creating golden idols when Moses did not respond to their needs in time. We see the idea of idolatry as being confined to ages gone by, when people literally built altars to unseen gods. But idolatry is very much alive and well. The altars have changed and the golden calves are not so shiny, but the impact is still alarming.
Our idols come in the form of dollar bills or bank accounts. Maybe it is a house or a new car. Or possibly it is the new job title. Regardless, the idol is just as powerful because, no matter what it is, its job is to replace God. Replace God? We would never do that. But wouldn't we? Don't we? In fact, we do it every time we allow the world to dictate our worship or our prayer life. We do it every time we allow our circumstances to define how we treat our brothers and sisters. We do it every time we give up or give in instead of holding tighter to God's plan. We most certainly replace God, and the sting is still very real.
In the chronic life, this worry is meant to refocus us. The Adversary doesn't need to destroy us, he simply needs to distract us, only for a moment. That is enough time to reshuffle the deck and change the course. When we look up again, we may not even have realized things have changed.
This worry creates new gods and idols in place of the One who loves us most. But—you guessed it—this is not normal. God has something better in store.
Worry Number Five: The Trap Between Loneliness and Self-sufficiency
Once we take the focus off of the important things in life, once the chronic life has taken hold, it doesn't take long to realize that the promises of this world don't ring true. The effects take over and are very real.
Our friend who lives with the chronic illness (the one whom we mentioned earlier) vacillates between bouts of great depression and great self-awareness and self-sufficiency. Both ends of the spectrum are troubling.