Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Let me begin this by making a couple of statements. First, I have not read the Da Vinci Code. Many I know have read it with reviews ranging from 'mindless drivel' to ' a decent page turner'. On the whole, recommendations have been against reading The Da Vinci Code based upon the merits of the story alone. Second, and more importantly, I am familiar with the Gnostic ideas conveyed in The Da Vinci Code. The theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married, that Jesus was never considered divine by those who 'really knew him', the idea that the Catholic Church suppressed and waged a war against the 'sacred feminine' by applying a spiritual chokehold to the Gnostic gospels, and the idea that Holy Scripture is riddled with errors and unreliability are not new. And so I will speak to these assertions but, moreso, will drop some common sense on the peeps, as it were. What will follow is the brain droppings of one who takes time to think critically. Here goes:

1. Why does the world read this book and react as if these 'revelations' are something concealed for centuries until some truth-seeker only now unearthed them? The truth is that the Catholic Church has dealt with these attacks from the very beginning. They are not new even though they are new to a generation that is clamouring for anti-establishment, anti-rules, and any reason NOT to live their lives according to traditional Catholic/Christian teaching. It doesn't take a lot of effort to go to your local Border's, pick up a book of Early Christian Writings, and see writings from those who sat at the feet of the Apostles of Jesus, let alone read the New Testament. In these writings, the ideas of Jesus' Divinity, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Lord's Day, the hierarchy of bishops and Apostolic succession, and the importance of the Bishop of Rome to the spiritual nourishment of the Christian Church are everywhere! In one particular writings by St. Ignatius of Antioch, we see a mention of those who do not celebrate the Eucharist and do not discern what it is--a rebuke of the Gnostics and other sects as early as 110 AD! The Church has dealt with Gnostics, Judaizers, Dualists, and Pagans from the beginning, yet the Da Vinci Code is hailed as some new, deliberately suppressed, revelation.I suspect it's because 21st century Americans (and Europeans) have exchanged Truth for comfort. It is no longer important to know what really happened in history, it's only important to find a history that corresponds to our moral position that we can use to justify our amoral lives. And so, we hear a statement like 'The Council of Nicea was pre-determined by Constantine and that, in a close vote, Jesus was given an upgrade from a merely wise human to an omnipotent Deity.' and we believe precisely because we need this to be true if we are to live a guilt-free life. We don't bother to check things like the ACTUAL vote on this fundamental Christian belief at Nicea ( 218-2 in favor of the already entrenched Divinity of Jesus), nor do we bother to see that the EARLIEST New Testament writers allude to Jesus as God over 100 times at least two generations before we see the first 'Gnostic Gospel'. The implications of the truth are easy to see but harder to accept when we blur the lines of morality well established by Jesus and taught unwaveringly by His Church.

2. Why does nobody ever have a problem with Jesus but, instead, choose to assail the Catholic Church? Jesus utters, from his own mouth, that divorce simply cannot occur once a covenant of marriage has been established between man and woman. Oddly, nobody ever takes Jesus to task for this position, even though HE was the one who took the Jewish concept of being able to 'put away' your wife and, on his own authority, completely changed the law! Instead, we see people hurl stones at the Church for implementing Jesus' commandment with regard to divorce as if the Church took it upon Herself to legislate this prohibition of divorce. They stomp the Church for its stance against abortion and artificial birth control as if Jesus somehow allowed it but the Church has vetoed Him. The earliest Christian writings make it crystal clear that the teaching handed down from Jesus, to His Apostles, to their successors, was that abortion and artificial birth control were (and still are, contrary to what countless Protestant churches have done in now creating exceptions for both to accommodate cultural pressure) contrary to God's plan for humanity. The reason Dan Brown and others pick on the church, and not Jesus, is because they know that they could never be taken seriously if they assail Jesus. I suspect that they know that something was going on in Jesus that wasn't going on in any other person throughout all of history. And so, to sell books, they attack the human aspect of Jesus Church, ignoring its divine component, namely the Holy Spirit. A cheesy, but particularly effective strategy, no?

3. The Da Vinci Code capitalizes on the world's last acceptable prejudice--anti-Christianism, particularly Anti-Catholicism. Can you imagine if someone wrote a book ('well researched', of course) about the secret and suppressed beginnings of Islam or Judaism? Yes, Moses was some poor schlub or, better yet, he was fictional and didn't even exist. He didn't really get the 10 Commandments from the finger of God but, rather, they were engraved later by priests who wanted to dupe the Israelites. Moses did nothing of consequence but was a really nice guy and so these priests wrote stories about him being a great military leader and was given an upgrade to 'prophet' status replete with the ability to part water, summon locusts, the whole nine yards. The priests then wrote that the only way to know God would be to obey Moses and his brother (also fictional) and conduct animal sacrifices in which they, the successors of Moses and his Billy Carter-like sidekick, could take all the best meat and live like kings! You see, Judaism was fabricated largely so that a certain segment, the priests, could hold the people in bondage and maintain their power.Can you imagine such a story? Charges of anti-semitism would begin as the first copy came off the press! Yet in Dan Brown's case, we see people calling him 'brave' and 'insightful'. He's given a place as a scholar without anyone even bothering to dig even the slightest bit to test Brown's own claims that his facts are without flaw. Why? Because the Catholic Church has been unyielding in its teachings for 2000 years. It hasn't caved to parishoners wanting to use Artificial Birth Control. It hasn't changed its teaching on divorce despite the culture accepting it as commonplace. It refuses to affirm abortion despite the world seeing it as a viable way to control population and allow humans to experience 'sexual freedom' without the consequences that come with it. While the world moves toward moral relativism, the Church holds fast to the traditions handed down to it from the Apostles. In other words, the Catholic Church is treated now by a secular world just as it was by the first century pagan world. It is blamed for things like the proliferation of AIDS, starvation, population explosion, unwanted pregnancies, suppression of women, and an unwillingness to update its teachings to accomodate a modern world. Of course, that's how I know the Catholic Church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church that every Christian church professes to believe in on Sundays. Only one stays true to her bridegroom, that i've seen. Only one is willing to take the brunt of the world's scorn for not only making Jesus' teachings known, but also for holding humans to this higher standard for salvation's sake. And so it goes--the world puts the Church on the wheel, breaks out the whip, and scourges it with all its might. It glorifies anything that denounces Her, spits at Her when she speaks, and brings its full weight with every accusation it can muster, every conspiracy theory that people will listen to. The first conspiracy theorist slithered along the ground, was hell bent on deception, and brought about sin, death, and Hell in what was a paradise of eternal life, union with God, and abundance. He convinced Adam and Eve that God was insecure and afraid that they would become like Him and they (we) believed him. There's nothing worse than a snake with an agenda and a pen.

4. It's only fiction, lighten up, dude! Here's my problem with books that couch these ideas in a provocative plot and represent 'facts' untruthfully. A book like this would not shake my faith because I have tackled most of these issues in my journey back home to the Catholic faith. Scripture and History are things that make me distinctly and unwaveringly Catholic. But given the shabby catechesis in many parts of the Church coupled with the great numbers of Catholic and Christians at large who do not know their Scriptures or Church History, this type of book can do great damage. American Christians have been raised on a steady diet of skepticism, reason, and disdain for authority. We had a king 200+ years ago and we threw him out. We had religious leaders that we decided did not represent how we chose to live so we started our own churches. We have a media that deems itself reponsible for bringing down any and every authority it can so we can all feel equal in value (it's called self esteem in psychological circles). And so we Americans devour anything that assails authority. What greater authority figure exists than the Catholic Church? It's existed for 2000 years and can be traced back as such. It holds itself up as Christ's Church with authority from Him and Him alone. It claims that salvation of humanity goes directly thru its doors and that any other way than Christ is futile. It calls everyone but teaches that lip service is for chumps, that you either live your faith or die at enmity with God. The audaciousness of this Church in a world of 'I'm OK, You're OK' and 'Worship The God/Goddess In The Mirror' makes it a target, just like its founder. And so this firmly entrenched ideal plants seeds in Christians that maybe the Gospels aren't reliable. Maybe God doesn't hold me to a moral standard. Maybe Jesus was just a really nice, smart man who was just a slob like me with a wife, 2.5 kids, and a pet llama, not God. Faith is shaken because of the presentation--people see the bells and whistles in the Da Vinci Code and indiscriminately accept the message in the process.

Finally, this book provides those who hate the Church with more ammunition. It walks up to them, places an axe in their hand, and tells them to start swinging. The fact that the book is replete with historical inaccuarcies and assumptions based on agenda and not on truth seems to be secondary to the fact that people have a shiny new axe.


Post a Comment

<< Home