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Monday, May 15, 2006

In Defence Of The ‘Da Vinci Code’

I'm going to start this off by defending myself because I know by the time they are through reading this, many people will be only too anxious to stone me. Still, I've always believed I have to stand up against irrationality and ignorance. Ignorance by itself is not a crime, but when a person in a position of influence, passes of his ignorance as fact, it's time to speak up.

I consider myself a very religious person at heart. I'm not a saint by any means, but I love God and though I have many issues with the Catholic religion I will never turn my back on it.

Having said that, I can proceed to the burning issue in todays catholic world. The Da Vinci Code. I wonder how many of you reading this, see the irony. In a world with religious fundamentalism and new cults like scientology springing up, the Catholic Church has chosen to make an issue about a novel. A novel that, according to the sermon I heard today, says that Jesus had a wife and family and thus says that Jesus was a liar.

I don't get it. The Priest has obviously not read the book. I have. At least 4 times. The book does not try to pass itself off as a serious non-fiction book. The main character does believe that Jesus had a family but the author never tries to force that belief as a fact down the readers throats.

The issue boils down to just two questions. Why is the Church so agitated about a work of fiction? And more importantly, even if the author had been trying to pass of fiction as fact, why is the Church so agitated by the idea that Jesus was a married man?

In fact the theory that Jesus had a family is a pretty old one. Many books have been published on the topic in the past. The author used the concept in this book and because of the intrigue and the puzzles involved the book caught on and became a best seller. If an author decides to base a fictional work on an old, worn out theory, what's the problem?

Its not like the author portrayed Jesus as rapist, robber or evil person of any kind. All he has portrayed is Jesus as a married man. Is the church trying to say that marriage is a sin? Is the church trying to say that by saying Jesus was married the author is lessening His divinity? Would marriage 'lower' him somehow? Jesus is the Son of God. The book does not make an issue out of that. It leaves it up to the reader. All that the book does, is suggest that Jesus was married and the author fictionally creates remnants of the Holy Family in our day.

To anyone reading the book it would be clear why the Church is so agitated on the issue. While the book does not insult Jesus in any way, (unless a person considers marriage an 'insult'), it does suggest that the Catholic Church is the repository for quite a few secrets. I can understand the Church’s reaction to such allegations. Whether true or false, with its age-old focus on its ‘image’ the Church would not like any of the faithful to start asking uncomfortable questions.

This does not excuse the attitude the Church has taken. The priest today was exhorting the people to boycott the movie and to join in a protest ‘morcha’. I was never more ashamed to be Catholic. Living in a multi-religious country I’ve seen people taking to the streets at the drop of a hat. Seething with indignation at perceived insults to their respective religions. To see Catholics take to the street to protest a work of fiction will be the nadir of my existence so far. Can’t the Church find a more worthy battle to fight?

To the Church all I’d like to say is this. I’ve read all Dan Brown’s books. ‘Angels and Demons’ is a book that will awaken any Catholic to the power God has to bring good from evil. It touches on thorny issues too, but when the message at the end is so spiritual and powerful it helps you understand the author’s spirituality. In a work of fiction all the reader should focus on is the feeling he carries with him when he closes the book at the end. The Da Vinci Code is no different. If one thinks about it rationally, the idea that Jesus was a married man would make his life and death even greater. As the Son of God, He loved the multitudes. If He loved His Father’s people enough to die for them even though he had a family of his own wouldn’t it make His Sacrifice even nobler?

The Da Vinci Code is work of fiction. And yet even as a work of fiction there is nothing in it to offend any true Catholic. Instead of slandering it the Church should learn how to educate the people who trust in it instead of trying to guide them through half truths. As Catholics we should fight the good fight, not a paper dragon that can do no harm if understood.


Roussel Marshall said...

Hey Karen, you write excellently well... There have been a lot of controversy created due to The Da Vinci Code, and its a classic example of a "Mountain out of a molehill..." Its good to know there are still a few people who have the guts not to be taken in by the Mob Mentality and who think for themselves...

Ciao for Now,

KD13 said...

Thanks for the thumbs-up!