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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Da Vinci Blasphemy

The following article was posted on The Chicago Tribune:

Cardinal Warns Against 'Da Vinci Code' VATICAN CITY -- If you're not among the millions who have already read "The Da Vinci Code," an Italian cardinal has a plea for you: Don't read it and don't buy it. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who previously was a high-ranking official of the Vatican's office on doctrinal orthodoxy, told Vatican Radio on Tuesday that the runaway success of the Dan Brown novel is proof of "anti-Catholic" prejudice. Allegations in the novel that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and has descendants have outraged many Christians and have been dismissed by historians and theologians. "The distribution strategy has been absolutely exceptional marketing, even at Catholic bookstores -- and I've already complained about the Catholic bookshops which, for profit motives, have stacks of this book," said Bertone, who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II. "And then there's that strategy of persuasion -- that one isn't an adult Christian if you don't read this book. Thus my appeal is: Don't read and don't buy" the book. Asked about commentary that the book's success is "only further proof of the fact that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice," the cardinal exclaimed. "It's the truth." "There's a great anti-Catholic prejudice," Bertone said. "I ask myself if a similar book was written, full of lies about Buddha, Mohammed, or, even, for example, if a novel came out which manipulated all the history of the Holocaust or of the Shoah, what would have happened?" In response, book publisher Doubleday said: "The ideas put forth in 'The Da Vinci Code' have been circulating for centuries; this novel explores them in an accessible work of fiction. Doubleday certainly respects Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican and their desire to clarify any factual errors they feel may have been made in 'The Da Vinci Code'." "The Da Vinci Code" was published two years ago this month and is available in 44 languages. Booksellers expect the novel to remain a best seller well into this year.

Now, this article really had me scratching my head. First of all, how does the popularity of a single book indicate 'anti-Catholic prejudice'? The Bible is one of the nation's best sellers as well -- what kind of conclusion should I draw in light of the overwhelming popularity of both the Holy Scripture and a book that re-interprets religious imagery, reinvigorating modern interest in religion? And if you really thought that was any meaningful indication of anything, let's also keep in mind that The Pacifier was number one in the box office two weeks ago. Secondly, I simply don't understand how questioning Judeo-Christian dogma is 'anti-Catholic'. Now, if the Cardinal had cited the fact that the villain in the Da Vinci Code was a rogue cardinal, I might be inclined to agree (... maybe...), but he doesn't. The article references supposed controversy over Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene as reason for the outraged religious, and the Cardinal says, "I ask myself if a similar book was written, full of lies about Buddha, Mohammed, or, even, for example, if a novel came out which manipulated all the history of the Holocaust or of the Shoah, what would have happened?" (BTW, the actual answer would be 'nothing'. Lies and half-truths about other religions, particularly East Asian religions, are perpetuated on a daily basis, particularly, in our post-9/11 world, about the Qu'oran. But this isn't a Buddhist or Muslim country, and there aren't enough advocates willing to se tthe record straight, so no one gives a shit if those religions get messed up. But I digress.) But, again, I have to ask: what is so threatening about the idea of Jesus having married Mary Magdalene? While, I'm not saying that the Da Vinci Code is anything more than a semi-creative work of fiction, the Catholic church is kind of playing into the hands of Dan Brown when he asserts that the Catholic church attempts to hide Mary's true identity as wife because of a low-institutionalized sexism and mysoginy. What is it about the possibility of Jesus being married that threatens Catholic doctrine? And why is raising the mere possibility and thereby intriguing thousands of people into reexamining Catholicism a sign of inherent anti-Catholic prejudice? I've said before, and I'll say it again -- maybe it's not politically correct, but there are some groups where I actually will use John McWhorter's overused phrase: 'cult of victimology'. If you've got a certain level of influence, political prominence, and sheer numbers, I simply cannot take claims of oppression seriously. I mean, this book is "only further proof of the fact that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice"? Tell that to Vincent Chin, Matt Sheppherd and James Byrd.

1 Comments:

Blogger James said...

This isn't that surprising -- a Catholic taking a book about Catholism too seriously? Been there. But as to the main point, people love to appropriate oppression because they only see the free media emerging from those accusations. I bet that cardinal has never heard of Vincent Chin, Matt Shepard, or James Byrd.

It's incredibly annoying, but these same people won't see the harm they do to reputable, reasonable oppression issues by playing the victim over useless, meaningless stuff. Like Catholism needs our "help". Please.

3/19/2005 02:47:00 PM  

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