16 May 2006

reactionaries! (the da vinci code - take #2)

this thu, 18 may, da vinci code will be shown in phil theaters. finally. finally, too, the phil bishops stepped into the fray. how could they not? the movie's pr-strategy: hype the elements of the book deemed contrary to the christian faith & let the media do what they do -- voila! reactions guaranteed (the more extreme, the better). end result: greater public attention and higher revenues for mr brown, his publishers and movie producers.

the cbcp released a pastoral letter and a guide, containing direct, objective answers to matters of faith and facts raised by the novel. but, of course, the more adversarial reactions from certain catholic leaders and fundamentalist groups got better media mileage. somehow, calls for banning the movie, suing the author et al., or, (hopefully not true) book burning, produces higher ratings than level-headed answers.

the whole process won't be complete without avowed liberals counter-(over)reacting to any moves, real and imagined, at censorship. talk about anti-reactionary reactionaries, hehe.

the cbcp was right not to give in to the temptation. in this post-postmodern, so-called information age, censorship is the most counterproductive of options. nevertheless, some fundamental truths of the faith have been put into question, and a good number of the faithful have been disturbed by the book’s claims, thus a proper response was in order.

some of the book's claims:
· Jesus is not divine.
· his marital relations with mary magdalene produced an offspring.
· nicea was the council where they voted (narrowly at that) in favor of the divinity of Christ.
· constantine fixed the NT canon & had a hand in choosing the 4 gospels.
· the church suppressed many facts about the christian faith, including that of the magdalene and some 80 other gospels.

some other facts about dan brown and his work:
· contrary to his claims, not all, descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate, a good number of them have been proven to be downright untrue.
· the priory of sion, as he described it, hasn't existed in history. but, of course, he could always tell us: 'it's a secret brotherhood.' sure.
· the 'les dossiers secret', which supposedly lists down the grand masters of the non-existent priory, is a well-documented hoax.
· he claims to have 'worked hard to create a fair and balanced depiction of opus dei' but insists on his personal unfavorable opinion of the prelature.
· when confronted by scholarly refutation of his claims, mr brown resorts to the following appeals:

appeal to fiction – it’s a work of fiction. indeed. but fiction which insists on certain dubious elements as hard facts.
appeal to history as written by victors – a convenient argument when going against the grain of scholarly consensus, and the fact that no authority of note or respectable university affirms his basic assumptions.
appeal to his own opinion – mr brown says he welcomes the debate spurred by his work. the debate happens this way -- affirmation: he writes the novel. rebuttal: they write books to challenge his facts. final word: i disagree with them, and that’s that.
appeal to rationalization – this one, on some levels, i would agree. his book undoubtedly sparked renewed interest in religion. but at the expense of the most revered truths of the christian faith, of the sensibilities of many christians all over, and of the image of the catholic church in general, and opus dei in particular. it also sparked renewed upsurge in mr brown's income.

i'm no great fan of the opus dei, too conservative for my taste. but assassinations and terroristic acts? come on. thought they'd be more adept at issuing threats of CDF censure to erring theologians than death threats, hehe.

but the opportunity for evangelization, that i could thank him for. ironic that a moderately well-written (mr butch dalisay would have a different much expert opinion. though i myself would choose michael crichton many times over mr brown when it comes to SF, & i've read all 4 of mr brown's novels) pulp fiction, founded on spurious documents, dubious facts, recycled legends and alternative art appreciation, could move otherwise apathetic christians to know more about their faith (and hopefully relate more with the God they profess to believe in) than a slew of televangelists -- both the preaching and duelling types -- and sunday after sunday of regular church masses, which only a relative few attends, could achieve.

of course, he could also thank God (or maybe, just his common sense) that he only 'did' christianity, not islam. otherwise, fatwas and flag-burning, anyone?


for direct statements from dan brown about the controversy surrounding his novel, check this site:

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