Thoughts on the "DaVinci Code" Protests
I mean, how strong can your faith be if it is shaken by something you know nothing about?
"The DaVinci Code" opened Friday, May 19, and the protestors were out. The 11 o’clock news interviewed some of them, and their answers were right out of the Middle Ages.
None of those interviewed had even read the book. Still, they claimed that the movie had shaken their faith. I was fascinated. I mean, how strong can your faith be if it is shaken by something you know nothing about?
Their signs read "DaVinci Code is Wrong!" and labeled the movie a blasphemy. But blasphemy only occurs when someone within a particular faith speaks a falsehood about the faith. Quite honestly, once you set aside the fictional story, there are no falsehoods in the movie about the Catholic Church.
Opus Dei, for instance, is real and has already admitted to self- flagellation and to wearing that barbed torture device. I almost laughed out loud when an Opus Dei priest interviewed a few weeks ago by a national news show said that Opus Dei members "only wear it for an hour a day," as if self-torture was made okay by the fact that the nutball killer in the book—and the movie—wears it all the time and the real Opus Dei members don’t.
Going to extremes on behalf of one’s religion is not new, of course. One of the big problems with all organized religions is that simple things may be taken to extremes. The Islamic terrorists are a current case in point—an amazingly murderous group for a religion that is supposed to be all about gentleness, tolerance and an ecumenical worldview. Of course, the terrorists are working outside their organization, for the most part.
Historically, the Catholic Church, as a church, has gone to more extremes than just about anyone. From the Spanish Inquisition, during which, I believe, some 600,000 men and women were burned alive or hanged for practicing herbal medicine, to the sanctioned, in-school child abuse which continued through the 1950's, the Catholic Church has always feared and lacked tolerance for different ideas or those who would ask questions.
However, one would like to think that, after the changes that came about in the 1960's, the Church had caught up with the then 20th century; but apparently not.
It puts me in mind of another movie: "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade." Near the end of the movie, the Nazi bad guy shoots Indy’s Dad and says to Indy, "It’s time to ask yourself what you believe."
Actually, it’s way past time for members of the Catholic Church. Just like all the other Christians in this country who get upset over Darwin or burn crosses on people’s lawns out of fear, it is time to ask what the Church stands for. And then, either believe it or don’t.
And, if you believe, then "The DaVinci Code" will be just what it is to the rest of us: a really good story.
Lynda Lambert, a Baltimore-based college English instructor, hopes readers have answers to her questions. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This story was published on May 22, 2006.