Friday, April 28, 2006

The Inevitable "Da Vinci Code" Posting

Our Pastor has set aside the next six weeks for a series of teachings [spurred by | focused on | countering | you-name-it] the upcoming movie release of The Da Vinci Code.

This means six weeks of apologetics (evidences for faith) rather than the church's usual focus on evangelism (declaring the good news). Of course there is a fuzzy boundry between these two categories. It's always good news to hear how your belief are supported by the historic record; and you can't study the historic record without declaring the good news that the evidence is about. And I, for one, am always delighted by a good apologia.

But I must admit that I have yet to read The Da Vinci Code. Years ago I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail (the book from which Dan Brown cribbed much of Code), and had a tough time keeping a straight face.

Years later I read a great brainy thriller that seemed to anticipate much of the current Code madness: Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. Let me crib from Gene Halliford:
In Foucault's Pendulum, Jacopo Belbo says: "There are four kinds of people in this world: cretins, fools morons, and lunatics." These classifications, he suggests, can be used to understand how any given individual makes sense of the world.

Cretins are those individuals who seem to go through life without any clear understanding of the world or their place in it. They are---as the current expression goes---clueless. Cretins crush beer cans with their foreheads and go up the down escalator, never realizing the inherent inappropriateness or impossibility of these actions.

Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They embarrass everyone but provide material for conversation. In their positive form, they become diplomats. Talking outside the glass when someone else blunders helps to change the subject... Fools don't claim that that cats bark, but they talk about cats when everyone else is talking about dogs.

Morons generally say and do the right thing. The problem with morons is not with what they do but how they think. "Like the fellow who says all dogs are pets and all dogs bark, and cats are pets, too, and therefore cats bark...Morons will occasionally say something that's right, but they say it for the wrong reason." One must be very careful when dealing with morons because they often sound both reasonable and logical. Deciding how and why their reasoning is flawed often takes close analysis.

Lunatics. While morons proceed cautiously toward false conclusions, lunatics are not concerned with logical paradox or common sense. Their reasoning proceeds by quantum leaps of faith and mystical inspiration. Random chance is replaced with the belief that all occurrences are interrelated and inherently meaningful. For the lunatic, any event or experience can be used to support their internal belief system. And, says Belbo, "sooner or later [the lunatic] brings up the Templars."
And so we come to The Da Vinci Code, a modern thriller that tells you that the entrire Roman Catholic Church is a giant front operation for...wait for it...supressing the Templars!

Let me end with a link to Amy Welborn's great site, "Jesus Decoded"

The Da Vinci Code is a mess, a riot of laughable errors and serious misstatements. Almost every page has at least one of each. It would be easy to get swamped up in the small stuff, to spend hours debating the relationship of Marian imagery to Isis or who’s who in Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks The good news is, however, that’s not necessary. When discussing the factuality of The Da Vinci Code, all you really need to do is stick to a few fundamental points...

I sometimes wonder why people are so fascinated with the Jesus of The Da Vinci Code and why they so resolutely ignore the Jesus we meet in the Gospels and through the Church, why people don’t want to take that Jesus seriously. Why they just want to brush him off and focus on esoteric, abstract windy speeches on inner light offered by a stick figure.

But then I go back to the Gospels, and I read…Sell everything you have and give the money to the poor…love your enemies….Feed the hungry…clothe the naked…visit the imprisoned…Blessed are the poor…those who mourn…the peacemakers…what you do to the least of these, you do unto me…the last shall be first…

Of course. No surprise. No wonder we don’t want him to be the real Jesus. No surprise at all.

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