Friday, May 12, 2006

More on Da Vinci Code

I just can't help it but I need to post more things about this subject....I am just concerned about how some people are saying "Chillout!!! It is just fiction!"...Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those who are calling to boycott the book or movie...nor do I call for the excommunication of Dan Brown...I am just concerned that people seem to be indifferent...Yes, the book is just fiction BUT...

1. I mentioned this already in my previous post - When writing about fiction, the rule is the foreground (the characters, episodes, plot, etc) is of course fictitious, however, if a writer used non-fictional elements (e.g. historical events, actual institutions, actual places, etc.), the writer has to be responsible enough to be accurate on these elements. The problem with DVC is that a lot of references were made on non-fictional elements that are not at all accurate and then some people think that it is really true. History Scholars, Art Historians, Bible Scholars and Theologians, not to mention members of Opus Dei, are all saying that there are so many errors in the description, depiction and referencing on these non-fictional elements that they don't know where to start. Just to give you examples (note that these are just few of the errors in the DVC story background):
a. History Scholars - In DVC, it was mentioned that Emperor Constantine declared Christianity as the State Religion. Historians say Constantine legalized Christianity but it was Theodosius decades later who declared Christianity as the State Religion.
b. Art Experts - In DVC, the depiction of St. John at the Last Supper was too feminine for comfort. But art experts says that that is how young male scholars are depicted in rennaissance paintings (and even art students know that).
c. Theologians - In DVC, it was stated that it was just Emperor Constantine who declared that Jesus is God and that before that people believed that he is just mere man. It is clear in the Bible that the apostles believed that Jesus is God and even in the Acts of the Apostles, that is already what the Apostles are teaching and that dates back to at least 300 years before Constantine.
d. Opus Dei - In DVC the villain is an Opus Dei monk. There are no monks in Opus Dei. It is not in the charism of Opus Dei to be monks and to be secluded from the world. Plus, the head of Opus Dei is not based in New York as stated in the book. The Prelate of Opus Dei is based in Rome.

2. Yes, it is just fiction but instead of praising how well the book is written, I just wonder, don't you think we should feel insulted because:
a. the book is so badly researched - it is an insult our intelligence
b. the book is implying that the Church all this 2000 years has been fooling its believers from time immemorial - doesn't that feel like an insult to our family? (that is if you feel you are part of the family of God)
c. the book is implying that Jesus is just man, not God - isn't that an insult to God himself after all that he has done for us? Is it going to be that mock trial at the Sanhedrin all over again? Isn't that an insult to our dignity as man as well? Because if Jesus is not God, then how can he redeem us? Thus we do not merit heaven? How can we call ourselves sons and daughters of God then? So what does that make us?

When one says "Yeah, it is just fiction so there's nothing really to be uptight about. Besides we all know the author, the publishing house and the producers of the movie would just like to make money", it is like saying "You are making money out of saying false and malicious stories about me, my father and my family but in fairness ha, the story was well written." Duh? How can we be so dense? How did our culture has become so callous that we cannot anymore realize when our dignity as a person is already being maligned, worse, we even welcome it.

So what is the proper Christian response to DVC?
1. Study, study, study...Brush-up with Catholic doctrine and Church History
2. Take this opportunity to educate those who would want to be clarified
3. Pray for yourself, for all Christians, for those who have or are going to read the book or watch the movie and pray even for the author and producers of DVC

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Da Vinci Code - a Threat or an Opportunity?

The movie Da Vinci Code (DVC) is set to be released worldwide on May 19, 2006. As everybody knows, this movie is based on Dan Brown's bestselling book of the same title. The producers of the movie is hoping to cash-in from the book's cult following. But why the uproar on the said book and movie? Why the controversy? Is there really a mystery to be solved? Should Christiandom consider this as a threat? Or this is really just about making lots of money?

The reason why DVC is so hot is because the story revolves around the personhood of all-time superstar, Jesus Christ. Even for mortal superstars with the likes of Branjolina and TomKat, any publicity whether broadsheet or tabloid material will be gobbled up by the public because of their thirst to know more about these celebrities. But just like any material, whether regarding mortal or immortal superstars, we have to discern what has value, what is trash, what is for "pampalipas oras".

So what is DVC? Is it a source of valuable information? Is it outright trash? Or is it just a book to while your time away? Whichever way the book impacts us, we have to discern what is fact from fiction. The problem is some people take as gospel truth everything that is written in the book. I got to talk to a friend recently who after reading DVC asked where do Opus Dei members go to Mass now. Of course had this person made even just a simple click on the internet, it would have been easily found out that Opus Dei remains very much part of the Catholic Church and that all these are just in the imagination of Dan Brown.

But we ask how come some people believe the book hook, line and sinker? Is it because of the "Fact Page" in book where Dan Brown says that the architecture, artifacts, documents and rituals are accurate? But the reality is, even Dan Brown's "Fact Page" is not at all accurate. For example, it was mentioned in the "Fact Page" that Opus Dei is a Vatican Prelature and on the inside pages it was mentioned that Opus Dei is a Personal Prelature of the Pope as if Opus Dei is personally under the Pope. The truth is Opus Dei is a personal prelature inside the Catholic Church. It is "personal" because the jurisdiction of the Prelate of Opus Dei is not linked to a territory but over persons wherever in the world the members may be (source: wikipedia).

What I am pointing out is that had Dan Brown really, really made authentic historical research simple things such as the correct referencing to "Personal Prelature" would have been accurate. So how can we take everything in the book hook, line and sinker when on basic story background details the author errs. Of course the foreground (characters, episodes, etc.) are fictitious - that is a given for a fictional novel. But if one uses non-fictional elements as his backdrop of his fictional story then the writer should be responsible enough to be accurate. And this is just one of those...

For those who got confused, curious and carried-away reading DVC, please do not stop by just reading the book. As the movie trailer challenges the viewers to seek the truth, you may start your real mystery solving adventure by looking at these websites:
Or you can read books like The DaVinci Code: The Facts behind the Fiction by Amy Welborn. Or you can also read or watch The DaVinci Deception (VCD available at National Bookstore).

The popularity of the book and its almost sure box-office hit will not be a threat to Christianity nor to the Catholic Church, in particular. I think this is a golden opportunity for the Church to feed the hearts and minds of the people on the truth about Jesus Christ and his Church. People are thirsting for the truth and that thirst can only be quenched if we go get the elixir straight from the source - which is no other than the Church and the Gospels.