In the past few months Catholic organizations around the world have been placing ads in print media and posting attacks on Catholic websites denouncing the novel, and soon to be released film, The Da Vinci Code as heretical. The best selling book is merely fiction, they say, and the novel is supposedly based on 'facts' which have no credibility. One of the books which Dan Brown borrows from is Holy Blood, Holy Grail which is dismissed as merely a 'New Age' book. And we know what that means (Satanic!). The website Catholic Answers has posted a page called "Cracking The Da Vinci Code" which attempts to refute every story point considered offensive. The website claims that the book 'promotes' many ideas which are strongly in conflict with the Catholic faith:
Why should a Catholic be concerned about the novel? Although a work of fiction, the book claims to be meticulously researched, and it goes to great lengths to convey the impression that it is based on fact. It even has a 'fact' page at the front of the book underscoring the claim of factuality for particular ideas within the book. As a result, many readers-both Catholic and non-Catholic-are taking the book's ideas seriously.
Now Opus Dei has asked Sony Pictures to include a disclaimer in the upcoming movie which would say it's only fiction and not historically accurate. Sony Pictures has refused to say what they will do, and they are under no legal obligation to grant Opus Dei's request. I find it interesting that a work of fiction is being taken so seriously by people who should be confident in their faith. Me thinks they protest too much. I suppose that doesn't say much for the faith of your average Catholic. Maybe they're worried that people might start researching and thinking for themselves.
What the Catholic Church doesn't understand is this: they don't own Jesus! He is not their sole intellectual property. They have no right to throw a fit every time someone imagines him differently than they do. Many different religions revere Jesus Christ for different reasons. Many people in the world who are not religious respect his teachings also. Scholars believe that some of Jesus' more esoteric teachings are found in the Gnostic Gospels. Recently the lost Gospel of Judas was released to the public and has drawn attention to the other 52 early Gospels which were discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi. Biblical scholar Elaine Pagels has been at the forefront of bringing these fascinating texts to the average reader with her award winning books. In these other Gospels, which were eventually judged as heretical, a different picture of Jesus is painted than the one in the New Testament. For example, one passage in the Gospel of Philip reads:
...the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. But Christ loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her [mouth]. The rest of the disciples were offended... They said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you as I love her?"
It is not surprising to learn that women are often considered equal to men in these heretical texts. Early Christians debated about such issues as the Virgin birth and the bodily resurrection. So the Catholic Church's arrogance regarding The Da Vinci Code should not be surprising to anyone. They have claimed Jesus Christ as their sole property since the second century. I remember the stink they made about The Life of Brian and The Last Temptation of Christ and it was all for nothing. As they defend their version of Christianity against a fictional book and a Hollywood movie, one wonders if they can sink any lower. It's quite possible that if Jesus came back tomorrow he would immediately hold a press conference and announce that the Catholic Church does not speak for him or his Father. Stay tuned.