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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, May 19, 2006


Inform yoursleves, at 7:30pm, St Mary Magdalen’s Junior School. FOREWARNED IN FOREARMED

What is the ‘Da Vinci Code’? An historical novel, that is a novel which explicitly purports to take some historical facts and weave a possible and entertaining fiction around them. The film is released here on 19th May. That evening we have a helpful talk about it in our Junior school by a Jesuit Prof.

What’s so special about it? It has sold 40 million copies worldwide and four million in Britain.
Is it good? Many find it a ‘page turner’- each chapter ending on a bit of a cliff-hanger. For those who like puzzles or art it can be interesting. But it’s not truly ‘good’ in that it weaves into it’s apparent ‘facts’ blasphem-ies against Christ and slanders a Catholic community called “Opus Dei”.

What are these falsehoods? That Jesus, instead of dying on the Cross, got married to Mary Magdalen and started a royal line. The canonized founder of Opus Dei (OD) is presented as baldly teaching that “pain is good.” OD are presented (on the “Fact” page as well as in the novel) as a “cult” with “dangerous” practices. One of the book’s key characters is presented as a murderous OD monk. OD do not have monks. Dan Brown claims that he worked hard to understand what OD really is. This is hard to believe.

But this doesn’t matter does it, if it’s understood as fiction? Really realizing that certainly helps. But that means being clued up somewhat. One does not usually expect malicious falsehood to play a key part in an historical novel. But the main character in the book, Robert Langdon, who makes a lot of the above ideas believable, is presented, through his clever words and actions, as a very sane and intelligent Harvard Professor.
And careless irreverence is careless irreverence. Haven’t other historical novels done something similar with other historical figures? It’s very unlik-ely that publishers would look at an historical novel on Julius Caesar’s wars that intelligently tried to hypo-thesize that no blood was shed; or on Winston Churchill’s life that cleverly weaved a storyline, supposed-ly consistent with known facts of his life, which suggested he was really a Nazi. Moreover if Dan Brown had done something similar to the Prophet Mohammed, or got Robert Langdon to ‘discover’ that the homosexual community secretly and deliberately caused AIDS, there would have been a 3rd World War.

So how did he get away with it - why are we fair game? Perhaps because integral Catholicism is the most cogent and powerful alternative to secular ‘anti-life’ morality and because we’ve not been very good at communicating and defending ourselves in recent decades.
So should we learn about the book’s falsehoods? Yes, particularly if we are going to see the film
Isn’t it better not to say anything and so discourage further interest? It’s too late for that. So many people have & will read &/or watch it, & so many it seems are somewhat open to its anti-Christian ethos.

Should we go to see the film? Preferably not without arming ourselves with relevant truths. We all have a duty sensibly and intelligently to preserve our sanity, our spirituality and our faith. There is enough confusion and doubt about already! This is particularly relevant in terms of the many teenagers who will be seeing the film. The visual medium can have a strong effect. Bring them with you on Friday eve., 7:30! (Much better and truly inspiring current releases include Shooting Dogs & The Great Silence.)

posted by Sinead Reekie at 10:40 am