Sunday, May 21, 2006

Can A Movie Can Really Threaten Christianity?

The May 17,2006 issue of the daily newspaper USA Today carried a full page ad from an organization called "The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property" urging people to join a national prayer vigil and protest the movie "The Da Vinci Code" The ad, which obviously cost a great deal of money ran in one of the nation's largest circulating newspapers. The advert quotes an Archbishop of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Angelo Amato as saying "DDan Brown's creation contains not only offense and calumny,' but also ' historical and theological errors regarding Jesus, the Gospels and the Church." The advert goes on to claim that Archbishop Amato suggested that Catholics around the world should launch organized protests against the Da Vinci Code film just as some had done in 1988 to protest against Martin Scorcese's "The Last Temptation of Christ".

Is Christianity such a fragile religion that massive protests need to be organized to decry a work of fiction? Is the whole foundation of the faith so shaky that a mere movie can damage it irreparably? Please. Remember folks, the founder of Christianity, Jesus himself, said to Thomas the doubting disciple,

"Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed".

Jesus' point was that belief is a matter of faith, not fact. It's amazing that a religion like Christianity thinks it has to defend itself against dramatic works let alone potential real threats. Christians have by and large succumbed to the notion that there is an actual "war going on against Christianity". Every Christmas some talking head like Bill O'Reilly or John Gibson drives ratings on their "news" programs by proclaiming "War against Christmas and Christians". There is no war against Christians in the United States. Wake up and smell the coffee people. The "war" if it is that is by fundamentalist theocrats against the rest of the nation because they don't want anyone to believe anything else but what they believe. It's not a matter of threats against Christianity. No one argues with "The Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount for you heathens), or the fact that Jesus admonished us to love our enemies and to "Do to others as you would have them do to you". Everyone pretty much goes along with that thinking.

So why all the chest beating about things like "The Da Vinci Code", or before that "Holy Blood, Holy Grail"? "The Da Vinci Code" is a novel, a work of fiction. Regardless of whether or not Dan Brown says there are factual statements about mysterious organizations like the Knights Templar or The Priory of Sion, it is a novel, a work of fiction. It is not to be believed as fact. It is written as entertainment. "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", is supposedly a scholarly work and claims (as does "The Da Vinci Code"), that Jesus did not die on the cross and instead survived, emigrated to France, married Mary Magdalene and had heirs.

This claim in both books is the central sticking point to those who are declaring the stories blasphemous. No way could Jesus have survived and married and had children! Why? Well, it's just too unbelievable, and any way, the Bible says that he died on the cross according to a plan of his father (God), then three days after, rose from the dead, walked amongst his followers and then ascended into Heaven. That is a much more plausible explanation of events to be sure. And, since it is in the Bible, we know it must be true. Just as we know Elijah's ascendancy into heaven on a chariot was true, that Moses parted the Red Sea, that Jesus brought back Lazarus from the dead, that Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene, that food rained down from the heaven's to sustain the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt, that, etc., etc., etc.

Look, the point of this screed is that there are better things for Christians to do with their time and money than to protest someone's book or movie. It is of course their right in this country to do so. There's no denying that. However, it seems to me that the money, time and effort expended trying to convince people NOT to see the movie might be better served by actually doing Jesus' bidding of tending to the sick of soul and body, feeding the hungry and providing comfort to those who are in need.

Faith is belief without evidence. For those of you who are Christians, keep your faith, don't worry about movies or books or anything that might say otherwise. Just know that with belief without evidence will often be challenged. If your faith is strong, then the challenges will not worry you. If it is not, well, maybe, you should re-think what you believe.

Tell me what you think,

Regards and Peace Be Unto You,


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