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Response to Da Vinci Code Highlights
Inadequacies of Catholic Church

If I were to give The Da Vinci Code another title, I'd probably call it The Gospel of Dan Brown. And like The Gospel of Judas a few weeks ago, it will not make much of a dent in the number of Catholics who go to Church. As I wrote before—and which a Bible scholar has been quoting—"If reading [The Da Vinci Code causes] you to 'lose your faith,' then perhaps you deserve to lose it."

The CBCP has finally issued a statement on the eve of the movie's release—years after the book started attracting attention. And if you'll look at how the pastoral statements are presented on the websites of the CBCP and the Archdiocese of Manila, you'll see that the latter has a better understanding of what it means to communicate.

In fact, the Archdiocese of Manila also makes "Handling Questions People may ask about the Da Vinci Code" available, the guide referred to in the CBCP's statement. The guide states that, "Brown sounds so convincing that many of his readers simply believe his assertions, due to insufficient knowledge of the Christian faith and a solid background in history and other fields." But why would Catholic readers have "insufficient knowledge" of their faith? Because the Church refuses to accept that times have changed.

Please pardon the language, but nowadays sex sells. I don't mean that the Church should start putting photos of sexy actresses on the cover of the Bible, but the Church needs to work on communicating with the faithful in a language that they can understand. Bishop Arguelles has asked that the movie be banned, but I would suggest that Arguelles, instead, work on his homilies so that the few who attend and stay awake will have their faith lives enriched. (Yup, he's that out of touch.) The bishops may also want to take a look at how Catholic schools are teaching students about their faith (see "'Average' Catholics and the Bible").

Anyway, the Opus Dei is dealing with the movie in a much better manner—and that's to use the opportunity to evangelize and correct errors, instead of trying to stifle contrary opinions. Check out the following:But really, I think it is very appropriate that the best thing that the Catholic Church could have done about this opportunity—nope, it's not a threat—comes from the Inquirer's entertainment section. In an interview with Ruben Nepales (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 May 2006), Tom Hanks says,
When the book was setting record sales and everybody was reading it, you could put a sign outside a church that says we’ll be discussing the true meaning of Ash Wednesday or "The Da Vinci Code." A jillion people will show up. Maybe to tear it apart or maybe to support it but, more than anything else, just to have dialogue about what it does and does not mean. What could possibly be wrong with that? I have plenty of friends—people who are serious about their faith—who have said to me, "Let’s get together and not be afraid [to] have a conversation." All it is, is dialogue. That never hurts.
The Catholic Church has failed to communicate with its followers using language that they can understand. Where are the Catholic authors who can write bestselling novels like The Da Vinci Code and the Left Behind series? Fr. Andrew Greeley had some success in the 1980s with The Cardinal Sins and Thy Neighbor's Wife, but the hierarchy didn't exactly approve of his novels either.

What can librarians learn from all this? We can't just leave it to others to tell the people who we are; that's why the stereotypes about librarians continue to flourish. We have to be the ones to go out there and tell people who we are. It's not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images in movies, books and, yes, blogs =)

Categories: Books and Movies, Religion

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