"I hope all of you boycott this film," the Italian agency quoted Amato as saying. He said the film, based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, was full of "offenses, slander, historical and theological errors concerning Jesus, the gospel and the church." "Slander, offenses and errors that if they were directed toward the Quran or the Shoah would have justifiably provoked a worldwide revolt," he said, referring to Islam's holy book and the Hebrew word for Holocaust. "Yet because they were directed toward the Catholic Church, they remain 'unpunished,' he said.I wonder if Msgr. Amato literally wants Hollywood movie producers and the writers of historical fiction novels, punished somehow. That would be medieval or imitative of certain retrograde sectors of Islam, that have, in the wake of the recent Danish cartoon controversy. Everyone knows of course that if the Vatican calls for a boycott of the film, it will only increase the publicity and audience of the film. Even Opus Dei is reported to have refrained from calling for a boycott of the Da Vinci Code book and movie because they still remember what happened last year with Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ, which detractors only succeeded in making even more popular by their attacks on it as "sadomasochistic pornography." But wily Msgr. Amato did not rise to the top of the Roman curia by being dense. Perhaps the point is in fact to give the movie a boost and that Opus Dei that is cast in the villain's role within the book and film only as Hollywood can. Perhaps, in a martyr's role, even the Work can receive its portion of fortune and fame from moving picture apostasies. I am sure the word CILICE (pronounced "SILL-is") will enter the mainstream as an exotic article of fashion...I can see the music video now of some sultry-spectacular teen idol performer wearing one...
Or, Msgr. Amato is pissing into the wind with his call for a boycott of Da Vinci Code the movie. It is absurdly counterproductive to call for a boycott of a Hollywood blockbuster movie on doctrinal, religious grounds. But at least we are unlikely to see the Christian world rise up in "worldwide revolt" over the Da Vinci Code, as the world saw Islam do in the matter of the Danish Mohammed cartoons. (Some revolt. Several embassies were burned down by crazed rioters. Dozens of Muslims died, but not one Danish cartoonist, though a rich tele-imam in Pakistan has offered a Mercedes Benz bounty.)
But I do think the Da Vinci Code phenomenon can have long-lasting and revolutionary effect on Roman Catholicism. In particular, I think that the ground under priestly celibacy will begin to shift, along with perhaps the true payload of Dan Brown's, uhmm, masterpiece: the status of women in the Catholic Church.
Somehow I think that women in general, and nuns in particular will thrill to delicious premise of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene as man and wife with children and grandchildren. All human beings would warm to such a Jesus, even if only in the imaginary world of fiction. For two thousand years, Christianity has been inspired by a Savior that has been portrayed as unmarried and seeking primarily the company of the male gender, though there have been unavoidable revelations to the contrary even in the canonical gospels. In the Da Vince code, everyone becomes free to explore, within the limits of that genre, an alternate possible history of the First Century that would revise many fundamental premises about the Twenty-First Century and how we ought to live it.
The evolution of Christianity is not yet finished. Celibacy is as silly as the cilice and probably just about as effective, especially when one considers that the whole tribe of Mary Magdalene is still excluded from the highest councils of power and the rituals of worship. Let us accept that it may have been wise, or necessary, or unavoidable that women in the Catholic Church still have the same status they had when Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper. Perhaps this movie will establish the notion that it is no longer wise, or necessary or unavoidable.
I think the Da Vinci Code reveals and explores but does not unlock the mystery -- which is only partly historical and is surely psychological -- of why we have an all-male priesthood and hierarchy in the Catholic Church. It addresses the status of women in the Church in a way that perhaps only fiction can, blending elements of fantasy, speculation and history with a powerful effect.
So yeah, tell all your friends to tell all their friends to boycott the movie and book...