Sunday, April 30, 2006

Celibacy Is As Silly As The Cilice

BOYCOTT Da Vinci Code the Movie! This was the earnest appeal by Monsignor Angelo Amato, (reportedly Pope Benedict XVI's No. 2 man when he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also called the Roman Curia) when he spoke last Friday to a receptive audience at Opus Dei-run Pontifical Holy Cross University. Last year, Italian Cardinal Tarciso Bertone had called for a similar boycott of Da Vinci Code, the novel by Dan Brown. But last Friday Zenit reported--
"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...


john marzan said...

why don't msgr. Amato just threaten the producers, director and distributors with violence and beheading?

effective naman siya, diba? tignan nyo yung nangyari sa mohammed cartoons controversy.

Without Borders said...

john is right. the bishops should launch a holy war against dan brown and all those bunch of infidels. those infidels certainly hurt the faith's sensibility. beheading or stoning to death is certainly a good way to deal with them heathens!!!!

Amadeo said...

I suppose some people will not learn the little lessons that life throws our way. The more one harps on things like this, the more people will be piqued and will instead patronize.

Here in the States, many movie producers aim for an R-rating even for their benign movies, and will even rework their scripts to get it, simply because they know that nothing raises the hackles of some church authorities and other activist groups more than seeing an R-rating.

Ironic, because the porn industry here has revenues that exceed the combined revenues of the entertainment industry. Yet not much of a squeak about the ubiquitous porn products available. Or maybe, it is simply a losing battle, so why fight.

Amadeo said...

When one reads the Gospels, one will be introduced to the practice of phylacteries, which is similar to the use of cilice. And Christ cites this practice in a rather uncomplimentary manner, preaching the big difference external observances over what is inside a person.

But I wouldn’t equate this oddity with priestly celibacy, though I have my own issues with this old and odd practice.

The meaningful lasting value I personally can cede to Dan Brown and his works is that if his fiction somehow nudges the old lumbering behemoth called the Church into more equity and parity in its practices, then well and good.

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

Calling for a boycott of the Da Vinci Code book and movie is an exercise in futility. Let it be. Let this FICTIONAL WORK try everything it could to dislodge Christ from the heart of Christians. Jesus Christ prophesied that the true Christian Church, his Body, will be persecuted and that non-believers will try to defile it and destroy it. We rest our faith on what Paul said about Christianity and the people persecuting it: "If it is not of God it will fall, but if it is of God nothing that men can do can defile it nor destroy it."

Christians originating from Antioch were persecuted since day one and this was responsible for the dispersion of the Jews and ironically was the main reason for the spread of Christianity because everywhere they went they brought the message of the saving grace of the Lord. But the persecution went on, the harshest of which was the INQUISITION that killed millions of Christians in Europe during the Protestant Reformation and this was done by the Pope and the Catholic Church.

Let all the defilers come because it is not the Roman Catholic Church that is the true body of Jesus but rather the body of believers worldwide who anchor their faith on only One Name - JSEUS.

Atty-at-Work said...

I have read the novel and I'm going to watch the movie. I agree that the call to ban The Da Vinci Code is an exercise in futility.

I'm just wondering if Brown wrote something as "offensive" about the Prophet Mohammed, what would be the reaction of our Muslim brothers?

Dominique said...

Amadeo: phylacteries are worn outside, and for display; cilices are worn inside, out of sight, unless nosey folks specifically ask to see.

Seven Star Hand said...

Is the world ready for the Truth yet?

The Vatican is proving that seeking the truth is a real threat to their dogma. How enlightening, since this goes a very long way to proving that Christianity is based on lies. If it wasn't, they would be confident of surviving intense scrutiny. Since they aren't and since they have gone to such great lengths to suppress those seeking the truth over the centuries, their deceptions are, once again, laid bare for all to see. Only this time they are the ones to walk into a well laid trap...

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Visit my website to understand what they are truly afraid of. The Vatican and world leaders have struggled to keep people from understanding the truth and religion is a key tool in their smokescreen. Now, when I appear on the scene, everyone is seeking to understand their ages-old deceptions, and I have produced stunning and comprehensive proof. Visit my website, read my articles, and download a FREE copy of my book. The time has come for the "earth to quake" and the liars to "gnaw their tongues for pain." (symbolism decoded in the book)

Can you spell Karma...

the jester-in-exile said...


salman rushdie is still in hiding because of the fatwa declared on him because of the satanic verses.

dan brown would be no different.



You mean Pope Bednedict will order a fatwa on Dan Brown?

By the way, I thought the fatwa on Rushdie was already officially lifted by the successor of l'Ayatollah Kohmeni?