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"da Vinci Code" Movie Sparks Catholic Censorship Envy

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Originally posted by Nicholas Provenzo from the Rule of Reason blog.

It seems a Roman Catholic cardinal is a little envious that Islam gets to squelch those who offend its tenets.

In the latest Vatican broadside against "The Da Vinci Code," a leading cardinal says Christians should respond to the book and film with legal action because both offend Christ and the Church he founded.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian who was considered a candidate for pope last year, made his strong comments in a documentary called "The Da Vinci Code-A Masterful Deception."

Arinze's appeal came some 10 days after another Vatican cardinal called for a boycott of the film. Both cardinals asserted that other religions would never stand for offences against their beliefs and that Christians should get tough.

"Christians must not just sit back and say it is enough for us to forgive and to forget," Arinze said in the documentary made by Rome film maker Mario Biasetti for Rome Reports, a Catholic film agency specializing in religious affairs.

"Sometimes it is our duty to do something practical. So it is not I who will tell all Christians what to do but some know legal means which can be taken in order to get the other person to respect the rights of others," Arinze said.

"This is one of the fundamental human rights: that we should be respected, our religious beliefs respected, and our founder Jesus Christ respected," he said, without elaborating on what legal means he had in mind.

[. . .]"Those who blaspheme Christ and get away with it are exploiting the Christian readiness to forgive and to love even those who insult us. There are some other religions which if you insult their founder they will not be just talking. They will make it painfully clear to you," Arinze said.

This appeared to be a reference to protests by Muslims around the world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. [
Philip Pullella, Reuters
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]

Consider what is being asked here: Arinze seeks to prevent portrayals of Catholicism that he disagrees with, calling respect for his creed a "fundamental human right" and asking that Catholics take legal steps to prevent the showing of these portrayals.

But why? How is the demand that the world respect the tenets of one's religious beliefs a "fundamental human right?" Where does this right draw its justification? Is it because God commands it? How is God's alleged commandment binding upon me, if I find no reason to believe in God? How is it that I am bound to genuflect before the mystical whims of others?

And note that Arinze is not calling for religious liberty--he is not calling for his right to argue for his philosophy free from coercion. Instead, he holds that his faith gives him the right to silence others. So much for the oft-repeated notion that Christianity begat freedom. Arinze, just like the Islamsts who demand that no one blaspheme their prophet, is calling for nothing less than the (re)instillation of religious tyranny.

Arinze's statement is disturbing; it indicates that even the more Westernized religious creeds are drawing inspiration from militant Islam in seeking to coerce belief. I count that as among one of the worst philosophic signs I've seen in years.

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Arinze is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church as far as I'm concerned, unfortunately Aquinas' view of reason is not universal to the church, and some of the old style mystics still hold high positions of power in the Church. The Da Vinci code is so blatantly absurd in it's historical errors that I think I actually saw a hidden reference to black helicopters between the lines.

The people whom take the proposed senarios of a fictional novel as factual without researching the history involved will obviously be confused by this, as will most whom already hold hostility to the Catholic Church will be the primary audience that will preach the theories held within as factual. Arinze is serving the enemies of the church by lashing out agains this movie, he is implying that there is something in these conspiracy theories that needs to be hidden.

I plan to see the Da Vinci code myself, so I can fully engage those duped by it in a reasoned debate. The boycott is within the bounds of reasoned dissent, but it is not neccesary, people need to understand the ineptitude of some of today's authors so they can fully understand why a man can not live by faith alone.

P.S. - If I've crossed the bounds on what is permissable on this forum, I apologize.

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The Da Vinci code is so blatantly absurd in it's historical errors that I think I actually saw a hidden reference to black helicopters between the lines.

My favorite part about this "controversy" is the irony of seeing people defending the “historical truths" of the Bible against a work of "mere fiction." How dare Dan Brown write a story questioning, among other things, that baby Jesus sprung from a virgin womb. My second favorite part is seeing millions of people so insecure about their "historical truths" that they run around hysterically, worried that a couple hours in a theater will bring their system crashing down.

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Religious nuts = free advertisement, and many people will see the movie, only because of the controversy. The more people go and see the movie, the more profits for the producers, and the higher the probability we'll see more movies like this in the future. The obvious thing to do here for the ignorant bible thumpers, would be to ignore the movie, but I don't expect the people who gave up reason, to understand the irony of their acts.

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The obvious thing to do here for the ignorant bible thumpers, would be to ignore the movie [...].

I agree, if their only motive is to reduce the influence of the movie. The question that arises for me, though, is whether the organizers of the protests have other items on their agenda. For example, are the organizers practicing for something bigger? Are they building a mailing list? Are they soliciting donations and want to prove how tough -- and therefore deserving of financial support -- they are? Or are they using their protest as a platform for spreading broader ideas -- indeed, Christianity itself? Only a thorough inquiry into the particular individuals involved can answer these questions.

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They should do what the big studios do: hire people to write very specific "reviews." Only these would state the movie's long, slow, boring and doesn't make sense (and something about Tom Hanks' haircut). Thay could even buy ads in local papers. Ads for other movies, which would compare well against the DaVinci Code. You know, "Unlike Ron Howard's snooze-fest, our movie..."

Movies flop when they're boring or pointless. Not when they're offensive.

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Of the book's claims that contradict the usually accepted Christian version, what are the top few controversial ones?

My criticisms of the book are not based on the contradictions with Catholic Dogma or scripture, such things are outside of the rational realm and are either taken on faith, refused on the same principle, or the entire issue is pushed aside as unknowable or unprovable. What I am more interested are the historical fallacies that are present here, Dan Brown may be aware of these fallacies and is merely writing a work of fiction (which is in itself harmless), but the people who read it and automatically assume it true usually are lacking in education.

1. The book connects Leonardo Da Vinci with the Montsegur order, which in reality is far from the truth. Da Vinci was a solitary person, he intentionally avoided associations with religious orders like this because such groups tend to bring unneccesary chaos into the life of a person whom would rather create using his mind than get caught up in waring forms of mysticism.

2. The "V" shape in the Last Supper painting between Jesus and the alleged Mary of Magdalene has no connection with the female vessel, it was used for a dramtic affect depicting the revelation that someone was about to betray their chosen leader.

3. The afeminate looking apostle in the Last Supper is not Mary Magdalene, it is John the Evangelist. Many renaissance works have depicted him as appearing somewhat afeminate, particularly the long hair and the smooth face.

4. The myth of the holy grail has no connection with renaissance thought, this is a product of medieval legends such as King Arthur (which everyone knows is itself a work of historical fiction). This myth was brought back by the 19th century romantics, and that is probably where the author got his inspiration from.

5. If Jesus was truly crucified by the Roman method, even if he were later taken off the cross, before dying, the physical damage done to his body would have killed him. The medical technology needed to heal someone with the kinds of injuries that were inflicted upon him was not possible until more than 1800 years later. I think it's a larger leap of faith to believe that Jesus could have survived the crucificion than it is to believe that he was reborn by the intercession of some higher power.

P.S. - Everything that I have stated is meant within the context of explaining the historical ramifications of this work, not to try to argue in favor of the Christian faith. I just wish to re-emphasize this because I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea about what I'm saying.

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I think most of the controversy sparks because of Brown's claim that the Priori of Sion *exists*. Except for that disputed point, everything else he says is part of the novel, part of the fiction.

He says that the descriptions of the paintings and historical records are accurate but he never says that their interpretations are factual. The fact that a *character* from his book interprets the record should not be taken as fact at all but at most a slight possibility until further proof is achieved.

What I am disappointed about is that in the midst of all this controversy people forget what a great work of fiction this really is. It's a heart thumping, adrenaline rushing action novel filled with historical speculations.

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I would like to note to everyone here that I am a practicing Catholic, I have just seen the movie, and I have a confession to make. The movie was excellent, very suspenseful, and well portrayed. I have always been a big fan of detective movies and this is the first good one I've seen in a long time.

One further thing to announce, Bishop Arinze is a pompous ass and completely irrational, in the same respect as the nutjob who said that the actor who portrayed Harry Potter was going to be possessed by the Devil. If conservative hack Rush Limbaugh can enjoy the movie, I don't see the sense in the rank and file Christian getting all jazzed up over this.

Edited by dark_unicorn
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The Da Vinci Code was written by a self-proclaimed Christian, Dan Brown. His fictional story popularizes the gnostic gospels, which suggest that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. More traditional Christians, who have memorized every word of the biblical gospels, take great offense at this gnostic idea, because it's not what they have dutifully memorized and therefore know to be "true."

This controversy is not Christian versus anti-Christian, folks. It's Christian versus Christian. We are merely witnessing someone else's family dispute. We non-Christians are flies on the wall of Christian history in the making.

Who will win this epic Christological debate? In this age where the traditional view of marriage is under attack, will the great Christian fantasy-makers conclude that Jesus was a fully heterosexual male happily married to a woman? Or will they maintain the idea that while on earth the Lord was a lifelong bachelor who hung around with twelve guys all the time, at least one of whom was a very young, feminine boy?

It's such a truly fascinating question. Isn't it? It almost makes one forget that Christianity is perhaps the most irrational and bloodthirsty religious system ever used to attack mankind.

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[Catholic dogma or scripture] are outside of the rational realm ...

Catholic dogma and scripture are not "outside" the rational realm, they are rejections of the rational realm. When you accept something on faith, especially biblical absurdities such as the Creation myth, then you do so in complete contradiction to the facts of reality, in contradiction to reason and science, in contradiction to logic and the rational realm.

To say that something is "outside" the rational realm is an attempt to evade the obvious absurdity and irrationality of what one claims to believe. It is a terrible sin against one's own faculty of reason.

To a man who values the truth, nothing is "outside" the rational realm. Everything must be logically scrutinized. And that which is illogical must not be accepted as true.

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The Da Vinci Code was written by a self-proclaimed Christian, Dan Brown. His fictional story popularizes the gnostic gospels, which suggest that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. More traditional Christians, who have memorized every word of the biblical gospels, take great offense at this gnostic idea, because it's not what they have dutifully memorized and therefore know to be "true."

This controversy is not Christian versus anti-Christian, folks. It's Christian versus Christian. We are merely witnessing someone else's family dispute. We non-Christians are flies on the wall of Christian history in the making.

Who will win this epic Christological debate? In this age where the traditional view of marriage is under attack, will the great Christian fantasy-makers conclude that Jesus was a fully heterosexual male happily married to a woman? Or will they maintain the idea that while on earth the Lord was a lifelong bachelor who hung around with twelve guys all the time, at least one of whom was a very young, feminine boy?

It's such a truly fascinating question. Isn't it? It almost makes one forget that Christianity is perhaps the most irrational and bloodthirsty religious system ever used to attack mankind.

"A witty saying proves nothing" (Voltaire)

Catholic dogma and scripture are not "outside" the rational realm, they are rejections of the rational realm. When you accept something on faith, especially biblical absurdities such as the Creation myth, then you do so in complete contradiction to the facts of reality, in contradiction to reason and science, in contradiction to logic and the rational realm.
I'll take that into account while I page through my copies of Albertus Magnus' and Thomas Aquinas' thoughts on the subject of science, reason and being a Catholic. B)

P.S. - If you wish to debate the nature of scripture with me on the debate forum, I'd be happy to, I'm in the mood for a good challenge and you appear knowledgable.

To a man who values the truth, nothing is "outside" the rational realm. Everything must be logically scrutinized. And that which is illogical must not be accepted as true.

I'm probably going to get in trouble for going against the purpose of forum on this one, but I challenge you to scrutinize the borders of the entire material universe and give me your logical assessment of their nature and of all things contained within it. There is something which is known as metaphysical speculation, in which one makes a hypothesis about what can not yet be scrutinized by our senses yet clearly exists. This is pretty much what Albert Einstein used in order to form his own theories about physics. Far from being the whim ridden process of primitive witch-doctors, this is indeed a scientific process where one takes into account the probability of his predictions. Obviously any theoretical source of the physical universe must be subject to a rational discourse and the answer is something that is rationally knowable and also within the bounds of reality, but this can not yet be done with full certainty until the given phenomena can be observed. Your description of faith is accurate in regards to the Lutheran doctrine of "Sola Fida" (By Faith Alone) but it does not apply to my methods as I am in a constant state of reproving my own premises about everything via the Aristotelian model. You may wish to simply state that if you can not observe it, it is not there, at which case the conversation ends and you go about your own business.

When I said outside the "rational realm", I meant to imply that which can be observed and thus demonstrated to others as 100% undeniable, ergo absolutely certain. There is obviously a great deal of uncertainty involved in trying to speculate on the possibility of something existing that we can not yet observe. Perhaps this was the wrong term, which was also used as a concession of any possibility of convincing anyone to avoid this exact conversation because frankly you will succeed in nothing other than wasting your own time by arguing with me on this here. I have come here to learn more about Objectivism and to occasionally give my two cents when something that directly concerns me pops up.

Before I get too wordy and forget that I'm getting off topic, If you wish to correct me for any philosophical errors that you believe I have commited, I again invite you to the debate forum where we can allow others to ridicule the obvious idiocy of Bishop Arinze without this obvious distraction.

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Obviously any theoretical source of the physical universe must be subject to a rational discourse and the answer is something that is rationally knowable and also within the bounds of reality ...

You're operating upon the false assumption that the universe has a source.

"Universe" is merely a name for the imagined sum or collection of every individual thing that exists. It is not an actual thing in reality that has a source. It is a name for the collection of every thing that exists--stars, planets, comets, moons, animals, people, etc. These are the things which we lump together under the concept "existents" and collectively call "the universe." It's a difficult concept to grasp, but it is similar to the concept "society." Society is not something that exists in reality as an individual thing. It designates a collection of things--people. Likewise, universe designates a collection of things--every existent that exists.

Now, if you want to speak of the "source" of any actual existent, then go ahead and pick one and offer a theory about it. I'd love to hear a rational argument for why God is the source of the Earth or the Sun, which are things that actually exist.

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You're operating upon the false assumption that the universe has a source.

"Universe" is merely a name for the imagined sum or collection of every individual thing that exists. It is not an actual thing in reality that has a source. It is a name for the collection of every thing that exists--stars, planets, comets, moons, animals, people, etc. These are the things which we lump together under the concept "existents" and collectively call "the universe." It's a difficult concept to grasp, but it is similar to the concept "society." Society is not something that exists in reality as an individual thing. It designates a collection of things--people. Likewise, universe designates a collection of things--every existent that exists.

Now, if you want to speak of the "source" of any actual existent, then go ahead and pick one and offer a theory about it. I'd love to hear a rational argument for why God is the source of the Earth or the Sun, which are things that actually exist.

As I do not wish to go any further against the purpose of this forum, I am not going to respond to this here, but I will open a topic on the debate forum and answer it there. Do feel free to respond to my answer there.

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