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May 17, 2006

Comments

Dave

Amy,

Bullseye! This fits all the reviews I've seen to a "T."

Grant Gallicho

Has this pattern emerged anywhere?

Jeff H.

Mark Steyn ends his review saying,

"It's interesting that so many non-churchgoing readers are interested in Jesus, disheartening that they're so Biblically illiterate. Still, given the success he's had dismissing the premise of the New Testament as a fraud, perhaps Dan Brown could try writing a revisionist biography of acclaimed prophet Muhammad. Just a thought."

meg

The LA Times review and Corliss' review fit it to a T. Grant.

Andrew Fletcher

Amy,

Congratulations on making FOX News and the Google news page! I am, however, vexed that host John Gibson did not mention your apparent background and hence, bias. While not criticizing your faith, it is obvious to this reader that it has informed your observations, and certainly limited your choice of source material. As a keen reader of history, these facts are automatic red flags indicating an unbalanced perspective. I realize that there is very little evidence of Mary Magdalene's existence outside of the canonical gospel, but it would be very refreshing to see mention of a source outside of the Bible - even to discredit it. I read all books from a secular perspective. Faith and facts do not mix.

Thank you,

Andrew Fletcher

amywelborn

Andrew.

I had what. 3 minutes? 3.30? Who knows.

Read my books. Heck, just read the stuff I've written that's online about, say MM: go to bustedhalo.com. Then come back and spout off about my sources.

Jeff

"I read all books from a secular perspective"

Well Andrew, you have faith, just of a different kind.

Rich Leonardi

Amy,

Check Mr. Fletcher's IP address. His post has got to be a con.

CV

Andrew:

"Faith and facts do not mix"?????

In the Da Vinci Code, they certainly don't.

In the non-fiction section of the library however, they do. You could look it up.

Donna V.

Mark Shea has a very good rebuttal to all those who say "Why can't Brown criticize the Church?" Shea's reply: "If the Church answers intelligently, will you listen?"

With people like Andrew, it's doubtful. It's fine to tear down the beliefs of others from a secular POV, but when religious people defend their faith - well, that's just bias and brainwashing coming at ya. Because secularists are always so objective and impartial; no, no axe-grinding going on there.

Eileen R

Andrew Fletcher's search for a non-faith informed source on Mary Magdalene should be... interesting.

Donna V.

Rich: Take a closer look at his blog. It doesn't look like a con, despite the title. It looks like the blog of a very young man deep in the "My country's a sham, religion's a sham, so all we can do is drink beer straight out the keg and be cynical" phase. I remember that era in my own undergraduate life rather fondly(ah, yes, I was quite the little left-wing ultra-rationalist at 19. Quite the keg-drinker too, although I used a glass), so I feel rather more warmly toward Andrew than I did earlier.

Also, his note to Amy was at least politely worded. Some of the other DVC fans who have popped up here have sounded completely unhinged.

Jimmy Mac

The movie will, nonethess, be a huge sellout ... but I doubt that it will be one that folks wanted to see more than one, a la The Passion of The Christ and Brokeback Mountain.

Victor Morton

Well ... in semi-demi-kinda-sorta defense of that template:

**I could imagine** making a good cheezy-horror/exploitation romp from the basic premise of DA VINCI CRAP. Play up all the impossible coincidences and all the ridiculous history. Put Satan into it. Have everyone overact ridiculously. Turn it into DAVINCI CAMP, in other words.

You might -- might -- produce something like one of those supernatural/devil thrillers -- THE OMEN or THE SEVENTH SIGN or THE SENTINEL. The film would still have content that would sound objectively blasphemous if put in straight-faced terms, but the style would indicate that we're not meant to take it seriously, and the faith of nobody but the most gullible would be affected. From what I've heard of the book, that's probably the only way to make it work as a film.

So ... if, as the initial critical buzz says, the movie is at the one and the same time incredibly self-serious and ponderous, while at the same time shying away from the implications of the "history" -- then #2 and #3 are accurate. McKellan has the juiciest role, the one most in the spirit of my hypothetical film. And the film would have been better if it had been more "offensive" and done in a completely different tone.

Andrew Fletcher

I'm glad I could start such a lively conversation! I rarely partake in the 'blogosphere' because so many have trouble keeping polite; but those without ideas often shout the loudest (just look at Washington this election year.) Amy, I realize that your airtime was short, and you responded well to the questions you were asked. My true complaint was in the way you were introduced and represented. Too many viewers will interpret "freelance writer" (Mr. Gibson's introduction) very differently then the way you describe yourself: "Catholic freelance." It would have been very helpful to know what direction you were coming from, and that was not provided.

In addition: everyone's opinion is valid and everyone's faith is valid. However, everyone's facts are NOT. Yes, I believe the apple is red, but I also can verify it with a spectrometer that tells me how red. Much of our collective human history has been lost to the realm of conjecture unfortunately, and it is wisest to use all our resources - not just one book - to piece it together. In the law as transmitted through Moses it took two witnesses to condemn a murderer (Numbers 35:30.) When I look at history, especially hotly debated portions of history, I do not exclude some texts on the basis of an organization's claim that they are 'heretical' - or, differently said, not in the interest of that organiztion.

I make no excuses for Dan Brown - the Da Vinci Code is just this side of pulp fiction and I predict it will be nearly forgotten in a matter of a decade. I ask though, after seeing many of the titles written (and I reckon, read) on the topic: If your faith was so strong in the first place, why read (or write) yet another book to validate or assuage it? It would seem that the Da Vinci Code has hit a nerve. If it doesn't mean anything why such a big deal from the opposite camp?

Amy is absolutely right; it is just a movie and just a book. But no matter what we attempt to prove, we make it constructive by turning it into a civil conversation. Thanks for coming along folks.

*My recent blog entry happens to be in a negative tone, and I apologize to any who were offended by the comment. I believe in full disclosure however, and you all are free to conclude what you will.

Maclin Horton

Nice response, Andrew. Hang around Catholics for a while and you'll discover that what we mean by "faith" is much more complex, subtle, and substantial than its casual usage.

Your quest for alternative historical sources (alternative to Christianity) for accounts of what happened is doomed, or at least limited, almost by definition, since, almost by definition, anything that the early Christians recognized as being a true account of events became a Christian source.

Also, be aware that the most fundamental objection of Catholics to the DVC is its errors (to put it kindly) in matters of widely acknowledged fact. It's not that it says Jesus is not divine. People say that every day. It's that it presents as historical evidence things that are known (as much as these things can be know) to be false.

MissJean

Andrew, I reacted with laughter to DVC when I read it. Then I became concerned because I started running into educated people in my master's program (both teachers and professors) who LOVED the book and treated it as carefully-researched albeit fictional account of true events. That concerned me quite a bit, especially when some of them were planning to become history teachers themselves.

But as it became more and more popular, I started hearing regular people talking about Opus Dei as akin to the KKK or the No Nothings. One particularly bad experience was being in a doctor's waitingroom in which the receptionist was telling a patient how "most of" the pedophile priests belonged to Opus Dei. (And she got so angry when I gently corrected her that I let it go.) Now, these people knew NOTHING about Opus Dei and had only passing knowledge of Catholicism. But they consider the novel to be based in truth.

The only thing I've seen similar to this was after the original Beverly Hills Cop movie and people started quoting a "study" about the average amount of undigested meat that is in a person's colon. It was actually a quote by a nutty character - to show how odd he was - but for some reason it ended up as a random fact in people's minds. But that didn't hurt anyone.

But the Da Vinci Code has hit a nerve because, although it's a dimestore thriller, it slurs a whole group of people. Kicking up a fuss about the inaccuracies and outright lies may dissuade a BETTER author from writing a more literary novel in the same line.

Bender

Actually, the Sentinel (1977) wasn't half bad. It has the always creepy John Carradine, and very, very early works for Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, and Tom Berenger.

Eileen R

Andrew, forgive us if we misunderstood you, but you see, most of the people who show up on this blog these days take exactly the opposite approach to yours when it comes to historical facts. I've seen some pretty bizarre claims from DVC fans about history, and when I've pointed them out, the usual response is something about everyone having a right to their own faith.

I don't think that anyone *here* dismisses the gnostic sources as a historical record because they're heretical. Certainly not Amy.

Aaron

Amy,

Many thanks for you input into the Australian Catholic Stuents Association's website in response to the Da Vinci code.

Site was launched yesterday www.thetruthdecoded.org.au
and has been supported by a number of key Australian Catholics.

anon

Entertainment Tonight broadcast the one positive review(the New York Post) and the final sentence of the BBC review which was otherwise negative, but closed with a claim that this movie will be a commercial success, to give the impression that all reviews were positive and this movie is a must see. What a bunch of shills!
And the media wonders why it is held in such low esteem.

Mark Windsor

If your faith was so strong in the first place, why read (or write) yet another book to validate or assuage it?

I think your initial assumption is incorrect. It's not a matter of validating or assuaging our/Amy's faith, it's a matter of being true to the Truth when confronted by someone whose faith is weak, or has no faith at all.

A case in point is my mother. I was presented, one bright and sunny day, with a copy of DVC and told I should read it. "You'll learn a lot about that church you go to," I was told. There were then explanations about how the Church had done all manner of horrid things in its past to maintain its vast power over...well...everything. My mother goes to a new-age church; she believed DVC as a matter of history, not as a work of fiction. The primary reason she believed it was the authors manner of writing, with notations to such works as the Gnostic Gospels...an index...a bibliography...all hallmarks of serious history (however you'd care to define that, these days).

I didn't have to read Amy's book (or Shea's or Miesel's) to debunk DVC, but there are a fair number of people out there that haven't taken as many history classes as I have. For them, one of the debunking books is essential.

I understand your point about checking sources that both confirm and deny facts, but why would that apply to Amy in the present situation? She wasn't writing history, per se, and as Maclin pointed out above, the historiography of the subject can be a challenge if you don't want to take "Christian" sources as historical documents (as some refuse to). (And doesn't that just leave us with Josephus, and his was second hand info.)

Veritas, quid est veritas?

Maureen O'Brien

Pliny the Younger's letter to Trajan is pretty darned informed on what Christians did, and how they worshipped Christ "as a god".

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/pliny.html

"Others of them that were named in the libel, said they were Christians, but presently denied it again; that indeed they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, some three years, some many more; and one there was that said he had not been so these twenty years. All these worshipped your image, and the images of our gods; these also cursed Christ. However, they assured me that the main of their fault, or of their mistake was this:-That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [oath] not to do anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal, which they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles. These examinations made me think it necessary to inquire by torments what the truth was; which I did of two servant maids, who were called Deaconesses: but still I discovered no more than that they were addicted to a bad and to an extravagant superstition."

It's on the Net lots of other places, too, in various translations.

We have a whole book of Pliny's letters, you know, including huge amounts of his other correspondence with the Emperor Trajan. (Another spectacular letter is the one he wrote about how his father, Pliny the Elder, died with the Roman fleet, trying to rescue people in Pompeii from Vesuvius' eruption.)

http://www.bartleby.com/9/4/

David

Man, Andrew, that IS a dapper hat. That's a fact. ;)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v487/witlash/Myself.jpg

Andrew Fletcher

Thanks David, I liked the hat a lot as well. That was four years ago at my first prom, and alas the hat was a rental. It is my firm opinion that hats are underutilized these days, and I try and employ them whenever appropriate.

As we all have read, "Faith without works is dead," so it should please you all to know that the more I look into Amy Welborn's work, the more I respect her faith.

Gerard E.

The above response from Andrew makes the whole kerfuffle worthwhile. The whole experience will be a blessing. For The Church.

Mark Windsor

Once again, Gerard sums everything up perfectly in 3 sentences.

JOSE DIAZ

I am 64, having long time ago acquired Bachelor's Degrees in Philosophy, Economics, a Masters Degree in Business, by serious falls some Catholic wisdom. I try to prevent nieces and nephews from taking in too much of trash culture. When told I was tsk! tsk! narrow minded for putting down TDVC without reading the novel or viewing film. My response was, "how can you call 100s of Millions of viewers of EWTN closed minded, most, I venture agree with the judgement TDVC is blasphemy? Are there any statistics on these viewers of good judgement? I have no doubt that a count would confirm my confidence.

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