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May 18, 2006

Comments

Kale

Wow Amy, that was beautiful--clear and thoughtful. Thank you.

Claude Heyman

Bravo, Amy. This too will pass. The hype about DVC must not deter us from that single aim: to know Christ and make Him known.

Incidentally, I saw you on the Da Vinci Code Deception DVD (presided over by Erwin Lutzer?) at the Protestant bookstore I work in. It's being heavily promoted here in the Republic of South Africa. It was good to see Catholic faces (eg Steven Kellmeyer alongside) amidst the shelves of Benny Hinns & Rebecca Browns.

Maclin Horton

Hank Hill is a great American.

McDuck

The Evangelicals, it seems, were stuck with a quandary: their natural impulse to defend Jesus was competing with their pleasure at seeing someone poke their finger in the Church's eye. The DVC is certainly anti-Christian, but more to the point, it's anti-Catholic. Despite the obvious progress of the Catholic-Evangelical relationship, anti-Catholicism is in the very marrow of Evangelical Christianity. If nothing else, DVC exposed that most Protestants will shrink from confronting raw and naked blasphemy against Christ if it might mean defending the Church in the process.

Steve T

I never liked the idea of encouraging people to see the movie. That seems ludicrous to me. But I can understand accompanying someone who is going to see the movie anyway. I'm not planning to see it, and do discourage people from allowing Brown and Sony to profit from it, but I think it might present an opportunity in the case I just mentioned.

Jack Bennett

Wonderful summation, Amy. You are a fantastic writer.

McDuck, I agree with you. Its sad too. I haven't a doubt in my mind that if the RCC was the "villain" of the DVC and the book just attacked Christianity and the Divinity of Christ in general, many Evangelicals would not be in such a rush to "dialogue" with the film.

Daniel Mitsui

One Orthodox writer told me, "We have a day where we commemorate Arius' death."

When is that, by the way?

CaesarMagnus

One thing that this has gotten me to think about is how studios are not going to learn a lesson. Certainly there are calls for boycotts and maybe the movie might even flop. But will that have much impact?

No, it's not very likely. Why? Because people will just forget about it and continue to support other ventures of those involved. Most people who are calling for boycotts of the DaVinci Code, will most likey go to see the next Tom Hanks film, or the next Sony Pictures movies. In the long run, the bad controversy will be good for the studio and will never really spill over into future projects. They will just think, "OK, this one was a dud, lets find our next potential money-maker." And people just curl-up and allow the studios and Hollywood to do whatever they want.

I think if anyone really wants to call for a boycott and if those involved really want to learn a lession, the boycott should extend to future projects as well.

Just my two cents.

Steve T

That's funny, McDuck, because I've heard just the opposite from evangelical theologians.

There's a lot of common ground here, between Catholics and Protestants generally, and I think solidarity on these matters (and other social concerns) is important. So I would have no problem pointing out to people how TDVC mischaracterizes the Catholic church. (I just posted a comment - see here - on Amy's blog earlier today giving an argument for TDVC being motivated by anti-Catholic bigotry.)

I think you ought to be careful not to paint with too broad a brush, or to substitute one conspiracy theory for another...

Frank Sheed

Amy,

Scott Hahn wrote a beautiful book on the Mass called "The Lamb's Supper." In it he detailed his discovery of the Mass and how much of the book of Revelation he felt was linked to it. After he began to set down his thesis on paper, he learned that the Church Fathers knew this in the early centuries! He had simply repeated what was already known!

I keep an indispensable book, "The Teachings of the Church Fathers" by Fr. John R. Willis, S.J. (Ignatius Press) directly beside my favorite reading chair. Whenever I ask myself, "why does the Church teach this?", I look it up in the book. It is a marvelous book compiling all Church teachings and snippets from the Fathers who wrote of them. I commend this book to all.

It seems in this discussion of the Da Vinci Code, we have become aware of the fact that we don't know enough of how we got HERE from there.

Frank

Old Zhou

It all comes down to:
Lex orandi, lex credendi.

When you replace the (often ancient, sometimes even non-canonical) (entire) Liturgy with OCP, feel good, pop tune worship songs, with homilies that often present a Ehrman-esque view of canonical Scripture, and a move toward minimalism and modern efficiency of worship, well, what do you expect?

People will go for any mystery they can find. Because the human being needs mystery, in the spiritual sense.

In the spiritual desert that makes up so much of modern American Catholic life (not just Mass on Sunday, but 24x7), so pre-occupied with challenging authority and sexuality issues, with keeping the Church out of "private life," is it any surprise that so many follow the illusions, especially those that involve challenges to authority and sexuality issues?

We don't really need more teachers and books telling us what is wrong with DVC. Dueling "scholars" will not feed souls.
What we need is bishops and priests and catechists that will lead us into a real spiritual and human living of the Catholic life in our daily, normal life, sustained by a rich banquet of the (actual) liturgy rather than "not disapproved" junk food, supplemented by Protestant Bible Study.

When we get back on the road to the heavenly Zion, we won't be interested in silly stories about the fraudulent "Priory of Sion."

Clare Krishan

Amy - bless you for all you've done!
You deserve a medal (is there such a thing in US ecclesiastical circles? we "Old Europe" types enjoy our pomp and circumstance!)

Think of it as gardening: all good fruit needs well-rotted compost (the kind that's so hot and sweet, all the neighborhood cats sleep on it) - the little fig tree that is my souls has been nourished by the often-turned and thoroughly aerated scraps of soggy, smelly refuse you collected and applied to the soil where the roots of our conscience anchor itself! Now be assured of rest, and let God, the Holy Spirit, do the watering! As Julian of Norwich says "All will be well, and all manner of things will be well"

Maureen O'Brien

I've learned through my podcasting that the Fathers, while interesting to read, are a zillion times more interesting to read out loud or listen to. Their idea of reading involved vocalization, and that seems to be the way to go with all Classical literature. (For example, Aristotle's Poetics makes a really excellent audiobook, and I'm very grateful for finally being exposed to its entirety, instead of the three sentence summary we got in drama class.)

I've also learned that anybody who willingly agrees to study Gnostic literature and thought is exposing himself to swamps of overportentous silly gloop. (I'm particularly fond of the bit where we learn that consonants submit to the hidden gods.) It is no wonder that Irenaeus occasionally decides to break into his analysis in Against Heresies with deliberately humorous commentary. If you had to write all that gloop down, you'd be cracking jokes about Cucumber and the Gnostic Mel-ons, too.

(So basically, Elaine Pagels is more to be pitied than censured. Her theories are her brain's desperate attempt to save itself from gloopicide.)

Brigid

Hurray!

The movie bombed!

Now we can get back to bombing each other in St. Blog's rather than others elsewhere!

Let's just roll up the carpet and move on!

susan

I love Old Zhou's comment about the rich banquet of the liturgy where we are fed. Actually I love everything that Old Zhou writes but I digress.. Protestants have gone from The prayer of Jabez to TPOTC to Narnia and now when DVC is over I'm almost afraid of what 'The Next Big Thing' will be. I'm praying it will be the discovery of the Early Fathers.

Ellen

We used to have a priest who would refer to
the Matthean author, the Johannine author, the Lucan author, the Marcan author and the Pauline author. Drove me crazy.

Tim F.

susan,

You forgot about "The Purpose Driven Life".

TSO

Amen. Until I was in my late 30s the only exposure I had to the historicity of the gospels was the annual Time & Newsweek Jesus Seminar stories. Ten years ago I was fertile ground to be duped by Dan Brown not because of stupidity but because of ignorance.

John Cox

The preacher to the papal household, Fr. Cantalamessa, touched on some of the DVC issues in his Good Friday sermon at St. Peter's, which I saw on television.

Here's the link:

http://www.cantalamessa.org/en/2006quaresima-venerdisanto.htm

Intriguingly, he then makes a leap from the inadequacies of the gnostic gospels to the "fullness of the riches in Christ" by then looking at Benedict's encyclical, Deus Caritas Es.

Fascinating sermon from a fascinating preacher.

Michael Barber

The real wake up call is for Catholics - we need to be involved with the media. That's why John Paul the Great University - a Catholic school training people for working in the Media - is so key, as I've been blogging about. See their sight: www.jpcatholic.com

Catholic bloggers, we need to get the word out on this school. They really need help.

Marty Helgesen

In 1976 there was a book published with the title "More of Jesus, Less of Me". Written by Joan Cavanaugh and published by Logos, it was a weightloss book. Looking at Amazon I see that there are related books, "Slim for Him" by Patricia Banta Kreml and "Faithfully Fit: A 40 Day Devotional Plan to End the Yo-You Lifestyle of Chronic Dieting" by by Claire Cloninger and Laura Barr.

vox climantis

"But here, in some cases, that line was crossed - instead of using the cultural moment to evangelize, some allowed the cultural moment to use them, to define their approach."

Very sharp. I'd say this describes both the DVC and Post Vatican II chaos equally well, passivity aside. The problem will be long with us.

Epovick

Right on, Old Zhou, right on.

Jon W

I cannot count the number of homilies I have heard in which the emphasis is on how this evangelist or that constructed a certain gospel account. "Here, Matthew has Jesus..." or "In this passage, Luke has Jesus say..."

It is a technique that immediately puts a distance between the Gospel accounts and the events they describe.

This drives me nuts, too. Especially since they don't realize that when they do this they are actually implicitly asking a question that has no answer (Is this, historically, what happened?), and then answering it (No, it's not what historically happened.), when in fact they should be asking whether it's true and answering "yes".

Everybody wants to show off their oh-so up-to-date scholarship by letting the hoi polloi see glimpses of the arcane esoteria of modern biblical exigeses. It is, frankly, a real temptation for every teacher to play the guru.

Mike Walsh, MM

Amy,

I enjoyed hearing you Tuesday night in Cleveland [and I recommend her as a speaker to anyone]. But yes, it would be great to hear you on some other topic, too.

With regard to what you write here, I've always thought we lost at least a generation to bad catechesis. I forget sometimes how many priests have been damaged by bad seminary training. It is a constant struggle to overcome my own. Your example of the historical-critical padre is just another instance of clerical vanity filling in where real learning is lacking. He is probably a chronic liturgy-tamperer, too.

Regards

Mary Kay

Amy, a very thoughtful post, as usual. However, I have to make a small disagreement. While poor or absent catechesis is a very large factor, there are people who resist even if you had them the facts on a plate in Ready To Digest form.

On another site, I've had endless "discussions" with self-identified Catholics who said they enjoyed DVC. When I suggest that they learn more about their faith, they virtually flip their hair, and say either they know it all already or they "don't have time." (but yet have time to read DVC and post on discussion sites)

I was flamed for suggesting that a poster seek an apologetics site for an answer to his "serious (theological) question."

So yes, the catechesis is needed, and you've done a great job. But there's also a huge resistance to the Truth.

Fr Martin Fox

Forgive my cynicism, but I just wonder if there isn't one more shoe to drop: a lot of reviews haven't been published yet; will they try to "rescue" the DaVinci Code at this point? Hmmm . . .

Old Zhou

Compare this:

Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should ... have eternal life” (3:16).
and this:
In seinem Evangelium hatte Johannes dieses Ereignis mit den folgenden Worten ausgedrückt: ,,So sehr hat Gott die Welt geliebt, daß er seinen einzigen Sohn hingab, damit jeder, der an ihn glaubt ... das ewige Leben hat’’ (3, 16).

The German, as Pope Benedict wrote, is properly translated, "In his gospel John expressed this event with the following words..."

Our English translator removes any Apostle as personal author of the Gospel, and makes the canonical fourth Gospel some objective, distant thing, no doubt controlled by the male-dominated authorities of the Church: "Saint John's Gospel describes that event in these words..."

This sort of Ehrman-esque thinking is everywhere, even in the mind of the English translator doing "Deus Caritas Est" for the Vatican.

Adam

When you replace the (often ancient, sometimes even non-canonical) (entire) Liturgy with OCP, feel good, pop tune worship songs, with homilies that often present a Ehrman-esque view of canonical Scripture, and a move toward minimalism and modern efficiency of worship, well, what do you expect?

Zhou, what's an OCP? I'm not being cute, I really don't know.

Songs that make me feel good contribute to DVC madness? (How??) So, all our songs should make me feel bad? That would be better why? What if Salve Regina makes me feel good? Does that mean we need to throw it out? (I'd remind you that Salve Regina has made people feel good in every generation since it was written, or it wouldn't be here.)

Who or what is "Ehrman-esque"? This refers, apparently, to some "Ehrman". Who is he/she?

Further, you are questioning the authority of the Second Vatican Council maybe?

I can be reasonably happy with the Novus Ordo (I was reasonably happy with the Tridentine rite, but no more than that) without signing up with albino monks or whatever it is with DVC. (I haven't read the book. It sounds like a bore, as does the movie.)

Adam

Zhou, for the love of God, who is this Ehrman?

Old Zhou

Dear Adam,

Bart.
Not Bart Simpson.
Bart Ehrman.

Mark Windsor

Amy, this is a wonderful summation, but...

2) There is widespread, abysmal ignorance about that historical core among the general public as well as among Christians.

I keep coming back to this idea, and I keep hitting a brick wall. We live in a society of abysmal ignorance. I tought college level geography for five years. I used to hand out a test at the beginning of every semester. It was simple: write in 25 locations on a map. Only about 25% of my students could identify Florida. About the same amount knew where our nations capitol was. A majority could find Europe, but couldn't identify that island (England).

History is the same thing. Ask anyone what date the Second World War started on in Europe, and when it ended. "Who's buried in Grant's tomb," is funny because so few people get it right; it's sad because so few people know why Grant has a tomb that matters (I actually knew a guy with a BBA, MBA, and a JD who asked me who they guy on the $50 bill was).

We live in an abysmally ignorant society, and I can't help but think that the catechetical problems of the Church are a mere reflection of that fact.

Old Zhou

Dear Adam again,

OCP. Oregon Catholic Press. Publishers of a large portion of "modern" liturgical stuff in the US.

No, our songs don't need to make us sad. And I really enjoy "youth oriented" liturgies with conga and djembe drums and reggae-style Salve Regina. But there is more to our faith than just that sort of thing, all the time.

I love Vatican II. I wish more people would actually read the documents from the Council, and actually pray the Novus Ordo mass as published. If not in Church, at least privately. And study it a bit. I mean, how many people realize that the offical "Entrance Antiphon" (rather than unoffical gathering song) for today's celebration of St. John I, pope and martyr, is from 4 Esdras, a book which was very, very popular in the Middle Ages, but now has totally slipped off the "Nova Vulgata" and "New American Bible," but is STILL in our liturgy? Most people don't even know what is the Vatican II liturgy, because they never hear it in church or study it on their own.

4 Esdras is much better than DVC.

John E

This is one of the most important reflections on this "cultural moment" that I have read. Thank you.

Adam

Oh thanks, Zhou. An academic in North Carolina, apparently, wherever that may be.

We should worry about him why?

Old Zhou

Amy, Adam want to know why we should worry about some obscure academic in North Carolina named Bart Ehrman.

Adam

Well, thanks for reversing your position, Zhou. Your original post attributed DVC madness, along with God alone knows what else, to "Liturgy with OCP, feel good, pop tune worship songs, with homilies that often present a Ehrman-esque view of canonical Scripture." Now we learn that OCP isn't a bad thing at all, nor is music that makes us feel good.

As to Professor Ehrman, of whom I have never heard, well, I have no opinion.

tim

old zhou's first post was right on.

i will also go further with the lex orandi, lex credendi theme, and observe that the traditional Mass and calendar demands and engenders a knowledge of our history and our faith. since becoming a traditionalist about a year ago, this reality is obvious to me.

amy, you do deserve a ton of credit on the DVC fight. thanks.

Old Zhou

Dear Adam,

May I ask where you are from, as you say you never heard of OCP or Ehrman?

My position is not changed at all.

It is still that if Catholics were actually richly nourished by the actual Vatican II (Novus Ordo) liturgy, as published in the 2002 Missal, the 1981 Lecionary, the 2000 Liturgy of the Hours, the Graduale Romanum, rather than the sloppy, sentimental, impromptu liturgical music and innovations, and often disturbing (in the bad sense) homilies that most people are subject to at the typical Mass, then things would be much better.

Fewer people would have unmet spiritual needs that draw them to believe garbage like DVC. But, compared to the "junk food" they are getting at Church, hey, DVC might not be so bad. At least it has classical art.

amywelborn

Bart Ehrman is the head of the religion department at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is a NT scholar, whose specialty is textual criticism. His most recent book, "Misquoting Jesus" which is, in part, a summation of his views that there were many early Christianities and that, essentially, the "real" Christianity is unknowable, was released in March or so, and by April had sold 250,00 copies. The most recent list of bestselling religion titles I saw it was still #1, outselling Rick Warren.

See the "Jesus Out of Focus" CT article linked below for more on Ehrman.

mulopwepaul

Adam seems to want us to have the impression he thinks that OCP writes the English liturgy.

Or he's just twisting Old Zhou's posts to try to obscure Zhou's point.

PVO

Rich Leonardi

Amy, a very thoughtful post, as usual. However, I have to make a small disagreement. While poor or absent catechesis is a very large factor, there are people who resist even if you had them the facts on a plate in Ready To Digest form.

True. We hammer away at catechetical elites because they take formal opportunities to instruct the faithful and squander them.

But the adults among the 65 million Catholics in the U.S. bear plenty of the responsibility too. So Fr. Feelgood and Sister Polyester didn't teach you a blasted thing in the 70's and 80's; what's your excuse now -- lack of time? You seem to have plenty of it for golf, college football, and bunko.

Commenter

Zhou, what you just wrote is the best and surest take on the DVC that I have seen. Amen.

Caroline

I am grateful for all NT scholarship and whatever light it can shed on the earthly life of Our Lord and His contemporaries. And in NT scholarship I include not only work on the written sources but also archaeological work. We are so fortunate to live in an age in which we can more likely touch the past as it really was than were our medieval ancestors whose efforts at imaginatively reconstructing the life of Jesus, Mary, etc. were largely limited to picturing their own surroundings and experiences which have become to a great extent the stuff of a piety which we cannot release.


I understand that a total and accurate reconstruction through modern methods of the time and space and culture in which Our Lord actually lived is probably impossible and whatever is reconstructed will be subject to challenge and re-reconstruction by future generations of scholars, but I welcome all of their work, including the work which will itself become obsolete and the work, the tentative conclusions thereof, will be temporarily disturbing to Catholics.

We know Jesus through His presence to us as Risen, Ascended, and Indwelling in each one through the Holy Spirit and He makes Himself known to us as such through His Church. More and more scholarly acquired light on the earthly life and teaching of Jesus as recounted in the Gospels can only help us to better know and understand Jesus as He is now.

And just as an earthly human living in Jewish and Mediterranean culture in the first century AD, I would think that Our Lord would shout only cheers for 20th and 21st century society reconstructing His long buried times in all their incarnational reality.

Ed the Roman

Old Zhou,

I think that 4 Esdras is not canonical in the West, although it is in the East.

Please don't ask me how that can be.

chris K

From:

http://www.thisislondon.com/showbiz/articles/22639469?source=PA&ct=5

Earlier in the day, Sir Ian accused the "powerful" people condemning The Da Vinci Code movie of snobbery towards cinema-goers, and said he thought the Catholic Church would like the film's central idea, that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, because it offered proof that Jesus was not gay.

The actor admitted that after he read Dan Brown's best-selling book he thought it was "codswallop".

Sir Ian said: "When I read the book I believed it entirely. I thought Leigh Teabing had answered his case very convincingly indeed.

"When I put the book down I thought 'What a load of potential codswallop'.
"That's still going on in my mind. But I'm very happy to believe that Jesus was married.

Say wha??

Maureen

The Liturgy of the Hours is a liturgy. And it includes readings from lots of non-canonical and even non-Bible books. (Saints' writings, for example.)

Old Zhou

Sir Ian: "he thought the Catholic Church would like the film's central idea, that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, because it offered proof that Jesus was not gay."

I really for sorry for this guy.

On the one hand, why does he think the Catholic Church needs any "proof that Jesus was not gay?" Next he'll be saying that it was good that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba because that offers proof that he was not gay. Hello? What planet is he on? Oh yeah...Planet Out.

On the other hand, didn't he see "Brokeback Mountain?" Since when does being married and having kids "prove" you are not gay?

At least Sophie's last line to Langdon was not, "If you can't change it, you just have to stand it."

ATP

I repeat my Cassandraesque lament that the movie will not, indeed, be a flop. Several people I know are jumping to be first in line for tomorrow's matinee. It has gotten to the point where I think some of my acquaintances are showing their true colors in their insistence that the film is all in good fun. I loved A.N. Wilson's point about the fact that nobody would make a movie like this about Muslims.

chris K

Peggy Noonan's take:

Speaking of the detachment of the elites, the second big news of the
week--in some ways it may be bigger--is the apparent critical failure
of "The DaVinci Code." After its first screening in Cannes, critics
and observers called it tedious, painfully long, bloated, grim, so-so,
a jumble, lifeless and talky.
There is a God. Or, as a sophisticated Christian pointed out
yesterday, there is an Evil One, and this may be proof he was an
uncredited co-producer. The devil loves the common, the stale. He
can't use beauty; it undermines him. "Banality is his calling card."

I do not understand the thinking of a studio that would make, for the
amusement of a nation 85% to 90% of whose people identify themselves
as Christian, a major movie aimed at attacking the central tenets of
that faith, and insulting as poor fools its gulled adherents. Why
would Tom Hanks lend his prestige to such a film? Why would Ron
Howard? They're both already rich and relevant. A desire to seem fresh
and in the middle of a big national conversation? But they don't seem
young, they seem immature and destructive. And ungracious. They've
been given so much by their country and era, such rich rewards and
adulation throughout their long careers. This was no way to say
thanks.

I don't really understand why we live in an age in which we feel
compelled to spoof the beliefs of the followers of the great
religions. Why are we doing that? Why does Hollywood consider this
progressive as opposed to primitive, like a pre-Columbian tribe
attacking the tribe next door for worshiping the wrong spirits?

"The DaVinci Code" could still triumph at the box office, but it has
lost its cachet, and the air of expectation that surrounded it. Its
creators have not been rewarded but embarrassed. Good. They should be.

Josh U.

Chris K. posts Peggy Noonan's comments and question: "Why does Hollywood consider this progressive?" Let's see. Imagine that someone invented a vicious and bogus narrative in which there was a group, in fact virtually outside of the real areas of social, cultural, and political authority and power. This group was, nevertheless, able to create an international conspiracy to subvert human rights, control power, and suppress truth, and had set up cells of murderous agents committing horrible crimes to forward its project by murder and corruption. Sound familar? The Catholic Church in the DVC? Well, yes, of course, everyone knows that. But, in fact, the story is the "Protocols of the Elders of Sion." It was the wisdom of the antisemites of Tzarist Russia. Imagine a movie made by Holywood based on those lies! Funny that they would celebrate the same kind of fraud today, so long as the Catholics replace the Jews. I suggest that we call the DVC by its true name "The Protocols of the Priory of Sion."

Jim McCullough

For the Big Papa version of Amy's point about the facticity of the Gospels, see "The Catechism's Use of Scripture" in Benedict's "Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church Up-to-Date?" (chapter 9 of On the Way to Jesus Christ [Ignatius Press]) One juicy bit: "...these historical events are significant for the faith only because faith is certain that God himself has acted in them in a specific way and that the events carry within themselves a surplus meaning that is beyond mere historical facticity and comes from somewhere else, giving them significance for all time and for all men. This surplus cannot be separated from the facts; it is not meaning subsequently imposed upon them from without; rather it is itself present in the event, even though it transcends mere facticity. This act of transcending is anchored in fact, and therein lies the significance of the whole biblical story."

mark

“Protestants have gone from The prayer of Jabez to TPOTC to Narnia and now when DVC is over I'm almost afraid of what 'The Next Big Thing' will be.”

“You forgot about "The Purpose Driven Life".

Susan, you also forgot the longest running fad of all - The Left Behind Series. What are they on, sequel number 666 now?

Now that was a stinker of a movie.

But seriously, when I started getting Catholic inclinations in 1999 and tried into dig into church history, my wife bought me "History of the Church" (Eusebius) from a Prot book catalog!!! And the 1st 4 centuries looked very Catholic to me.

Ed the Roman

Maureen,
I didn't mean to say that 4 Esdras shouldn't be read in Mass. I only meant to clarify why it isn't in recent bibles: it's apocrypha.

OUR apocrypha, that is. Not pseudepigrapha.

Donna V.

Hmmm. When I was still in grade school, "Jesus Christ, Superstar" was a huge hit. The progressive nuns at my parochial school played it for us in religion class and had us write papers on it. I enjoyed that; it was much more fun to sit around listening to a rock opera than it was to read the Gospels. If you remember, JCS did not present Christ as Lord and Savior, but as a confused hippie. Judas was a rather sympathetic character and Mary Magdelene was portrayed as being in love with Jesus. It was a total load. but it was also a huge blockbuster.

About 15 years down the road, you had the media storm over "The Last Temptation of Christ." That movie took up where JCS feared to tread. MM was attracted to the Jesus of the film - and this time, the attraction was mutual. But even Scorcese pulled his punches. The two were depicted as married, there was even a sex scene - but, don't worry, it's all just a hallucination! It reminded me of when we found out an entire season of "Dallas" episodes was the dream of one of the main characters.

So, in 35 years, we've gone from "what if Mary M. had a crush on Jesus?" to "what if Jesus really wanted to be married to MM and have children?" to DVC's absurd thesis that the two were indeed married and had a child. The biggest aid to this snowballing of heresies is the present-day notion that there's something deeply weird about chastity.

Michael

Donna, regarding JCS, you'll notice that two characters sing "I don't know how to love him": MM and Judas. MM has no context for understanding Jesus other than her prior relationships with men, but chooses to take a leap of faith; Judas faces the same choice, and kills himself. Load? Not really.

Dan

Thanks for all your work on this, Amy. I caught you on the Sci-Fi Channel last night and thought you (and the others) did a great job!

Christine

I think we need to place Amy and Old Zhou in seminary positions, especially in areas of liturgy and catechesis.

Now that might bring about much-needed reform of the reform.

My husband is very curious about DVC. He won't pay the movie ticket price but wants to watch on DVD when it comes out. I said fine, watch it when I'm not home, I'm not interested.

Note to self: dig up books on Apostolic/Sub-Apostolic Period, Church Fathers, Councils, Canon of Scripture, etc. etc. I'm gonna have a whole lot of 'splainin to do with him.

c matt

I do not understand the thinking of a studio that would make, for the
amusement of a nation 85% to 90% of whose people identify themselves
as Christian, a major movie aimed at attacking the central tenets of
that faith, and insulting as poor fools its gulled adherents

Well it may be 85-90% (nominal) Christian, but the country is still a good 50% anti-Catholic (for various reasons). And DVC is more specifically anti-Catholic than anti-Christian.

The one thing that I hope does come out of this whole Opie's Day debacle is that it dawns on people that you cannot attack the RCC without attacking the foundations of Christianity itself, because the two are really one and the same.

JP

"The one thing that I hope does come out of this whole Opie's Day debacle is that it dawns on people that you cannot attack the RCC without attacking the foundations of Christianity itself, because the two are really one and the same"

Well said c-matt

TSO

I think part of the Church's squeamishness about talking about gospel historicity is the fact that even orthodox scholars like Fr. Brown suggest the infancy narratives are difficult to reconcile. There's a sense the Church doesn't want to "go there" since if you say any part of the gospels is likely untrue you cast doubt on the whole thing.

It's no wonder that growing up it seemed like the field was left wide open to the likes of Dominic Crossan.

mulopwepaul

The infancy narratives are hard to timeline definitively, they're not irreconciliable.

The fact that historians don't want to pin down precisely which census we're talking about or what power exactly Quirinus held in Syria at that time does not invalidate the historicity of the infancy narratives.

PVO

Eric Scheidler

Amy—I think it should be said that what you say about the Orthodox applies equally well to Eastern Rite Catholics. Any of your Catholic readers curious to experience this sense of our strong historical link to Jesus, the Apostles and the Fathers can visit a Byzantine Catholic parish for a Sunday Liturgy.

Part of why the Orthodox and we Byzantine Catholics (or "Orthodox in Union with Rome") have preserved this link and avoided becoming distracted by questions of authorship or mediation by the communities from which the texts of the New Testament emerges is that we have a different attitude towards scripture in the first place.

The question of a particular scriptural text's authorship or origin, while interesting, is not nearly the important thing to the Eastern Christian . What's important is that the Church has handed this text to us as a reliable account of Jesus and His mission.

It is not that an adequate arsenal of evidence points to the authenticity of text X or Y, but that our entire faith experience points to the authenticity of the Church that vouches for the text X or Y as sufficient for teaching us what we need to know.

Whether Matthew wrote the gospel account that bears his name is in the end far less important than what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us through the Gospel of Matthew. And because we already are less concerned about this author called Matthew, we're more comfortable just calling him Matthew and leaving it at that—since it's not that important, just call him Matthew and get on with discovering Jesus Christ in the words the Holy Spirit caused him to write.

TSO

Good point Mulopwepaul.

MD

As for your description of the methodology of texts that describe the history of the early church ( Zanzig's "this is how we learn about the churches that produced these writings and what they believed about Jesus "), this tracks the technique used to demythologize science as well, as used by Kuhn in "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," in which Kuhn converted the logic of science to the history of science and thereby relativized it.

This is standard practice today, and it isn't limited to academic religion studies. It extends into all disciplines. History is used as a technique to relativize all narratives and all claims to truth. It's called the "Western historical consciousness," which is a tradition all its own, and requires its own relativization.

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