The Round-Earth Conspiracy
I had an unexpectedly hectic weekend that left little time for reflection, but I did manage to write the following letter to the local archdiocesan weekly in response to a rather peculiar letter that recently appeared there:
To the Editor:
I have not read The DaVinci Code or seen the movie, but I've followed the controversy with great interest. And I'm struck by a pattern which I've seen again and again on the part of the book's defenders. They begin by insisting that "it's only fiction," and that the book's critics are being stupid and unreasonable in objecting to its portrayal of the Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy.
But in the next breath they talk about it as if it were true: they like it because of what it teaches them about history--because it reveals the real Jesus (meaning one who was not the Son of God), because it exposes the Church's suppression of the sacred feminine, and so on.
The letter from Anthony Stojak in your June 30 issue seems to exhibit this pattern, although I admit I'm not entirely sure I understand Mr. Stojak, and I hope I'm not doing him an injustice.
He begins by saying that the book is fiction and that it did nothing to shake his faith in Jesus as the Second Person of the Trinity. But a couple of paragraphs later he is denouncing the Church for slandering Mary Magdalene, notwithstanding that it considers her a great saint, and seeing some sort of unspecified malign intent in the Church's treatment of the non-canonical gospels, ending with the suggestively unanswered question "What were they trying to hide?" He then goes on to suggest that Opus Dei conspired with the Vatican to "lower the ratings" (I'm not sure what that means) of the movie.
So which is it? Are the book and the movie harmless fun, or do they advance plausible accusations of a sinister cover-up perpetrated for nearly two thousand years by the Church? And if you think the Church is hiding something important, why would you trust it to tell you the truth about something as esoteric as the doctrine of the Trinity and as important as your salvation?
If someone made a movie which involved the "fact" that the world is flat and that a sinister conspiracy of round-earthers is responsible for suppressing the truth, it could be a lot of fun. But I would be concerned if I heard people leaving the theater asking each other "What are those round-earthers trying to hide, anyway?"