Only weak faith can be shattered by fiction
Author Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” has become the Last Supper of the Catholic faith to some, the crucifixion of the New Testament to others, and yet the resurrection of quick-read, pulsating, compelling fiction to most. Some Catholics think that the book will prove to be the Sermon on the Mount turned upside down with feet in heaven, but head in hell.
It’s so easy for many people to confuse being faithful with being religious. To me, having faith is simply believing in your chosen religion. I am also of the opinion that having an abundance of faith is not ensured by how many times you practice your religion. I believe it is how you live your life that is the pure practice of religion. Let me put it this way: I’ve met many people who have faith in God, but they seldom, if ever, attend Mass. Yet they treat people lovingly and live their lives with much gratitude. I’ve also met many people who transform interchangeable faces beneath the masks that hide ingenuous hearts. These are the same people who ceremoniously make it public that they attend Mass morning and evening several times a week, and accept the Eucharist of Christ – the Bread of Life – as many times a week as they can – their self-imposed market price for first-class seating on life’s flight to heaven. That is to say, as many times a week as they can be seen by their neighbors or fellow parishioners, or better yet be acknowledged by their pastor.
Some of those same people – certainly not all – are calling for an exorcism of the plot of “The Da Vinci Code.” Last I remember, it’s just a book. Only a book. A bestseller. One that happens to be the king of kings of hardcover book sales nationwide. Someone found the book’s plot to be intriguing. Some 60.5 million people in fact. Add on pass-along readers, and you have nearly 62 million readers in all. The newly released movie with Tom Hanks is sure to be box-office manna, whether it’s good or not, and what I’ve read so far from several notable critics is that the film has all the excitement of paying bills at the end of the month.
How many people have lost their faith because of this book? I’m not asking who is now questioning their religion. I’m asking how many people who have read this book have lost their faith? I dare say few. Closer to the truth, probably none. Those possible few who did couldn’t have had much faith to begin with to be so easily swayed by a fictitious plot.
Does the ghastly murder that is part of a conspiracy to cover up the life that Jesus Christ “really” lived at the beginning of “The Da Vinci Code” sound familiar? Some conservative Catholics’ lights are turned off by the thought of cover-up possibilities in the Church. No kiddin’? Well, then what about all the cover-ups of priests-turned-sexual canines? Little boy du jour is not dirt that should be swept under the confessional booth door.
Twenty-five years ago, my belief in all priests being the carriers of the Word of God was unconditional. Childlike in my confidence, I would have thought someone to be blasphemous had they thought otherwise. Then came the charges against Cardinal Bernard Law – the archbishop of the Boston archdiocese – in 2002. The diocese that for years schemed a cover-up of their sexual abuse, but then paid the devil with a sinfully high $150 million in legal settlements in the past three years for just the Boston archdiocese (no small wonder why they reported a deficit of $46.3 million for 2004 and 2005).
That’s only one – get that? – one of 195 dioceses in the United States, which includes 146 Latin Catholic Dioceses, two Eastern Catholic Archdioceses and 15 Eastern Catholic Dioceses.
A parade of sex offenders, uniformed with turned-around collars – started marching in formation from behind the camouflage of their alters. Marching … one, two, one, two, one, two … Companyyyyy … Halt! At ease. Marching they came, seemingly one right after another. The name of priest and pedophile became the same thing. Did it shake my faith? No. Make that a conclusive “No.”
Then, five years ago, a priest (a monsignor) who married my wife and me, my brother and his wife, my sister and her husband, and baptized our daughter, every one of my brother’s four children and my sister’s three children, was charged with having sex with a 13-year-old boy several years earlier. Oral sex with a 13-year old boy! And it was swept away – covered – like nothing happened. Covered up like … hmm …
The fictitiously depicted life of Christ in “The Da Vinci Code?” Nah … Couldn’t be.
Did my belief in that priest – that monsignor – waver? Did it fall? It disintegrated. Totally, like a meteor bolting from the boundless sky above, it disintegrated. Did my faith in God waver? Did it fall? Not a bit. It was and remains stronger than ever.
The religion in which I place my faith was never there because of any one priest anyway. It was my faith in God that prevailed.
So, my point is, among those who criticize “The Da Vinci Code,” someone is lying. Closet readers. Like a teenager hiding his porn mags under his mattress. Again, many among the 60 million readers are lying three times to themselves and others as the cock crows.
C’mon, it’s a book. Just a book, for God’s sake. You can either read it as the fiction it is, or be tempted by the fruits of its deception – the same deception that can be found in any fictitious book or movie that fuses just enough facts with fabrication to make you ponder its validity.
If it causes anyone to rethink or lose their faith, then they never had any faith to begin with.
– John DiMambro is group publisher of Sierra Nevada Media Group, parent company of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He writes for the Carson City Nevada Appeal.
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