May 14, 2006

Da Vinci Continuum

Is how the muslim community protested against the Danish cartoon comparable to how the christian community is acting toward the da vinci code?

I answer with a story that Peter Kreeft recently told at the CS Lewis Conference at St. Edwards in Austin. He once taught a class at Boston College. where he had one jew, one muslim, and the rest of the 30 or 40 students were christian. One day, during break, the muslim asked about the discolored paint on the wall in the shape of a cross. A student told him that there used to be a cross there, but they took it down.

In response the muslim asked when they took it down (Kreeft thought this was a peculair question instead of asking why). The Jew interceded and explained how the laws changed a few years before, so for the school to continue to receive money from the gov't, Boston had to take the cross of the wall. The muslim then made a witty remark, "i hope you got more than 30 shekels of silver this time." No one laughed, because no one got it. Kreeft had to explain to the class Judas and the silver.

Then the Muslim proceeded to tell them he couldn't believe that they would take it down. He said that as muslims they hold jesus highly in regard as a prophet that will bring in the apocalypse. He then explained that in his country, if the laws all of a sudden changed and men with guns came into the room to take down the image of Jesus from the wall, the students would have surrounded the image and protected it with their lives, even attacking the gunman.

The difference between the muslims and christians is night and day. The muslims (even though i totally disagree with their methods, but i admire their zeal and passion for the sacred) did what they did out of their zeal for the sacred. Christians on the other hand are fighting the Da Vinci Code because of power, not out of protecting Jesus or his identity (it seems we care less about Jesus' real image because we don't protest the Jesus of the Republican Party). Dan Brown's book is ultimately questioning the power of the church. THIS is the problem then: power. Christians want it, but have already lost it and don't even realize it.


Richie said...

Though the particular Muslim in this anecdotal story might have said and believed this, it is not universal to all Islam just as is your take on why Christians are protesting “The Da Vinci Code”. I think it dangerous to categorically dismiss people, faiths, or even political parties.

Actually, the only person I know who is protesting the movie is doing so because the movie challenges Christ’s identity.

BTW, in the last presidential election, the use of “God” and “Jesus” by political parties was independently investigated. Based on their findings, perhaps your comment about politics would be more accurate if you directed it to the Democrat Party since they visited churches and evoked the name of Jesus or God three times more than Republicans.

Other than the “God Bless America” I occasionally heard from Republicans, the only time I recall hearing about Jesus and the Republicans was commentary from their political democrat challengers. I know you may not believe me, but the next time you hear God and politics discussed, be very careful WHERE you hear it and WHO is saying it. I have found at least on this subject it is not the republicans evoking the name of God but rather democrats saying that they do.

Personally, I think the movie lays out some old Gnostic theology that provides a door for the curious and evangelism.

JoeBum said...

The reason i used the republcan party is not to bash one party and the the other off, but I chose them immediately out of htought, because the the president is republican. They ahve the power right now.

So it wasn't a slant against either, both use Jesus abusively. Much of the time his name is evoked to gain votes or public favor.

So, every time I hear the incovation of GOd, whether by Republicam or Democrat i listen. The difference is, is that i don't agree with using God for political party agenda.

BTW, the Muslim in this story is typical from what i understand and who i know of muslims. Sorry, I don't agree.

Lastly, who did i categorically dismiss?

Richie said...

I understand that you were not specifically bashing the Republican Party, but if you were less specific like saying ‘politicians’ it would be less controversial.

There are certain politicians that I feel comfortable with asking for God’s help. Others I don’t feel that comfortable with but since I do not know them personally (only by what limited information provided to me by the press and those that speak of that individual), I can only hope they are sincere.

I agree that politicians in general use the name of ‘God’ too much. I see nothing wrong with asking God for help, even from those I do not respect.

I have found that the Muslims that live in this country and those that life abroad behave differently. I could tell you my own anecdotal story but it would be too long.

I took your statement “Christians on the other hand are fighting the Da Vinci Code because of power, not out of protecting Jesus or his identity” broad-brushing Christianity and dismissing those who truly are protecting Christ, not power.

Daniel said...

Does Christ need protecting? Does he want protecting?

Richie said...

Probably not the best choice of words, "protecting Christ". I do think history needs to accurately portrayed.

Using standards adopted by historians, the Gnostic concepts [re]introduced in the book are considered less authentic. When Dan Brown introduces them as fact, I can see why some get upset. I personally think this is a great opportunity. After talking with our priest, I invited our church to watch the Sunday matinee and come by the parish hall around 6 PM to discuss the movie.

BTW, the Killeen Daily Herald yesterday interviewed me concerning our churche's approach (St Christopher's Episcopal Church ,Killeen). You are welcome to come one and all. Their article will be published in Friday's edition.

Richie said...


BTW, it is difficult for me to believe your conclusions about all Muslims when in certain Islamic countries, like Saudia Arabia, you will be arrested for having a Bible.

I don't try and classify all Muslims as being fundamentalist extremists, but it is difficult to remain unbiased when you see all the negative.

JoeBum said...

It is exactly what I'm talking about, the idea and protection of the sacred that leads Muslims in Saudi Arabia to do such horrendous acts. They value monotheism in such a way that God cannot be manifest as man, no incarnation, therefore no Bible. It's not b/c they are anti-Jesus, they are anti-Messiah; Pro-Prophet. It's the bible's interpretation of who Jesus is that they so vehemently disagree with.

In the same way maybe that it is hard for you not to classify muslims, it's hard for me to not classify Christians. That is why so many of my arguments were so broad and maybe dismissing. So when you stand and say that it's hard for you to not just write off every muslim, then you must remember that there are muslims all over the globe who are thinking like you, that wish people would quit labeling them b/c of those who get the spotlight who don't really represent who they are anyways.

also, you say that history must be accurately portrayed. Here's my problem. The Gospels are history, but they are not. They cannot be proven or dismissed as myth. Much of history is that way, so it seems. History has been written by the winners through the winners eyes. Take america for example, the native americans would write a much different textbook than what is now used if they could. The great thing is that the NT wasn't written by winners, but by martyrs. BUT, it was put together by winners after constantine. We believe that the Jesus portrayed is historically correct in a sense, but others have the right to disagree, b/c it can't really be proven. OR can it? not by words by by life.

Richie said...

You are preaching to the choir. I could believe you about Muslims IF the grassroots would do something about the 'minority', but that has not happened in their religion which makes one think perhaps it is the 'peaceful' ones that are the minority.

Yes, I heard the old argument that it was the 'winners' that chose the Bible at Nicea. Though I would agree that it could happen with various historical documents, it didn't happen in this case. Why do I say this? Because of faith? Because of a blind trust? No!

I researched after reading The Da Vinci Code to see if any of the information presented was substantiated. I read the Nag Hammadi library. I have read early church writings and commentary.

Based on rules of historicity, gnostic writings are AT BEST second generation teachings and interpretations of Christ. When choosing what should be scripture the church fathers used certain criteria; authorship, usage of the writings by the early church (precedence), spiritual significance, etc. The Gnostic writings failed these. After reading them, I can see why. They lack something. It is like looking at a painting of a painting of Monet.

After my own personal studies, my faith has at least doubled in what we have (the Bible) is good canon. Now, I do not totally dismiss the Gnostic writings or other writings that did not make canon. I take them with a grain of salt because I do think some of the quotes of Christ might be true. I classify these writings like I do with the writings of McDowell, McClaren, Spong, NT Wright, Wesley, Luther, CS Lewis, etc.

Let's just say we disagree and leave it at that.

JoeBum said...

you can't say we disagree, b/c you don't know what or how i believe. I agree with much of what you are saying, and i certainly believe in the scriptures as the full and closed canon as we have it, except maybe the apocrypha. BUT, i do believe that it was still put together by winners. and I do not believe the historicity of can be proved exactly. We just have to believe that it is the truth that the authors are trying to write and we, the church, is rightly interpreting at the best of our ability.

I think one of my main points in this discussion is the post i wrote above about facts in the da vinci code. Sure, the gnostic gospels exist-that's fact, but NO, D brown doesn't believe they are the real deal, and what we got as our canon is a cover up. That's just good fiction...he's says it himself.

at the same time i wouldn't put the gnostic gospels and spong in the same category as nt wright or cs lewis, but i believe in the wesleyan quadrilateral, therefore those things in our tradition need to be respected just as much as scripture.

Finally, the picture you paint of muslims is still eerily similar of evangelicals. So , I would believe you about the Christian reaction against the Code, but they grassroots need to do something about those who are doing it of a power play. I'm just making a point, I hope I have made it clear, and not step on any toes. I may even be painting a bad picture, but the logic you are using against the muslims is the logic you say i can't use against evangelicals. (btw, i'm not sure if i said they were peaceful. i said they are violent or defensive out of sacred piety, not power struggle...although i admit this is not the case everytime, but i would guess that it's the underlying motive.)