[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball


daily dose of schadenfreude: da vinci code edition

from last sunday's sermon by fr. davenport (i'll link the rest when it's up on our sermons page):
while i’m sympathetic to these offended christians, my pride is far too fierce to allow myself to be worked up by a tawdry artifact of popular culture. i admit that i’ve not read the book [the da vinci code], and highly doubt that i’ll see the film. my avoidance derives not from moral outrage, not from disgust by its blasphemy, but from aesthetic disdain. trusted friends and critics, including non-christians, dismissed it as literary trash. indeed, in the few excerpts I’ve read, the writing is atrocious . . . .
indeed. i can't really understand why some catholics are up in arms, even urging legal action over the movie, when by all rights it should be the folger shakespeare library or somebody suing dan brown for irreparably damaging the reputation of the english language (was that harsh?). there's no accounting for taste. nevertheless, i was happy to read critics panned the film @ cannes. "panned @ cannes." has a nice ring to it.

update: rlp posted some thoughts about the dvc that i just got around to reading.


  • At 12:07 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pryor said…

    I've heard more than one story of non Christians using the Da Vinci Code as their rational for dismissing Christianity.

    I'm not sure a high brow snubbing of Brown's literary ability is the best reponse to a clear cultural challenge to the truth of the Gospel.

    On the other hand I've never understood those who protest non Christian culture for being authenically non Christian.

    The book and movie are real challenges to our commission and real opportunities through which I pray the Holy Spirit moves.

  • At 9:36 PM, Blogger sammy said…

    i remember people coming into the bookstore back in marblehead and commenting, in whispers, about how the truth was finally coming out about the church. it was surreal. but it's not all that hard to see what it is about the dvc that appeals to 21c americans.

    i admit to snubbing brown's literary ability (and i maintain he deserves it), but i agree that the opportunity is there for xtns to use this to engage the culture, just as philip did w/ the eunuch in acts 8 (which was the point of lane's sermon on sunday).

    and thanks for checking in, jerm. i missed you.

  • At 5:30 PM, Blogger Josiah said…

    Seems to me that if a work like the davinci code (upon which i am wholly unqualified to comment, having never read/seen it) serves as the grist for the refusal of a non-xtn to accept the gospel, or justification for that refusal, it has more to do with our failure as xtns to give an accurate portrayal of the substance and form of our faith than some crappily written book. (from what i understand, snubbing of brown's writing ability has no need to be highbrow. medium works just fine.)

    in my limited experience, someone who does not wish to engage or believe in the gospel is going to find justification for that position in the shape of squirrel poop, if they have to.

    although none of this is to say that the book/movie is not a challenge to our comission, etc., but i would suggest they are more in the nature of symptoms than diseases unto themselves.

    that's right. i wrote "squirrel poop." i'm ok with it.

    and sammy, why didnt you tell me you were blogging again? do you understand the depths of procrastination i had to reach to remember you had this thing?

  • At 12:55 AM, Blogger sammy said…

    just an update: while in florida, renee' and i caught a matinee of dvc. i still think the book is a bad book, and the movie wasn't much better, but i don't think i'm being highbrow in dissing it. i don't claim to be highly cultured or an intellectual. i've been trying to quit spit tobacco for 20 years, which is about as lowbrow as you can get, i suppose. i only understand snippets of faulkner, and i lived in his hometown, for heaven's sake. nevertheless, dvc was a poorly written book, objectively speaking, as was each and every volume of the "left behind" series (i actually read two, but i'll venture a guess that the rest were just as vacuous).

  • At 2:16 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pryor said…

    Anyone who has multiple graduate degrees and uses the word "vacuous" has a brow higher than most.

    I'm a bit fascinated by the eastern vs. western response to the film. Asian Christians seemed so appalled and they were able to get the film censored or banned. We are basically dismissive of its impact.

    Why the divergence?

    On Brown's skill I guess ever since Tolkien and Lewis were entirely dismissed as escapist novelists whose fictional writings continue to be ignored or mocked by literary critics I've begun to lift my brow at those who dismiss books for bad writing.

    Writing quality is a fair part of any critique of a book but if that book has won mass appeal, especially if its poorly written, is its content not an even better reflection of our culture (or subculture as in the case of Left Behind). And it's the cultural question that I find most relevant. The authors themselves become archetypical symbols of the masses as opposed to simply good or bad authors and a critic on them can likewise be leveled against a large portion of society.

    Therefore if someone feels that enganging the topic is beneath them (as apparently was not the case with Lane) then I feel that shows at least a bit of pretense.

    Speaking of which - time to watch the American Idol finale again...

  • At 12:33 AM, Blogger sammy said…

    good point, jeremy. interestingly enough, i heard on npr that some muslim country banned the film b/c it was scandalous to xtns, so what does that say about our culture? still, my point is not that the film shouldn't be shown or the book published -- i'm almost an absolutist where the 1st amendment is concerned -- but i don't shy away from criticizing a book for being shoddily written. but then again, i'm a book snob (or renee' says i'm one). i didn't even realize that the literati poo-pooed on tolkien and lewis, but even so, their books are so much better than brown's. i read "angels and demons" too, and it's not much different.

    but i appreciate what you're saying, and i'm glad you said it b/c i was sort of looking for a way to engage the book and the craze, and i guess i just de facto laid an literary ad hominem on it. i wouldn't dismiss someone i met on the subway that wanted to talk about xtianity in light of the book, so why would i automatically dismiss brown himself out of hand? you're right that the pressing issue is the culture's embrace of the book/movie and the gnosticism that pervades the west (xtns included). thanks for the thoughts, man.

  • At 12:47 AM, Blogger sammy said…

    one more interesting thing -- i just looked back over a post from last june (http://cubswn.blogspot.com/2004/06/dave-barry-da-vinci.html), and i had commented on how even dave barry had criticized brown for writing a bad novel (the link to barry's column didn't work anymore, so i don't know exactly what he wrote). you know you're spending too much time on a blog when you forget about a thread you started a year ago. i need a real job.


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