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The Da Vinci Code has managed to sell an incredible number of copies in the past few years though I must be one of the very few people on the planet who have not purchased or read the book. Over Easter weekend, we watched a 2-hour special on the fact and fiction of the premise of the book largely because there was nothing else worth watching and the teaser mentioned something about the Catholic church being a bit pissed off about the whole thing. If the Pope is upset, it must be worth watching at least once. It was interesting to see just how far people are willing to go to believe something that is either ridiculous or highly improbable. Since then, there have been two other special programs on the National Geographic Channel's "Secret Bible Week" about the Templars and the apocalypse. And, now that the movie has been released, there are a whole slew of programs with Dan Brown and talking heads trying to look scholarly and thoughtful while thinking about what's for dinner tonight.
Having been through Catholic schools and a Jesuit University, I remain a recovering Catholic but retain some sense of humour at the thought of the Church getting its hackles up over a third-rate novel written by an author whose earlier books were not very popular or critically acclaimed. Throughout the centuries, the church has remained rather touchy about being reminded of its bloody past. The premise that Jesus and Mary Mag were married and had a daughter is entirely plausible, if not probable, but where the suspension of disbelief enters the picture is where Mary and the child disappear without a trace after the crucifixion well before there was a Catholic church whose misogyny their existence might cause problems for. The whole quest for the Holy Grail, a.k.a. Graal in Medieval literature, becomes the search for the lost bloodline of Jesus? I think the UFO abductees have more proof of LGM probing their anal cavities than the idea that the Holy Graal was in fact Jesus' long lost daughter whose descendants became the Merovingian bloodline 300-400 AD. Well, ok, maybe Jesus having a sex life instead of spending a few decades as a human male without jerking off or never having an erection is a little more credible than alien anal probes. There is no parish named "Our Lord of the Blue Balls", is there? I rest my case.
Then there is the idea that the Templars were the guardians of the secret that Jesus and Mary had a daughter and the subsequent bloodline. The Templars have been accused of just about everything imaginable given that a lack of information about something leads to a whole range of crap that people fill the gaps with. Now it is speculated that the Masons are the modern successors of the Templars after they were eradicated in 1307. Trying to imbue Masons with so much mystery is, well, amusing. My grandparents were Masons and every damn Christmas I had to get dressed up and be a bearer of gifts in some cult-like ceremony where each point on a giant 5-point star had some old prune in a different shade of chiffon sitting in a chair waiting for me to arrive after the appropriate incantation. I just figured that it was a social club much like their bridge club where everyone was ancient and had lots of time to kill. Creepy? Yes. Cultish? Yes. Mysterious? No.
Now the movie is out and, wow, what a boring three hour movie it is. Given the choice of what few decent movies seem to be around these days, it was either MI:III or DVC. There are a few amusing parts like the latin speaking killer albino monk and the Soprano cast of Vatican white guys trying to snuff the good guys. I mean, in the 70s when The Exorcist came out the Church had reasonably good grounds to get huffy and ban the movie, thereby ensuring its timeless popularity, as it was based on a true story and involved the arcane practice of exorcism which only the Jesuits in St. Louis seemed willing to attempt in defiance of the Vatican. The Exorcist also had a fabulous score with lots of the scary apocalyptic choir music so often associated with evil or doom whereas I can't even remember if there was any score in DVC. It provided Halloween costume ideas for years and years afterwards, too. What are kids supposed to do now, get into genealogy and trace their family back to French nobility? Boring. With The Da Vinci Code the whole story is fictional, even if parts of it might be plausible. It's not like Dan Brown inserted bits about Jesus preferring his right had to jerk himself off claiming them as fact thus refuting the long cherished belief that every sperm is sacred and that masturbation causes blindness. Think of the chaos that would cause amongst the faithful. What's so blasphemous in suggesting that this son of god guy might have been a regular Joe?
One would think that, after all these years, the Church would have figured out that there is no such thing as bad publicity and that by banning something it nearly guarantees that it will be an international success. Even in Finland, where they wisely ran off the Catholics early on, the movie has been sold out for much of the last week or two and I don't think it's because Tom Hanks is considered a hottie here. I'm sure Dan Brown is thanking the Pope and all the other religious freaks in a huff about the movie every time he looks at his rapidly swelling bank account.
Maybe it's time I wrote the novel about Jesus' wild teenage years and sexual coming of age, Jesus is Coming!.
And those with 10 minutes to kill will enjoy giggling at, The Albino Code, which is both shorter and cheaper than DVC. :)