Apologize and Don't Be Sorry!

A site dedicated to thinking through the common objections to the Catholic Faith as well as questions of a general religious nature.

Location: Prague, Oklahoma, United States

Just your basic 21st century priest trying to bring the Gospel to everyone who will give it a fair hearing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Scandal and the DVC

Father Tharp,
Is it better to read "the Da Vinci Code" and see the movie so one is aware of what people are talking about or to avoid them all together and not contribute to the financial success of the persons mocking God?  (So far, I have avoided it.)

A believer,
Sharon P.
Edmond, Oklahoma

This is a tricky question.  On the surface of it, it looks like we have a situation where we must choose between two goods: the good of being informed versus the good of avoiding scandal.  Certainly, being informed about the errors of The Da Vinci Code -- the purpose of these last several columns -- would help guide those misinformed by it.  Further, keeping money out of the hands who would mock God and those who love Him helps break the chain of inevitable copycat books.  The last time I was at the local bookstore I spied no less that 5 Dan-Brown-knock-offs and a couple of new books from authors whom Brown used in writing his work.  Well, the good news is, I think, that you can achieve both goods.  Here’s how.
In apologetics, there is a basic principle which runs, “That which is freely asserted may be freely rejected.”  As Dan Brown gives no real credible sources for his assertions and makes several elementary mistakes concerning history and other matters, there is no absolute requirement to read the source material.  All of the authors I have recommended here have provided thorough commentary and citations from Brown’s work and reliable historical sources, so that should suffice for the average Catholic.  After all, most folks are going to throw Brown’s assertions at you, not specific citations from the book.  So, if you understand the basic issues and errors, and you can do this without slogging through his blasphemous assertions.
As to not putting money in the pockets of these folks, avoiding the movie and the book is a good idea.  However, this doesn’t mean you are powerless to send a message to Hollywood.  Barbara Nicolosi, executive director of Act One, gave the best solution for this.  Go to the movies on the opening weekend May 19-21 but go see something else.  Opening weekend box office deeply influences movie executives for future projects.  There are a couple of good films coming that weekend which would be a good alternative.  By going to some other movie, you not only keep money out of The Da Vinci Code coffers, you are encouraging Hollywood to make better movies.
The core issue here involves scandal.  “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil (CCC #2284).” When we read or promote things like Dan Brown’s book, we are in essence saying, “There’s nothing wrong with this.”  I don’t know about your reading of the Ten Commandments but it seems to me that blasphemy gets under his skin, so to speak.  It should be avoided.  As Christ himself said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
When it comes to matters like this, we should be thankful for all the dedicated authors who have stood up for the truth.  I would like to publicly thank Carl Olson, Sandra Miesel, Amy Welborn, Mark Shea, Ted Sri, Barbara Nicolosi and Matt Arnold for their valiant efforts to expose the disastrous effect Dan Brown’s work is having on the cultural landscape.  Through their works, I was reminded that as a pastor, it is my task to stand against scandal to the flock, and I hadn’t done that.  It hadn’t even really crossed my radar screen.  They deserve all the credit for the last several columns and are to be commended heartily for their faithful witness.


Blogger Christine said...

Father Tharp,

I agree that we should not support this kind of thing. I have an interesting question on it, though. Suppose someone is preparing to counter the movie with an apologetics talk on the errors in the DVC? Should he see the movie in order to research it in order to be able to answer questions brought up there that might not have been included in the book? (Certainly not on opening weekend...that's not even for movies we WANT to see!)

5:10 AM  
Blogger Marty Helgesen said...

It's not enough to see a different movie that weekend. If various people see various different movies the impact will be lost. Barbara Nicolosi has written, "The major studio movie scheduled for release against DVC is the DreamWorks animated feature Over the Hedge. The trailers look fun, and you can take your kids. And your friends. And their friends. In fact, let’s all go see it."

I agree that for most people it is not necessary to read the book or see the movie in order to reply to the falsehoods in them. The books and articles that have been written about them by Catholics such as Amy Welborn, Mark Shea, Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel are enough. If anyone asks, "But did you read the book/see the movie yourself, you can reply, "It doesn't matter. The question is whether the obviously false statements I mentioned appear in it. If they do, the book is unreliable regardless of whether or not I read it and the movie is unreliable regardless of whether or not I saw it."

6:46 PM  

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