Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The 'Da Vinci' Overreaction

Christians of the conservative bent have been going apeshit—or ripshit, or batshit crazy, or whatever other crappy metaphor you care to use—over The Da Vinci Code, and the howls of outrage have reached a new decibel thanks to the release of the film version.

Things in India have gotten out of hand. The Mumbai Catholic Council wants the movie banned, and the Catholic Social Forum has announced a "death fast" if showings go on as planned. One Catholic offered a $25,000 reward for the murder of Dan Brown. Read that sentence again.

The Da Vinci Code contends that certain paleo-conservative factions within the Catholic Church engage in assassinations and other devilish plots, a suggestion that offends the sensibilities of some Catholics. So, what better way to prove that the Catholic church has no truck with murderers and criminals than to lay a Rushdie-style fatwa on Dan Brown, right?

The Indian book-burning contingent is all in a lather, condemning the "sheer blasphemy" of The Da Vinci Code and arguing that because it has "deeply upset Christian sentiments", it should therefore be banned. Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, said it "belittles what is at the heart of Christian faith and cherished in Christian life." The Bishops' Conference released a statement saying that "every individual has a right to his religious beliefs and to enjoy the respect to them from the followers of other religions."

For those of you with better than average memories, this might spark a few flashes of recognition. During the Mohammad cartoon crisis, these exact sentiments were used to prove that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with freedom, peace and the West. Hey, guess what? All fundamentalist expressions of religion are incompatible with freedom, peace and the West. Every last one of them.

A note to the book-burners and death-threateners: It's a work of fiction. It's a deeply stupid work of fiction. How fragile is your faith? You need everything to be precision aligned by an ASE-certified mechanic just for your religion to work. Any anomaly, any diversion from the perfect totalitarianism of your inerrant fundamentalism threatens to destroy everything you believe in. Doesn't this tell you anything at all? You guys spend an inordinate amount of time looking for signs from God (horsemen, locust plagues, images of the Virgin Mary in rust stains under highway overpasses, etc.)—well, here's a giant one flashing in your faces. Repent! Repent before it's too late!

Plaudits to Andrew Sullivan for calling a spade a spade.
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