Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Da Vinci Code - debate


Date published: Sunday, May 21, 2006
letters to the editor

Fictitious Da Vinci Code should not shake our strong faith

Dear Editor,

Of late a number of controversies have cropped up that have resulted in our Catholic Church going on the defensive to deny and denounce these allegations. These are the Da Vinci Code, The Gospel of Judas and the recent publication of a scientific explanation for certain miracles performed by Jesus. Now the movie version of the Da Vinci Code is to be released which seems to make our church authorities apprehensive and some parties calling for its ban.

The various churches, in particular the Catholic Church, have embarked on extensive counter measures to rebut these allegations. Do we need to go to such an extent to counter these allegations?. The church at its highest level contends these allegations are baseless and malicious, then why this jitter?

Jesus himself was not shaken by false accusations which finally led to his crucifixion. This was because he spoke the truth. What if these allegations are true? Only God knows for sure whether they are true or otherwise. This is not going to be the end of such claims and allegations. As long as man exists, his egoism and curiosity will continue to rule him and he will persist in his attempts to disprove our long accepted beliefs. Man will continue to cast doubts on our faith and beliefs that are so dear to us. Modern scientific principles may even succeed in proving certain of our established beliefs wrong. We must have an open mind to accept the truth however bitter it may be.

Are we going to be shaken every time someone tries to shatter our belief with new allegations or discoveries? If so our faith must be very superficial and we have not understood Christ fully. His teachings will stand the test of time. His two great commandments, love God and love your neighbour as yourself, are relevant throughout the ages and would never become obsolete. If we understand and practise these two great commandments as Christ asked of us, we need not be too worried that our faith will be proven wrong.

The trouble is, today we are more obsessed with rituals than the essence of our faith. If religion is about dressing according to a code and the observation of rituals without a real concern for the condition of the human heart and conduct, it misses the point. In such a situation there is cause for concern every time someone tries to shatter our faith. In all instances it is the rituals that are brought into dispute not the essence.

The two great personalities of recent times, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, proved this point very precisely. No amount of coaxing, however strong or controversial, could divert them from their strong convictions of service to fellow man. This was because of their strong commitment to sharing the inherent love of God with others. Let us too pray for the development of this strong commitment to share Christ’s love with others at all times.

Dr Chris Anthony

Date published: Sunday, June 04, 2006
letters to the editor

Differentiate fact from fiction

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letters relating to the above by Dr Chris Anthony of Butterworth and The Catholic Observer of Kuala Lumpur, both which appeared in your issue of HERALD on May 21 2006. I fully agree with Dr Anthony’s analysis of what I consider the gross over-reaction of the Catholic Church, certain Catholic groups and Catholic individuals to the release of the screen version of the book authored by Dan Brown. Neither the author of the book nor the producers of the film go so far as to vouch for the veracity of certain themes or plots in the novel and the film. The book is clearly categorised as fiction and no more.

Yet we have these Catholic institutions and individuals calling for all sorts of mass reaction to the book and film — anything from banning the book and film, to threats to burn down cinemas which “dare” to screen the film. Some local media have published the so-called Catholic response to issues in the book, advising those who plan to see the movie to first read it. Is our faith so vulnerable as to call for these sort of actions? Many of those who call the Catholic/Christian masses to react in this way, have neither read the book nor seen the movie, so what is the fuss all about? In doing so, they have inadvertently brought greater attention to the film than any of the producers’ marketing gimmicks could have. It is Dan Brown and the film’s producers who are going to be laughing all the way to the bank at the end of it all.

Are we not mature enough to read the book or view the film for what they are worth? Can we not distinguish between fact and fiction after being brought up in the great traditions of the Christian faith? I remember a similar uproar not that long ago when the novel “The Thornbirds” was serialised for television. Even Catholic bishops called for it not to be allowed to be shown on local television. Yet the theme of the book is not something fictitious in reality, and as most of us know today there have certainly been real cases of Catholic priests leaving their ministry in order to get married or lead their lives with the person they love.

In this age of digital communication and information technology the Church and such individuals as The Catholic Observer would do better to use these channels to spread the Good News rather than call for mob reaction to seemingly innocuous books and films.

Sabahan Catholic,Sabah

Clergy should not remain silent over Da Vinci Code lies

Dear Editor,

I would like to refer to Dr Chris Anthony’s mediocre regurgitated rhetoric in the May 21 issue of the HERALD’s letters column. What was most sad was that his letter was highlighted as though it was the best and most wise answer to the serious allegations made against Jesus in The Da Vinci Code.

It is clear that the learned Doctor has not really read the gospel or has any kind of spiritual life in the Church. He has totally failed to understand what is happening and is once again misleading people.

I really don’t understand what he means when he says, “modern scientific principles may even succeed in proving certain established beliefs wrong.We must have an open mind to accept the truth however bitter it may be.” Does he mean that there may come a time when the gospel or the teachings of the Church may not be all that true due to scientific discovery or explanation?
His statement that a “strong faith” will counter all allegations made is ridiculous because as “Church” we are responsible to uphold and safeguard the truth as taught by our Church.
His statement, “The trouble is, today we are more obsessed with rituals than the essence of our faith” does not really hold water because the rituals of our faith lead us automatically to a deeper understanding and doing of “love of God and our neighbour”. Try attending Mass everyday and praying the rosary by meditating on the mysteries and see if it does not lead you to “love God and neighbour” more .

Mother Teresa was the epitome of obsession with rituals in the Catholic Church. She strongly advocated reciting the rosary, attending daily Mass and visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, this she had strongly said was the foundation of her work among the poorest of the poor.

Once again I urge our bishops not to remain silent but to issue a “pastoral letter” that should be made mandatory to be read at all Sunday masses. This letter should condemn as heresy The Da Vinci Code and The Gospel of Judas . It is time that we woke up to this attack and take steps to prevent the erosion of our faith among those whose faith is not that strong.

There was a poll taken in Britain by Austin Ivereigh who is the press secretary to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Conner. He said, “Our poll shows that for many many Catholics The Da Vinci Code is not just entertainment.” He heads a collection of prominent English Roman Catholic Monks, theologians, nuns and Opus Dei members who commissioned the survey by pollster “Opinion Research Business” (ORB). In the survey, among 1,000 Catholic adults, 60 per cent believed that Jesus had children after seeing the movie or reading the book

Let us be wary of people who subtly undermine the Church by appearing as Angels of light who “'pick and choose” and distort the truth for popularity or financial gain.

Bernard Anthony Faleel Subang Jaya

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