Thursday, June 29, 2006

The DaVinci Code Movie and Religion

Let me just preface this by saying--if you are religious and take your faith so seriously that you do not enjoy looking at the other side's view stop reading now and check back later for a lighter post.

Okay, don't say I didn't warn you. I was raised Catholic. I still consider myself Catholic albeit a nonpracticing Catholic which will all change soon as I plan to raise my son Catholic as I have fond memories of my religion. I am just not a big proponent of orgainzed doctrine for many reasons. There are many policies and beliefs that come with Catholicism that I don't subscribe to. Do I believe in Jesus--yeah there is historical evidence to his exisitence. Do I believe that he is the son of God--I believe and accept that there are people who believe that he was not a mere mortal--I cannot say that I am sold on that.

Last Night we saw The DaVinci Code--I really loved the book--I love any book that challenges people to think about the origins of the "word of God" and to look critically at an entity whose main goal is self-preservation and dominance. Dan Brown weaves a great fictional story smattered with historical fact that he turns into suppostition and theory while telling a great story. How can we take it so seriously. I am Catholic and was not at all offended by the portrayl of the Catholic Church. Why not you ask? Well because the Catholic Church has much to be ashamed of. Just because things are done in the name of God and Jesus does not excuse blood shed and decpetion. The Catholic Church and many other religions are about control--controlling what we do, influencing what we think, and molding how we behave. Is this all bad? No. We need that to a degree. Where my problem lies is deeper than just the organized religion. The Bible is a huge problem for me. Not the Bible itself per se but the emphasis put on it as though God sat down and wrote it himself.

I am fascinated by the history of the bible--I own 12 different versions some of them being extremly old--I have a copy of the very first bible ever written in English that was translated from the original hebrew and not the traditional latin. I am well read in the history of the bible and its evolution. I also own a copy of the gnostic gospels as well as the lost gospels of the bible (meaning those rejected by the Church as acceptable for the new testament). I know a little about what I am saying. I wish I knew more. I wish there was time to know more. If only. The Bible is a great piece of fiction and to think of it as anything else is difficult for me and many others. Most of these stories have been changed over time and have morphed into something they were not retelling after retelling after retelling. I am in no way saying that the Bible isn't beneficial, it offers great lessons in the nature of man and is a great tool for teaching what is virtious behavior and what isn't. But the Bible is still just a great story--it is not in any way the whole truth--please if you are still reading and are Christian and offended do not flame me for my view--as I did warn you.

The Bible is so often misued and misued to perpetuate hate for others and to control behaviors that are interpreted as "bad" based on one person or one groups reading of the text. I should mention that I am also an English major--BA in English and working on an MA in English. There are many interpretations of the text and many views. You can make a text mean just about anything you want it to with no shortage of evidence to support your thought or to refute someone elses so don't start pulling out bible verses that say one thing when you clearly ignoring other verses that say something to the contrary. Religion is used to manipulte and control the masses--and I am not saying this is bad but it can be. It has the potential to be deadly as we see within the extreme muslim factions who claim to be doing Allah's work. As we saw from Hitler in WWII. Many wars have been fought over and over in the name of Religion.

I am lucky that I can see all sides. The good, the bad and the ugly of orgainized religions. There are issues with all. I could go on and on and I think it is important to know the history of something that controls so much of world and of people's lives. It is importanto to know and accept that religions change things to suit thier needs--Jesus was not born on December 25th--historical evidence leads us to believe that he was born earlier in the year but the Pagans--who Chritianity were trying to win over and convert --had a huge winter holiday (the solistice) that feel at this time so Chritianty hijacked the holiday and made it a celebration of Christ's birth--the Christmas tree is leftover from the pagan holiday. It is important to understand that Mary was not a virgin--there is ample historical evidence that Jesus had brothers and sisters, but how could the child of God be born in the normal way? Jesus was just a man with a message, it wasn't until after his death that he was deemed the son of God. The Catholic Church eats fish on Friday's during lent instead of meat because traditional feasting for 40 days during lent meant no eating of meat only grain and vegetables but the fisherman in Italy suffered greatly for this as fish only stays good for a certain amount of time so that inorder to keep the fisherman from suffering too much financial strain the pope at the time said Fish could/must be eaten on Friday's. Catholic priests takes vows of celibacy because of the early nepotism in the Catholic Church not because it makes them closer to God.

Okay...I will stop now as I am sure that I have offended and angered much of my readership. I am an acadmeic first and a Catholic second. I have a thirst for knowledge and a resentment for being fed false truths with the expectation that I will not question and seek out the knowledge for myself. That is all I ask anyone todo. Believe what you will, but know (research) what you believe. Fact and Fiction are easlily confused as what is not written cannot be preserved and it is easy to erase entire events from history through careful editing...


Danielle said...

Great post! I too was raised Catholic and no longer practice. I think religion is super important to help you become a good person, but I see it's flaws, and therefore can't wholeheartedly subscribe to any one belief system. My college required all incoming freshman to take this class which explored a smorgasboard of religions. We read various religious texts (Bible, Koran, Bagavad-Gita, Tao Te Ching, etc.) and dissected them. It was fascinating to me, since I grew up in a town full of Catholics, with one Jewish family (Diverse, right?!). My college was predominately Jewish, so I took the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions to my Jewish roommate to learn more. This class was a great extension of that learning. In the end I learned that there were bits and pieces of all religions that I thought were great, and bits and pieces of all religions I found ridiculous. We plan to raise our child without any single religion, but instead to teach them about many religions so they can make their own decisions. Since we were both raised Catholic, I imagine those values/beliefs will be predominant, but since my Uncle is gay and Bryan's Aunt is a lesbian (and we love them both lots and lots!!), I couldn't let our kiddos be fully exposed to a religion that makes them evil for their sexual orientation.

Jenni said...

Hi. We're also adopting from Ethiopia, and I linked to your blog through Fizzle.

Other than the fact that I have no intention of ever returning to the Catholic church, I share a very similar approach to organized religion and all of the implications that accompany the establishment. The DaVinci Code was an interesting read (though I don't think I'd classify it as "literature") and the Bible is, likewise, a good story. But of course I'm going to say that, because I actually have a very similar background. I spent 14 years in a Catholic school, including two at Villanova University, where theology classes are mandatory. I also got my BA in English, though my Master's will be in Secondary Education (for English, fancy that!).

Your appreciation of the Bible as a good story actually reminds me of a class I took at Villanova. It was a theology class that examined the ancient Greek texts of the Gospels as a specific message that had been molded for a specific audience. My professor was a scholar in ancient Greek, so he spent the semester translating the text directly from ancient Greek and pointing out the inside jokes the translators threw in to hold their audience's attention. Did you know that Greeks would have read Jesus' blowing on the apostles to give them the Holy Spirit as something to the effect of Jesus "making wind." Yes, that's right, folks, Jesus farted on the apostles and they were suddenly imbued with the holy spirit. Hilarious. And according to my professor, the ancient Greek version of the Bible is full of similar bathroom humor. So I, too, regard the Bible and its fifty million translations as a good, but highly interpretable story, and find it appalling that it's used as if God himself penned it. I had a huge argument with my very Southern Baptist cousin about the name of the woman who birthed Jesus. He just couldn't accept that her name wasn't Mary, despite the fact that Mary is most definitely an English name and Jesus most definitely didn't speak English.

Anyway, it's always interesting to see how other folks manage to merge their intellect with their faith. It definitely seems that the more you read about the subject, the more you question the things you're told to believe. The more you learn, the less you know. How very Platonic.

MP2 said...

Ditto. Once again (-: