We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The sin of Envy

The Catholic church wants people to boycott “The Da Vinci Code”. From the sounds of it, they are rather jealous of Islamic violence over the Danish cartoons:

“I hope all of you boycott this film,” the Italian agency quoted Amato as saying. He said the film, based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, was full of “offences, slander, historical and theological errors concerning Jesus, the gospel and the church.”

“Slander, offenses and errors that if they were directed toward the Quran or the Shoah would have justifiably provoked a worldwide revolt,” he said, referring to Islam’s holy book and the Hebrew word for Holocaust.

“Yet because they were directed toward the Catholic Church, they remain ‘unpunished,”‘ he said.

This is exactly the kind of slippery slope I worried about with the reactions to the Danish Cartoons. One wonders if the company with yellow borders will continue to stock the book version? Or perhaps Catholics have not yet learned the lesson that threats of violence are a successful tactic when dealing with cowards.

I will be on the road for the next month but I will make a point of seeing the movie.

31 comments to The sin of Envy

  • Paul Marks

    One of the irritating things about the Dan Brown book, is that it distracts attention from the evidence that Mary M. did have a more important role in the Church than has been traditionally thought.

    First of all M.M. was not the prostitute (that was a mistake by a Dark Age Pope – and, fortunatly, there was no doctrine of Papal infallibity in those days, in any case he did not state that he was making an infallible ruling so the doctrine does not apply).

    “There are too many Mary’s” as the Roman Catholic Church spokesman said (some decades ago) when explaining the error (by the way the Pope concerned, whose name escapes me, was not tyring to do down M.M. – he was trying to make he point that people can repent).

    The digging up of the “Gnostic Gospels” in the desert 60 years ago is only one part of the reexamination of the role of Mary M.

    However, one can not talk about any of this now – because Dan Brown (and other folk) have come along spreading nonsense.

    Thus messing up the whole subject.

  • Dale Amon

    One thing I find very strange is how many people seem to be treating Brown’s fictional historical conspiracy novel as if it were actually intended to represent history. Brown is just a thriller novel writer in the same genre as Clancy and Cussler. I have one of his many aviation themed stories on the shelf “Storming Heaven”. If I remember, that was one where a lone US B-52 takes out a site in Eastern Russia to stop a war. An interesting story, not up to the standards of Clancy, but a fun read nonetheless.

    I do not know about others, but I will watch “The Da Vinci Code” with exactly the same frame of mind as I read “Storming Heaven”.

  • Dale Amon

    Ooops. The bookend was covering part of it… wrong author! That was Dale Brown who did Storming Heaven! Now I have to figure out where and what of Dan Brown I have read before… The main thought from above still holds though. I will watch and judge it as a good yarn, nothing more, nothing less.

  • Pete_London

    “Slander, offenses and errors that if they were directed toward the Quran or the Shoah would have justifiably provoked a worldwide revolt …

    There appears to be a job vacancy at the Vatican. The job entails reading speeches before slapping people like Amato around the head for being such an idiot.

  • Mr. Dan Brown is Tom Clancy for Teenage Atheists

    I will be on the road for the next month but I will make a point of seeing the movie.

    What on Earth for?

  • RAB

    Clancy is a comittee of Ghost writers but good action fun when you’re on holiday round the pool.
    Dan Brown isn’t even that. His old lady does most of the writing apparently.
    I read the book in an afternoon, that’s all the time it’s worth.
    Unless the movie has a bloody sight more car chases than the book, it’s going to bomb big time!
    All on it’s own. No help from the Almighty needed!

  • MikeG

    The Vatican is just miffed because it can’t torture and burn it’s enemies at the stake like in the “good” old days

  • Chris

    The “worldwide rebellion” may charitably refer to the immense public disapproval by intellectuals and oar-dipping by politicians, instead of actual violence. Ignoring the Muslim response to the Danish cartoons, the European response was to cravenly condemn the “needless antagonizing” of a religious group. There certainly aren’t going to be the same rather pathetic pleas for respect and understanding of Catholicism that the intellectual and bureaucratic class made for Islam. And of course a movie that distorted the Holocaust would be outright banned in most of Europe. An objective observor might ask why the Catholic Church in specific and the Christian religion in general, is apparently exempt from the social demand for “respect” for religions. A cynic would know the answer, and I suppose a libertarian would ask why government has any business promoting “respect” at all.

  • “And of course a movie that distorted the Holocaust would be outright banned in most of Europe”.

    For now.

  • W. E. Messamore

    As much as I am not a fan of the Catholic Church as an institution, I must point out that the difference here is that I very seriously doubt that any Catholics will respond violently to this movie, or will even turn out in any kind of significant numbers to protest it. That is the difference between the Christian world and the Muslim world as of the present. Christians are generally very nice, tolerant, and easy-going folks who are willing to put up with a lot of abuse of their religion. Muslims are generally violent, militant, and intolerant of others. The only problem I have with the quotation in this post were the words”justifiably” and “unpunished.” Violence against speech is not justifiable. Boycotts however, are totally legit.

  • permanent expat

    Touchy Muslim ‘fundis’ are enough, thank you. It’s only a badly written ‘what-if-conspiracy’ novel (FCS). Lotsa money, court case & now a probably unwatchable movie with some good actors who should have known better than to waste their talent on an ‘airport book’.
    Oh the horror. Pathetic.

  • Nick Timms

    Its irritating that, what is quite a good idea for a thriller, was so badly written. There are so many silly errors in the book that, on the afternoon that I read it, I spent quite a lot of my time writing corrections in the margin before my wife read it.

    I was interested in the history of the bible, especially the political aspect around the 3rd century, but this second rate thriller writer did not even get his geography right. His research and proof reading was appalling. Now if Michael Crichton had written a book with this theme it might have had a bit more credibility.

  • What on Earth?

    Am I the only person here who’s read Foucault’s Pendulum or something?

  • How about the violent reaction by Egyptian Christians, who are under attack? The popularity of the Da Vinci Code book is a substitute for direct action against Islam. Islam is doomed. And it couldn’t happen to a more appropriate “victim”!

    By 2010 Islam will be dead. And modern tolerant rationalists will be able to breathe easier once more.

  • W. E. Messamore

    I would love it if Islam were dead by 2010, but I seriously don’t see this happening. Would you mind explaining why you think so?

  • permanent expat

    Robert Speirs: I was about to laugh & say “no way” but remembered that I had classed Communism as a ‘religion’ & would have bet my life on its continuity as such.
    I remember too, my (German) wife & I, agreeing that we wouldn’t see a ‘Wiedervereinigung’ in our lifetimes. She lived long enough to walk through the Brandenburger Tor from West to East. Yes, nothing is impossible & forever is an unconscionably long time.

  • Julian Morrison

    The Catholics have been especially restrained and the anger rightly directed against Islamic rioters who carry placards saying “behead infidels” shouldn’t be directed at them.

    The most important Rubicon they haven’t crossed: they haven’t called for force or violence, of any sort, against people or property.

    Their boycott is legit.

  • Uain

    The Da Vinci code covers the old heresies of the first centuries after Christ and dresses them up as “researched science”. Think of the clownish pseudo-science cult of the Moonies called the Jesus Institute, in book and movie format.
    I applaud the author for his capitalist success, but real Christians will look at his work as little more than a diversion.
    The problem becomes the Un-Christian “searchers” who will read this slick, well produced book and watch the movie and think this is all historical. The Catholic Church has every right the be concerned that the weak minded will look at this work and assume it is fact.
    I believe this weak minded herd will be the same types that hyper-ventilated over Black Helicopters in the late 1980’s and Area 51 throughout the 1990’s thru 2001.
    The Da Vinci code is the next conspiracy theory Du-Jur for these lost souls to dash themselves against.
    Too bad they just don’t read the Bible.

  • Speaking as a Roman Catholic myself, I object to the imputation that Catholics or the church “envy” the Muslims their willingness to resort to violence. I don’t think anyone has any desire to be like the Muslims. I don’t know what language these comments were made in or how good a translation “worldwide revolt” is. However, he is clearly talking about peaceful protest, not murdering random non-Catholics from the continent where the book comes from, which seems to be the contemporary Muslim approach. As to Dan Brown, I would not give him a nickel, or waste five seconds on him or his despicable book. I have no use for anti-Catholic bigots, even less for someone who is entirely mercenary about vilifying my church. A boycott of him and anyone who is involved with him is entirely legitimate.

    The idea that the Catholics are going to all of a sudden start murdering people who mock their religion is preposterous. However, I note Dale is from Belfast, one place where sectarian violence involving (purported) Catholics is going on. It is pretty much the only place. So he can be forgiven for being overly alarmed.

    The most pathetic thing of all is that the Muslims have, in fact, changed the rules, and they have, in fact, gotten much of what they want by threatening violence and engaging in violence. That is the new standard of play. The Catholics don’t want to play that way. Lots of other people, seeing how well it works, will want to play that way.

  • Calm down, Mr. Amon, please. Odds are that the Church Of Rome, or any subset thereof, will not carry on like the dirty murderous rock-worshipping Muslims.

    As if that’s what you meant. Hope you keep us posted on the doings of any Catholic jihadists, though…important to watch what they’re up to, of course.

  • guy herbert

    Maybe “justifiably” is a mistranslation; but “worldwide revolt”? Unless he also said something other than “revolt” – ‘complaint’ perhaps – the man’s fantasising about other religions in his disappointment that the world’s Catholics lack appropriate fervour. The grass appears greener elsewhere.

    Islam is bolshy, yes, but not nearly as worldwide as the Catholic Church, which very nearly lives up to the optimism in ints name. But even the cartoon nonsense wasn’t more than a handful of riots where it was politically convenient for local authorities to exacerbate them. If that’s a worldwide revolt, then we have little to worry about.

    If the world’s Jews staged a worldwide revolt it is quite possible that no-one outside Israel, New York, north LA or north London would notice. There really aren’t that many. And there again the cardinal is counterfactual. There has been continual insult to the history of the Holocaust. Jews (and others) are content to point out these are lies of the malicious believed by idiots. They don’t “revolt” about it. You can’t make truth by violence.

  • Julian Taylor

    BBC Radio 1 DJ’s used to have a prerogative to be able to ban one record a year from charts on the grounds of ‘decency’. The practice was stopped when it was realised that some DJ’s banned completely useless records in the surefire knowledge that giving them additional publicity would ensure high sales. I don’t see anything different in the Vatican doing this with The Da Vinci Code – all they are doing is ensuring is that more people will go and see it.

    Incidentally, if Arab countries show The Da Vinci Code do we have the right to boycott their goods, demonstrate outside their embassies and burn their flags?

  • Heh. Let’s do that anyway, regardless of the silly book/movie.

  • RAB

    I second that!
    However I’ll have to start this time next week.
    I’m going to Egypt tomorrow.

  • Thesb

    Im just wonderign what form of slippery slope were meant to be going down. Is it one in which religious leaders dare to encourage their followers not to see blasphemous films which insult their faith. Oh the horror. Im confused how this is in any way similar to the cartoon controversy; if muslims had not bought the newspaper as a reaction then this would have been a fair comparison. However at present it remains puerile paranoia.

  • I read FP and thought it was a rather good book. I find this called boycott/pissing and moaning about the book rather amusing. They will make the movie a worldwide success because most sane people in the West don’t like taking their viewing order from a former member of the Hitler Jungen in a dress. It does not matter whether the movie is rubbish or not…

    The book was pretty good up until the end. Dan Brown is bloody useless at endings…all his books have rubbish endings.

  • Pete

    I think it’s clearly nonsense to claim that this book/film is intended only as a piece of harmless fiction. Its success is quite clearly from tickling people’s interest in the actual historical events – most people I speak to at least think it raises some important issues which “need to be addressed”. I missed those myself, I have to say.

    I’m with Mr. Amato, but like him I won’t be demanding that anyone gets beheaded. You do him unnecessary offence by suggesting this kind of moral equivalence.

  • Peter Melia

    Paul Marks has an interesting point.
    It is that “…there was no doctrine of Papal infallibility in those days,…”
    OK, we know that the doctrine of Papal infallibility started late in the 19th century.
    It would seem that there must have been a moment before, and a moment after, the announcement which proclaimed Papal infallibility.
    Does this mean that before infallibility started, Popes (meaning every Pope until that moment, even including the Pope who proclaimed the doctrine) could have made mistakes?

  • DaveJ

    I started reading that book, I could only manage a few pages. It is just so awful. Libertarianism fails if so many people like that book because humanity is just straight up BROKEN!

  • Historical fiction must not confuse the reader about the historical events which serve as the story’s backdrop. People will generally assume that major plot developments not affected by the fictional characters inserted into the tale really happened. Such as only one lifeboat going back to search for survivors at the scene of the sinking of the Titanic (it was really more than one).

    DVC is more than just a little alternate history about Jesus and Mary Magdalene. It makes claims about church history, including the structure of Opus Dei. Not to mention claims about Leonardo.

    Amy Welborn wrote this statement:

    The way in which the book was written leads a reader who may be ignorant of history to believe that DVC is, indeed, presenting credible historical material.

    Could the same be said of the film U-571? Could that film possibly give anyone the wrong impression about American involvement in cracking the Enigma code?

  • Oh, Amy Welborn’s quote is documented here.