Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Da Vinci Code in India

So, guess what the sweet white-haired Indian auntie and the middle-aged Nepalese lady in my row on the flight over were talking about? Yep. The Da Vinci Code. Neither had seen it. "I've heard it's boring." "Yes, apparently you have to have read the book to follow along." "And it's upset some people." "Well that's understandable, if it's attacking their religion." I pretended to be asleep. And while waiting for the flight to Baroda on Wednesday, I saw at least three people engrossed in DVC paperbacks in the chaotic waiting room (Delhi airport's domestic terminal is a zoo! It makes an Indian railway station look organized!). And of course, the family wants my "take" on it. "Is it blasphemy?" the brother asks.

:: sigh ::

After some controversy, the movie opens tomorrow in India, with a 15 second disclaimer tacked on by the Censor Board after protests by Christians (and Muslims!). Not bad. Better than being banned. It really does make the religious objectors come across as thin-skinned firebrands who cannot take criticism, do not value free speech and just confirm the secular elite's suspicions that religion is, on the whole, "backward."

[Aside on the Muslim protest: if Muslims are offended that a Koranic prophet is being insulted, what to make of the Koranic claim that the Crucifixion was fictitious? :) And, apparently, a few Middle Eastern countries have banned the movie.]

The CBCI homepage has a prominent link to, the DVC site of the US Bishops, with a neat slogan: "The fact is the film is fiction and is business!"

[A little ironic that Ad-sense, or whatever other service is placing ads on the site of the Catholic Bishops of India would have an ad to these folks!]

Konkani Catholics (a neat blog maintained by a group of Goan Catholics) has a link to the statement of Archbishop Moras of Bangalore on the movie (as well as links to prior coverage).
1. The film Da Vinci Code is based on a novel and it is not based on history. The true life of Jesus Christ is depicted in the Gospels.

2. People must not become gullible and believe whatever they see in the film as media create false realities and have the power to 'make believe facts'.

3. To clarify people's doubt, a study group in the parish should be formed. A few learned persons who have made a through study of the film could guide the people, especially the youth in the parish.

4. Special prayers to be offered for media personnel that they may not exploit the simple faith of the common people and that people who view this movie may not be misguided and/or lose faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

5. The faithful should be helped to foster their personal relationship with Jesus by conducting regularly the Bible Classes with special focus on the Gospels, and by the screening of the movies: Jesus of Nazareth, the Passion of the Christ etc.
(I especially like the last one :)).

The fact remains, as Amy Welborn never ceases to repeat: This is not "just" fiction. It's obviously got the whole Christian world on the defensive. And it is pernicious and deceptive.

Should it be banned? Heck no. Bring it on, I say!


St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

Gashwin writes:

A little ironic that Ad-sense, or whatever other service is placing ads on the site of the Catholic Bishops of India would have an ad to these folks!

Although I didn't see any ads when I checked the CBCI homepage, I followed your "ironic link." Great stuff, there.... I must say that the folks who are intrigued/persuaded by the DVC might be interested in the Gnostic-Kabbalistic Mass, the esoteric Grail priesthood or the Sister of the Rose Private Wednesday Communion for Women at the Sanctuary of the Grail.

In news from the real world, I've been at a public health meeting for several days--lots of down time, lots of casual conversations. Not once has the DVC been mentioned. No DVC paperbacks poolside or on the ebeach, not even much DVC coverage on the news--which has been all Idol, all the time.

finishing this just as a DVC ad comes on the telly. Time to head back to the pool...

Napoleon said...

Bring It On ...Good Sentiment

Konkani Catholics said...

Great to hear some India news from you Gashwin!

Here, while the Kerala court refused to ban the movie, the states of Nagaland and Punjab have banned it. In Goa, the cabinet is still pursuing the matter.

All in all, it is a very confused situation here with Archbishops like Ivan Dias, Bernard Moras and Filipe Neri Ferrao raising strong voices against the Da Vinci Code, while many others including Priests preferring an indifferent stance.

Running parallel to this problem is the reaction of the political leaders to some of the Pope's remarks to Amitava Tripathi, India’s new ambassador to the Holy See. You can take a quick glance of the developments with Religious freedom under siege in India by Fr. Babu Joseph SVD, editor of ICNS and Spokesperson of the CBCI.