Sunday, April 16, 2006

Well Said

Archbishop attacks Da Vinci Code 'obsession'
By Elizabeth Day
(Filed: 16/04/2006)

The Archbishop of Canterbury today attacks society's obsession with books such as The Da Vinci Code which, he says, encourage people to believe that the Christian faith is a series of "conspiracies and cover ups".

In a strongly worded Easter sermon being delivered in Canterbury Cathedral this morning, Dr Rowan Williams says that there is a tendency to treat Biblical texts "as if they were unconvincing press releases from some official source, whose intention is to conceal the real story". Fascination with "bringing secrets to light", he said, evoked All the President's Men, the 1976 film about the investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who exposed the Watergate scandal.

"We have become so suspicious of the power of words. . . the first assumption we make is that we're faced with spin of some kind, with an agenda being forced on us. So that the modern response to the proclamation, 'Christ is risen!' is likely to be, 'Ah, but you would say that, wouldn't you? Now, what's the real agenda?' "

The Da Vinci Code, by the American author Dan Brown, tells of a Church-led conspiracy to suppress Christ's marriage to Mary Magdalene and his fathering of a royal bloodline. The novel has sold more than 40 million copies and was the subject of an unsuccessful plagiarism action in the High Court this month.

The Archbishop also pours scorn on the recent discovery of a leather-bound papyrus written around 300AD believed to be "The Gospel of Judas", which claims that it was Christ himself who asked Judas to betray him.

"Anything that looks like the official version is automatically suspect," says Dr Williams. "Someone is trying to stop you finding out what 'really' happened, because what really happened could upset or challenge the power of officaldom."

In his first Easter sermon, on Friday, the Pope effectively dismissed the "Gospel" text by reasserting the orthodox thinking that Judas, the 13th apostle, "evaluated Jesus in terms of power and success". And Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, the Pope's personal priest, also used his Easter sermon to criticise The Da Vinci Code.


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Like I said, giving credit where it's due can be hard. And I don't think I'll ever be able to say this again in my life or his, I think the Archbishop of Cantebury is right on the money here.