Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"Fun and Harmless"?

So you might remember a bit about that DaVinci Code response group assembled by Dr Austen Ivereigh, the spokesman for the cardinal-archbishop of Westminster, covered here the other day.

Well, despite the furious denials, seems it's become a proxy fight for the bishops of England and Wales. Ruth Gledhill of The Times of London covers it on her blog.

And, yes, this is more free advertising from the Catholic church for The Movie, which will be released at 25 theatres near you on 19 May. And, guess what, it's already selling out in Catholic countries -- thanks in no small part to Cardinal Arinze's press junket....
What is certain is that whatever the merits of the different approaches being adopted by the churches, it is all generating the most unbelievably fabulous publicity for the film. I personally do not wish to see the film, though I accept I will have to. The scenes of self-mortification in the previews at the cinema have already infested my dream life and I just detest, detest violence in films. So on those grounds alone, never mind the religious twaddle it peddles, I'm not a fan of the film, but I enjoyed the book. This puts me perfectly in the middle ground to chair this Wednesday's debate on the subject at the Christian Resources Exhibition.

Nevertheless, the Da Vinci Code response group, not an official group of the Catholic bishops' conference even though it is up on the diocesan website, says in its official statement that the Da Vinci Code is 'fun and harmless in so far as it is treated as fiction.'

Austen's group takes the Opus Dei line, that the response of Catholics should be to use the book and film as a teaching opportunity and try 'to turn lemon into lemonade.' The group criticises the factual inaccuracies in DVC but also recommends Catholics to 'enjoy' the film.

This is slightly at odds with the recent indictment from the Vatican, as Peter Jennings [spokesman for Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham] points out.
Do go read.