Monday, October 10, 2005

Book Review: The DaVinci Hoax: Exposing the Errors in The Da Vinci Code

As most of you know I write another blog with all of my musing of an apologetic nature at Apologize and Don't Be Sorry. You can find it in the side bar of this blog under "Monkey Like Spin-Offs!" The reason for that blog's existence is my over weening ego. That and I need a place to post my columns that I write for the archdiocesan newspaper. The column consists in my largely inept answers to burning questions that thoughtful people of the same archdiocese (and other places who read such things). After all, as GKC would say, "That which is worth doing, is worth doing poorly," meaning better to get an imperfect product out there that you and others can later tweak than to sit upon your thumbs and do nothing when action is called for.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been surprised by the absence of questions related to the runaway best seller, The Da Vinci Code. I did receive one question related to a TV program related to the book, but that doesn't quite count in my book as I have received a pair or more of questions related to the Left Behind series. The reason for this lack of shocked questions I think stems from two sources: 1.) people are used to blasphemy and 2.) Catholics want to seem unmoved by scurrilous lies about our beloved Lord and Master so as not to be "too religious" or "too unsophisticated." Well, allow me to play a thought experiment with youse guys. Say for a moment a book was written in which the Holocaust was dismissed as a fantasy organized by a powerful Jewish cabal. Now, what do you think the odds of that book's being published are? Kudos to those who said "Zilch" or some variant thereof.

It is observations like this - taken from the end of their work - which allow me to heartily and pointedly encourage all readers to get and read Sandra Miesel's and Carl Olson's marvelous debunking extraveganza, The Da Vinci Hoax. With the movie coming out in April 2006, all serious Catholics need to be up on what is wrong with the way the book portrays history. This book is the first rung in a well-stocked arsenal.

The authors do an excellent job in showing how deficient Dan Brown's and others' understanding the Church truly is. For one instance, Brown contends via the DVC that the early Church didn't believe that Jesus was actually God but this doctrine was made up at the Council of Nicea under the influence of Constantine. Apart from logical fallacies being ripped to shreds, the authors, Miesel and Olson, provide 10 pages of evidence from the New Testament and from Ante Nicene Fathers of the Church which show that Brown's contention is totally bogus.

Further, Miesel and Olson are not just literate in presenting the truth about Christ and His Church, they do a more that fair job presenting what neo-Gnostics and other pro-DVC folks think and say. This shows, to my mind, a startling respect for not only the truth of the Catholic claim but also the dignity of their opponents. Without being hyper pious, this sort of "respect for one's enemies" bespeaks a charity and a desire to win souls for Christ, and not just to score points in a debate. Additionally, respect for the truth demonstrates not only a well-grounded faith but a comprehensively engaged sense of hope. Hope is the virtue that relates to trusting in God's promises and His power to fulfill them. These authors show that they know and believe that "the Truth will set you free" that is if you let it.

Let me also praise an abundance of documentation. I just completed my first read through. The first read through means "Ignore the footnotes; finish the book." But the sheer volume of good and lengthy footnotes suggests the second read through is going to take some time. Add in a comprehensive bibliography and the book isn't just good. It becomes a continuing resource for self-education.

Last, let me further compliment the authors' on a consistently readable writing style and clarity. Throughout the course of the read, I was amazed at how logical and obvious the response to the DVC's ridiculous claims could be with really only a consultation of an encyclopedia. This is a particularly good feature as it encourages Catholics not to be afraid of their common history. If anything careful reading of all sorts of literature helps us to see how God has used the Church to promote the Truth of Christ and to grant eternal life to all generations.

In conclusion (don't you hate it when someone writes that), I think that the DVC is a loving example of providence. God permits this sort of hatred to fall upon the Church so that we can better learn to appreciate what God has given to us and to actively practice charity for those who hate us. A book like The Da Vinci Hoax is a singular opportunity for Catholics at all points of catechesis and formation to learn the back story to their own faith, to see themselves as part of the living tradition as it hands down the saving truth of Christ, and Him Crucified. In this way, hoax-sters and snake oil salesmen might find themselves turned away from darkness and error back to the wonderful light.

"And those who came / at first to scoff / remained behind to pray..." Ammonia Avenue, Alan Parson Project.

(By the by, I also recommend for those who are reading time challenged or who like yours truly spend more time in a car than is humanly permissible, or should be, get Matt Arnold's masterful tape series on the Da Vinci Code from St. Joseph Communications. The title is, I think, The Da Vinci Code Exposed. It compliments and suppliments the current work in consideration expertly. Pick it up as well)

UPDATE: Mr. Olson got a hold of me today and let me know there was more to love about the The DaVinci Hoax. They have their own website. Find out more here and even download a study guide. I think I just found my study class for the spring, assuming anyone will ever sign up for it.

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