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Dissecting 'The Da Vinci Code'

2/24/2006 - 5:30 AM PST

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Interview With Apologist Mark Shea

SEATTLE, Washington, FEB. 24, 2006 (Zenit) - Millions have read "The Da Vinci Code" and many are expected to see the movie version when it is released May 19.

That is why Mark Shea and Ted Sri -- an apologist and theology professor, respectively -- have co-authored "The Da Vinci Deception", a guide that reveals the fact and fiction behind "The Da Vinci Code."

Shea shared with us the main inaccuracies in the "Code" book, and why they threaten the faith of Christians.

Q: What compelled the writing of this book?

Shea: The short answer is that tens of millions of people have read "The Da Vinci Code" and many have had their faith in Christ and the Catholic Church shaken. This blasphemous book has become a major cultural phenomenon, largely by attacking the very person and mission of Jesus Christ. It must be addressed.

The longer answer is that "The Da Vinci Code" has become the source for what I call "pseudo-knowledge" about the Christian faith.

Pseudo-knowledge is that stuff "everybody knows," such as the "fact" that Humphrey Bogart said "Play it again, Sam" -- except he didn't. Pseudo-knowledge doesn't matter much when the issue is the script of "Casablanca."

It matters greatly when it adversely affects the most sacred beliefs of a billion people, and when it levels the charge that the Catholic Church is essentially a vast "Murder Incorporated" network founded on maintaining the lie of Jesus' divinity and resurrection.

When that happens, very nasty genies get let out of bottles, as when the lies recorded by 19th-century czarist secret police forgers in the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" became the basis for what "everybody knew" about the Jews in the terrible anti-Semitic persecutions of the 20th century.

"The Da Vinci Code" has sold close to 30 million copies. In May, it will appear as a major film and will acquire even more unquestioned authority among millions of historically and theologically illiterate viewers -- unless Christians state the facts and help viewers recognize just how badly they've been had.

The Da Vinci Outreach initiative, led by Catholic Exchange and Ascension Press, will equip Catholics and all people of good will with resources to help them respond to this movie.

Those who say, "It's just a story," simply do not understand that this deception is part of the book's power. People often receive through fiction what they would be on guard against in reasoned debate.

And this is particularly true as Dan Brown, the author of "The Da Vinci Code," has actually stated he would not change any of his basic assertions if he were writing nonfiction. Brown means for us to understand that his claims about the origins are Christianity are true.

Q: What are the main inaccuracies found in the "The Da Vinci Code"?

Shea: Let me count the ways. Blunders include factual errors and outright lies, large and small, about practically every subject Brown addresses in art, history and theology. He purports that bogus documents that even his questionable sources repudiate are factual.

He claims Leonardo Da Vinci doesn't give Jesus a chalice in his painting "The Last Supper" in order to hint that Mary Magdalene is the true chalice who held the "blood of Jesus" -- i.e., his child -- despite the fact there are 13 cups in the painting.

He chatters about the meaning of an Aramaic word in the Gnostic gospel of Philip, oblivious to the fact it's written in Coptic.

He calls Mary Magdalene the victim of a Catholic smear campaign without pausing to wonder why she's a Catholic saint.

He blames "the Vatican" for various plots and conspiracies that are alleged to have taken place centuries before there was any Vatican to plot them.

And, of course, in the biggest lie of them all, he declares that nobody before the year A.D. 325 thought of Jesus as anything other than a "mortal prophet" until Constantine muscled the Council of Nicaea into declaring him God "by a relatively close vote."

Of course, he does not stop to ask why, if Jesus was just a "mortal prophet," he bothered founding a Church at all -- nor what the Church was about for the first 300 years if nobody was worshipping Jesus as God.

Q: How do these inaccuracies challenge the Church, her teachings and the person of Jesus Christ?

Shea: Brown is attempting to establish a neo-pagan feminist creation myth. The basic myth is: Jesus was actually a feminist, agog for neo-paganism. The Church supposedly covered up all this with lies about his divinity. Brown's point here is: Let's get back to goddess worship as Jesus intended.

This laughably baseless claim is, of course, utterly contrary to the facts about Jesus. But many in our overly credulous and historically ...

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