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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA, for June 7, 06

The Da Vinci Snooze

Since I had read a variety of the same books Dan Brown used as the basis for his best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, I didn’t bother reading the book since I already knew all about “the greatest secret in modern history” that if revealed “would devastate the very foundations of Christianity.” Alas, for fans of shaken foundations, the hypothetical beans had already been spilled years ago in the book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Christianity remained as un-devastated as ever.

But I was curious to see the film to figure out how they’d make a thriller out of a “secret” that required so much endless ‘splainin.’ Although I kept dozing off, the structure was: (1) blah, blah, blah --detailed, endless “explanations” of theoretical hokum and muddled facts [Hint to film makers: the audience doesn’t need to know how or why The Hulk turns green. Just mutter something vague about an “overdose of radiation” then get on to the leaping and jumping and smashing], then ( 2) every 20 minutes, an armed, Mad Albino Monk leaps out of the shrubbery bent on homicide, which causes a few minutes of (3) comic Fire Drill racing around and then (4) everyone rushes off to some photogenic European local, say . . . Zurich! (5) Repeat the cycle, only next time, go to . . . France!

The real Da Vinci puzzle to me was why on earth some “religious” folks were taking all this harum-scarum as if it were real. Sure, it’s the summer silly season and the media and various pandering groups use each other during that downtime to brew up faux controversies to sell more papers. And, O.K, author Brown did make the conservative Catholic organization, Opus Dei, the locus of our Mad Murderous Leaping Albino Monk, and, yes, part of the discipline the members engage in does involve mortifying the flesh with small whips and thigh chains, but, that’s hardly new. Flesh mortification has been part and parcel of “Christianity” for a long time. In addition, official “monks” – mad, leaping or otherwise -- are not a part of the Opus Dei organization.

No, what was interesting to me was that all the harrumphing by certain “religious” folks, made me wonder just how many Christians are actually familiar with their own history? Are they aware that there were many gospels, some of which undoubtedly still lie buried in the desert sands, hidden there by various early Christian sects, waiting to be discovered just like the Dead Sea Scrolls.? That the wide variety of gospels known and used during the early years were eventually selected and edited and deliberately shaped by human hands and minds into the canon we are familiar with today? (A canon that has undergone myriad translations, retranslations, and mistranslations through the centuries?) That in the early centuries after Jesus’ death, there were a wide variety of “Official Christian” belief systems known and practiced, systems that were winnowed out in a long, sometimes bloody historical/political/cultural transformation that resulted in the product we know today? And that that this shaping and reshaping process continues even now?

Only people ignorant of the long historical journey their belief system has traveled (including the missing pieces, lost, stolen, buried, deliberately destroyed) could get worked up over the claims and suppositions that author Brown had such fun playing with – Knights Templars, grand inquisitions, missing scrolls, the bogus Priory of Scion, hidden secrets, the whiff of sex and scandal. This was supposed to be the heady brew that contained the blasphemous “secret” that would shake the foundations of Christianity?

As if? Haven’t we learned long ago that faith and fact have never been dependent upon one another? Still aren’t. Never will be, world without end, amen.

If anyone has failed to understand that crucial lesson, may I suggest they hum a few bars from Porgy and Bess’s “It ain’t necessarily so . . .”, then go rent Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Underneath all the Python’s outrageous tomfoolery, lies a serious message: Proceed cautiously when it comes to blind faith – things may not be what they seem. And in an imperfect world, it’s easy to get things muddled.

And, if it’s a swell thriller you want, go rent The Bourne Identity, I & II. It doesn’t have leaping albino monks, but it’s a great chase movie involving lots of photogenic European locales. And no theological blah, blah, blah to slow things down.

17 comments:

Shark Inlet said...

I was wondering whether Ann would write anything about the CSD today, what with the two major developments in the last 24 hours. After all, it is not every day that we get two key updates, that Measure B is dead (unlike TriW it would seem because it was only Measure B that seemed to allow someone to say "TriW is dead, get over it") and that the LOCSD intends to buy a piece of property. Why, we're not sure, but there it is, in the agenda. It is a pretty big piece of property, so it could fit a WWTF I guess, if the site is approved for that use.

Finally, toward the bottom of her posting she wrote: "Underneath all the Python’s outrageous tomfoolery, lies a serious message: Proceed cautiously when it comes to blind faith – things may not be what they seem. And in an imperfect world, it’s easy to get things muddled." and I was satisfied. She did have something to say about the CSD ... Funny, I didn't expet here to change sides. However, she seems to have decided that we ought not to put blind faith in simply studying alternatives and in the Ripley report and this board.

Now that Ann no longer has blind faith in her board, I am wondering whether she'll address the question of whether the costs of moving the WWTF from TriW are worth it.

*PG-13 said...

Oh boy, out of the frying pan into the fire! Only in Los Osos could jumping into theological controvery be considered a respite from the daily sturm und drang found in this blog. Thanks Ann. Dealing with questions about the 'real' nature of God/Christ, the universe and everything, and the historical roots of the Bible and Christian tradition seems so much easier than building a sewer.

> Proceed cautiously when it comes to blind faith – things may not be what they seem. And in an imperfect world, it’s easy to get things muddled.

Infinite Improbability Drive indeed.

Feeling better already.

Mike Green said...

What was it Tomlin said?

Religion is for people that can't handle drugs.

As for Sharkey's huge leap of faith,
"Never believe a believer"

Mike Green.

PublicWorks said...

When it comes to Christianity, the disclaimer to blind faith is front and center throughout the New Testiment.

Only Jesus was the sun of God.

The original apostles and all successors are only human. It's all one ever needs to know about being cautious with blind faith.

What do the CSD & DaVinci Code share? Probably nothing, but a bad scripts.

Churadogs said...

Good Lord, you people need to get out more. Believe it or not, there actually is a life beyond Sewerdom. Honest. And if some of you would actaully attend a CSD meeting BEFORE posting your comments ??? uh, like actually go listen for yourself, actually get up and ask people questions directly ?? you think? Instead of sitting at the computer furiously typing in elaborate suppositions and speculations and seeing sewers in silly novels? Yikes!

PublicWorks said...

Ann sez,

"Instead of sitting at the computer furiously typing in elaborate suppositions and speculations..."

Coming from Ann? Yikes!

Churadogs said...

Publicworks sez:"Ann sez,

"Instead of sitting at the computer furiously typing in elaborate suppositions and speculations..."

Coming from Ann? Yikes!"

I was asked by the owner of this blog site to start a blog, originally to just post my columns online, then he urged all of us who were bort of the Newsmission blog to write more, to try to post as much as possible so as to make the site interesting. Which is what I've tried to do, even though it involves a lot of extra work - type, type, type type, Yikes! and I actually do have another whole life. But a committment is a committment and I don't want to let Greg down since this whole blog groups seems to be working well. so that's my excuse for posting.

What's your excuse?

PublicWorks said...

No one needs an excuse for posting.

People should have a perspective that you do not provide. I think you use a kind of rhetorical questioning form of argument that deliberately does not examine issues with total perspective.

We all have whole other lives, and 5-15 minutes every day or two is probably better time spent than reading the Trib. Besides, one can pick up on journalistic styles, english tips, etc. It's like an on-line class with Ann as the facilitator - too bad we can't get college credits for it.

Shark Inlet said...

Ann,

I don't think that Publicworks minds your blog at all ... he's just noting that you often complain about us speculating but that speculating is nearly all of what you do.

For example, above you speculated that STEP is "waaaaaaay cheaper". However, you forgot to mention a few things about step which would make it "waaaaaaay more expensive" ... to use STEP we would need to pay for a new sewer design (think $5+ million) and we will have to wait a number of years, maybe about five ... so our "waaaaaaay cheaper" plan (if it saved $30M compared to the $70M gravity system associated with TriW) might actually cost some $80M. Then there is the matter of financing ...

To treat these maters seriously, one must have reasonable discussion of the financials ... to say "waaaaaaay cheaper" is just speculation.

[Note: my speculation about inflation rates, time delay and how much STEP would "save" was just to illustrate the point.]

PublicWorks said...

But back to the more important question of the DaVinci code,

Has anyone other than Ann actually seen the film??

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Give me a book over a film any day.

For philosophical & religious questions, I always loved Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamozov.

The passage 'Grand Inquisitor' is my favorite. It helps to keep one eye opening when listening to the proclaimations of any church, especially the one you're inside of!

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"To treat these maters seriously, one must have reasonable discussion of the financials ... to say "waaaaaaay cheaper" is just speculation."

I posted in the last blog, My Bad, I didn't make clear that I was refering to the collection system. it is waaaayyy cheaper because it doesn't require the huge depths to lay the pipe, it's a smaller pipe & etc. As I noted in the comments sections above, what is then needed is evaluation of the cost of tank versus the LIFE of the tank & etc.

sickofthelosososmess said...

God, I absolutely hate the phrase, "My Bad". This is ghetto, hip-hop slang at it's worst.

I would expect something far better from you Ann, considering this *is* the Central Coast of California, and not South Central Los Angeles.

Sewertoons said...

I tried to read the Da Vinci Code. I really did. The writing was so boring I had to put the book down. So I didn't bother to see the film.

Never the case here Ann, I read every single word you write; so even though we disagree on Issues Sewer, I think your writing is always very entertaining! (Any scripts forthcoming?)

Churadogs said...

Sickofthe. . . mess sez"God, I absolutely hate the phrase, "My Bad". This is ghetto, hip-hop slang at it's worst."

Are you a word snob? That ghetto, hip-hop slang isn't "good" enough for the central coast? Sorry, but english is such a rich, soupy brew that has always had wonderful words bubbling up rom all reas of the pot. I say, bubble away.

Sewertoons sez"Never the case here Ann, I read every single word you write; so even though we disagree on Issues Sewer, I think your writing is always very entertaining! (Any scripts forthcoming?)"

Scripts? Nope. That's a really hard type of writing to do well. Quite beyond my skills.

As for the movie, it's isn't really BAD or even so BAD it's GOOD, it's just ultimately a silly shaggy dog story, the old You Woke Me Up To Tell Me That???? Although Ian McKellen (sp?) did a wonderful job stealing every scene he was in and chewing up the scenery. And I did get a kick out of the Mad Leaping Monk, although the last leaping scene with the pigeons foilding the bullet was off the silliness radar.

PublicWorks said...

Why would anyone have a problem with 'my bad'?

It's simple, to the point, and humble as well.

I'll take 'my bad' over the correct grammar of 'have a nice day' anytime.

Churadogs said...

"Why would anyone have a problem with 'my bad'?"

I think "my bad" is a wonderful phrase. Sez soooo much in such a short time and is maleable for so many situations, from snark to silly.

*PG-13 said...

I too appreciate the efficient brevity of 'my bad'. OK, yeah, it is a little contrived. But its now generally common use has long sense passed etymological limits - be they based on culture, geography or simply good taste. Hey, this is a blog - not English Lit - and I bet Shakespeare would've loved My Bad. Just stop and think how many places he could've used it! I daresay Hamlet would have been improved.

Simply put, blogs are a medium of contrivance. Thank god so many of them are still only moderately contrived. How R U w txt msgN

sickofthelosososmess > God, I absoly h8 d frAze, "My Bad". DIS iz ghetto, hip-op slang @ itz wurs.

And isn't 'sickofthelososmess' a little over the top too? Stillanypostwithouttheword'sewer'isawelcomerelief.

:-) flushing