So dark the con of meme

Is the supply of tin foil running low? Is there a communicable mental disease running loose? I suspect so. Conspiracy theories abound.

My question is, should we consider the Da Vinci Code to be as offensive as the Mohammed cartoons were? If not, why? …and where is my anarchist outfit for the christian riots tomorrow? (It was here somewhere…)

The offense purported by the publishing of the mohammed cartoons was that, 1) that they portrayed Mohammed's likeness, 2) portrayed Islam as violent, and 3) were somehow critical of Islam. This hurt the feelings of muslims so much that 130 some odd people died in the ensuing riots.

I hate to think of what kind of reaction there would have been if the 'offensive' cartoons had not merely portrayed Mohammed, but had portrayed him as a pedophile. Which would at least be historically accurate even according to muslim texts.

But the central thrust of the Da Vinci Code is that all of Christianity is a lie. Should this be considered offensive to Christians? I am waiting for the State Department to issue a statement to that effect...

"These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims," State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said. "We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression, but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable." msnbc

Blasphemous Books

The reason I decided to write this post was that I actually thought I heard an announcement on TV for a segment that was framed as if the truth of the Da Vinci Code was an established fact.

The advertisement said something like, "Is the Da Vinci Code all just fiction? We'll talk to someone who alleges it is all a hoax. ...tune in to find out..." As if someone questioning the veracity of the Da Vinci Code was news.

There are many things wrong with Mr. Brown's interpretation of the gospel; too many things in fact for a single post. But here's a few articles and resources that cover the subject:

Breaking The Da Vinci Code
5 Big Questions from The Da Vinci Code
'Da Vinci Code' errors: A quick list
How The Da Vinci Code Doesn't Work

It seems rather silly to have to refute the arguments of a fiction novel. But many folks seem to believe that this novel is somehow a detective work of historical significance.

If this survey is to be believed the damage is already done:

The British survey, released by a group of prominent Catholics, revealed that readers of Dan Brown's blockbuster novel are twice as likely to believe Jesus Christ fathered children and four times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is a murderous sect.

...ORB interviewed more than 1,000 adults last weekend, finding that 60 percent believed Jesus had children by Mary Magdalene — a possibility raised by the book — compared with just 30 percent of those who had not read the book. msnbc

In fact, the Da Vinci Code bears more than a passing resemblence to the Satanic Verses, which you will recall earned Salman Rushdie a death sentence and multi-million dollar bounty from the Ayatollah Khomeini. (You know, the Iranian theocracy working on making nukes.)

In the name of God Almighty. There is only one God, to whom we shall all return. I would like to inform all intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur’an, as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents, have been sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare insult the Islamic sanctities. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing. In addition, anyone who has access to the author of the book, but does not possess the power to execute him, should refer him to the people so that he may be punished for his actions. May God’s blessing be on you all. Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini. wikipedia

I haven't heard the Pope issue any fatwas or post any bounties yet, but who knows... even now the Opus Dei may be plotting to erase Mr. Brown from the pages of history.

Aha! I found my black sneakers and hood. See you tomorrow at the riots.

Posted by Eric Simonson at May 17, 2006 4:22 AM
Comment #148855

Let’s see, Eric. You’ve discovered the synergy of the Media being merged into a few companies, so that 90% of what you hear is their product promotions.


Perhaps you were seized by the dire straights of the Congress rushing thru the middle of the night to save Terry Schiavo. Or maybe the deeply disturbing Homo marriages. Maybe it was the shooting of those baby murdering doctors that caught your attention. Perhaps it was those lynchings in the south that raised your focus.

I know you actually focused on a current issue, other than the ramblings of religious sealots.
The serious issue of Movie grosses.

Posted by: gergle at May 17, 2006 4:49 AM
Comment #148860
The advertisement said something like, “Is the Da Vinci Code all just fiction? We’ll talk to someone who alleges it is all a hoax. …tune in to find out…” As if someone questioning the veracity of the Da Vinci Code was news.

Oh dear. Eric has never heard of the May Sweeps. How embarrassing.

Perhaps you were seized by the dire straights of the Congress rushing thru the middle of the night to save Terry Schiavo.

…for a nice Vegetable Leftover dish.

Or maybe the deeply disturbing Homo marriages.

More likely it was the Gay Hookers with all of those Republicans over at the Watergate…

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 17, 2006 6:18 AM
Comment #148873


You bring up a good comparison between the Mohammed cartoons and The DaVinci Code . In both situations, a religion is mocked (I tend not to go to the “blasphemed” level in either case). The difference is that the first caused riots, bloodshed and death in the name of the religion, while the second has inspired thoughtful conversation, along with a number of strong condemnations…but no violence.

It is quite illustrative to note the basic fact of each situation is that a religion is mocked, yet many will be shocked…shocked, I say…at the Mohammed cartoons and place blame at the feet of the cartoonists and newspapers, while at the same time purporting to be blase about the DaVinci Code and place the blame at those who want to argue the “facts” of the book.

I’d ask those folks what the significant differences in each situation are. I’d ask them to recognize the different outcomes. I doubt some will even be able to honestly and openly understand these.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 17, 2006 7:22 AM
Comment #148880


I basically agree with you about the Da Vinci Code. It is good enough if read simply as a novel, but as a work of pseudo-fact it is horrible. Accusing the Church of burning five million witches is not just ridiculous, but rephrensible.

I don’t quite see a comparison with the Mohammed cartoons, though. Dan Brown does not attack Jesus himself, but the Church. (Unless you think it would be bad for him to have had children. I don’t.) It is really apples and oranges.

A better comparison to the Mohammed cartoons would be “Piss Christ”.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 17, 2006 7:42 AM
Comment #148885

Once again the ignorance of the Conservatives boggles the mind.

Equating the Mohammed Cartoons is like insulting GOD.

I know the GOP has problems in that they equate the Vatican with Jesus Christ so I will let it go.

Posted by: Aldous at May 17, 2006 8:00 AM
Comment #148890

The conservative’s brain’s are so easily assimulated by this mind virus called religion.

Whether it is the fiction of the Bible or the fiction based on the Bible, it is only created to entertain the minds of the weak. None of this is anything to do with G-d or reality.

Posted by: nick (mem beth) at May 17, 2006 8:21 AM
Comment #148893

I do not think that there will be any riots, murders or even book-burnings over this blasphemous movie. Most Christians will simply ignore it. We are kind of “advanced” that way.

Posted by: nikkolai at May 17, 2006 8:30 AM
Comment #148895

The reactions of Islam over the cartoons can be compared to actions the Christian church might have taken before the period of enlightenment. We’ve gone through “enlightenment” and they haven’t. That’s my take anyway.

Posted by: Tom L at May 17, 2006 9:01 AM
Comment #148900

Islam specifically forbids any visual depiction of Mohammed or Allah. Like other extremely orthodox religions, there is a whole set of laws for dealing with this. Christianity, of course, does not forbid the same for Jesus. But I can guarantee you that the movie will spark protest—maybe not the violent protest more typical of the lesser developed world and our own inner cities—but protest nonetheless.

Imagine, to actually have a parallel, that Jesus was depicted in a cartoon having sex with Mary Magdalene and printed in a major paper. Think that would go over well?

But my main point here, which is the only real point, is that you conservatives have this whiney way of comparing and trying to point out hypocrisy. “We can’t make fun of Islam but they [whomever “they” are] can make fun of Christianity?” Perhaps either both are right or both are wrong. Or perhaps, even better, we should be sensitive to the needs of all of these religions individually. One is not dependent on the other.

Let me close by pointing out that you probably group all of the world’s billion Muslims together in your estimation of their reaction to those cartoons. Admit it, when you read “Muslim” you think of a guy in some sort of turban with a beard and a tan. It’s ignorance. What we see as freedom and “enlightenment” in Christianity, these particular Muslims who rioted would see a religion that’s been watered-down by Democracy and capitalism.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s all a fairy tale.

Posted by: David at May 17, 2006 9:36 AM
Comment #148903


Eric’s point wasn’t about Christianity. Its about the comparison of reaction to similar issues. Woody’s point that “Piss Christ” is the more applicable comparison is a good point, but it leaves us with the same conclusion. There was dissent and protest, but no violence regarding “Piss Christ”.

Of course, not all Muslims are the same, nor are all Christians the same. But you have to recognize that the Mohammed cartoons sparked rabid violence in many distinct areas of the globe. You must recognize that radical Islam is a problem, and that radical Islamists react with violence in a way that no other religion has to the same degree.

Whether you believe in Christianity or not, whether you choose atheism, agnosticism, or some form of religion….that’s all up to you. But it has little to do with the comparison between how religions react to a mockery of their religion.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 17, 2006 9:43 AM
Comment #148905
Whether it is the fiction of the Bible or the fiction based on the Bible, it is only created to entertain the minds of the weak.

Is it really too much to ask to conjure up an original thought before you post? We already have Betty, really, how many of you do we need.

Admit it, when you read “Muslim” you think of a guy in some sort of turban with a beard and a tan.

I think it’s hilarious how Libs project their bigotry. Turban, beard and a tan? What??? My guess is that you don’t even know any Muslims.

How about this, David: your point of view is a fairy tale.

Posted by: Craig at May 17, 2006 9:55 AM
Comment #148912

How do you combat a touchy subject that reveals total hypocrisy?
By blaming all problems on conservatives and the Christian religion.

I can understand how the Code upsets people just as the cartoons did and I understand the hypocrisy involved. Its ok to demean and poke fun at one, but not the other. Its open season on Christians and Muslims are off limits.
But geez, its just a movie and I’ll be in line this weekend to see it, and, just as with the cartoons I looked at and laughed so hard at, I hope I am entertained.

Why won’t hundreds die because of the Code? Because we aren’t animals and they are. And, rather than treat them as such, their supporters would rather ignore the problems they project on the world and instead blame someone or something else.

Posted by: kctim at May 17, 2006 10:56 AM
Comment #148918


You are correct that its just a movie, and just a fictional book. Its amazing to me that so many have put such significance into a simple fictional book, while at the same time disregarding many obvious facts that are misrepresented in Brown’s discourse.

I read the book and liked it. I think Brown is a very good writer, and The DaVinci Code really grabbed my attention and held it. But its just a book. It shouldn’t be held up as a pillar of scholarly truth, for many of its points are easily refuted. But as a book, and as a Ron Howard movie with Tom Hanks in the lead…well, I’ll be in line to see it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 17, 2006 11:06 AM
Comment #148924

I guess my only point would be that, Dan Brown writes compelling and multilayered suspense novels, whereas the cartoonist who drew that cartoon was doing the cartoon simply to test the limits of free speech. Plus, Brown’s book is a work of fiction, wheras political cartoons are meant to reflect reality. Granted, I think Brown has a tendency to misrepresent how close his books are to reality. Also I find that his caracters have no depth whatsoever, and he tries a little to hard to create excessively complex situations in which the only solution involves some sort of puzzle. Its like playing mist.

Yet somehow, I love his books.

Posted by: iandanger at May 17, 2006 11:30 AM
Comment #148934

The book’s a neat little exercise in puzzle-box writing, but contributor Woody Mena’s post The Dubya Code hints at, some of the whole symbology mumbo-jumbo gets to be unintentionally funny.

I’m used to people taking literary license with Jesus. It was more comfortable when I wasn’t a believer, but I’ve seen my share of takes on it. Anne Rice’s take on Jesus in Memnoch The Devil is one example(It’ll be interesting to read her newer take on it since she’s returned to Catholicism!). There was this short story a while back where Jesus is this guy who travelled back in time looking to observe the life of Jesus. Then there’s Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke’s take on things in The Light of Other Days, where a quantum wormhole technology enables people to go back in time and observe the life of Jesus, who turns out to be the bastard child of a Roman soldier whose name he even takes as he starts his ministry.

Anti-Catholic bias can also be found in works like Left Behind, where the Whore of Babylon, if I’m not mistaken, turns out to be a pope who allies with the Antichrist.

My advice? Don’t take it that seriously. First, our faith should not be challenged by works of fiction, nor should it depend on the universal good regard of our religion. If that is what we’re seeking, then we trade our heavenly reward for the earthly reward of the praise of others. We don’t need to make that praise our God.

Attention, though, is precisely what spells the difference between the Da Vinci Code, and dozens of other works that make unorthodox interpretations of Christianity. If this wasn’t such a well constructed thriller, nobody would give the religion a second look.

So what are we supposed to do? My advice? Write our own thrillers, our own stuff, and make it good enough to compete with the material we consider unacceptable. Those of us who are Christians should not hide our light under a basket, but instead should create work that is just as persuasive in its point of view as our rival’s. We cannot fight the cultural curiosity in this work if all we can offer is the absence of material on the subject.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2006 12:08 PM
Comment #148953

Watch the movie, don’t watch the movie, it’s freedom of choice states the left. Decide to object to some claims made in the movie, engaging in that same freedom, ZEALOTS!!!
Offend Islamic murderers? Bad media, have you no religious sensitivities? BAD!!!
Offend Catholics specifically and christians in general? Good media, GOOD-GOOD-GOOD!!! Remember, the constitution guarantees we the people freedom from religion. How do you folks on the left reconcile fellow Dems who are offended by the premise of the “code”? Are they muddle-headed, under educated, redneck pro-theocratic idiots? Are they ignorant, religious zealots like the hated Neocon evangelicals? I appreciate your honesty. Please, please be more vocal, increasing in your shrillness as November approaches. Thank you.

Posted by: JR at May 17, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #148956

Well you all can say what you want to , but Pres Bush and the boys at the White House and Big oil companies put me out of business. Fuel prices is to much for me to continue. I’m 61 years old and now no health care, bills I can’t pay , facing repo’s , can’t get unemployment , grants I’d have dirt in my face before that would be approved, taxes ,can’t file bankruptcy thanks to Bush , Where is all the help !!! If I was a Muslin I’d get what I wanted quick.

Posted by: Fred Wilkes at May 17, 2006 1:28 PM
Comment #148964

Drudge headlines state the DaVinci Code bombed big time at Cannes. And if it bombed there, it ain’t gonna make here, that’s for sure.

Something about this seems right. Very right. I hope whoever bankrolled this travesty takes it in the shorts.

Posted by: nikkolai at May 17, 2006 2:01 PM
Comment #148965


You do realize that the Catholic Church is and has always been against the war in Iraq. So it is quite interesting that you choose a book/movie as a boiling point for Christians.

I guess a movie is much worse than war right? Man that Tom Hanks is brutal.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #148966

This is a really hilarious post.
I don’t see Far-Right “Religious” folks angrily and vociferously speaking out against the death penalty, despite the sixth commandment (thou shalt not kill). Nor have I seen them turn away en mass from breaking the third (mentioning the name of the Lord in vain) by constantly referring to their party as the Chosen One (God’s Own Party), while simultaneously breaking the ninth (bearing false witness against their neighbors) by claiming that Democrats and Liberals are “Godless”. Nor have they been condemning the way this administration has been (again) breaking the ninth by constantly lying about what they’re doing, or intend to do, or want to do. Nor have they seemed very angry over the way this adminstration and their party breaks the eighth (thou shalt not steal) in so very many ways.
When they’ve done all of those things, then, and only then, will an Agnostic like myself believe that all these many “Christians” deserve to be taken at all seriously about any kind of “offense” they percieve being launched against their supposed “strong faith”.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 17, 2006 2:17 PM
Comment #148969


Don’t kid yourself. It will be the biggest movie of the summer. Almost 100 million people read the book (yes, ONE HUNDRED MILLION), do you really think that they will not want to watch the movie? Get real.


So why doesn’t war offend Catholics? It offends the Pope and all of the priests below him. Why not the people who listen to them speak?

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #148970


Is your blog a hype to get me to buy country music? All that’s missing is a steel guitar in the background, your truck breaking down and your dog running away. Sorry to read about your current problems, a few questions though. If you have lived your life and run your business in such a way as to now be destitute because gas prices went up, what can the government do about it? The old ways still work best, plan ahead of time, save when times are good and pinch the pennies when they aren’t. My folks never reached the economic level called “middle class”. When the economy of the 70’s & 80’s took away my fathers job of 36 years - he looked for another, and found it (in an economy much more stifled then todays). They saved what they could when they could, kept a pantry full of canned goods, bought what they needed not what they wanted and persevered! The government should make sure you’re OK? They didn’t set up your business plan did they? Did they make your business or personal purchases and leave you with the bills? Granted, I’d prefer much lower taxes (personal and corp) but then that would be pandering to the rich, right? Are you a Dem or Repub? Guessing from your complaints I’d say Dem. Welcome to the world your party espouses. Tax ‘em all so we can save public schools, and increase welfare rolls! I’m in the same boat as you as I write, but it’s not the governments fault I lost a job or that it came as a suprise and caught us off guard. We have adjusted and moved ahead, (still not working & no welfare-no unemployment), & no I am not rich - never had a combined income above 60K. America is famous for allowing those who persevere to achieve. Don’t give up, don’t throw up your hands, go for it! Reach for the star, it’s still out there, even though most Dems fail to see it or constantly downplay it.

Posted by: JR at May 17, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #148973


I believe they think if they put the commandments in courthouses, they don’t actually have to follow them.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 2:26 PM
Comment #148976

The correct translation of the sixth commandment is “thou shall not murder” it refers to killing innocents - nothing to do with war. Chosen one? What? I don’t recall anyone stating Dems we’re Godless from a National Denomination, or from the Administration. Bearing false witness, let me guess - BUSH LIED - NSA LISTENING,TAPING,COMPILING every phone call of every citizen in the US and LIED about it. Come on, make a better argument than that.

Posted by: JR at May 17, 2006 2:34 PM
Comment #148979


The argument is simple. The Catholic Church is against the war. That is the base of the Christian religion. So why are you and others for the war? Are politics stronger than faith?

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 2:39 PM
Comment #148982

God killed people.

Jesus told his followers to follow Mosaic law - which included state executions.

And the commandment itself is a translation:

The verse translated “Thou shalt not kill” in the KJV translation, is translated “You shall not murder”2 in modern translations - because these translations represents the real meaning of the Hebrew text. The Bible in Basic English translates the phrase, “Do not put anyone to death without cause.”


Do yourselves a favor and don’t quote the bible if you never actually read it, you really come off looking like fools.

Posted by: Craig at May 17, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #148994



I believe they think if they put the commandments in courthouses, they don’t actually have to follow them.”

Indeed. And what is funny about that is the fact that their loud n’ pious demand to litter our public spaces with such “graven images” intended to promote Christianity above all other religions in America means they think nothing of breaking the second commandment! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at May 17, 2006 3:36 PM
Comment #149003


I do believe you’ve been chastised enough by JR and Craig. Interesting to note that you avoided comment on your misinterpretation of the “thou shalt not kill” commandment. They of course are correct, but agreeing with them would seriously hurt your argument, so I won’t wait for your agreement. Its really not necessary anyway.

You paint a wonderful caricature of religious folks. Its about as accurate as some of the caricatures of left wing liberals that I see out there. I condemn them both. Its sad that you can only see far enough to condemn the left wing caricatures.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 17, 2006 4:07 PM
Comment #149005

“I do believe you’ve been chastised enough by JR and Craig.”

I think they should chastise themselves for somehow thinking that we mere mortals should be able to “cast the first stone” — quite in defiance of the fact that “vengance” is supposed to be the job of the “Lord” alone.

“Interesting to note that you avoided comment on your misinterpretation of the “thou shalt not kill” commandment.”

Funny, and here I thought it was fascinating how they latched onto only that one, and chose to ignore the rest of the commandment dismissing.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 17, 2006 4:23 PM
Comment #149007

“Its sad that you can only see far enough to condemn the left wing caricatures.”

I think you meant “right wing” here didn’t you?
Btw, I wasn’t condemning true Christians, only the fake and falsely pious ones.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 17, 2006 4:27 PM
Comment #149010

From Don Quixote:

“The first thing he did was to scour the suit of armor that had lain rusting in the corner, time out of mind.”

Eric, my boy, it was fiction.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at May 17, 2006 4:31 PM
Comment #149013

Mental Wimp:
“Eric, my boy, it was fiction.”

It’s true, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ is nothing more than a work of fiction. Still, it contains an interesting kernel of truth: that the idea of worshipping the Female was very successfully wiped out within the Judeo-Christian tradition. (The last remnant of that which still manages to hang on is found within the Catholic faith with the devotion to Mary.) Thus, in this tradition they ended up with a God who is considered Male, who was somehow able to create Everything in the World — yet without any help at all from a Divine Female. Even though this goes quite completely against what occurs in Nature, and against what is believed in many other religious traditions found on this planet, Earth.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 17, 2006 5:00 PM
Comment #149017


Funny, and here I thought it was fascinating how they latched onto only that one, and chose to ignore the rest of the commandment dismissing.

Actually, JR mentioned ALL the commandments that you cited, not just one. Maybe you read his comments too quickly or just forgot about it.

I did, in fact, mean to say ‘right wing’ as opposed to left wing. Thanks for catching it—sometimes I get my wings mixed up.

Btw, I wasn’t condemning true Christians, only the fake and falsely pious ones.

I’d think you wouldn’t want to condemn anyone, even the fake and falsely pious, considering your comments about “the fact that “vengance” is supposed to be the job of the “Lord” alone.” If thou believeth that, then thou shouldst not condemn. :)

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 17, 2006 5:19 PM
Comment #149019


Not a believer myself, but those religions of the world that:

a. don’t make conversion of others a central tenet,

b. don’t try to pretend fairy tales or allegories are literally true,

c. recognize the duality of nature and reality, and

d. emphasize the humane treatment of all life

resonate (or “resignate”, as our dear president likes to say) with me. The rest turn me right off, and, it’s fair to say, have caused and continue to cause untold grief in the world, as much as “godless” communism.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at May 17, 2006 5:25 PM
Comment #149021

Let that Democrat who insists they understand Holy Scripture well enough to tell us heathen Repubs how lost we are, ‘splain to me your abortion stance as a party. False witness? I checked my bible concordance and was referred to William Jefferson Clinton. The issue at hand is not who is more religious or who has the “moral authority” when it comes to the movie, it’s why the double standard? Leftys adore our constitution and bill of rights, except that pesky 2nd amendment. Left says, NO DEATH PENALTY, but demands legal murder of innocent babies. They give a luke-warm ho hum to the deaths caused by Islamic madmen over a cartoon, applauding the decency of not showing Mohammeds image in the US - and swoon over the code, who cares about those pushy christians anyway, they’re to blame for the crusades afterall, right?

Posted by: JR at May 17, 2006 5:30 PM
Comment #149027


You won’t get anywhere with your argument if you don’t recognize that some intelligent and well-intentioned people don’t consider blastocytes or even fetuses “babies”. One might even consider these to be part of a mother’s body, hence under her control. Thus, it isn’t hypocisy or contradiction to oppose killing actual people, yet support a woman’s right to control her body.

Lefties adore the constitution? Are you implying that righties don’t? I guess that’s becoming more and more evident every day.

That 2nd amendment is pesky because it refuses to yield to an interpretation that there is an absolute right for each person to have a gun, “well regulated militia” and all that. Sort of conditional, unlike the 1st and 4th amendments.

Do you have a particular lefty in mind when you say they don’t care about deaths over the cartoons? I don’t know any lefties that are unconcerned about those deaths.

Also, I haven’t seen any lefties swoon over the DaVinci Code.

Finally, who was to blame for the Crusades?

Posted by: Mental Wimp at May 17, 2006 5:54 PM
Comment #149029

Neither party is of heaven. Both are of this world. I think that should be plain to see. It is the reason why I can reasonably be a Democrat even as I oppose abortion except for rape, incest and the health of the mother.

The translation issue with the sixth commandment does fall on the side of the commandment being, “You shall not Murder.” That said, two issue remain: One is that murder and kill have become interchangeable words in connotation, even though murder has a legal denotation that kill doesn’t have in the bible or the ordinary law. This is part of the reason why I am not a fundamentalist, but a contextualist: the uncertainty of human language.

I can forgive people for the “kill” interpretation. If they wanted a better reason for opposing the Death Penalty, they might invoke various passages about mercy and forgiveness throughout the gospels and the rest of the bible.

Additionally, in having this debate, those of us who are Christian are obligated (and the rest are invited) to follow the commandments that were laid out by him, when he was asked:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind and your soul.


Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Forgiveness and mercy, in my opinion, have been the virtues most strenuously squeezed out of our culture from Christian religion. We would do ourselves a favor to work it back into our lives

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2006 5:58 PM
Comment #149035
My question is, should we consider the Da Vinci Code to be as offensive as the Mohammed cartoons were? If not, why?

At first it seemed interesting, but after a little reflection I am blase about the whole thing (I know, very liberal of me).

If you have to think about your question Eric, then it is not as offensive. The issue is apples and oranges -

The cartoon issue was a westerner ridiculing a culture near alien to the west with which we have had various states of war for the last 1300 years.

The Code issue is an western fiction writer whose work is offending a subset of those westerners.

They are really not at all comparable.

Now here is where this gets tricky for Eric -

To have truly a comparable issue for discussion you must assume that Christians are a foreign group that are truly distinct from the nations they live in.

For America, you must assume that though Christians live in this nation, they are not of this nation, their allegiances are not to this nation. Then the offense by American writer Dan Brown to Christians is one to non-Americans (at least in their values).

I don’t know any other way to frame the points of view to make the comparison work.

Eric, is this what you are suggesting?

Posted by: CPAdams at May 17, 2006 6:17 PM
Comment #149036

“Actually, JR mentioned ALL the commandments that you cited, not just one. Maybe you read his comments too quickly or just forgot about it.”

No, I saw that JR mentioned them, but he ultimately dismissed my argument at the end of his post, so I basically decided to dismiss his in return.

“I’d think you wouldn’t want to condemn anyone, even the fake and falsely pious,”

I condemn all hypocrisy, Joe. Wherever I happen to find it. Whether it is from the Far-right Christians railing on about their supposed piety and their desire to enforce it’s supremacy upon America, or from Hillary Clinton defending the Neocons illegal war based on lies in Iraq, and sucking up to the likes of Bush and Rupert Murdock — I’ve never been afraid to condemn whatever or whoever strikes me as utterly false and insincere.

“considering your comments about “the fact that �vengance� is supposed to be the job of the �Lord� alone.” If thou believeth that, then thou shouldst not condemn. :) “

I don’t believeth that necessarily, and thou shouldst knoweth this since I divulgethed my Agnosticism! ;^)
With no proof to satisfy my rational mind, I’ve personally chosen to withhold all judgement over the existence of “God” or “Gods”. And, I’m not willing to take anyone elses word for it — no matter how many times they claim to have read the bible (for me, it’s been three times), or how expert they claim to be on this subject. In my opinion, until we’re dead, human beings are only guessing and wishing, and hoping and speculating on the nature of the Divine — which to me means that all these guesses, and wishes, and hopes, and speculations can only be as good as my own.

Mental Wimp,

I agree with you completely, and I thought that was very well said.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 17, 2006 6:21 PM
Comment #149044


Offensive - what does it mean? I beleived that the Mohammed cartoons were offensive to Muslims. No doubt, that the Da Vince Code is offensive to Catholics and perhaps other Christians.

Muslims have a right to complain and they did. The riots, though, were instigated by Saudi Arabia, who are extremists. Let’s not tar all Muslims with the same brush.

The Catholics have a right to complain and they are doing it. Here in the U.S. they know that the best way to be heard is not through violence but talk.

Religious people in the U.S. are not always the ones to be offended. Often - very often - the so-called religious right offends with its statements all those who disagree with them. They call them baby killers, homos, Satan worshippers, secular humanists and even lousy liberals.

This is what is called free speech. Let’s not allow our free speech to be taken away in order to make all of us conform to the tenets of any specific church.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at May 17, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #149049
Because we aren’t animals and they are.

I think that sums up this piece quite succintly.

I’m glad there are no racist undertones involved here.

Posted by: gergle at May 17, 2006 7:14 PM
Comment #149050

Who says the Bible is right? What we can agree on is that Jesus was proabably a real historical figure. But Historinas interpret the Bible differently from Christians.

I resent Christians claiming a monopoly on the story of Jesus. That They are the only one interpretation. They do not have the right to insist that only their view be heard.

This shows how weak religion really is and how undemocratic it is. They cannot tolerate any criticisms or differint views.

Let them suffer and grow up

Posted by: Steve at May 17, 2006 7:24 PM
Comment #149074

Steve: We dont insist our view be the only one heard.

All we want is the freedom to express our view. Since we are effectivly removed from public schools, and public property of any sort (which we pay taxes to support) we feel it necessary to demand our cause be heard. If you dont belive the biblical account of Jesus thats your own personal problem. We will pray for your enlightenment.

As to being weak; Christians are under vicious attacts on all sides. sticking by our faith under circumstances that would cause Godless people to flip flop is courage not weakness.

As to being undemocratic; I cannot find any reference the bible that points to God being democratic. He is a jealous God and dosent tolerate any other so called gods.

Posted by: Jc at May 17, 2006 8:53 PM
Comment #149075

Be careful how much you generalize about Christians. I am after all one of them, and if you look through my posts, you’ll find your criticism doesn’t apply.

The thing to keep in mind is that for many people religion is part of how they live complete lives. Man is not a completely rational creature, and is prone to making idols out of certain things in life; pleasure, possession, the people in our lives, our emotions, etc. Religion, I think, is often a way of bringing that back into harmony.

People being the way they are though, piety can be one of those idols people fall to worshipping. That problem , though, isn’t unaddressed in Christianity and other major religions. Christ himself counsels against many of things secular Americans consider their pet peeves about religion.

We just have to understand that one doesn’t stop being human and fallible when one becomes a worshipper of a divine power in the universe.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2006 9:05 PM
Comment #149077


“As to being undemocratic; I cannot find any reference the bible that points to God being democratic. He is a jealous God and dosent tolerate any other so called gods.”

Yeah, but.

The Bible doesn’t trump the constitution, even though Mr. Bush doesn’t seem to think so.

“All we want is the freedom to express our view. Since we are effectivly removed from public schools, and public property of any sort (which we pay taxes to support) we feel it necessary to demand our cause be heard.”

You have the right to express your views, I have the right not to listen.
I can only assume that your “We” is the Empirical we, or you’re speaking as a group.

Where have you been removed?
Are you speaking of religous articles?
You do understand that there are people other than Christians living here in this country?
They don’t ask to display the Buddha in the public square, and you won’t find Shiva there either.

So what exactly is your point?

Posted by: Rocky at May 17, 2006 9:11 PM
Comment #149078

You have the freedom to express your views. The only thing with the courts and legislators is the question of whether any of those views should have public sanction. The general opinion on that in the courts is no, since our government is not supposed to be able to favor or disfavor a particular religion.

This is the basic underlying motivation behind the religion clauses of the first Amendment: no favoritism by public officials, no surpression. When Hindu judges start putting lines from the Bhavagad Veda, and Muslims start putting the five pillars of Islam on their court, then complain. Ultimately, the prohibitions on such displays is one based on a kind of truce between the religions. This reflects the earlier colonial days when there were big arguments over whose church would become the established church of America. (ala the Church of England)

We decided against it, for good reason. As a result, America has been fairly low on the sectarian strife that other countries that “solved” this problem have experienced.

As to weakness? JC, our religion survived the Roman Empire. America is easy by comparison. Christ told us to be expect to be cursed at on his account. This is not the worst condition we could be in. People in the Sudan, in China, in other countries where Christianity fights more of an uphill battle are the ones seeing their faith tested. We? We find more temptations than martyrdoms here.

As for God and Democracy, we know in Romans Paul is telling us to respect the authority set over us. God set this Democracy over us, and we should not assume that just because the Creator of the Universe can create a divine government that we human being could manage the same without screwing it up.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2006 9:21 PM
Comment #149080

The Bible says that Jesus was both man and God. Should it be surprising that the MAN fell in love, married and fathered children?

And what difference does it make? Does it make Him any less holy or His life any less meaningful?

And I wonder what God thinks about all those tenets, creeds and dogmas that clutter up the spiritual landscape?

I wonder what a cosmic chuckle sounds like?

Posted by: ulysses at May 17, 2006 9:24 PM
Comment #149082


Posted by: JC at May 17, 2006 9:26 PM
Comment #149084


Nice Caps. Very Christian of you.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 9:36 PM
Comment #149086


Posted by: JC at May 17, 2006 9:39 PM
Comment #149087


Where did you “Check” about the Constitution being based on Christianity? You should at least read the Constitution before remarking about it. Here, I will give you the first thing it talks about….

“Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion”

Is that clear enough, or should we take it up to the Supreme Court and let them decide. Oh wait, they alreay have.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 9:43 PM
Comment #149089

That means they cannot start up (establish) a religion> It dosent say anything about repressing one. Yes the liberal court of the land missinterpeted the constitution just as you just did.

Posted by: jc at May 17, 2006 9:50 PM
Comment #149091

No jc, I actually read it. Have you?

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 9:54 PM
Comment #149092

And jc, as far as I knew our Congressman put their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don’t put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 9:56 PM
Comment #149094


Are you saying that no religions have “Started up” since the Constitution was written? Have you ever been to Utah?

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 10:00 PM
Comment #149118

Based on Christianity? Distantly, perhaps, but this is a document that while vague on somethings is specific on three counts:

1)There can be no religious test applied to office.

2)There can be no state supported or favored religion

3)There shall be no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

America was the dumping ground for a lot of dissenters, in addition to also being the colonies where the Church of England would ship its followers. Even at the time of the constitution’s writing, there were all kinds of different points of view. Some men were deists. Some were atheists. Some were Anglican, some catholic. The Separation between Church and State is brought out by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Baptist association.

Let me explain something here: the earliest evangelicals in this country wanted the separation of Church and State, because they did not want the state telling them who could be a preacher or not.

The reality is, such separations exist in order to distance religion from the intrusions of government. What’s come of it? A nation that manages to be both fairly secular, and fairly religious. Why? Because yout take on the religion of your own free will.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 17, 2006 11:47 PM
Comment #149120

Well said.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 17, 2006 11:54 PM
Comment #149121

JC just out of curiousity where do you learn such misinformation as “THE CONSTITUTION WAS BASED ON CHRISTIANITY”?

Posted by: j2t2 at May 18, 2006 12:07 AM
Comment #149139

JC shows typical ignorance from the Christian wing of our conservative friends. Many people do believe that the founding of this great nation was based on Christianity, but anyone doing just a little research will see how much the founding fathers were resistant to that notion. Many of them were “Deists” who believed that the Universe was created by God who then subsequently left it to its own devices.

But what is important in the Constitution is not what’s in it but what is *not* in it! The fact that there is no mention of Christianity or Christ was a very important and deliberate omission for the founding fathers.

But my separate point is, rather than b&$#h and whine about Muslims being all violent and “isn’t that such an unfair double standard,” why don’t we try to figure out how not to piss off so many people? A little understanding of another perspective makes us stronger, not weaker. And replying “why should we try to understand them when they don’t care to understand us” is no answer. If we make the claim to freedom and tolerance, let’s back it up.

Posted by: David at May 18, 2006 1:04 AM
Comment #149141


Just a question, how exactly do you draw a line from the Judeo-Christian tradition to social contractarian philosophy?

The enlightenment thinkers were not quoting scripture, they were making it up as they went. They took broad concepts (which were all thought experiments) and created their social contracts and their governments in theory. Applying them took time, but they weren’t actually Christian in nature. Democracy is not a biblical value, neiter is equality before the law, or limited rule.

Posted by: iandanger at May 18, 2006 1:47 AM
Comment #149160


Forgiveness and mercy, in my opinion, have been the virtues most strenuously squeezed out of our culture from Christian religion. We would do ourselves a favor to work it back into our lives

Very well said…very well said indeed.


The problem with the theory that Christ was married with children is that there is little to substantiate it. One might as well claim that Christ won the Triple Crown in baseball, was a Roman emperor, or that he posted on Watchblog.

So, as a theory, its okay. But there’s simply no proof. As far as I can tell, the only “proof” is the scripture that says Jesus kissed Mary Magdalene. If that is the standard for proof of being married with kids, oh my goodness…I just learned I have many wives and far more children than I previously thought. :0

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 18, 2006 7:48 AM
Comment #149173

Oh Lord give me strength, give me the strength to write a book that is made into a movie and gets so much free publicity that I cant stand it. Give me strength Lord.

Posted by: j2t2 at May 18, 2006 8:57 AM
Comment #149191
Drudge headlines state the DaVinci Code bombed big time at Cannes. And if it bombed there, it ain�t gonna make here, that�s for sure.

There is no way it is going to outright bomb. Too many people have read the book. And so far it has gotten mixed, not bad, reviews. ( And if you think people only go to movies with good reviews…

For the record, my earlier comments apply to the book, not the movie. I’m not in France, so I haven’t seen it. So for all I know the movie may be more blasphemous.

Posted by: Woody Mena at May 18, 2006 10:18 AM
Comment #149238

“why don’t we try to figure out how not to piss off so many people?”

Unless they are Christians or Americans, right?
No sense in worrying about them is there? I mean, the Christians primarily vote for the right, so they are the enemy and Americans are the root cause of everything bad and every problem in the world, so why care about what your own countrymen think.

Nice how your so willing to apply your statement to everybody who supports your ideas but do a total reversal when it comes to those who don’t.

And its REAL nice how, in order to make the opposition party look bad, you would rather support a foriegn country and their people, over your very own country and her people.

So yeah, lets quit pissing so many people off. But instead of beginning with others, lets start with our own.

Posted by: kctim at May 18, 2006 2:10 PM
Comment #149247

I always think it’s a real shame whenever your sensible, reasonable and well thought out posts sail right over someones head — and with no understanding grasped whatsoever.
It seems more than clear that if there were far more religious people like yourself in this country, rather than those who hold attitudes like that demonstrated by “JC”, there would be far less friction and animosity between our many religious and secular fellow Americans.

Posted by: Adrienne at May 18, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #149305


There’s a lot of assumption going on in your post. First, you assume that I would discount the needs or concerns of Christians or Americans. Second, you assume that I consider Christians and Americans “the enemy.” Thirdly, and this is the strangest of all, you assume that I would support a “foreign country” and its people above my own. Which foreign country is that? Saudi Arabia?

Well, we know what assume makes out of you and me. I am indeed a liberal and non-Christian. But I am a patriot in the sense that I love this country. Let’s not confuse that with loving the government, though.

The point here is that by understand others we will better serve our own interests at home. The fact that we’ve managed to “piss off” the better part of the world—including the Muslim world, that only hurts us. You can’t bomb them all Kctim, so we’ll have to figure something else out, eh?

Posted by: David at May 18, 2006 8:08 PM
Comment #149307

I think you’re reading far too much into what he’s saying. We shouldn’t go out of our way to provoke people. God knows in the last few hundred years, Arab and Muslim history has been difficult. They are trying to work out their place in the world, and with less than a century between them and centuries of repression of their culture, sometimes those who advocate anger and revenge can be quite seductive.

It’s true that secular society has a blind spot in terms of the religious. I haven’t been a Christian long enough to forget why, so here goes: An average secular person believes they are a step ahead of the religious. They believe that we should just try to be good people on our own, not go through any unseeable, unprovable deity to do so. It’s nice to believe in a God, but it’s god much like the deists of the olden days believed in.

They look at the Christians, and because of many of the Christian’s behavior, they conclude that these people aren’t much better than them when it comes to morality.

In many ways, they’re right. Becoming Christian does not give you perfection in this world. Too many forget that God forgives, but you have to repent of what you’ve done, repent and not repeat. It’s inevitable that Christians will fall short in their daily lives, so the pride in being better people is misplaced. We’re all sinners.

It’s a lesson some secularists could learn as well. I think, though, we have explain to them that what they hate in religious folks vilifying them, they should hate in themselves vilifying others.

We should quit complaining that the real world out there is not fair. We were told things would be this difficult. We were not told to beat up on people because we couldn’t persuade them easily. That’s really taking it too personal.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 18, 2006 8:24 PM
Comment #149312

I wasn’t trying to make a case either way. My only point was what difference should it make if Jesus was or was not married.

You’re right that there is no evidence that he was. On the other hand, there is no evidence that he wasn’t.

As with all things religious, it’s a matter of faith.

If Brown believes Jesus was married, how does that affect my faith or my belief system.

I think people are making way too much out of this, but that is what happens when someone thinks their faith and beliefs are being challenged.

“The DaVinci Code” is just one man’s opinion and nothing more.

Posted by: ulysses at May 18, 2006 8:43 PM
Comment #149322


“The DaVinci Code’ is just one man’s opinion and nothing more”

Oh, and by the way, it just a movie.

Go, don’t go, this movie isn’t going to change the world.

Posted by: Rocky at May 18, 2006 9:52 PM
Comment #149355


Jesus being married or unmarried wouldn’t change my faith at all. But…you say there is no proof that he was or that he wasn’t. I’d challenge you on that—-there is tons of evidence that he was not married. Pretty much the entire New Testament stands as proof of that.

Brown can say what he wants, but his opinion is based on little or no evidence. If he wants to float a theory, it should have some fact behind it. He is in the position of disproving something—not in the position of simply tossing out a theory.

I don’t have a problem at all with the DaVinci Code—thought it was a pretty good book, and I plan on seeing the movie—though the negative reviews are making me wonder.

I do have a small problem with Brown stating that his story is based on fact—its not. But I think he’s doing it just to sell books, and it does give people a good opportunity to discuss their beliefs in an open forum, so in that way, the book does a lot of good.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 18, 2006 11:33 PM
Comment #149417

“The point here is that by understand others we will better serve our own interests at home. The fact that we’ve managed to “piss off” the better part of the world—including the Muslim world, that only hurts us.”

No assumptions at all, your all posts speak for themselves.
The point I was making, is that understanding and not “pissing off” your own, IS more important than the rest of the world. We should fix our own first.

“I think you’re reading far too much into what he’s saying. We shouldn’t go out of our way to provoke people”

I just see it different.
As I’ve said many times on here, I am not a religious person but I do try to show all of them the respect they do or don’t deserve.
To ignore or defend the actions of muslims by poking fun or blaming Christians is wrong. Attempting to cast one’s own country in a negative light, simply for politics, is wrong.

“We should quit complaining that the real world out there is not fair”

Thats right. But, many should also quit thinking and promoting the idea that America and its people are to blame for all of that unfairness.

Posted by: kctim at May 19, 2006 9:29 AM
Comment #149486

We have all, from time to time, offended someone through ignorance. As a former secular humanist, I can testify that many of the attitudes of these people are made without a full understanding of the philosophy and history of Christianity.

Knowing that, It takes a great deal to truly offend me. But since I now harbor strong religious beliefs, I can see the other side of things, the Muslim’s side. While I don’t agree with their violence, I see their source: the spread of strident versions of the religion, coupled with the nature of the societies where these riots took place, where Muslims often live powerless, impoverished lives.

Also, as a person familiar with the dynamics of the human mind, I can understand the distinction, however blurry, between motivation and rationalization.

Which comes down to what? Let me state, first and foremost that violence, censorship, and other similar reactions are not agreeable responses in my book. Don’t tell me I think otherwise: The rioting was wrong.

It was wrong, but it was not done by animals, or by those who understand nothing but force. It was done by those who live in the shadow of systems that burden them with profound tyrannies, and which allow them few legitimate outlets for their frustrations. The setting of these riots was no coincidence. Some see them as evidence of the clash of civilizatons; I see them as evidence of mullahs trying to ratchet up tensions and intimidate the west in a calculated manner. If we were smart enough to see it for what it is, we could defy instead of fulfill the stereotypes in question.

The same goes for dealing with the beefs the rest of the world has with us. Your side on this debate tends to want to create an absolute defense, denying wrongdoing, or at least denying that the wrongdoing should be regarded as serious. In principle, you’re just protecting your country’s reputation, right, not giving the Anti-Americans an inch on the matter.

In practice, though, it’s an approach that convinces no one, which practically everybody sees through. You can’t bomb a country and then tell the people whose cities you blew up that the civilian casualties don’t matter. It just won’t fly. You can control the impressions on your end all you want to, but if reality or the point of view of your audience differs significantly, you have practically no control at all over their response.

So, it’s imperative that we don’t kid ourselves about what we have done who we have done it to and why. It’s not the highest horse we can mount, but it’s actually the one we’d be best advised to ride.

The more ignorant we are, the more we find ourselves in these episodes of nastily surprising culture shocks. I’d just as soon know what kind of past we have with the people question, and work things out from there. After all, my purpose isn’t ultimately to get people to believe I can do no bad, it’s to work out the best path for my country, that which does it the least harm and the most good over time.

Respect will get us further over time. That is why I do not support the Right’s support of the intentionally offensive media item. As much as I support the free speech rights that enable such expression, I think it’s a disrespectful choice, and we gain little respect and cooperation out of that region by rationalizing and advocating things like that.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 19, 2006 2:17 PM
Comment #149619


Stating that the New Testament is concrete evidence that Jesus was or was not married is a statement of faith, not fact.

And you would be hard-pressed to find a historian of any note who would accept a single source as definitive proof of a historical fact.

Even noted Biblical scholars continue to debate the motives of the authors of the books of the New Testament, especially the Gospels.

That doesn’t mean you’re wrong and I’m right. It just means there is no definitive, historical evidence to support either position.

Posted by: ulysses at May 19, 2006 10:21 PM
Comment #150098

“In principle, you’re just protecting your country’s reputation, right, not giving the Anti-Americans an inch on the matter”

Actually, I do not care about what other countries or their people think of us.
I believe we owe it to ourselves to worry about and care for our own first.
If you all wish to worry about others feelings and trying to make everybody love us, fine. But quit making your own country the root of all evil in order to accomplish your task.

You can blame whoever, or whatever, for the reactions to the cartoons and such. You can even be sympathetic to their cause. But in order for any kind of solution to be effective, you also have to apply those same principles to your own country and countrymen, Christian or not.

Posted by: kctim at May 22, 2006 10:01 AM
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