As a participant in The Da Vinci Challenge, I was invited to an advanced screening of the much anticipated, much hyped, movie version of Dan Brown’s bonkers-selling book. I don’t usually go to movies. Don’t watch television. Don’t have Cable. Just plain don’t get out much. So when a free offer pops up … hey. Why not? I’d reluctantly read the book. I’d written several review installments. I’d even taught a semester long Adult Ed Class on the fallacies of The Da Vinci Code. “Ya know,” I thought, “I believe I’ll go.”
I began to fantasize about the creative direction of the movie review. Perhaps I could weave some mystery into the review itself. Heck, given the negative press that spewed out of the Cannes Film Festival, I even started feeling sorry for Opie. I mean, Opie! Like Stephen King’s CUJO, a rabid dog who loved his human family — but killed them nonetheless — face it, if you’ve suffered through that book, you know what I mean. You start to feel for the dog! He’s terrorizing folks and committing murder … but, he has feelings, too! Ron Howard and Tom Hanks are good people. So what if they made a bad movie about the Church being a liar and Jesus being a Daddy? All the hype, the expectation, the rumination, the preparation, and then … the press! Bless their hearts!
But when you read Stephen King’s On Writing you discover that ol’ Steve was nightly downing a case of tall-boys back in those days and didn’t even recall writing the bestseller “Cujo”. I can only imagine that about the time the midnight oil was burnt and the cans were squished, that’s when King got morose and put feelings into that rabid dog — and by telepathy planted them in readers’ heads. Bless our hearts! But I digress …
My wife had even agreed to accompany me to the advanced screening of The Da Vinci Code. That was a surprise. She’d never shown the least interest in reading the book.
But, before I get to my movie review, several things happened on the way to the theater.
1) I read many of the negative reviews. They made me happy. Thank God!
2) Having participated, willingly, in The Da Vinci Challenge, I’d often read articles posted by the other “experts” on that site. It was kinda cool. I found common ground with brothers and sisters way outside of my normal circle. Till yesterday. Yesterday, I read this piece by Erwin Raphael McManus. In conclusion, he writes:
“Perhaps what I love most about the controversy created by The Da Vinci Code is that it exposes how the institutional church has corrupted the message and mission of Jesus Christ. It has clouded in secrecy and hypocrisy what should have remained a simple message of acceptance, forgiveness, and freedom.”
Looks to me like he’s taking a swipe at Catholics — including Orthodox. That was a turn-off. I was close to pouting. By golly, I’d been had, Cujo! (Bless my heart.)
3) I had lunch with an Orthodox catechumen (someone on the journey toward entry into the Church) and mentioned that I was planning to attend the advance showing. I felt wrong saying it. I felt even wronger watching his face hearing me say it.
4) I read Frederica’s review.
That last was the kicker. I like Mama Fred and Mama Fred sees lots of movies.
Frederica’s patron is St Felicity.
St Felicity was arrested for her faith, she was ordered to worship pagan gods; she refused. Her sons were arrested and given the same order; they refused. After a series of appeals, they were ordered executed by emperor Antoninus. Felicity was forced to watch as her children were murdered one by one; after each one she was given the chance to denouce her faith.
Remember the Three Dog Night song … Mama Told Me Not to Come? Well, there you have it.
Truth is, a lot of people in every generation have suffered horrible deaths so that others — me, you, ours — might have this precious Faith.
Why would I want to go see The Da Vinci Code?
I seen so many things
I ain’t never seen before
Don’t know what it is
I don’t wanna see no more
I didn’t go.
I did take my wife out to dinner, though. Unlike the advanced screening for “experts” it wasn’t free. It was, however (you see this coming, no doubt) … priceless.
The kids stayed home and watched, again, the Chronicles of Narnia. The wife and I went to dinner in Sugar Land. And all the people said: Amen.
Look, if I’m happy the movie is a bore and getting bad press …
If I thank God for allowing me to be part of the “institutional church” …
If I couldn’t joyfully explain my interest in seeing the flick to a catechumen …
And, finally, if Mama told me not to come …
She said, that ain’t the way to have fun, son
That ain’t the way to have fun, son
Why on earth would I go?