So I’m in the vestibule with Third Son at Mass yesterday afternoon, and there on the woeful-looking and vastly understocked (or at least nearly empty) Catholic periodical rack is a small bunch of pamphlets suggesting “Here’s how you can stop The Da Vinci Code from becoming a major Hollywood movie.” The little form letter you’re supposed to sign ends with this “Be sure that if you go ahead and produce the film, millions will react in the largest peaceful and legal protest ever seen.”


Kinda makes me wonder about all those Passion dollars. That film had a rather unique subject matter – it gave Christians a chance to see a visceral illustration of a story they’ve been hearing all their lives.


  1. Cubeland Mystic says

    is 77 million

  2. Cubeland Mystic says

    Is 77 million good for the hype?

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    Yeah, it’s good. And 224 million worldwide is huge. Second biggest ever, I think. Sold out in the Catholic countries…

  4. Anonymous says

    What do you wonder about the passion dollars? why they apparently also went to see the davinci code?

  5. Mark Lickona says

    Apparently Dan Brown was a student of Albert Zuckerman, who prescribed a universally-hated villian for the success of any pulpy page-turner.

    Looks like Benedict has his work cut out for him?

    Paging the New Springtime…

  6. Matthew,

    I would be the last to say the crap Hollywood puts out is an indication of ANYTHING significant – except as a via negativa: Each new movie served up by Babylon serves as a sort of frontpage story of Western Civilization’s collapse. But what’s interesting about DaVinci is that it seems to be announcing that collapse in large font bold – and thereby making things a little clearer, a little more open, a little more dangerous to be Christian…it is in fact heralding what Father Guardini calls in The End of the Modern World “the world to come [which] will… be filled with animosity and danger, but it will be a world open and clean.”

    And perhaps our own miserably human, all too human, Church hierarchy is helping it come to this. Look at the USCCB: they found The Passion more violent (and therefore more offensive) than either Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List – but they found Brokeback Mounting (at least the first time around – until they were forced to retract their initial review) a movie with integrity.

    Of course they had to say something negative about DaVinci – it was too ostensibly anti-Catholic to be addressed on any other level. We can give the homosexual agenda a pass because its open to “pastoral debate.” But throw some good old fashioned blasphemy and heresy up on the silver screen and well, we can’t just IGNORE it, now, can we?

    On the other hand, how did they react to The Passion? Mel, Mel, Mel – whaddya doin’ to us – your forcing our hand, Mel. We can’t come out in support of “your” Christ – there’s too much suffering, too much personal accountablity, too much – well, sinfulness, in the Jews and Romans that put Christ to death. Next thing you know, we might actually start coming out with pastoral letters that actually mean something – or worse – build up the faith…

    But see, now, that’s where we are with the bishops (i.e. the Church Impotent). When Truth and Error are served hot from the culutural kitchen, the bishops send them back, hiding behind their pastoral palates. Ah, but when a dish is served lukewarm? They swirl it around in their mouths and, in trying to speak about it, are forced to swallow it…

    Of course, even as the violence against the faith will draw the lines clearer – we can only hope Father Guardini was right about one particular dividend of the world to come….

    “Love will disappear from the face of the public world, but the more precious will be the love that flows from one lonely person to another…”


    Wasn’t there another German priest who recently wrote about love?


  7. Mark Lickona says

    Yes, JOB, I think you’re thinking of Hans Urs von Balthasar, a good and faithful Jesuit much beloved by our present pontiff…


  8. Mark Lickona says

    For example

  9. Mark Lickona says

    Back to the Code:

    Given that the book was so popular, we shouldn’t be surprised to see numbers which seem to indicate that every fan of the book saw the movie. (And of course the controversy didn’t hurt–people today fall all over themselves to be part of something that’s “happening.”) But given that even reviewers who loved the book hated the film, we also shouldn’t be surprised to see the film benefit not at all from word-of-mouth (“Read the book instead,” fans of the book who saw the movie will likely say to the curious who didn’t get out to see it last weekend). Plenty of industry observers expect the same evaporation of DVC’s box office mojo–and in this respect, DVC will prove not much different from your typical Hollywood offering.

  10. Matthew Lickona says

    No, not much different. But worth noting that exit polls showed that only half the attendees had read the book…

  11. Father Stephanos, O.S.B. says

    Fr. H. von Balthasar was not “another German priest”. He was Swiss.

  12. More anonymous TP than usual says

    Job said:

    what’s interesting about DaVinci is that it seems to be announcing that collapse in large font bold – and thereby making things a little clearer, a little more open, a little more dangerous to be Christian

    and that is exactly how I have been feeling this week. There just seems something apocalyptic on the horizon. (I guess the apocalypse is *always* on the horizon, but it seems more…horizontal…)

    I would estimate 1/3 of my students saw the movie this weekend – my Catholic high school students.

    People don’t have courage anymore – courage to confront the implications of the junk they consume, courage to say “don’t talk about me like that.” Maybe it’s always been like that and I just feel that way because I spend too much time arguing on Internet forums, but the total Does Not Compute response to any objections to the movie shows blindness to greater threats on the aforementioned horizon.

    In other words, DH and I just agreed that we’re all going to be living in dhimmitude in 50 years if people don’t learn how to articulate and defend their beliefs.

    Such is the fruit of late-night post-surfing conversations

  13. Dorian Speed says

    You know, now that I came up with that super-secret pseudonym, I realize that it reads as “more anonymous toilet paper than usual.”

    Pay No Attention To Me

  14. Matthew Lickona says

    Most Anonymous Toilet Paper,
    Watch out for those late-night surfing debates.
    They’ll suck you dry.

  15. Mark Lickona says

    Speaking of calling out the Emporer on his lack of clothes, Anthony Lane’s review of DVC was quite remarkable, esp. these lines:

    Even as you clear away the rubble of [Brown’s] prose, what shows through is the folly of the central conceit, and, worse still, the pride that the author seems to take in his theological presumption. How timid–how undefended in their powers of reason–must people be in order to yield to such preening?…

    As far as I am qualified to judge, the film remains unswervingly loyal to the book, displaying an obedience that Silas could not hope to match. I welcome this fidelity, because it allows us to propose a syllogism. The movie is baloney; the movie is an accurate representation of the book; therefore, the book is also baloney, although it takes even longer to consume….

    Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, except at Columbia Pictures, where the power lunches won’t even be half-started. The Catholic Church has nothing to fear from this film. It is not just tripe. It is self-evident, spirit-lowering tripe that could not conceivably cause a single member of the flock to turn aside from the faith. Meanwhile, art historians can sleep easy once more, while fans of the book, which has finally been exposed for the pompous fraud that it is, will be shaken from their trance.

    Have people indeed been awakened from their anti-dogmatic slumber? Will they, could they be? What say you? (ATP seems to say no…and unfortunately Lane was wrong about hand-wringing at Columbia Pictures; they had their big opening weekend, so now they can declare victory and depart the field…)

  16. Mark Lickona says

    P.S.: Lane writes for the New Yorker.

  17. Mark Lickona says

    P.P.S.: Big YIKES on my mistake concerning vB’s nationality. Thank you for the correction, Father. It appears I was too eager to tweak JOB to check my facts…

  18. Father Stephanos, O.S.B. says

    Mark, give thanks to God that I am not Swiss, otherwise I would have been tempted to ask your brother for directions to where you live….

    As it is, my monastery, Prince of Peace Abbey, belongs to the Swiss American Benedictine Congregation. We go back to Einsiedeln, Switzerland, the same town that served as “home base” for von Balthasar’s later work.

  19. Dorian Speed says

    I would agree that people have been awakend from their slumber except for the fact that everyone I know IRL (as the kids say) who saw the movie thought it was great.

    Which says a lot about our culture.

  20. Mark,

    To tweak right back: the “other German priest” I was actually referring to was none other than B16. – and of course the recent writing was his encyclical…

    The “recent” should have been the giveaway. Last I heard Ol’ Balty is currently residing at room temperature….

    But see – you can’t explain wittiness and expect it to remain witty…

    (I thought I’d clear up the confusion, though…)


  21. Mark Lickona says

    Oh, I know who you meant, JOB. I guess I thought you knew I knew; the gag was supposed to have been one of deliberate obtuseness…oh well!

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