Via Media

Via Media

Do you know what?


I haven’t experienced "warm" in months. "Warm" as in "wear shorts."

And to think, I used to live in this kind of weather. And shake my head in pity at the weather reports of freezintg weather up North in April. Shame on me!

This morning, I spoke to a group of mostly seniors at Cardinal Newman High School here in Columbia. They’d read De-Coding Da Vinci, which made this talk highly unusual in that I couldn’t exactly stand up there and rehash the points from my book, since..they’d read it. So, what I did was talk a bit about being a writer, dwelling on points that might relate to their point in life: be bold in trying to achieve what you want, don’t live in fear of rejection, you have nothing to lose in trying and asking and putting forth yourself and your skills. Talked about process of writing, how this book came about, and then settled on some foundational issues, primarily – why does this matter? What is the temptation of the DVC version of Jesus  – which is just the usual, spineless Jesus that so many of us are drawn to, rather than the Jesus of the Gospels who tells us to pick up our cross, love our enemies and feed the hungry.  What are the fundamental falsehoods of DVC? – that truth is a crapshoot, that the best we can do is pick the version that pleases us the most, and that the Jesus of the Gospels and the Church has nothing meaningful to say.


Afterwards, we gathered in the library for lunch and more questions, not only from the students, but some of the very fine faculty and parents who’d gathered as well.

By the way, do you know what the most frequently asked question is regarding this? I’m asked it every time, in every venue: "Do you think Dan Brown really believes this stuff?"

Isn’t that interesting  – basically, people are wondering if he’s abysmally stupid or just really smart, as in "this will make me a lot of money" smart.

And what do I say? Well, I don’t know, but all we can say is that his interviews – especially early ones – indicate that he believed he was doing humanity a great service by bringing this "hidden history" to light. Of course, that could also be PR as well…

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Gerald Augustinus

posted April 4, 2006 at 5:53 pm

Psst Amy. Two words. San Diego :)

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posted April 4, 2006 at 6:02 pm

Funny, I said what I forgot most about the deep south when I was back in Mississippi for a week last August was how COLD it was. Indoors. Everywhere we went, the A/C was CRANKED so it was more like 60 degrees inside.

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Patricia Gonzalez

posted April 4, 2006 at 6:42 pm

When I read DVC, I myself wondered if Mr. Brown actually believed what he wrote. Deep down, I doubt it. A guy’s gotta pay his bills, so why not stir up a little controversy while he’s at it? Forgive me for the cynicism, but I really believe it’s all about the money. That piece of anti-Catholic drivel has made DB a millionaire… sigh … while so many honest, responsible people work for peanuts and wonder how they’re going to send their kids to college. How long, O Lord?

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Steve Brown

posted April 4, 2006 at 7:24 pm

The process of writing could not have come from a better person who seems to enjoy that process so much. You do what all writers need to do, which is write and write and write some more. I will not be able to see you tonight in Camden, but hope to get to the Russell House Wednesday. Have really enjoyed your blog for the past 2 years or so, am looking forward to seeing you.

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Sandra Miesel

posted April 4, 2006 at 7:43 pm

Dan Brown is clever at promoting himself but after reading his sworn statement in the London copyright case, I think he comes across as the dumb child in a bright family. His one skill is snowing people. Of course it’s also possible that he made all those trivial mistakes as an inside joke.

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posted April 4, 2006 at 8:40 pm

In Augusta (home of the Tuna-mint): It hailed here yesterday! But only for about five minutes. Still it was odd. One minute sunny and warm, then windy, then rainy and then hail. In about a five-minute span. But yes, we are enjoying Spring. Summer is when one wishes she lived in…Fort Wayne.

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posted April 4, 2006 at 10:12 pm

We never read DVC for religious, artistic or historical accuracy. We know better–we’ve had better teachers at CNHS. Reibold always kept this in perspective–what would you expect from a Providence man?!
We loved your presentation!

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posted April 4, 2006 at 10:21 pm

Hi, Amy …
Summer’s afoot here in Asia, and it is HOT! Whew …
… he believed he was doing humanity a great service by bringing this “hidden history” to light.
Uh-huh. Yeah. “Hidden history”, my foot.
I will freely admit that the pacing of DVC entertained me. And some aspects of the Templar stuff were rather intriguing (all of which were later shot down when I read some really credible history books on the Templars). But to lose my faith? To believe that this is “hidden history”? To be convinced that the faith that has seen me through my entire life is false?
Sorry, Mr. Brown. Go sucker someone else.
I’m not a student of history, and until I bought Carl Olsen and Sandra Miesel’s excellent “The Da Vinci Hoax”, I never knew all the details about the Council of Nicea and Constantine’s role in the history of the Church. But you know what really made Dan Brown’s inane assertions in DVC go belly-up, for me?
One person. John Paul the Beloved.
Beyond all the symbolic mumbo-jumbo, Dan Brown says, among others, that by far and away the most effective means of communicating with God is the orgasm — in fact, the way he writes about those sexual rites of the pagan religions, you’d think that they’re the best way to be in communion with God. This is one of the things at the foundation of the “Grail-as-Magdalene” myth he’s so enamoured of.
Does he mean to tell me that all the good that John Paul the Beloved, and people like Mother Teresa, have given this world is not one of the most truly profound expressions of faith and love and belief in God? Does me mean to tell me that the goodness and humility we see in priests and nuns and committed unmarried laypeople (for example, the unmarried members of Opus Dei) doesn’t count in the eyes of God because they’ve never had sexual experience? Does he mean to tell me that the holiness and heroism of the saints and the martyrs through two thousand years of history — and yes, that includes people like Maximilien Kolbe, Edith Stein and Dietrich Bonhoffer — doesn’t count because they believed in a faith that was supposed to be nothing more than the result of the dictates of a Roman emperor?
I’ve been the presence of John Paul the Beloved — I was about 30 feet away from him when he visited my University during WYD 2005; just the sight of him driving by in the Popemobile brought tears to my eyes. I can find no other way to express what I felt except to say that I knew then, as I know now, as I will always know, that this is a Man of God. It is something the heart knows, and knows immediately and with the utmost certainty. Holiness walked this earth in the person of John Paul the Beloved, and walks again in the person of Benedict XVI, and in the persons of all men and women who believe that God is Love, and that because He loves us, it is but right that we express our love for him by loving our neighbor, because our neighbor too is loved by God.
The history of faith is the history of our love for God and our fellowmen, written in acts of kindness and compassion and mercy, not in the supposed symbols of Rosslyn Chapel or whatever interpretation Baigent, Leigh, Starbird, or Picknett’s tortured minds churn out.
What did Jesus Christ say to Simon Peter all those years ago? “Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
Neither will the DVC.
(Sigh) Sorry for the length, Amy and everyone. It’s just that it’s all been building up in me for a long time … I’m so deeply disappointed in Dan Brown. What I feel goes beyond anger … I can only describe it as the most profound disappointment. I look at him and I wonder how a human being — a child of God — could do this to the Church and to the Christian faith. How could someone be so blind as to believe in that drivel he passes of as “hidden history”? And even if he were doing this for the money, has he absolutely no fear of God whatsoever that he would peddle this … tripe without the slightest twinge of conscience? How can he sleep at night?
“That piece of anti-Catholic drivel has made DB a millionaire… sigh … while so many honest, responsible people work for peanuts and wonder how they’re going to send their kids to college. How long, O Lord?” – Ambrose
Be comforted, Ambrose.
One day, we shall stand before the Lord, and He will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful son. Come, and share in my joy!”
But when he gets to Dan Brown … “Why, my son? Why? With all the good that I gave you in your life, why did you do this? Did I not give you all the love in the universe? Why could you not give some of it back to your brothers and sisters? Why?”
Be comforted, Ambrose. The Lord knows the love you and others like you give. And He never forgets.

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posted April 4, 2006 at 10:30 pm

Oops, sorry … The quote I cited was Patricia Gonzalez’s … my apologies, Patricia.

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posted April 4, 2006 at 10:34 pm

Please clarify. When did Pope John Paul II visit your university? WYD 2005? Are you sure?

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posted April 4, 2006 at 10:42 pm

Geez, Chris, thanks for pointing it out … that was WYD 1995. For some reason, my brain was thinking about 2005.
Yes, it was WYD 2005. My University is the Pontifical and Royal University of Saint Thomas, in Manila, the Philippines. People filled the campus, sat in trees, clung to iron bars of the perimeter fence, to see John Paul the Beloved. He stood at the podium of the grandstand at one end of our soccer field, and I remember that a hush fell over the campus when he began to speak. Even the wind fell still …
John Paul the Beloved. Sainthood soon!

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posted April 4, 2006 at 10:45 pm

OK, I just made the same mistake again … I’m really sorry, Chris. It is definitely WYD 1995.
I am in serious need of coffee right now …

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