“It astonishes and worries me that so many people believe these lies. The book is everywhere. There is a very real risk that many people who read it will believe that the fables it contains are true.” – Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa
I must say, this surprised me. Has a senior member of the Catholic Church really decided to come clean and tell the truth about the Bible? Alas, no, for he was talking about another work of fiction that’s been selling by the truckload over the last of year or so – The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
Now, I’ve read this book and it is rubbish. Very entertaining rubbish, admittedly, but rubbish all the same. Dan Brown has a very prosaic writing style. His characterisation is weak and his narrative is execrable. However, he knows how to craft a thriller and I enjoyed whizzing through the five hundred pages or so. I thought it was an interesting idea (we all like a good conspiracy, don’t we?) and it was a entertaining read. I won’t be reading any of his other books though, I assure you.
Even more entertaining have been the reports from France about clueless (mostly American) tourists visiting Paris with a copy of the book as their tour guide, often unaware that all events in the book are fictitious. Oh, people. As if the French needed any more reason to hate Americans or be rude to tourists. Still, they’ll take the money anyway I’m sure.
But I digress. Our friend the Cardinal is going to hold a seminar called Story Without History to refute the claims made in Brown’s novel. He wants to “unmask the lies” so readers can see how “shameful and unfounded” the book is. Pretty rich from someone representing an organisation which bases its entire beliefs on a book of apocryphal stories, don’t you think? Not only that, but a book that doesn’t even have a definitive version: it’s spawned numerous faiths, none of which agree with each other and, more often than not, have been prepared to kill over. A book of questionable origin, missing scriptures and contradictory passages. Yet Mr Cardinal wants to defend his church against the charges of lying and deceiving, and does so with a straight face.
Welcome to the Vatican – an irony free zone. Please drive carefully.