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Monday, April 17, 2006

Comments

Paul H

Hey Carl,

This is just a "heads up" to let you know that there seems to be a problem with the "Continue Reading" link above.

Carl Olson

Thanks, Paul! It's now fixed.

Paul H

Great article, Carl. I think it's unfortunate that Mr. Kellmeyer, with his flippant remarks, put you in the position of having to write it though.

Plato's Stepchild

"Gnosticism is a remarkably complex and relatively obscure heresy that almost no one knew existed prior to the erection of the strawman argument. Given how bad Dan Brown is at research, it isn't clear he even realized he was quoting from Gnostic documents. There's certainly no evidence he taught anything approaching Gnostic philosophy."

Which is why the political philosopher Eric Voegelin devoted a huge part of his work to Gnosticism (prompted by his reading of VonB) and the former Cardinal Josef Ratzinger also wrote several times about Gnosticism in the present day.

Steve's assertion is silly.

Jackson

"Gnosticism is a remarkably complex and relatively obscure heresy that almost no one knew existed prior to the erection of the strawman argument."

Sounds like Steve buys into a bit of gnosticism himself.

Dim Bulb

"And now Christian apologists are complaining about the msm's attention to the newest unveiling of a Gnostic Gospel. No wonder the world laughs at Christians. If people had only bothered to learn a little bit abuot Gnosticism first, OR- BETTER YET- HAD BOUGHT COPIES OF FACT OR FICTION IN THE DA VINCI CODE.."
Am I the only one who wonders if this statement by Kellmeyer ism't the real reason for his rant?

Dim Bulb

I should have noted that in my quote of Kellmeyer given above, the emphasis is mine, not his.

José Solano

Good work Carl,

One of the simplest ways to have those promoting the Gospel of Judas stop promoting it is to reveal to them what its actual moral teaching is. They would hate it. They are enamored by the Judas/Jesus collusion and have totally ignored its moral teaching. For details see http://opine-editorials.blogspot.com/2006/04/gospel-of-judas-condemns-homosexuality.html

Hasta luego.

Matt

I think both of you are making too much of a slight thing. No, I'm not saying "only a novel." The Da Vinci Code is important, and is very destructive. But gnosticism is not really the point. The point runs deeper than these picky details, about which most people don't care one whit. Do you really think that Da Vnci Code readers are even thinking about gnosticism? I bet they're thinking, just in more general terms, about how Jesus can be whatever they want. Your book is good, CArl, but I think that most readers don't care about the details. They're just hoping to undercut Christianity by whatever means possible.

Carl Olson

Do you really think that Da Vnci Code readers are even thinking about gnosticism? I bet they're thinking, just in more general terms, about how Jesus can be whatever they want.

Not thinking about "gnosticism" is not the same as being decieved by errors that are gnostic/neo-gnostic in character. In other words, just because people don't study ancient gnosticism doesn't mean they aren't imbibing notions that are neo-gnostic -- and very dangerous. Which is why we write in our book (and I quote in my article):


"These comments [by Pagels] touch on gnostic themes found within The Da Vinci Code: suspicion of tradition, distrust of authority, dislike for dogma and objective statements of faith, and the pitting of the individual against the institution. There is also the promise of secret knowledge, which is one of the reasons for the novel's success. Readers believe that they are being let in on a secret that has been hidden for centuries -- a bloody and damning cover-up by an ancient and powerful institution. This has always been the promise of gnosticism: freedom from authority, insight into reality, and enlightenment that goes beyond normality." (The Da Vinci Hoax, pp 46-47)

And why I also write:

One of the remarkable things about TDVC, I think, is that it purports to be about Jesus -- but really says almost nothing about him (essentially what I've described above). This latter point, however, should not be overlooked too quickly, Part of the "code" that readers are given access to in the novel is the assertion that Jesus is of little consequence today, but was in his day simply a nice guy who "inspired millions to better lives" (p 234) and who was later used by Constantine to establish Catholicism and solidify the "Vatican power base." Or, in the words of Teabing, the "most profound moment in Christian history" was when Constantine created "a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike" (p 234). The statement is incredibly ridiculous, but that shouldn't overshadow the fact that this is how many people understand the gnostic "gospels" (nice, human, real Jesus) versus the canonical Gospels (fake, unreal, god-only Jesus).

I think the details do matter -- both to Christians and to those attacking Christianity. And I think that focusing on details is one way to fight the very real attempts to undermine Christian doctrine and practice. We cannot let people get away with vague statements about "lost gospels" and "the real Jesus" and the Church's "suppression of the sacred feminine." We need to be specific about what the Church teaches, what the gnostic texts say, what the historical record indicates about both, and what it all means for 21st-century people.

Project9

What fictional tale will you be "exposing" next? How about the story of Rapunzel or Tolkien's The Hobbit? ...tho i think you might have a hard time with the second.

After that you and the other "researcher" can start another argument on how "The Lies Behind Rapunzel" promotes veganism and heresy.

Carl Olson

Very clever, Project9. I'm sure the other kids in your class are impressed. Here's another whacky statement for you to get cute with:

"The astonishing success of "The Da Vinci Code" -- 40 million hardback copies sold in three years -- came about because Brown, by accident or design, hit upon a brilliant two-part formula. His basic message was a scathing attack on Catholicism for 20 centuries of alleged sexism, violence, hypocrisy, corruption and related sins. Of course, all that has been said many times before, although mostly in nonfiction. Brown's inspiration was to present his case through the most popular form of fiction we have, the modern thriller, which enabled him to use murder, mystery, suspense, romance, chases and related devices to hook the reader. If you were open to his basic message, as millions of people obviously were, his delivery system made the combination irresistible. It was the literary equivalent of being offered champagne with your chocolate truffles."

So who said it? Pat Robertson? The Vatican? FOX News? Nope.

Mark Brumley

I continue to be amazed that the "It's only fiction" line gets as much play as it does. Can we say whatever we want about whomever we want in a novel, claim a factual accuracy for the novel, and then simply dismiss criticism with, "It's only fiction"? If I write a novel about your sainted mother and depict her as a child molester, a thief, a prostitute, and a murderer, can your righteous indignation be rightly dismissed on the grounds that my work is "only a novel"? Can't even a novel be written in such a way that a person's reputation is unjustly harmed by it? If so, what does that mean for the "It's only fiction" argument?

Martin

Thanks Carl for responding to all that. I really don't understand what moved Steve to write that publically as he did. It could have quite easily been handled privately in an e-mail or two or three.

little gidding

Very nice, Carl. Thank you.

As for your interloper from Planet 9 or Project 9, I offer other titles that were "just fiction" and so "why bother?":

Fama Fraternitatis, by Christian Rosenkreutz.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The Book of Mormon.

Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk.

The Unknown Life of Christ, by Nicolas Notovitch.

The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, by Levi Dowling.

And other "channelled" biographies of Jesus from the Victorian Age.

And then there were others, published explicitly as "fiction," but regarded by those "in the know," as fact deliberately disguised as fiction so as to pass unhindered into the culture. This sort of thing has been around for a long time, but was especially popular in the late 1800s:

Zanoni, a Strange Tale. Edward Bulwer-Lytton (a favorite of 19th century occultists)

And continuing down to today, with such science fiction titles as the Thetan space operas of L. Ron Hubbard.

Plato's Stepchild

"In 1984, at a conference in St Paul, Minnesota, Ratzinger put the far sounder Christian view, based upon the practical experience of history: that the irrational mutual antagonisms between theology and philosophy lead to gnosticism which, in turn, has been the seed-bed of powerful movements of moral corruption, namely the Manichean and Albigensian phenomena.

The re-emergence of gnosticism, the Cardinal argued, demands that theology and philosophy return to their natural alliance. Indeed, the Cardinal seemed to suggest that the split between philosophy and theology is itself a sign of gnostic influences. It is not by chance, the Cardinal said, that gnostics refuse even to use the term "philosophy":"

http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/1988/may1988p7_557.html

Carl Olson

Thanks, Plato's Stepchild, for the link and story. The next paragraph is also worth quoting:

"For them, philosophy was not sufficient because it remains a question, something awaiting an answer which it alone cannot provide itself. They wanted to have clear knowledge, a knowledge which is power, with which they would be able to dominate the world. Gnosis became the negation of philosophy, whereas faith defends both its greatness and its humility. Are we not today in a similar position? We are tired of classical philosophy with its fundamental uncertainty. We don't want philosophy, but rather gnosis: precisely documented knowledge. But philosophy acquires precision at the cost of its greatness. In this way philosophy becomes no longer capable of putting the questions proper to it from the point of view of totality, but rather from that of individuality ... Faith is certainly not a threat to philosophy, instead it defends philosophy against the penetrating threat of gnosis."

Sounds like Cardinal Ratzinger was promoting gnosticism back in the 1980s! But that figures: Ignatius Press has been his main English publisher since the early 1980s.

Paul

Just in case anyone was wondering, and I doubt you were :-), Steve has posted a "rebuttal" to Carl's "attempted defense of Ignatius Press" (in his words). As you may have expected, it's basically illogical drivel like before.

Carl Olson

Paul: Just saw it. Will try to respond (much more succinctly) in the next day or so.

Project9

Carl Olson, the impression bit has some irony in it ... i mean coming from someone who takes so much pride (and a bit of money) from "debunking" a fictional tale, seriously who's trying to impress who here?

Mark Brumley: the subject won't change the fact that it's only a novel, and a fictional one that is. Your example is a little off tho, in the real case the catholic church has centuries ahead of Dan Brown's book ... but could it be that Brown's fiction is more believable than the tales that your church have been feeding to the masses all these years?

Mark Brumley

Project 9, merely repeating your position doesn't make it any truer. If you have an argument to make, you should make it. A sneer is not an argument.

You write: "could it be that Brown's fiction is more believable than the tales that your church have been feeding to the masses all these years?"

Could it be that almost any tale contrived to attack Christianity or the Catholic Church will be found more believable than the Christian message by some people because those people want Christianity or Catholicism not to be true?

Could it be that the two of us could exchange ad hominem barbs and sarcastic lines all day and all night and not advance a substantive discussion of the question of whether fiction can defame people or institutions?

Or is stopping that discussion the point of your comment?

MenTaLguY

Along those lines, Project9, shouldn't the issue be the objective truth of that with which the Church feeds the masses, rather than its subjective believability?

As a standard, believability can do little but reinforce prejudices.

Plato's Stepchild

I am still waiting to hear Steve Kellmeyer's discussion of Pope Benedict's and Eric Voegelin's views on gnosticism. He appears to believe that there are "orthodox" gnostics and "heterodox" gnostics and that the last "real" gnostics were far, far back in history.

It is the height of irony that a heresy that believes in "secret knowledge" spawns a critique that claims a "secret knowledge" of gnosticism against we hetero-gnostic purveyors.

It also seems to me that the definite word on the subject would be written by a historically trained theologian.

Plato's Stepchild

The historically trained theologian I had in mind was Pope Benedict XVI, btw.

Project9

Mark Brumley i don't see myself repeating my point, you could say elaborating on it which i perceive as a tad different from "repeating". Those people who want "the Christian message" to be a lie will do so with or without a fictional tale to back their view ... and if you think about it, it'd be quite a comedy to see someone arguing like "hey there's a sea god, i saw it on the Little Mermaid so it must be true".

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