L. Neil Smith's
Number 368, May 21, 2006

"Vote For No Incumbent"

The Righteous Stuff: Thoughts on The Da Vinci Code
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to www.BigHeadPress.com and The Libertarian Enterprise

I love a good flap.

Author Dan Brown, moviemaker Ron Howard, and actor Tom Hanks (among others) are giving us a great one, with a whole lot of help from religious lunatics and enemies of free expression all over the world.

In case you've been hermetically sealed in a cryogenic flask for the past six months or so, what I'm talking about here is a novel—and, more importantly in this case, a forthcoming big budget film—called The Da Vinci Code. (This is being written the day before theatrical release of the movie.) Erisians, Discordians, Friends of the Golden Apple, and other conspiratists will recognize a lot of what goes on in Brown's story, and it may even seem a little pedestrian to them.

Briefly, a scholar gets involved in a sort of scavenger hunt for the Holy Grail, which turns out to be, not the cup of Jesus Christ at the Last Supper (sorry, Indy), but a line of descendents he began by marrying Mary Magdalene, and which survives right down to this very day. Opposing him is a host of murderous villains, working for the Catholic Church, who are dedicated to keeping the truth neatly covered up.

It is this simple entertainment that has Jesus freaks from pole to pole frothing with envy because they no longer have the moxie to mount a truly impressive wave of riots on five of the six continents the way Moslems seem able to do at the merest suggestion of a religious slight.

The media consistently get it wrong: The Da Vinci Code (known, hereafter as "TDVC") doesn't say that Jesus married a prostitute, as they consistently assert, it says that he married a woman who was later slandered by Catholic Church leaders and called a prostitute. Similarly, if I recall correctly, TDVC doesn't say that Jesus survived crucifiction; the idea is that he'd already fathered children with his wife.

The Roman Catholic Church denounced the movie before anybody saw it, but stopped short of the good old-fashioned remedy that was their first resort when I was a kid and the Legion of Decency rode roughshod over the land. They wouldn't damn it, and they wouldn't threaten those Catholics who went to see it with excommunication. They understood—it represents a kind of progress in our otherwise rapidly regressing civilization—that there wouldn't be any Catholics left if they tried.

The Greek Orthodox Church was working itself up to get medieval—quite literally—on TDVC's ass (as Number Two, they have to try harder), but also backed off at the last moment, probably for the same reason.

Nevertheless, an Ethiopian bishop who was on the short list for New Pope the last time around, has urged the Church to take "legal action" against the movie, whatever that implies. So much for Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and the last thousand years of ethical progress.

Some Grand Kleagle of the Anglican Church has demanded that the movie be tagged with a "health warning". Presumably he means "mental health"—boo hoo, it might upset people, or worse, start them thinking for themselves. This coming from a buckethead who believes professionally in the Big Sky Kahuna, Virgin Birth, and fairies at the bottom of his garden. I can only chomp a carrot and say, "What a maroon!"

What these galloping dunderheads fail to understand—just like all dogwhistles everywhere—is that they're giving TDVC worldwide publicity that even its bigtime H'wood producers couldn't possibly afford. Perhaps more importantly, the flap they're generating inclines me—and probably everybody else in the Solar System—to believe maybe they're protesting "to much". Maybe they themselves believe the story.

Get that, morons? You're making everyone believe the story!

What's really amusing is that the movie seems to work, as well, perhaps in a way its creators never intended. I saw a poll yesterday that said, while about 30 percent of individuals surveyed believe that Jesus did get married and fathered kids, those who have read TDVC, and now believe in a different kind of Holy Family, top out at over 60 percent.

More flap. More fun.

People talk a lot lately about "the Elephant in the Parlor", the huge, embarrassingly pertinent fact everybody's afraid to mention (for example, that there were no weapons of mass distruction in Iraq, that there was no connection between Saddam's government and Al Quaeda, or that 9/11 was the result, ultimately, of evil, crazy, and incompetent policies generated by both Republicans and Democrats) in otherwise highly-detailed and erudite discussion of the issues of the day.

In this case, it's that there's no historical proof Jesus actually existed. So how the flaming pizza does the Church know whether Jesus was married or a bachelor or a member of a gay commune from Luguna Beach?

If you really want to hear the canaries and parakeets squawking, tell them that TDVC is nothing. What they really need to read is Illuminatus!, by my friends and mentors Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Don't tell the birdies that it'll take them so far out they'll never come back. Don't tell them it'll clean their pipes out, for good.

The plain truth, dear readers, is that TDVC is simply the most interesting and entertaining adventure novel—with the exceptions of Ceres and Roswell, Texas, of course—that I've read in many a year. I have looked forward to seeing the movie for a long while, and I expect that, if it's half as good as the book was (which is about par for movie versions of novels), then I'll have a hell of a good time.

One more thing. This is a world, rather these are the critics, who thought that the interminably boring and stupid Forrest Gump was the greatest flick since Gone with the Wind. I detested every frame of it. Now Mr. Hanks has a chance to make up for Forrest Gump in a movie that has every stuffed shirt and would-be taste arbiter on the planet convulsing and foaming at the mouth—not to mention what they're doing to their underwear. What more could a flap-lover hope for?

Naturally, the "dominant culture's" intellectual palace guard—otherwise known as the Usual Gang of Idiots—have closed ranks, publishing reviews full of oh-so-clever phrases that reek of pre-preparation. You know the syndrome, phrases they thought up and were itching to use somewhere, anywhere, long before they saw this movie.

These are exactly the same ladies- and gentlemen-of-the-evening who can be counted on, over the next few weeks, to describe Albert Gore's new propaganda film on global warming as an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

I call them the "round-heeled mass media".

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at lneilsmith.org.

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

A decensored, e-published version of Neil's 1984 novel, TOM PAINE MARU is available at: http://payloadz.com/go/sip?id=137991. Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press www.bigheadpress.com has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at www.Amazon.com, or at BillOfRightsPress.com.


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