Divrei ben Abuya

In the Babylonian Talmud, Elisha ben Abuya was a great sage who lost his faith in God. So great was he that his and subsequent generations continued learning from him - to the extent that the authors of the Talmud needed to create a story that would serve to legitimise his teachings despite his apostasy. His lesson is a lesson for us all: that great stature is not contingent upon blind faith, nor high learning upon the observation of Torah precepts.

May 22, 2006


I recently went and saw The DaVinci Code. I was shocked. Not by the film itself (which wasn't bad), but by the pathetic disclaimer at the beginning. It seems that the Catholic Church, threatened as they are by what they claim is not a threat to them, has paid a substantial sum of money to have a little clip shown prior to the film that encourages people to find out "the truth" for themselves. Aside from the fact that this clip spoils some key elements in the plot for moviegoers who have not read the book (a demographic that, I am prepared to admit, is pretty small), it is an absolute insult to their intelligence.

Can you imagine: you've just gone to see Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. You're very excited - should be a good film. Suddenly, lo and behold, there's a little disclaimer before the film can start. The Jewish Board of Deputies would like you to know that they think that what you are about to see is fiction. Do I care!? Do they really think that I give a damn!? NO, they don't! And they wouldn't be so stupid as to presume that I did!

Where on earth does the Catholic Church get off, ramming their blind religion down my throat? Why are they so threatened that a generation of Christians is going to turn their back on them? They feel forced to get up and condemn the book, producing god knows how many pamphlets and spin-offs trying to discredit it, and then they have to subject cinema audiences to a further earful of holy Catholic trite! Because they think that Christians may watch the film and then disbelieve in Jesus? That people might renounce their faith in the Gospels? In all honesty, I don't think that this is what threatens them.

Instead, the Church is terrified that people are going to renounce them. That the Christian world is finally going to stand up and say, "We don't need the clergy. We're sick of your dogma; we're fed up with your hackneyed prejudice; we're tired of your control". They're worried that Christians might find and love another Jesus. And, as these are no longer the days when the Church can exercise their control with a good old-fashioned burning (either of the book or its author), they have to reason with it instead.

Ian McKellen said it best, in a recent interview, when he suggested that it is the Bible itself that should feature a disclaimer, warning its readers that what ensues is fiction. I wonder how many more people there would be in the world if that were the case.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home