Jesus, Mary & DaVinci with Elizabeth Vargas to be telecast tonight on ABC, is living proof that some in the media will stop at nothing to generate controversy in the drive to capture viewer interest. Based on the best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code, the program claims to “investigate” the controversial contentions of that Dan Brown book.
What the program does, in fact, is further perpetuate Brown's outrageous and sacrilegious conjectures under the guise of “investigative journalism”.
Most critics agree that Brown's book is basically a thriller driven by historical conjectures whose primary purpose is to fascinate and capture readers. Probably the most outrageous and sacrilegious claims made by Brown are that Our Lord was married to Mary Magdalene, that they had a son together, and that Mary and the son fled Jerusalem after the Crucifixion.
It should not surprise anyone that authors and artists feel free to trash sacred religious traditions and the sensitivities of the faithful in the name of artistic and literary freedom. Such freedom is applied to artistic expression of all kinds in our present anti-religious environment where the sacred is an easy target for giddy authors and artists looking to spur controversy and make an easy buck. Unfortunately, it is clear that preventing such outrages is unlikely given the mainstream media's distaste for “censorship”. (Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ not included).
The problem here is that presenting a television “investigation” of the preposterous theories of a fiction author gives those theories wings. A public unable to separate fact from fiction, that has rushed to eat up Mr. Brown's novel, is being led to scandalous, sacrilegious debates and discussions on topics whose very essence is an abomination. To have a television program pretend to seriously consider these issues is simply to give flight to those conjectures and further spit upon sacred doctrine.
With the media biased against the sacred and in favor of demystifying and secularizing religious issues, the added public hype of a best-selling novel cannot but seem to make for hot television. But it is abject exploitation of the public to paint all of this as serious investigative journalism and scholarly debate when the main goal is controversy and ratings cheaply purchased by offending the people the mainstream media least cares about offending.
Catholic League representative Joseph Feo argues that the program claims to be objective discussion, but is actually a presentation of speakers who either believe Brown's conjectures outright or at least believe that they are plausible. Feo notes that speakers such as the Reverend Richard McBrien of Notre Dame are not always representative of traditional Catholic doctrine but are conveniently quoted to provide a false air of authenticity.
Imagine if a best-selling novel came out which claimed that people who favored abortion, “gay” rights, or divorce were all devil worshippers and inherently evil. Imagine if such a novel claimed that a legendary, but deceased, “gay” rights leader or feminist icon was involved in some horrible conspiracy and was a fraud, actually favoring faithful Catholic beliefs and indeed spying for the opposition. Would ABC News decide that it was a good idea to present an investigative discussion of these claims? Probably not, since cries of outrage and defamation would ring across the land and across ABC's bottom line.
However, ABC does not appear worried about the political, social, or fiscal fallout from offending Christians in general and Catholics in particular, the “who cares?” group everybody loves to trash. In discussing Brown's novel, Amazon.com's review states, “though some will quibble with the veracity of Brown's conjectures…therein lies the fun.” Elizabeth Vargas, the anchor of this program adds, “for me, it's made religion more real and, ironically, much more interesting.” Therein lies the problem: as long as it is fun and interesting, hey, who cares about offending religious people?
© Copyright 2003 Catholic Exchange
Gabriel Garnica is a licensed attorney and educator with over 20 years teaching experience at the college, business school, and middle school levels. He has a BA in Psychology from St. John's University in New York and a J.D. from The New York University School of Law. Mr. Garnica writes extensively on spiritual and educational issues and conducts seminars on time management, leadership, and personal development.