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Thu, Oct. 24th, 2013, 09:12 am
On Hollywood storytelling and the persistence of Catholicism.

I got bored last night and painted a few canvases, and while I painted I watched The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. I've never read the novels, and I wasn't paying a great deal of attention to either movie, and I'm probably getting the two movies mixed up, but they're both terrible so who gives a shit. Anyway, the premise of the films seems to be that there is some major threat to the Catholic church, either a secret about Jesus (HE HAD A PENIS) or a canister of antimatter, and renowned author Dan Brown Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon must solve puzzles and save everyone.

Wikipedia tells me that, as of July 2012, 18.85% of the world's population is Catholic, which is a lot of people, but the two films characterize their central crisis – the fall of the Catholic church – as being something that the protagonists definitely don't want to happen because it will result in worldwide political and economic chaos. This central crisis struck me as silly, because honestly, I don't think there is anything short of a catastrophic impact event that could destroy the Catholic church; institutions like the Catholic church are remarkably persistent.

Let's say that a major revelation concerning Jesus (HE PUT HIS PENIS INTO WOMEN) was revealed by a source so indisputable that the Vatican couldn't refute it. First of all, why would this even matter? Catholicism is magic. M-A-G-I-C. Real-world scientists of both the natural and the social varieties have 99.99% proved certain things (homosexuality exists in all mammals! there is a strong linear correlation between the number of children in a family and the likelihood of the early childhood death of one or more of these children!), but none of these discoveries have hurt the Church or its doctrines in any way, shape, or form. Second, I'm not trying to say that people of the Catholic faith are mindless sheep, but I think human beings in general have a tendency to believe whatever their leaders say and to forgive mistakes when apologies are offered. If the Pope got on the radio this afternoon and said, "Sorry guys, we had the wrong idea about birth control, and the planet can't sustain many more people, so all you ladies should probably go make an appointment with your gynecologists," half of Catholics would be like, "Okay, I don't like it, but whatever you say," and the other half would feel vindicated because they were already using birth control anyway. What I'm trying to get at here is that Catholicism is just as much of a cultural and tribal identity as it is a set of religious doctrines, and the destruction of the Vatican city or a major shift in the way we think about Jesus (APPARENTLY HE WAS NOT FUCKING PETER AFTER ALL) is not suddenly going to cause 1.32 billion people to stop identifying as Catholic.

When people talk about Hollywood movies being ridiculous, I get the feeling that this is the sort of thing they're talking about: Lots of drama and explosions being necessitated by a central conflict that makes very little sense if you stop to think about it for more than five minutes.

Mon, Oct. 28th, 2013 01:35 pm (UTC)

Also this, this is good: