April 22, 2006 at 12:49 am #1213
:” title=”Question” /> The Da Vinci Code
What It Is and What It Means
In a few weeks, on May 19, a major motion picture based on Daniel Brown’s bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code, will be released, starring Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks.The Da Vinci Code has generated significant discussions and debates. Here are some thoughts on the book.
First of all, what kind of book is The Da Vinci Code? The book certainly talks a lot about history; in fact, it claims that all factual assertions are true. So we could call it a historical novel like, e.g., Ben Hur, which places fictional characters within the framework provided by known historical facts. As one would expect from a framework, these facts usually are not prominently featured in a historical novel. They are there but the focus is on the fictional characters operating in the blank spaces between what’s in history textbooks, so to speak. Brown’s book could be classed with this kind of books; but his work contains many facts that are simply not true, despite his claims. So his book also cannot be called an “alternative history” where an author purposely departs from the known facts at some point, usually clearly indicated, to ask and answer a “What if ;” question, for example: “What if Jesus had not died on the cross?”
Some critics have therefore called Brown’s book “esoteric history” ‚Äì “esoteric” referring to a secret version of history that is revealed only to the chosen few. This seems to make sense: time and again, the characters in the book claim that the “secret” revealed in the book is already known to all the “experts” in the field of early Christian history. It’s just that the masses haven’t heard about it. This is so, in part, because the original guardians of the secret have yet to reveal the secret to the world formally and, in part, because the Catholic Church has prevented the guardians from revealing this secret that would destroy the very foundations of the Church, if made public. Now at least 40 million people worldwide know the truth that’s long been hidden and can judge for themselves.
Another interpretation is possible. One of the main characters of the novel, Briton Sir Leigh Teabing, a Royal Historian, at one point set forth his very own view of history that resembles greatly the theories developed at universities in France in the second half of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1980s, these theories came to be adopted at liberal theological seminaries, like those of the ELCA and other “mainline” Protestant church bodies in America. These theories have been labeled “postmodern,” because they reject the “modern” claim that there is objective truth. For postmodernists, truth is in the eye of the beholder. What’s true for you need not be true for me. Postmodernism is thus a new version of older forms of subjectivism. This school of thought claims that the subjective views of the individual cannot be corrected anymore by appealing to something objective that is outside the individual.
When it comes to the writing of history, the theory means that objective facts matter little. A historical account of events will always be shaped by a person’s or group’s desire to gain power or to remain in power, not by what actually happened. History thus by nature depends on power politics (we call that “spin” today). This seems to have been an underlying assumption in Brown’s writing of his novel. In it, he’s not siding with the “victors of history” (the Catholic Church) and their “version” of the truth, but with the underdogs of history. Their suppressed version of history could be just as true as that of the victors ‚Äì and, as 21st-century Americans are prone to suspect, very likely the underdogs’ version is even truer. So, then, Brown’s bestseller is perhaps best described as a postmodern history novel that is inhabited by the standard personnel of conspiracy theories: Gnostics, Knights Templar, Freemasons, Swiss bankers, and sinister groups associated with the Catholic Church.
What is Dan Brown’s novel all about? Put simply, it is about the truth about the Holy Grail: what is it, where is it? According to the book, there are two versions of the Holy Grail legend around. One is the one promoted by the Catholic Church: the Holy Grail is the chalice used by Christ for his blood in the first Lord’s Supper. You guessed it: this version is, of course, not true. We should always doubt and question what the Church teaches us (don’t they just want to stay in charge and manipulate the facts accordingly??). The truth about the Holy Grail is revealed in 100+ short chapters throughout the novel. The Holy Grail is not a thing; it’s a person. And that person is Mary Magdalene who, bearing a child of Jesus, is thus a different kind of receptacle of Christ’s blood. From their daughter, Sarah, the French medieval dynasty of the Merovingians descends which reaches all the way to the main female character of the novel, Sophie Nevue.
This truth the Catholic Church doesn’t want to get out. It would show to everybody that the Catholics’ main truth claims are no more than that: unfounded claims. For the biblical gospel books were fabricated by the apostles around Peter who did not appreciate that Jesus made his partner Mary the head of the Church, not Peter. Ever since the first generation of Christians, the battle for the truth has been raging on between those who are the heirs of the apostles and those who truly are the heirs of Jesus. The family Jesus founded with Mary Magdalene before his crucifixion have been the guardians of the truth about the Holy Grail. And they also worship Mary the wife of Jesus (not Mary the Mother of Jesus) as their goddess.
This reveals another central trait of Dan Brown’s novel, its feminism. Feminism we usually associate with atheists proclaiming that men and women are interchangeable (thus paving the way for the gay and lesbian movement) and that, in the words of Betty Friedan (1921-2006), marriage is nothing but a “comfortable concentration camp” for women who should leave men and children behind to find themselves. Yet there’s also a branch of feminism whose goal it is to reestablish the worship of the sacred feminine, that is, of the goddess. This includes neo-pagan cults like Wicca, but also within Christian churches the goddess has her followers, for example at Ebenezer Lutheran Church (ELCA) in San Francisco, CA, where, among other things, a “goddess rosary” is prayed ever Wednesday.
According to Brown’s novel, the natural state of religion is to have at least two gods, one male and the other female. Sexual intercourse as a religious rite to experience the divine is said to have played an important role in all “natural” religions of old. The original Jesus sure believed in it, as Brown’s characters deduce from gospels written much later than the New Testament. And also the religion of the Old Testament, the novel proclaims, was once a religion headed by two gods, Yahweh (male) and Shekhinah (female). “Prostitution” at the temple in Jerusalem was a common and accepted religious practice at first, until, in later time, an Old Testament version of the Catholic Church condemned these practices, branded sexuality as evil, and suppressed the goddess.
Given this natural state of things (“free love”), the Catholic Church’s “condemnation” of sexuality is a relative latecomer. It’s wrong and was only devised to support the claim to power of (some) men at the expense of women. The Church’s rigid, unnatural view of sexuality is reflected in the fact that it “changed” the goddess Mary Magdalene into a prostitute in its official gospels. Fact is, though, Mary Magdalene is not portrayed as a prostitute in the “official gospels” of the church. Luke 8:2 (Mark 16:9) merely states that Jesus had cast out of her seven demons; she is not identical with the anonymous “sinful woman” (necessarily a harlot??) who anoints Jesus’ feet and whom Jesus forgives in Luke 7:37-50.
Furthermore, there’s also no indication that ancient Israelite religion was first basically another Near-Eastern fertility cult. True, there were always aberrations of this kind around, as the writings of the prophets clearly show. Yet the God of the OT is the Holy Trinity, not a god and a goddess. Since this God was the God of the first human beings, Adam and Eve, it is clear that all so-called “natural” goddess-religions are quite unnatural and projections of our being male and female onto God. They are, in other words, a result of man’s creature-worship which is the source of all sins, including the sexual perversions held in high regard today (see Romans 1:20-32).
Obviously, a married Jesus is not the Jesus taught in the biblical gospels. Brown’s protagonists, as indicated earlier, solve this contradiction by claiming that, under the influence of disestablished male apostles, “the Church” rewrote the earthly life of Jesus. It did that first in the 4th century, when it was about to become the “state religion” of the Roman Empire and, at the Council of Nicea in 325, made Jesus God by vote. In other words, the four New Testament gospels were written about 300 years after the fact. If that were the case, they would be pretty worthless, historically speaking.
However, Brown fails to mention the material evidence we possess still today that clearly shows that the biblical gospels are about 250 years older than Brown says they are. In other words, they were written within the first decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, when there were still eyewitnesses around who had a stake in the case and who could have easily disputed the claims made by the apostles. But, to our knowledge, they did not do anything like that. The New Testament gospels are filled with the words Jesus actually spoke and with the deeds he actually did. That we “believe” (in) them doesn’t mean that they never happened and exist only in our heads (that would be subjectivism). They need to be real to be believed by us. Faith receives real stuff; it doesn’t create things; only God can create stuff.
This then also destroys Brown’s claim that the writings speaking of a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene are actually older than the gospels of the Church. (These writings originated in the Gnostic movement that also produced the recently-published Gospel of Judas.) Rest assured, they are not! The oldest records about Jesus are indeed the four gospels along with the epistles we have in the New Testament. These writings were written and authorized by the original apostles of Jesus, not by some self-proclaimed know-it-alls who lived 200 or more years later.
And while, in the religion of The Da Vinci Code, sexual intercourse is the ultimate spiritual act that lets men (males) experience god, in the real world neither sex nor prayers nor fasting are ways to God. It’s not our actions (sexual or other) that bring us to God! It’s God who comes down to us, first in Christ, but also still today in the means of grace, word and sacraments. God does the work for us. We simply believe that God lived and died for us to save us ‚Äì and even such faith is God’s work in us. Working ourselves into an ecstatic, mindless frenzy (be it by sex, drugs, or Rock ‘n’ Roll) to rise to heaven to experience god is neither possible nor needed. This is what distinguishes Christianity from all other religions, fact or fiction.
By drawing on later, Gnostic writings outside of Scripture to discredit Christianity, Brown’s protagonists follow the lead of Enlightenment thought. At first, about 250 years ago, people trying to break loose from the Church claimed that the Church had distorted the true meaning of the biblical gospels. Jesus, they claimed, was merely a teacher of good manners, not the almighty God made man the Church taught him to be. Later, others claimed that the gospel writers changed the teachings of Jesus; but they believed that the simple teachings of Jesus could be extracted from the theological opinions of the gospels. When this strategy didn’t work, some people claimed that the four gospels didn’t contain the truth about Jesus at all. The “real Jesus” is found in the writings of later fringe groups, such as the Gnostics, that were allegedly suppressed by an increasingly power-hungry Church. The Church, according to Enlightenment thinkers, later became steeped in superstitions of all sorts until, about 250 years ago, that bright age of Enlightenment came along when people again began to trust their reason, not the weird teachings of the Church that had kept them in a child-like state.
Between the “real Jesus,” as Brown describes him in his novel, and us lie 2000 years of history. During this time, the family of Jesus was beleaguered by the Catholic Church which, around 325 AD, had secured a powerful ally: the Roman Empire. The family of Jesus managed to hide mostly in southern France. In the age of the crusades, a “descendant” of Jesus, Godfrey of Bouillon , 1060-1100, he was a real person, one of the leaders of the First Crusade and later the first king of Jerusalem), is said to have partaken in the First Crusade only to search for, and retrieve, ancient secret documents in Jerusalem that prove the truth of the non-Catholic version of things. He did find them in a cave in the temple mount located right under the place where the holy of holies of Solomon’s temple used to be. In 1099, having found the documents after the fall of Jerusalem, he founded a secret society, called the Priory of Sion, which later (in 1118) established the military order of the Knights Templar as their economic and military arm. When the Templars were prohibited at the beginning of the 14th century, the Priory of Sion went totally underground again.
In this “reconstruction” or revision of history, including the identification of Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ wife and thus the real “Holy Grail,” Dan Brown follows closely the 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (the 2006 lawsuit in England involving them and Brown was about whether Brown had stolen his basic outline from their book; the judge sided with Brown). In fact, it is no coincidence that Brown’s character, the Royal Historian and grail-expert Sir Leigh Teabing, combines in his name the last name of R. Leigh and an anagram (rearrangement of letters) of the last name of M. Baigent. Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln based their book on a bunch of allegedly ancient documents found in 1975 in the French National Library by Lincoln. However, these documents were forgeries trying to prove that the Priory of Sion went back to King Godfrey of Jerusalem, with grand masters (including Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton) and all. In reality, the Priory only dates back to the 1950s.
The main man behind the real, 1950s Priory of Sion, a French con artist by the name of Pierre Plantard, commissioned fabricated documents showing that the Merovingian line of kings had survived and that Plantard was one of their descendants with a claim to the French throne. Plantard claimed that these documents had been found by the priest B?©renger Sauni?®re (1852-1917) when his parish church in the small French town of Rennes-le-Ch?¢teau was renovated. The real Sauni?®re was apparently richer than was customary for a simple country priest. This gave rise to all sorts of speculations after his death (that he might have been a simple mass-trafficker was apparently too simple to be true). As legend has it, he obtained his wealth from Catholic Church officials who paid him off lest he publicize said documents and other secret discoveries of his (the most spectacular being Christ’s “true” grave in Rennes after surviving the crucifixion in Jerusalem) that were potentially damaging to the Church.
Now, Dan Brown not only includes all these speculations and sells them as true. He even manages to build Sauni?®re into his novel: Coincidentally the last name of the grandfather of Sophie Nevue, Jacques, is Sauni?®re. In the book, Jacques Sauni?®re was the last Grand Master of the Priory of Sion. He was charged with guarding the church-shattering secret of the Priory that, as seen above, Mary Magdalene is Jesus’ wife and heiress. He, with his aides, the three seneschals, knew where the Holy Grail was hidden ‚Äì and the Holy Grail here means the secret documents retrieved by Godfrey of Bouillon from under the temple of Solomon and the body of Mary Magdalene, the goddess. When he realized that he was targeted for assassination by the Catholic Church, he set his granddaughter and the American scholar Robert Langdon on the track to find the current location of the Holy Grail. On this path, they have to solve many riddles and overcome many dangers only to find that the Grail is hidden at ___________.
In the course of this pursuit, Italian artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is often referenced, not only as a past Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, but also as a pagan artist who used his great art to include secret messages against the Church. According to The Da Vinci Code, Leonardo’s 1498 painting The Last Supper, for example, included a pregnant Mary Magdalene as the true receptacle for Jesus’ blood sitting at Jesus’ right hand. Art historians typically do not share this view; the alleged Mary is in fact John, the youthful disciple whom Jesus loved
The assassination of Jacques Sauni?®re is carried out by Silas, a member of the Catholic organization Opus Dei. The real Opus Dei (Latin for “work of God”) was founded in 1928 by the Spanish priest Josemar??a Escriv?° (1902-1975, declared a saint by John Paul II in 2002). In 1982, it was transformed into a “personal prelature” by the late pope John Paul II, that is, it is an organization within the Catholic Church with clergy and (male and female) lay members, the clergy being under the jurisdiction of the prelate. The members are divided into two classes: numerary and supernumerary members. The former have chosen a life of chastity and live in Opus Dei houses headed by a priest, also a numerary member; the latter live in their families but do submit to spiritual direction of their priests. Opus Dei’s mission is to Christianize society by calling both its numerary and supernumerary members to lead holy lives in their daily vocations in the world. This makes it different from traditional religious orders which are typically entered to leave the world.
Liberal Catholics usually do not like this organization due to its conservative teachings. Its conservative stance; its alleged wealth and influence; and its closeness to the Vatican obviously make this organization into a fine ingredient of conspiracy theories. What makes the organization appear even more sinister, in the modern mind, is that some numerary members, like those of some religious orders, at times practice physical self-discipline by means of cilice (a spiked metal chain worn around the upper thigh) and “discipline” (a whip made of cords).
According to Brown, Opus Dei leader, Spanish Bishop Aringarosa, enters into a pact with a secretive person first known as The Teacher when the bishop learns about plans of the Vatican (by a liberal pope ‚Äì succeeding John Paul II, so to speak ‚Äì this was the great hope of liberal Catholics when John Paul II died in 2005) to divest Opus Dei of its status as a personal prelature. One of the new liberal cardinals comments to Aringarosa: “You can’t expect people of the 3rd millennium to follow the laws of the 3rd century.”
The Teacher, at any rate, promises to lead Aringarosa to the documents of the Holy Grail so that Opus Dei would gain leverage over against the Vatican and retain its power. As it turns out, the plan goes terribly wrong; but the novel’s heroes, Robert Langdon and Sophie Nevue, are driven to solve Jacques Sauni?®re’s riddles faster than The Teacher, since they are pursued by an albino numerary member of Opus Dei, Silas (a disciple of Aringarosa), who has a perverse taste for extreme bodily self-mortification by means of the cilice and the discipline and who walks about dressed like a monk (both features do not do justice to actual Opus Dei practice).
The chase takes them from the Louvre, the world-famous art museum in Paris where Jacques Sauni?®re worked and where he had been assassinated by Silas, to the Paris branch of a Swiss bank; from there to the Temple Church in London; from there to Isaac Newton’s tomb in Westminster Abbey; finally, to Rosslyn Chapel (south of Edinburgh, Scotland). There not only a surprising family reunion takes place, but also the last clue for the current location of the Holy Grail is given. It is hidden under a major male-female symbol in _______.
This brings us back to our initial question as to where to put Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. In 1719, Daniel Defoe published his now world-famous novel, Robinson Crusoe. He gave it the form of an autobiography, that is, he pretends that Crusoe is telling his own story. While he might be inspired by the fate of a Scottish sailor by the name of Alexander Selkirk and might have used this or that piece of news he picked up from sailors, the account as a whole is fiction even though it is presented as fact. Similarly, Jonathan Swift’s 1726 Gulliver’s Travels also poses as a traveler’s tale, even though it is fiction and satire. In 1838, finally, Edgar Allen Poe publishes Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket in which he relates, in a seemingly autobiographical manner, the adventures of Pym on a whaling ship.
Does Brown’s book fit into this group of writings where everybody knows they are fictional even though they claim to be factual? Brown’s opening fact sheet might have been tongue-in-cheek. Yet he is not working virgin soil here. In other words, he does not arbitrarily make stuff up and then sell it as fact, as Defoe, Swift, and Poe did before him. Brown instead has dredged up the latest versions of anti-Christian speculation and “findings” he himself considers “intriguing.” His fictional facts are already well connected to a specific worldview. Without a doubt, his book ‚Äì and the movie ‚Äì has provided publicity and respectability for the absolutely speculative theories set forth by lesser known authors.
As a Christian, one need not respond to one conspiracy theory by putting forth another one. And yet, it is a fact that there are forces at work today that seek to lead the West back to anti-Christian paganism. Interested individuals and groups seek to establish an “alternative version” of Christianity alongside the “official” version. And this alternative strangely and strikingly resembles the picture drawn inThe Da Vinci Code. It is thus the peculiar blend of scholarship and pseudo-scholarship, of truth and lie in matters of faith ‚Äì coupled with the claim that it’s a harmless novel ‚Äì that makes this book so appealing and so subversive.
Even if it doesn’t cause one of the Lord’s little ones to stumble, it will further fuel the distrust unbelievers harbor against the Church and God’s Word. And here we as Lutherans will not be able to disassociate ourselves from the Catholic Church. Unbelievers have a pretty superficial knowledge of the deep internal divisions in outward Christendom. So for them, Lutherans are just as guilty of “hiding the truth” as Catholics. Christians clinging to the bible appear to them as unenlightened dunces.
The Church has endured many an instance of mudslinging by her enemies. Some attacks were carried out openly, some covertly, for example in the disguise of “harmless” novels. We forgive our enemies, for they do not know what they do. At the same time, we are watchful and refute false accusations as well as possible. By refuting our enemies peacefully, by reason and God’s Word, we show that we are different from those religions who cannot help but react violently when attacked. Just imagine what would happen if a bestseller novel claimed, for example, that Mohammed was gay or that Jews are greedy people! We don’t have anything to fear, so we don’t have to take matters into our own hands. God’s truth speaks for itself and will prevail in the end against all half-truths and lies. ” title=”Sad” /> ” title=”Neutral” /> ” title=”Neutral” />April 22, 2006 at 1:23 am #6026
Excellent post dear friend.May 3, 2006 at 12:16 am #6069
It is called “fiction” for a reason.June 9, 2006 at 3:37 pm #6469
A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
Da Vinci Code’s Devilish Gaffes
Interview With Father Manfred Hauke
LUGANO, Switzerland, 7 JUNE 2006 (ZENIT)
Dan Brown’s best seller “The Da Vinci Code” says the Church demonized the symbol of Venus and killed millions of women accused of witchcraft.
Not so, says Father Manfred Hauke, a professor of dogmatic theology and president of the German Mariological Society, who responds to those accusations in this interview.
Q: Is it true that the Church has demonized the pentacle, a five-pointed star inscribed in a circle, symbol of Venus?
Father Hauke: This is a typical example of the novel’s lack of historical credibility. Suffice it to consult the appropriate dictionaries to verify that even the basic data in no way agrees with what he upholds on the pentacle.
It does not seem that the origin of the sign is known with exactitude, though historical evidence has existed in Egypt since 2000 B.C. An astronomic connection with the planet Venus does not seem evident.
The Pythagoreans used the pentacle as a salvific sign, which they related to health itself. Beginning with this tradition, since the 16th century the pentacle became a symbol of doctors and was related by Cornelii a Lapide to the five wounds of Christ.
In the Byzantine army, vanguard combatants carried small shields with the “pentalpha,” a tricolored pentacle, as a sign of salvation. If the ancient Church of the first centuries had made the pentacle a demonic symbol, such use would not have been possible.
Moreover, the pentacle appears no less than as a magic and apotropaic [designed to avert evil] sign in ancient Gnosis and in the Jewish Kabala of the Middle Ages. Its relationship with modern occultism goes back to this context.
Therefore, the idea upheld by Brown that the Church altered, with calculated malice, the symbol of the goddess Venus into the sign of the devil has no foundation.
Q: More serious, however, seems the accusation against the Church of the witch hunt.
Father Hauke: Indeed, this is the only point that has some historical basis. Recalling the “Malleus Maleficarum,” the character Langdon maintains: In 300 years of witch hunts, the Church burnt at the stake the astonishing figure of 5 million women. The guilt of the witch hunt is therefore entirely attributed to the Church the Catholic Church which thus sought to destroy “freethinking women.”
There is a smidgen of truth in these affirmations, but peppered with enormous and incorrect fundamental exaggerations. To approach the phenomenon in an appropriate manner, one must begin from the dark reality of magic that tries to obtain superhuman effects through recourse to occult powers, linked with the intervention of demons.
This practice, sadly, again rather widespread at present, is the object of an explicit and severe condemnation already in the Old Testament, where capital punishment is provided for witchcraft….
This punishment, moreover, is one of those established by the Code of Hammurabi, toward 2000 B.C. in ancient Babylon. Whoever follows recent research on the phenomenon and knows the experiences of exorcists, cannot deny that witchcraft exists today with all its pernicious effects, which can be effectively combated by the spiritual means of the Church.
Of course, one must be careful not to confuse real interventions of the evil one with people’s superstition and credulity, who see the devil’s tail where in fact it doesn’t exist.
The deplored “witch hunt” was not caused simply by belief in witchcraft, but by a collective hysteria unleashed at the beginning of the modern era, and by absolutely unacceptable methods used to detect men and women witches.
Torture in fact led to “confessions” of invented offenses, suggested by the accusers themselves. The direct responsibility for sending alleged evil ones to be burned at the stake is that of the state authority. The collective hysteria, which culminated in the years 1550-1650, spread above all through the Germanic and Slavic countries and much less so in the Mediterranean ambit.
Recent research has made it possible to revise the figures relative to the persons executed as witches. According to Danish scholar Gustav Henningsen, in the course of four centuries, when active persecution of witchcraft was practiced, some 50,000 people were killed and not 5 million as Brown maintains of whom close to 20% were men.
The figure in general was lower in Catholic countries, which were not undermined by the Protestant Reformation.
In Spain, Italy and Portugal of the mid-16th century to the end of the 18th century, there were 12,000 prosecutions against alleged female and male witches; only 36 people in these thousands of trials, were subjected to capital punishment.
In Rome, fewer than 100 people died for the offense of witchcraft. The first case of which we have knowledge was in 1426 and the last in 1572. The vast majority of the trials of the Roman Inquisition concluded for lack of evidence.
During the prosecutions against female witches, tremendous errors were committed, but this does not justify, on the historical plane, the spread of a black legend, as Brown has done, which sees “the Church” as the only one responsible.
Q: In what sense does Dan Brown follow the feminist currents?
Father Hauke: In radical feminism, we find different currents, often opposed. There is a view that minimizes the difference between man and woman, propounding an androgynous ideal: It is equalitarian feminism.
The other tendency exasperates the distinction between the sexes, declaring the woman superior. In the religious ambit, this gynocentric feminism is manifested in the veneration of a “goddess.”
Also in this case, Brown presents a strange and untenable mixture between two currents. On one hand, he praises the androgynous model and, on the other, defends a preponderance of the “goddess,” placing a matriarchy at the origin of human history.
Both feminisms are not in accord with a healthy anthropology: Equalitarian feminism does not respect the difference between man and woman, even though claiming their equal dignity, while gynocentric feminism denies precisely the equal value of the sexes, while still exalting their difference. The aspect that is deficient in both views is the concomitance between equal dignity and complementarity, typical of Christian anthropology.
Q: But don’t you think that in the Church there have also been unjust discriminations of women?
Father Hauke: The relationship between man and woman is based on creation, which is a good thing, but it is continually threatened by the consequences of sin. For this reason, also in the Church there has been, and at times still are, unjust discrimination in respect to women.
John Paul II spoke of this in his “Letter to Women”: “Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. …”
Q: Do you not have the impression that the biblical image of God continues to be represented preferably with “masculine” symbols?
Father Hauke: I would say yes, though one also finds “feminine” features when, for example, God’s action is compared to the tenderness of a mother. See Isaiah 49:15 “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”
The “masculine” accent given to the image of God is based, for Christianity, on the revelation of Jesus who speaks of our “Father in heaven” and not of “our Mother on earth.”
The Son of God was incarnated in the masculine sex, a fact destined to endure also in the transfigured corporeal nature. The Holy Spirit instead bears in himself some features that, from the symbolic point of view, could be approximated to feminine aspects, though these aspects cannot be exaggerated in a “feminine” representation, remote from the Holy Spirit. ZE06060724
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