You go, Vatican

Just to prove they’re not a bunch of paranoid, reactionary, elderly virgins with no real connection to the world that the rest of us live in, the Catholic Church has banned the filming of certain bits of the Da Vinci Code prequel Angels & Demons, based on Dan Brown’s book, in certain parts of their Roman strongholds.

Well, actually, fair enough. I suppose I wouldn’t want someone filming anything featuring an account of my life in my home town, especially if it was depicting me as a sinister hypocritical control freak who attempts to dictate what people do in the privacy of their own thoughts through bribery, fear and threats of eternal retribution. And, double-plus especially, if that account happened to be accurate.

The real golden godly moments of this situation, however, are the following quotes from a couple of Vatican ubermenschen:

‘Usually we read the script but in this case it wasn’t necessary. Just the name Dan Brown was enough,’ the Telegraph quoted Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman, as saying.

Well, sure. Brown’s a hack. A populist airport-novelist (the kind where the author’s name all but eclipses the actual title of the book) who’s about as close to literary greatness as, well, me actually, but I don’t think that’s what the good padre was getting at. He continues:

Angels and Demons peddles a type of fantasy that damages our common religious beliefs, just like The Da Vinci Code did.’

He says, after just admitting he didn’t even read the facking script.

As to the second point: I don’t imagine then, father, that your religious beliefs are all that strong or divinely-inspired or unshakeable if something as innocuous as an admittedly fictional story could do any actual damage to them whatsoever. Did Stone’s The Last Temptation Of Christ actually have any discernible effect on the bums on pews numbers following its release (and, presumably, strident Vatican over-reaction)? What about the Ministry song Jesus Built My Hotrod? More to the point, did The Da Vinci Code itself do anything even approaching the kind of damage you’re getting so worked up about? And did you miss the insane irony of calling Brown a peddler of fantasy? Of course you did.

That’s not all though. Next, we get this gem:

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, added: ‘Boycotting this film is the least we can do. The book and the film are a pot pourri of nonsense, a phantasmagorical cocktail of inventions.’

A nonsensical cocktail of phantasmogorical inventions! It seems that, like any Catholic stormtrooper, Cardinal Bertone’s had his irony gland removed. Although, at least he seems to have read the story. Partial credit!

As always, the Vatican’s quicker to create some controversy for itself than Dr Phil is to trot out home-fried pop-psych like “Whut wur you thenkin‘? She’s signallin‘ for a fastball and you’re throwin‘ a knuckler! Hyuk hyuk hyuk!” I think the Vatican loves this kind of thing, actually. It allows them to thrust themselves into the public arena, cry persecution or bias or some such tripe and remind people they’re still here, still pissed off about lots of stuff and still want to recognised as the moral authority of the entire fucking universe. I guess the predictable, yawn-inducing Vatican hysteria not going to stop any time soon, as long as reports like this one, which cites the continuing and even accelerating decline of people joining religious order, keep being released. The Vatican knows its Empire is shrinking, slowly but surely, and it will continue to attempt to elicit sympathy and attract new foot soldiers until its death throes. Herr Ratzinger won’t care though – he’s got tenure and won’t, lucky for him, live to see its eventual fall. I hope I do, then we might see its fabled archives opened up. I’d love to see what those bastards have been hiding from the world for so long. A hand-written note from Emperor Constantine, maybe, which says “If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”

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