I am a Catholic—a renewed Catholic at that. I am also a lawyer—a human rights lawyer. Let’s get those two things out of the way at the start.
I will never condone, tolerate, allow, leave unaddressed any challenges to my faith; I love being a Catholic and I will use every ounce of my strength to defend it.
But I draw the line at book burning. The Philippine Daily Inquirer today carries a story about a group burning copies of the Da Vinci Code, in book form as well as in bootleg DVD form.
I draw the line at any book burning because it is censorship and it violates the right to free expression. I AM ABSOLUTELY AGAINST ALL FORMS OF CENSORSHIP (yes, that’s why I tolerate Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda being on the air; I exercise my right to free expression by switching the channel and not watching anything with them on it. I will, however, not interfere with any one else’s right to be “entertained” by Kris Aquino or Boy Abunda and their ilk.)
I previously posted that I would watch the Da Vinci Code (I read it many years back and found it a delightful suspense thriller with an ingenious plot albeit with sophomoric and quite shallow writing—Dan Brown is no Ellery Queen, he’s not even close to John Grisham, who’s good for comfort room or airplane reading—that’s how quickly you can read his books) and I did. I found it the worst movie I’ve watched this year (my review of DVC in two words for those who don’t want to go to the previous post: IT SUCKS!).
I see no reason (good or otherwise)—other than publicity—for book burning. For one, you destroy the environment by polluting it; second, ultimately, you waste the sacrifice of the many trees they cut down so that Dan Brown could come up with his books.
Burning books is a throwback to the burning of witches, which symbolizes a fear of the unknown, a fear of matters we cannot address; in the olden days, “witches” would be burned at the stake on mere suspicion. In 2006, a book is being burned unread by those burning it.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, goes a child’s taunting chant. And, yes, there is a lot of truth to that.
If we have faith smaller than a mustard seed, it would still be enough to counter the lies of Dan Brown. Burning books and DVDs is not the solution. A little more RESPONSIBLE READING and RESEARCH is; motherhood statements about blasphemies is not the solution. A little more effort at EXPLAINING THE FAITH TO OTHERS IS.
At the risk of sounding self-righteous, perhaps those who allow themselves to be affected by a badly-written work of fiction and a badly-made film without reading the book or watching the movie have faith even much smaller than a mustard seed. Sticks and stones may indeed break our bones, but will words like Dan Brown’s hurt my faith?
Not if we are zealous at defending our faith through a clear, well-discerned, well-presented and sober discussion on why Dan Brown is lying and why his book should be read as fiction (and perhaps fittingly so, only in the confines of the comfort room)—not with burning of books and censorship. Even the Vatican has not called for a ban on the book or the film—and who are we to be more pope-ish than the Pope?
Instead of burning the DVC, whether symbolically or otherwise, why not read the repository of ALL TRUTH? My book burning friends, have you read your (and I’m presuming here) Bible lately?
Instead of railing on tv and radio about the lies being propagated by Dan Brown (who’s laughing all the way to the bank), why not go on tv and radio to share about the beauty and the power of God’s transforming love?
Instead of misleading the faithful about a book you have not read and a movie you have not watched, why not lead the flock to a better understanding of God’s Word and God’s Love.
But, then, these would be a lot harder than burning books, wouldn't it?