Friday, May 05, 2006

My tuppence worth

Okay, so I kind of have to refer to the Da Vinci Code (what with the film coming out this month, and all) so I may as well get on with it.

I read it about 18 months ago, mainly to see what all the fuss was about. In my professional librarian's opinion, it's your average trashy thriller page turner with an alternative history backdrop. There is actually a Sci-Fi subgenre called 'Alternative history', where you get stories based in universes where the Nazis won WW2, or Napoleon conquered England and how that one change has affected the world.

Obviously, as a Catholic, it had slightly more resonance - but essentially, I just thought of it as a story. As with any story, the question is what does it teach us and how is it relevant to my life - 'cos that's what Jesus taught us to do ;-). What really stood out for me was SYMBOLS.

The whole story of the DVC is based on the meaning given to symbols - images, actions, words that can mean more/different things than their literal meaning. For example, water. Is just water - two atoms of hydrogen, one of oxygen. But water is also essential to life => it can mean life. Aqua quenches and satisfies our thirst. L'eau is cleansing. And so on. One meaning is not the complete truth on its own, but together they make sense.

Inspired by this, I completely changed how I teach my Confirmation class. I don't teach how to speak the Church's language, distinct from regular life. I ask the class to read the symbols of our faith and then translate them into what they mean in regular life and what they mean in the Catholic Church. They always get it right. And it always surprises them that they didn't realise what stuff meant, but that they know the answer anyway.

I'm more open to the meaning of the symbols we use in our faith. What gets me, is that there is always another meaning, another hidden message. Just when I think I've cracked the code, I get a new insight. It's never dull or boring.

That's what I learnt from the Da Vinci Code. God works in mysterious ways.

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