Thursday, April 14, 2011

Opus Dei

My favorite coworker relates a story of interviewing a potential babysitter, who she found out was a member of the Catholic organization Opus Dei. Though she is a practicing Catholic herself, she clearly found it quite creepy. Listening to her, it was clear that she was taking Dan Brown's portrayal from The DaVinci Code at face value. I suggested that Dan Brown may not be right on this, but she protested that he had "done research." Ah well.

The irony is that she is very much into Native American religious practices, and goes to Sweat Lodge ceremonies. We look at discomfort in religion differently, I guess, depending on whether they are seen are persecutor religions or victim religions. Actual historical data need not intrude.


Anonymous said...

Dan Brown is a village idiot

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

Dan Brown as source: this is why I get really concerned about the Oliver Stone approach to history. I think the average American is loosing the ability to distinquish fact from fiction - or worse, they don't know why they should bother worrying about the difference.

Alex said...

I haven't read Dan Brown's book, but I'd guess he's picked up what he 'knows' about Opus Dei from the popular press.

And according to the popular press, Opus Dei is an influential and mysterious in-group (a Catholic version of freemasonry?) that requires its members to discipline themselves by penitential practices which are repugnant to well-adjusted folk. This might explain the 'creepiness' that your co-worker detected in her babysitter.

But it's surprising that even a potential babysitter would volunteer any information about her membership of what's supposed to be a very secretive organization.

(I'm reading this blog for the first time because your Assistant Village Idiot name amused and intrigued me.)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Alex, I think Brown may be more horse than cart in the popular perception of Opus Dei. I don't think it was much known outside Catholic circles until he highlighted them in DaVinci Code. I don't know if they are that secretive. As for their mortification practices, they seem extreme to us, but it's not that different than aversive conditioning, and fitness folks certainly put themselves through worse.

Never tried it myself, and don't think it will be on my "to do" list this year. But it may be our eyes that are weird on this - certainly many other times and places might have found it unremarkable.

Anyway, welcome. I used to be a cheery, witty, and entertaining guy, but I've been irritable this year. Or longer. But perhaps my vaudeville self will show through again someday soon.

Sam L. said...

Well, myself, I'm MUCH more concerned about the Freemasons and the Tri-Lateral Committee and the Bohemian Grovians.

AVI, I'd suggest you just let your freak flag fly and let the stream of your conciousness drip like drool from your open mouth. Hey! It works for me!

Ben Wyman said...

Michael Crichton did a lot of research too, but I still trust scientist not to practice extreme mind control, or release herds of dinosaurs into the wild without telling anyone.

It's become very acceptable in art and culture circles to despise Dan Brown, for the obvious reasons: he is very popular, and less savvy people accept the interpretations in his book as fact rather than fiction.

The lesson, as always, is that while it's fine to write fun, crime-themed page-turners, it's very bad to be the most popular example of this, as then you become personally responsible for the disintegration of society.

This is related to why Burger King can sell an 800-calorie breakfast sandwich without anyone batting an eye, but McDonald's is required to sell apple slices and a variety of salads.

My verification word is "afineash". I think they're just having fun with us now.