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In New Orleans, No Time or Energy for `Da Vinci’ Fight

c. 2006 Religion News Service NEW ORLEANS _ While the opening of the film “The Da Vinci Code” might once have met boycotts and angry opposition from local churches, it is being engaged here much differently: with quiet counter-education and, where the post-Katrina struggle still dominates life, something like dismissiveness. The movie, which opened Friday […]

c. 2006 Religion News Service

NEW ORLEANS _ While the opening of the film “The Da Vinci Code” might once have met boycotts and angry opposition from local churches, it is being engaged here much differently: with quiet counter-education and, where the post-Katrina struggle still dominates life, something like dismissiveness.

The movie, which opened Friday (May 19), is an adaptation of a blockbuster novel whose assertions about fraudulent claims of Christianity made it a cultural phenomenon.

But in the land of FEMA trailers, gutted homes, too much work and too little help, getting collectively excited about a movie seems an indulgence from a lost past, several local clergy said.

“For most of us in New Orleans, we’re so overwhelmed it’s not even on the radar,” said the Rev. Dennis Watson of Celebration Church in suburban Metairie. “This is far more important to people in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles. But in New Orleans, we’re still just struggling to survive.”

For nine months Watson’s church has run a storm-relief center that dispenses tons of food, water, diapers and other supplies to storm victims. He said he intends to preach a sermon series at Celebration designed to expose what he believes are untruths in “The Da Vinci Code.”

But he and other clergy said angry public denunciations do not seem to be the best use of energy.

“It’s just not where I think most people are right now,” agreed the Rev. Gene Finnell of Munholland United Methodist Church in Metairie. “The truth is, it isn’t at the top of our priority list.”

“We’re sort of steeped in our own recovery here,” said Ann Ball of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.

(Bruce Nolan writes for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.)

KRE/PH END NOLAN