THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM AS REVEALED BY THE CHARACTER OF SILAS IN DAN BROWN’S THE DA VINCI CODE
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM
AS REVEALED BY THE CHARACTER OF SILAS
IN DAN BROWN’S THE DA VINCI CODE
AN UNDERGRADUATE THESIS
Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra in English Letters
EPHIFANIA SHEILLA PARAMITA
Student Number: 044214008
ENGLISH LETTERS STUDY PROGRAMMEDEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LETTERS
FACULTY OF LETTERS
SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM
AS REVEALED BY THE CHARACTER OF SILAS
IN DAN BROWN’S THE DA VINCI CODE
AN UNDERGRADUATE THESIS
Presented as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Sarjana Sastra in English Letters
EPHIFANIA SHEILLA PARAMITA
Student Number: 044214008
ENGLISH LETTERS STUDY PROGRAMMEDEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LETTERS
FACULTY OF LETTERS
SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY
A Sarjana Sastra Undergraduate Thesis
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM AS REVEALED BY THE CHARACTER OF SILAS
IN DAN BROWN’S THE DA VINCI CODE
EPHIFANIA SHEILLA PARAMITA
Student Number: 044214008 Approved by Ni Luh Putu Rosiandani S.S., M.Hum. September 12, 2008.
Advisor Dewi Widyastuti, S.Pd., M.Hum. September 12, 2008.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICISM
AS REVEALED BY THE CHARACTER OF SILAS
IN DAN BROWN’S THE DA VINCI CODE
EPHIFANIA SHEILLA PARAMITA
Student Number: 044214008 Defended before the Board of Examiners on September 26, 2008 and Declared Acceptable
BOARD OF EXAMINERSName Signature
Chairman : Dr. Fr. B. Alip, M.Pd., M.A.
Yogyakarta, September 30, 2008 Faculty of Letters
Sanata Dharma University Dean Dr. I. Praptomo Baryadi, M.Hum. Don’t wish it were easier, Wish you were better.
Jim Rohn Dedicated to My Lord, Jesus Christ My beloved Mom and Dad
My Soul Mate, Yason Hendroand... Me, Myself, and I
I present my greatest thankfulness to my Lord, Jesus Christ for the strength, blessing and guidance through my good and bad times. I thank Him for all the answers to my prayers. I know He never fail me.
I will show my deepest appreciation to my major sponsor, Ni Luh Putu Rosiandani S.S., M.Hum., for her time and patience in guiding me to accomplish my thesis and also for Dewi Widyastuti, S.Pd., M.Hum., my co advisor, for her critical correction. I really appreciate all their correction, comment, and advice. Without their involvement, this thesis would never have been completed.
I thank my mom and dad for their moral and financial support during my study. I also thank them for always calling my name in their every prayer and for teaching me not to give up in facing any problems. I feel so blessed to have great parents like them.
My very special gratitude goes to my beloved, Yason Hendro, the one and only person who can see the beauty inside me, for being my informal advisor.
This thesis would not have been accomplished without our discussions. I thank him for his total support and understanding, and much more, for his love. I also thank him for teaching me to be positive and optimistic and above all, I thank him for always encouraging me to be the best of me. Without him, I will never be as strong as today.
A bunch of thank you for Dr. P. Hary Susanto, S.J. for his time, patience, and guidance in explaining more about philosophy, religious fanaticism, Opus Dei, and Corporal Mortification. I thank him a lot for his willingness to spare his My special thanks goes to Tatang Iskarna, S.S., M.Hum., the head of Humas USD. I really thank him for trusting me and giving me such a great opportunity to work in Humas USD before I graduate. It is really an honor for me.
I also thank all my English Letters lecturers for giving me so much knowledge and helping me improve my English. Without all of them, my English will not be as better as today.
I thank my very best friend, Steven Luck, for his spirit and strength until the accomplishment of this thesis. Most of all, I thank him for always being a supportive friend when I am down, never stopping to remind me that tomorrow will always be a better day. To Adisti Herliningtyas, S.S. who never stopped reminding me to finish my thesis quickly, I thank her for the encouragement; it really does mean a lot to me. To Ivan Pratama, for all the entertainment and jokes he gave when I feel so fatigued in doing my thesis. It is so much fun to have a friend like him. Not forgetting to mention Widya Rani Hapsari and Fransiska Dewi Hastuti, I thank them for giving me the opportunity to learn about friendship. To Febpy Doctrina, Hengdry Salim and Ferdian Hendrawan, S.S., I thank them for their emotional support. Last but not least, to all my classmates of English Letters 2004 who cannot be mentioned one by one here, I thank them all for being such a great classmates. They are all the best!
To all my colleagues in Promotion Team of Humas USD, Ivana, Intan, Rakhma, Yunika, Sasa, Lita, Berta, Melania, Oon, Fhery and Theo, I thank them for their willingness to cover for me when I need time to focus on my thesis moreover. I really have a great opportunity to work with all of them.
Above all, I would say to myself that I am very proud of my hard work
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE PAGE ................................................................................................ i
APPROVAL PAGE ....................................................................................... ii
DEDICATION PAGE ................................................................................... v
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................... vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS .............................................................................. viii
ABSTRAK CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION ................................................................
1 A. Background of the Study .....................................................................
1 B. Problem Formulation ..........................................................................
4 C. Objectives of the Study .......................................................................
4 D. Definition of Terms .............................................................................
5 CHAPTER II: THEORETICAL REVIEW ...............................................
6 A. Review of Related Studies ..................................................................
6 B. Review of Related Theories ................................................................
8 1. Theory on Character and Characterization ................................
8 2. Religious Fanaticism ..................................................................
11 3. Divine Command Theory ...........................................................
14 4. Christian Morality ......................................................................
15 a. Several Catholic Approaches to Morality .........................
17 b. A Contemporary Catholic/Christian Ethic ........................
18 5. Review on Philosophy ...............................................................
19 6. The Relation Between Philosophy and Literature .....................
20 C. Theoretical Framework .......................................................................
21 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY ............................................................
23 A. Object of the Study ..............................................................................
22 B. Approach of the Study ........................................................................
25 C. Method of the Study ............................................................................
26 CHAPTER IV: ANALYSIS .........................................................................
29 A. The Characteristics of Silas in The Da Vinci Code .............................
29 1. Silas as the Pitiful Character ......................................................
29 2. Silas as Loyal and Obedient Monk ............................................
34 3. Silas as a Brutal Monk ...............................................................
35 4. Silas as a Faithful Monk .............................................................
3. Absorption of All the Group’s Belief ........................................
44 4. Intolerance ..................................................................................
48 5. Readiness to Sacrifice Others ....................................................
50 C. The Significance of Silas’ Religious Fanaticism in The Da Vinci Code 52 1. To Criticize the Issue of Religious Fanaticism ..........................
53 a. The Ignorance of Religious Fanaticism ............................
52 b. The Violence of Religious Fanaticism ..............................
57 c. The Double-Edged Sword of Religious Fanaticism .........
2. To Give a Better Understanding Regarding the Attitude that Christian Should Take in Facing the Idea of Religious Fanaticism 62 CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION ....................................................................
66 BIBLIOGRAPHY .........................................................................................
70 APPENDICES ...............................................................................................
73 Appendix 1: Opus Dei ...............................................................................
73 Appendix 2: The Way ...............................................................................
75 Appendix 3: Corporal Mortification .........................................................
EPHIFANIA SHEILLA PARAMITA (2008). The Significance of Religious
Fanaticism as Revealed by the Character of Silas in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.
Yogyakarta: Department of English Letters, Faculty of Letters, Sanata Dharma University. This study focuses on the character of Silas who is presented as a religious fanatic in the novel of Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code. The attempt of this study is to discover the significance of Silas’ religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci Code through his characteristic and the aspects of religious fanaticism that is shown by his character.
There are three problems formulated in this study. First is the description of Silas’ characteristic in this novel. Second, the finding of religious fanaticism’s aspects that are shown through his character and the last is the significance of Silas’ religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci Code.
In order to answer the problems, the writer used library research method and since this study deals with the moral-philosophical issue of Silas, moral- philosophical approach was used. The primary source of the study was Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and the secondary sources were the books and the internet online references. The writer answered the problem by firstly identifying the characteristics of Silas. After that finding out the aspects of religious fanaticism that was presented within his character. Last, through the aspects of religious fanaticism the writer tried to reveal the significance of religious fanaticism in this novel.
This study results in several finding. Through the first analysis, the writer finds four characteristic of Silas, those are Silas as the pitiful character, Silas as loyal and obedient monk, Silas as a brutal monk, and Silas as a faithful monk. After the characteristics are identified, the writer finds five religious fanaticism aspects of his character. The first one is total submission to his group, second is blind obedience to his leader, third is absorption of all the group’s belief, fourth intolerance, and the last one is readiness to sacrifice others. The last analysis results in the finding of the significance of religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci
Code . The first one is Silas’ religious fanaticism in this novel is used to criticize
the issue of religious fanaticism that occurs in the society and the second one is his religious fanaticism is used to give a better understanding for Christians regarding the attitude to take in facing the idea of religious fanaticism.
EPHIFANIA SHEILLA PARAMITA (2008). The Significance of Religious
Fanaticism as Revealed by the Character of Silas in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.
Yogyakarta: Jurusan Sastra Inggris, Fakultas Sastra, Universitas Sanata Dharma. Skripsi ini membahas tentang karakter Silas yang digambarkan sebagai seseorang yang fanatik terhadap agamanya di dalam novel karya Dan Brown yang berjudul The Da Vinci Code. Tujuan dari skripsi ini adalah untuk menemukan pentingnya unsur fanatisme agama di dalam novel The Da Vinci code melalui penggambaran karakter Silas dan aspek-aspek fanatisme agama yang digambarkan oleh karakternya.
Ada tiga masalah yang dirumuskan di dalam skripsi ini. Pertama adalah deskripsi dari karakteristik Silas di dalam novel ini. Kedua adalah penemuan dari aspek-aspek fanatisme agama yang ditunjukkan melalui karakternya dan yang terakhir adalah pentingnya unsur fanatisme agama di dalam novel The Da Vinci
Untuk menjawab ketiga masalah tersebut, penulis menerapkan metode studi pustaka dan karena skripsi ini berhubungan dengan pokok persoalan tentang filsafat moral, pendekatan filsafat moral digunakan dalam menjawab masalah- masalah di dalam skripsi ini. Sumber utama daripada skripsi ini adalah buku The
Da Vinci Code karya Dan Brown dan sumber lainnya adalah buku-buku dan
beberapa referensi dari internet. Penulis menjawab rumusan masalah dengan mengidentifikasi karakter Silas terlebih dahulu. Setelah itu penulis menemukan aspek-aspek fanatisme agama yang digambarkan di dalam karakternya. Yang terakhir, melalui aspek-aspek fanatisme agama tersebut penulis mencoba untuk mengungkapkan pentingnya unsur fanatisme agama di dalam novel ini.
Skripsi ini menghasilkan beberapa penemuan. Melalui analisa pertama, penulis menemukan empat karakteristik silas, yaitu Silas sebagai karakter yang menyedihkan, Silas sebagai biarawan yang setia dan patuh, Silas sebagai biarawan yang brutal, dan Silas sebagai biarawan yang beriman. Setelah karakteristiknya diidentifikasi, penulis menemukan lima aspek fanatisme agama di dalam karakternya. Yang pertama adalah penyerahan diri secara total pada organisasinya, kedua adalah kepatuhan buta terhadap pemimpinnya, ketiga penyerapan penuh terhadap kepercayaan kelompok, keempat ketidaktoleransian, dan yang terakhir adalah kesiapan untuk mengorbankan orang lain. Analisa terakhir menghasilkan penemuan terhadap pentingnya unsur fanatisme agama di dalam novel The Da Vinci Code. Yang pertama fanatisme agama Silas di dalam novel ini digunakan untuk mengkritik masalah yang berhubungan dengan fanatisme agama di dalam masyarakat dan yang kedua adalah untuk memberikan pengertian kepada orang-orang Kristen berkenaan dengan sikap yang harus
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION A. Background of the Study Literature offered human beings unlimited ways to express themselves in
their own words. With literature, humans are able to write stories whether it is stories about themselves or stories that they have imagined and fantasized about.
Poems, dramas, short stories, or novels of comedy or tragedy all enable humans to share memorable stories to other human beings around them, and even to generations after.
Literature and human life are two things that cannot be separated, because literature is the portrait of the human person. Humans are very complex creatures and in literature we can find many examples that illustrate how complicated human lives are. Literature is one reliable source for the study of human characteristics because it always attempts to capture humans in their truest characteristics. Wellek and Warren in Theory of Literature also mentioned that:
Literature is the reflection of human feeling toward his life. It is closely related to human experience through which we can learn the image of human being that is expressed in the written way. It can also be defined as the work of arts that represents human life (1956: 94).
Since literature is an imitation of human life, the story that appeals in literary works, such as novels, poems and plays always deals with human experience.
Despite the many controversial claims to the otherwise, one persisting characteristic of the human person is his spirituality. Human beings tend to turn to religious beliefs in search of ‘inner peace’ and this – in fact – is a universal phenomenon. Seeing that there is no place in the whole world that does not have some form of a religion with dedicated followers.
Religion, however, seems to be a double-edged sword. It does not always offer spiritual peace to the world. First of all, religious diversity has caused uncountable bloodshed throughout the ages. It is true that a particular religion would offer some kind of peace of mind to its followers. However, what sort of attitude would it display to the followers of other religions? Secondly, even within the same religion there are various clashes between groups holding differing versions of “truth”.
Take the row between the Roman Catholic institutions and the Lutheran ‘Protestants’ of the Middle Ages for example. The Lutherans are not so different from the Roman Catholics in the philosophies and beliefs held; only in details of rituals are they different. They both believed in one Omnipotent Creator God, in Jesus Christ the Son of the Creator God and in the Holy Spirit (or, as they say it in those times, The Holy Ghost). We are not even talking about two different religions here, as they are, essentially, the same. Yet, history records that the Roman Catholics were convinced that these Protestants were enemies. Even until today, there is never really an official reconciliation between the two, although both of them are now considerably friendlier to each other
In our modern world of great technological achievements, religious strife may seem to lose its relevance. Yet, the recent 9/11 tragedy shows the exact opposite. Religious strife is still a very significant issue and has brought about the loss of hundreds of lives and incited terrible years of warfare. What, then, do we say about religion? Should we blame it for all the problems its followers have caused throughout the history of mankind? The answer is definitely “No”.
It is not the religions that are problematic, it is the followers. The core of all these religious strives is simply fanaticism. Religious beliefs are, in itself, good. But then people would project their twisted perspectives into their religions, for various personal gains, and make it into a murderous belief system with murderous fanatical followers who would use their religion as a basis to justify terrible acts of violence against people they see as different, unfit and separate.
Religious fanaticism is not a new subject. However, the attack on the
World Trade Center in New York on the September 11 2002 gave people new interest regarding religious fanaticism. People start to discuss it via various media, including literature. Religious fanaticism is still one of the most popular themes in current literary works. It is interesting to look into these literary works, because it often depicts the real example of a religious fanatic.
One literary work that depicts a good model of a religious fanatic is Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code. In his novel, the character that prominently portrays a fanatic is the character of the Albino monk, Silas. This character is ready to kill innocents for the sake of the organization that he serves and the indebted to. It is toward this character that this paper will focus its study. This paper aims to observe religious fanaticism as demonstrated through the character of Silas and its significance in this novel.
B. Problem Formulation
Based on the explanation above, there are three problems formulated:
1. What are the characteristics of Silas?
2. What are the aspects of religious fanaticism shown through Silas?
3. What are the significance of Silas’ religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci
C. Objectives of the Study
Based on the problem formulation above, there are three aims that can be obtained from this study. First, this study attempts to find out the characteristics of Silas through a deep analysis about his personal description, his past life, his thought, his point of view, his reaction towards some situation, and his attitudes towards other characters and towards himself. Second, this study is aimed to discover the aspects of religious fanaticism as depicted in his character, and last this study tries to reveal the significance of Silas’ religious fanaticism in this novel.
D. Definition of Term To avoid ambiguities of certain terms, definition of terms is needed.
Therefore, here are some explanations about the terms in this study for a better understanding of this thesis.
1. Religious Fanaticism Religious fanaticism is a term that is used to describe a concept about one’s understanding of the word of God which is absolute and ultimate. Religious fanatics consider themselves as the defender of God’s law. They believe that their understandings of the word of God and their ways of applying it are identical to the word of God (Wijaya, 1997: 2-4).
2. Character Character is one of the intrinsic elements of literary work. According to
Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms, character is the person who is presented in a dramatic or narrative work. He or she is illustrated with moral, dispositional, and emotional qualities that are expressed in the dialog and in the action (1993: 23).
3. Philosophy Liang Gie in his book Philosophy as an Element of Human Existence cited
J.A. Leighton words who mentioned that philosophy is the study that tries to find out the nature and the meaning of all life’s principle. The complete meaning of philosophy includes the concept of the whole world, the value, the meaning and the purpose of life (1998: 12).
CHAPTER II THEORETICAL REVIEW A. Review of Related Studies There are some reviews which are talking about Dan Brown’s The Da
and the writer will discuss three reviews. The first one is a review by
Valerie MacEwan in PopMatters website which was published on March 2003 entitled Try Putting This Book Down. This review discusses about how The Da has intriguing fictional background and two major components that
will always create popularity which are the myths surrounding the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail. This novel combines myth and reality and combines into a great composition. The conclusion of the story seems to successfully answer many of the myths, which is why even though the book is fiction, it is hard for one not to believe a lot of it. The Da Vinci code will probably create an unintentional effect, and that is the trend to reanalyze many of the wrong biblical interpretations and misquotes which are often misused in churches to gain financial and political power. This, the writer notes, is a very accurate speculation, with the emergence of so many books that attempted to debunk The Da Vinci Code, forgetting that the novel is a fictional work (http://www.popmatters.com/books/reviews/d/da-vinci- code.shtml).
The second review is by W. R. Greer. In his article The Da Vinci Code is W. R. Greer praises the book for the ingenuity in the
Intelligent and Fun, understood by even those who know nothing about the international cultures and the myths regarding the Holy Grail, and at the same time presents a critical statement regarding each of the cultures involved. The scenario in this novel brings a story of global proportions that makes the conspiracy theories around the secret societies and religious groups seem perfectly believable to the readers. Mystery thrillers are weaved around clumsily-made-characters. This usually creates defects in the storyline. However, W. R. Greer sees the Da Vinci Code as one novel that successfully brings about a beautiful storyline with effective use of characters (http://www.reviewsofbooks.com/da_vinci_code/review/).
In the next review, Spinning a Thriller from the Louvre by Janet Maslin of the New York Times issued on March 17, 2003, The Da Vinci Code is analyzed from the point of the story telling. Dan Brown, says her, has fine tuned the story to blockbuster perfection. She even compares the story telling prowess of the novel to the Harry Potter series, and praises it for it for its ability to take readers through a breathless chase and leading them through flawlessly crafted plot twists. The novel makes models of the mysterious Leonardo Da Vinci, whose whole life is
riddled with symbols and secrets, and the late Saunière of the 19 century, and takes the readers into a thrilling ride in solving the mysteries of the Knights Templar and The Priory of Zion. It then draws reader to controversies around the Opus Dei of the Vatican and the Gnostics and taps into the core of worldwide religious conspiracy theory. When the characters draw shocking conclusions, the readers too are surprised. Turns after turns of twists finally bring the main were raised, and finally, readers can rest knowing they have participated in a thrilling and thought-provoking adventure (http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_code/nytimes.html).
However, this study is trying to analyze something new and different from other related studies. This study is focused on the issue of religious fanaticism in therefore this study gives a new contribution to literary
The Da Vinci Code; review.
B. Review of Related Theories
In this chapter, the writer will describe some theories that will be used as the background in doing a research. The theories are Theory on Character and Characterization, Review on Religious Fanaticism, Divine Command Theory, Review on Christian Morality, which includes Several Catholic Approach to Morality and a Contemporary Catholic or Christian Ethic, Review on philosophy, and last is the Relation between Philosophy and Literature.
1. Theory on Character and Characterization
Character is one of the intrinsic elements of literary work. According to Robert Stanton in An Introduction to Fiction, character is usually used to mark the individual in the story and to show the combination of interests, desires, emotions, and moral principles that shape the said individual. A character also has reasons behind its behavior, called motivation. Stanton emphasizes that “the character’s Forster in Aspects of the Novel mentions that the character in the story is real when the author knows everything about it. He can tell all of the facts and he can hide some of them (1974: 44).
E.M. Foster in his book Aspects of the Novel introduces new way to differentiate a character, and those are flat and round characters. Flat characters are characters that are created around a single idea and quality and they are presented without many characteristics details. Whereas, round characters are usually presented with subtle characteristics and this kind of characters are more like people in real life (1974: 57).
In A Handbook to Literature, Holman and Harmon state that characterization is the creation of imaginary persons in fictions (drama, novel, short story, or narrative poem), in order that they exist for the reader as lifelike. They define three methods of characterization: firstly, by the explicit presentation from the author of the character through direct exposition; secondly, by the presentation of the character in action; and thirdly, by the representation from within a character (1986: 81).
There are several ways to make the characters understandable to the readers as mention in Murphy’s Understanding Unseen (1972: 161-173): a. By personal description: the author describes a person’s appearance and clothes to build the character.
b. By presenting the characters as seen by another character: the author describes his character through another character’s eyes and opinions, instead of directly c. By speech: the character is recognized by the readers from what other persons in the story say about it.
d. By past life: letting the readers know and learn something about a character’s past life surely can provide clues as to what shape the person’s character.
e. By the conversation of others: when other characters talk about the character, it can give some clues to recognize the character being talked about.
f. By reactions: considering a person’s reaction toward some situations or events may give the readers some clues about the character.
g. By direct comment: the author can also describe or comment on a person’s character directly.
h. By thoughts: by knowing what a person is thinking about, the readers will be able to recognize the person’s character. i. By mannerisms: the author can describe a person’s mannerisms or habits in order to tell the readers some things about his character.
Little, in his Approach to Literature, adds that characters may be presented mainly through descriptive and dramatic methods. By the description and discussion, the character and even the story will be easier to be understood. On the other hand, using the author’s reporting on the character’s speech and action in the dramatic method, it will make the character and the story more vivid and lively. Unfortunately, it will be relatively difficult for the reader to understand if the dramatic method used in extreme forms (1981: 89-90).
As a final point, Little states that “to be of interest and value in literature, vital to development of the plot. Therefore, even in a fantasy, an essential element is truth to life. The character should be real, believable, and based on possible variations of human nature so that the readers are able to identify themselves with the human creatures, to maintain the interest and concern with the theme of the story (1981: 92).
2. Religious Fanaticism
Religious fanaticism is a term that is used to describe a concept about one’s understanding of the word of God which is absolute and ultimate. While some people would believe that fanaticism is a form of faith steadiness, some others believe that fanaticism is an intolerant action (Wijaya, 1997: 2-4). Winston Churchill stated that "a fanatic is one who cannot change his mind and will not change the subject". This means to say that fanatic person is someone who only believes in his ideology. Religious fanaticism is considered by some to be the most extreme form of fanaticism. It is notable that religion followers are the target of accusation of religious fanaticism.
According to Alexander Pruss in his article entitled Consequentialism and
fanaticism (religious and otherwise) posted on September 24, 2006, religion is
beneficial when it increases the average happiness of a society. The action and behaviors that are related to the religion can be justified because it increases the happiness or utility of relevant person, but “as soon as one's theory of the good moves away from considerations of happiness, one tends to get fanaticism. For will allow one to murder or torture people when they stand in the way of the religious goals” (http://rightreason.ektopos.com/archives/2007). In brief, religious fanatics will allow themselves to torture or even kill people to gain religious goal. Ghassan Rubeiz in his article entitled My God is Better than your God posted on April 20, 2004, stated that this kind of fanaticism defeats the main purpose of religion which is to give our life meaning. In short, this kind of fanaticism is very dangerous.
Gretty M. Mirdal in his seminar paper on Nuclear War and Planetary Emergencies entitled The Psychology of Terrorism: Fanatical Identities stated that:
In the original sense of the word a fanatic (from fanum meaning a holy site in Latin) is a person who is passionately engaged in a religious cause. His belief dominates all other aspects of life, and signs that contradict it are ignored. Earlier alliances are deserted and feelings of compassion blunted. Individuality is replaced by allegiance to a group of co-believers, and by obedience to its leaders. To a fanatic the world is divided into two categories, those that are with him and those that are against. There are either allies or enemies.
This theory assumes that a religious fanatic is the one who is dominated by religious goal and in order to become a fanatic he or she must be able to give the total submission to the target group and leave the other aspect of his or her life behind. This means that a person with a battered sense of individuality will be more susceptible to becoming a fanatic. As the person surrenders his or her life to the group, he or she absorbs completely the beliefs of the group, obeys the leader of the group fully and sees everything that contradicts his or her newfound belief
Jacob Van Flossen, in his article entitled Selected Studies in Fanaticism that is published in his web site Return of the Gods web site, writes: The fanatic, as we use the term, displays a myopic intolerant fervor--with sense neither of proportion nor of normal social priorities. For his cause of the moment, his weapons are usually chants and slogans, not reasoned arguments. Yet, make no mistake, he may be quite prepared to lie and cheat; to undermine the social values and destroy the traditional institutions of his own society; to sacrifice friends and family (http://pages.prodigy.net/krtq73aa/fanatic.htm). This says that a fanatic is an intolerant person who does not listen to good reason. All he needs are simple slogans and chants to channel his beliefs. They are, however, not simple in the sense that they are traditional, or that they do only the good things. On the contrary, they are ready to do all sorts of things that violate social norms, and even to sacrifice their friends and families. Nothing must stand in the way of their belief, not even their humanity.
Wijaya in his book Iman atau Fanatisme (translated from Bahasa into English) mentioned the basic differences between the true believers and the fanatics. He states that both the true believers and the fanatics have specific understandings of the word of God. They also have specific ways to search and apply the truth. However, the true believers realize that their understanding of the word of God is not absolute and neither is their attempt for the truth absolute. Meanwhile, the fanatics think of themselves as the defender of the law of God, but what they are really defending is not really the law but their understandings of the law and their ways to apply that law which they think is absolute. The true believers understand that the word of God is perfect, but they also understand that
14 from time to time. The true believers are always trying to improve, expand, and advance their understanding of the word of God and the ways to apply the truth in order that it becomes more relevant to the current society and more universal to mankind. Therefore, the true believers are able to be more open to other understandings or ways. On the contrary, the fanatics believe that their understandings of the word of God and their ways of applying it are identical to the word of God. Therefore, they become infallible and ultimate. They will not hesitate to remove those who challenge their understanding. More often than not, these people are very excited to involve themselves in murder and warfare. Thus, in their attempt to defend the law of God, they break it, “you shall not kill” (The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20: 13, RSV) (1997: 1-4).
3. Divine Command Theory
As quoted by Boss in his book Ethics for Life Second Edition, Socrates asked a question “whether the gods love what is holy because it is holy or it is holy because the gods love it” (Boss, 2000: 153). In the ethic’s area, Divine Command Theory answers the question clearly and unequivocally that “whatever is good is good only because God wills it to be good” (Hinman, 1994: 98). In other words, something good is dependent on God’s will. According to this theory, morality is relative to God’s command or will and God’s command or will cannot be judged by universal moral standard. “No other justification is necessary for an action to be right other that God commanded it” (Boss, 2000: 153-154).
15 This theory assumes that God is the source of all morality; He can change the moral rule simply by His will.
Hinman in his book Ethics: a Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory also added that: Moral decisions are ultimately made on the basis of what God commands, not on what reason tells us. We have to turn to God for the answer to all our questions about how to act. No matter what God commands, it is right just because God commands it (1994: 98). In brief, according to this theory, moral decisions are based on God’s command. Human being must act just like what God commanded and the action are definitely right simply just because God has commanded it.
Thus, this theory believes that to say that God is good is as simple as to say “what God wills are God wills”. Human beings are not able to know the reasons behind God wills. Therefore, human beings must accept God’s command on faith.
Lack of faith is shown if human beings question or need independent nonreligious reasons for accepting God’s command (Boss, 2000: 154).
4. Christian Morality
Kohmescher stated in his book Catholicism Today that “Morality has reference to the way a person acts in order to attain the goal of human living as set down by God, the creator itself” (1990: 150). Human beings will act in moral manner when they know that their action will lead them to their life’s goal.
Jesus Christ came to this mortal world preaching the kingdom of God, but
16 follower of Jesus Christ we are demanded to love others and to give up our lives for others.
It cannot be denied that laws are a good guide for human beings to act normally under normal circumstances, but as we grow up, we have to be responsible for something we do. We have to make a good decision in many particular cases. It is very clear stated in The New Testament that “Christ called us to love not to observe laws”, therefore, a good Christian “who has a good grasp of love and the demands it makes should be well equipped to make good decision”.
This means that a good Christian will do all the best for the sake of God and others.
Christ’s teaching is an ideal ethic for Christians. Christ never gave us minimum standard to be followed. He told us to be perfect just like God – our creator – who gave us certain talent, which must be used to the fullest. As human beings, we realize that we might not be able to gain the fullness of the ideal, but we must never give up, we always strive to do our best until we can be perfect just like our Father in Heaven (Kohmescher, 1990: 150-152).
Bernard Häring in The Idea of Catholicism stated that focus on Christ and on the Kingdom of God result in the morality and responsibility before God. The foundation of our imitation of Christ is our union of grace with Him. Life imitation in love and obedience is the proof of our existential union with Christ. In love, we unite ourselves to His Person of Word made flesh and in obedience we unite to His teaching. The followers of Christ must actively receive Jesus’ words
17 individual talent. The followers of Christ are responsible to their social community. They must put their personal abilities at the service of God. They must also share His Kingdom and teaching to a community. Commandment and Law are the living words of Christ, the invitations of the grace of Christ. They are the maximum standard of the commandment that must be followed. They also make the followers of Christ to be responsible for carrying out his commandment. Followers of Christ realize that the self-perfection and the supernatural value of the soul’s salvation are not by themselves the key values, but it is when they are “committed to the following of Christ that these values are best realized”. Christian realizes that following Jesus Christ does not simply mean saving their soul, but “in the light of one’s love for the savior, the soul’s salvation suddenly takes on a new importance”. Christian morality centered only on Christ because Christ is “the word by which the Father seeks and calls us” (1960: 53-54).
a. Several Catholic Approaches to Morality
Human beings are different; therefore what is good for one to follow is not always good for other. Below are several approaches that are used by Christian today:
1. Authority: Catholics do something as told by some people who have the authority to make the basic decision so that the trouble of making a decision in the midst of conflicting value demands can be avoided.
2. Conscience: Christians’ conscience must be formed properly so that as they grow mature they will be able to make a good decision and will also
3. Love: Christians believe that love can make people become the best person so that they have to use their talent to the fullest to serve others.
4. Tension: In life there must be a tension between the principle and the circumstances. Therefore, Christians must create a marriage between them in order to maintain the full integrity of both (Kohmescher, 1990: 152-153).
b. A Contemporary Catholic/Christian Ethic
There are ten contemporaries ethic that can be accepted and followed by Catholics or Christian:
1. God is our creator
2. A Catholic’s morality is the free response to God who invites us to enter into a mutual personal love-friendship
3. A Catholic morality is a morality of love of God, of others, and of self
4. A Catholic morality is a challenging morality
5. A Catholic morality is responsible for the full impact of his or her action
6. By realizing that human beings are not born mature, a mature Catholic must be properly formed
7. A Catholic operates within the context of a dynamic constellation of value
8. A Catholic gets to know Christ by both study and acquaintance with scripture and personal prayer
9. A Catholic follows a morality tension. He or she must create a marriage between the principle and the circumstances
10. A real Catholic can make the best decision but at the same time can also remain open to growth and change (Kohmescher, 1990: 153-156).
In other words, Catholics or Christians believe that God is their only creator, but it is free for them to give personal response to God. The only way for Catholics or Christians to get to know more about Christ is through both the Holy Bible studying and personal prayer. Basic morality of Catholics or Christian is a morality of loving God, of others, and of self, and it is a challenging morality.
Catholics or Christians always tries to act inside their value of Christianity but in their live, Christians or Catholics must be able to balance their principle as the followers of Jesus Christ with their circumstances. Catholic or Christian must also be fully responsible for the impact of their action, and by realizing this, they must be properly formed so that they can be mature Catholics or Christians that can make the best decision and at the same time can also remain to grow and change to be the best of themselves.
5. Review on Philosophy
Randal in his book Philosophy an Introduction stated that: It is difficult to give a satisfactory formal definition of philosophy. Every definition turns out to be the expression of an individual and limited conception, reflecting the practice of that enterprise in the definer (1942: 1).
In other words, it is very difficult to define what philosophy is, because we cannot depend on only one definition on philosophy. There are many definitions of philosophy and each definition is based on one’s point of view. Human beings and
One basic concept of philosophy, which regards philosophy as life’s view, is that human beings use philosophy as the constant effort to make their life meaningful. To explain more about it, Liang Gie in his book Philosophy as an cited J.A. Leighton words who mentioned that:
Element of Human Existence
Philosophy seeks a totality and harmony of reasoned insight into the nature and meaning of all the principle aspects of reality. A complete philosophy includes a world-view or reasoned conception of the whole cosmos and a life-view doctrine of the value, meanings, and purposes of human life (1998: 12). In short, philosophy tries to find out the nature and the meaning of all life’s principle and the complete meaning of philosophy includes the concept of the whole world, the value, the meaning and the purpose of life. Randal also mentioned that it is very definite that the central issue of philosophy is about human’s life and its connection with the reality. Philosophy tries to reveal some basic question about life, such as what the meaning of life is and what makes life worth living (1942: 5).
In his book The Philosophical Journey an Interactive Approach, Lawhead mentioned that philosophy has four basic goals. The first one is the search of self- understanding, the second is love and pursuit of wisdom, the third is the question about our basic concern meaning, such as God and happiness, and the last is the search for beliefs that can be justified (2000: 6).
6. The Relation Between Philosophy and Literature
Philosophy and literature have a very close relationship because there are
15). In other words, literature can be seen as the historical record of many philosophical thoughts. The idea of philosophy also can be used by the authors of literary works as their basic ideas. Thus, literature can also be considered as one of the philosophical teaching. Therefore the existence of literature itself is very important.
As cited from Guerin’s A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature, Plato and Horace mentioned that the basic function of literature is to reveal philosophical issue to the society (1999: 25). Knight also mentioned in his book that philosophy and literature have some
Literature Considered as Philosophy
things in common. First, both philosophy and literature try to criticize the issues that occur in the society, and second, philosophy and literature use the criticism to find the truth and goodness (1962: 14).
C. Theoretical Framework
This study attempts to reveal religious fanaticism that is illustrated by the character of Silas and the significance of his religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci . Therefore, in order to support the analysis, the writer will apply some
theories. First, since this study deals with one of the characters in this novel that is Silas, theories on character and characterization are applied. The applications of these theories are intended to get a better understanding on the characteristics of the character of Silas.
Second, in order to reveal the religious fanaticism of Silas and to
22 about religious fanaticism by quoting the expert’s saying and also divine command theory. Review of religious fanaticism is used to reveal the aspects of religious fanaticism that is shown within his character. The divine command Theory is applied in order to discuss Silas’ belief as a religious fanatic and his justification for killing innocent people.
Third, review on Christian morality is applied to help the writer to find the significance of Silas’ fanaticism in The Da Vinci code. First, this theory will help the writer to analyze the contradiction between Silas’ belief as a religious fanatic and Christian morality. Second, by using Christian morality the writer tries to discuss about Christian’s best attitude toward the idea of religious fanaticism.
Last, since the writer tries to answer the problems from moral- philosophical point of view, Review on Philosophy is applied for a better understanding about philosophy and its function in literary work. The Relation between Philosophy and Literature is applied to support all the theories because the writer feels it is necessary to explain why a philosophical aspect can become literary study.
CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY A. Object of the Study The object of the study is The Da Vinci Code. This novel is written by American author, Dan Brown. It is published by Doubleday in 2004. This novel consists of 489 pages and it is divided into 1 prolog, 105 chapters, and 1 epilog. This detective, thriller and conspiracy fiction genres is the second book of Dan Brown. This novel combines the detective, thriller and conspiracy fiction genres. Since it is first published, The Da Vinci Code has become the most controversial
novel. One of the reasons that make this book controversial is because this novel draws an illustration about the strictness and the cruelty of Opus Dei, a fanatic organization, which is represented by Silas who is willing to kill people in order to keep this big secret.
The Da Vinci Code drew glowing review from the New York Times,
People Magazine, and the Washington Post (http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_code/reviews.html). The Da Vinci
Code becomes the fourteenth best-selling book of all time. It is worldwide
bestseller with more than 60.5 million copies in print and has been translated into 44 languages (Daily News, http://tqnyc.org/NYC051308/dailynews.htm). In November 2004 Random House published a Special Illustrated Edition of The Da with 160 illustrations (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Da-Vinci-Code-Dan-
In 2006, a film adaptation, The Da Vinci Code, was released by Columbia Pictures. It was first previewed on May 17, 2006 at the opening night of the Cannes film Festival and it was then released in many countries on May 18, 2006.
The Roman Catholic Church criticized this film; even some bishops boycott this film. However, in its opening weekend, the film earned over US$224 million. The film's soundtrack of The Da Vinci code, composed by Hans Zimmer, was nominated for the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/da_vinci_code/#).
Here, the writer will give a brief summary of the story that is related to the topic. The story begins when Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, as the leader of Opus Dei, knowing the truth that the Vatican will revokes its sanction to Opus Dei. Desperate with this condition, this bishop puts Silas in contact with the mysterious guy who calls himself as the Teacher, Teacher—a title common in the prelature.
T he bishop orders Silas to obey all the Teacher commands fully, because the
Teacher is the only who can help them to return Opus Dei’s power. Silas, the monk of Opus Dei agrees with the bishop to obey the Teacher, because he considers the bishop as his savior, the only person who can determine his path. Then, by the Teacher, Silas is ordered to find the location of the Priory's clef de or keystone which soon will lead into the location of Holy Grail. It is said
by the Teacher and also believed by Opus Dei that the truth behind Holy Grail will enlarge the power of Opus Dei. As the fanatic monk, then Silas does everything, including murder innocent people to get the information of the knows that he is only used by the Teacher or soon known as Sir Leigh Teabing to both gain the Teacher’s goal to find out the location of Holy Grail and also ruining Opus Dei’s name. Yet, it is all too late for Silas. He has already done a sin of murder, and even worse he already becomes a criminal. Having a fight with the police who are trying to catch him, Silas is shot. In the end of his life, Silas then asks for God’s forgiveness. He also asks God to give the bishop second chance.
After he finishes his prayer, he dies tragically.
B. Approach of the study
This study is a reflection of the moral problem that is reflected by the character of Silas. The writer wants to analyze Silas’ action and philosophy from moral point of view, whether his action, his thought, his goal can be morally justified or not.
Therefore, dealing with this study, the moral-philosophical approach is applied. This approach emphasizes that the function of literature is to teach morality and to probe philosophical issues. In A Handbook of Critical Approaches
The basic position of moral-philosophical approach is to teach morality and to probe philosophical issues. The readers would interpret literature within the context of the philosophical thought of a period or group. The important thing is the moral or philosophical teaching. It insists on finding out and stating what is exposed and thought (Guerin, 1999: 25). In brief, the moral-philosophical approach sees literary works as moral teaching and philosophical thought that the author attempts to convey to readers as shown
26 philosophical thought based on morality concept. The writer chooses this approach because this approach will help the writer in analyzing moral problem that is depicted by the character of Silas. So this approach will help the writer in answering the problem formulation from the morality point of view.
C. Method of the study
This study used some methods to complete the data and the main step was library research. The primary source of the study was Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci The secondary sources were the books and the internet online references.
The writer collected the data from secondary sources to support the analysis.
Theories of character and characterization that was applied in this study were taken from Robert Stanton’s An Introduction to Fiction, Holman and Harmon’s A Handbook to Literature, Murphy’s Understanding Unseen, and Little’s Approach to Literature.
The writer also used the some review on religious fanaticisms in order to support the analysis on Silas’ fanaticism. The reviews were taken from Wjaya’s Winston Churchill’s quotation, and some internet
Iman atau Fanatisme,
references. those internet references were Ghassan Rubeiz’s article entitled My (http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0420/p25s01-
God is Better than your God
cogn.htm), Gretty M. Mirdal’s seminar paper entitled The Psychology of
Terrorism: Fanatical Identities (http://www.psy.ku.dk/mirdal/terrorisme1.htm),
Jacob Van Flossen’s article entitled
Selected Studies in Fanaticism
27 article entitled Consequentialism and fanaticism (religious and otherwise) (http://rightreason.ektopos.com/archives/2007).
The Divine Command theories were taken from Boss’ Ethics for Life (2
edition) and Hinman’s Ethics: a Pluralistic Approach to Moral Theory (2 edition). The writer took the review on Christian Morality, from Kohmescher’s and Bernard Häring’s The Idea of Catholicism.
And last, to support the analysis about the moral-philosophical study in this literary work, the writer applied the review on philosophy and the Relation between Philosophy and Literature. Review on Philosophy were taken from Randal’s Philosophy An Introduction, Liang Gie’s Philosophy as an Element of and Lawhead’s The Philosophical Journey an Interactive
Approach, and The Relation Between Philosophy and Literature were taken from Knight’s Literature Considered as Philosophy and Guerin’s A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature.
In analyzing the work, there were some steps taken. After the book was read and reread, the writer identified the character of Silas by applying the theory of character and characterization. The writer tried to find out the characteristic of Silas through his personal description, his past life, his thought, his manner, other characters’ point of view, and his attitudes toward other characters. After the characteristics were identified, the writer then tried to find out religious fanaticism aspects within his character by applying Review on Religious Fanaticism and The Divine Command Theory. And last, the writer tried to find out the significance of fanaticism, focusing on the differences between the true believers and the fanatics, and Christian Morality. In this part the writer analyzed Silas’ twisted mind as a fanatic. Silas, as a fanatic Opus Dei’s monk, lived his life to do anything for his organization. However, his dedication was misused and he was led to do things that are against Christian Morality. The writer applied this review on religious fanaticism focusing on the differences between the true believers and the fanatics to discover his tendencies as religious fanatic, after that the writer contrasted it with Christian Morality to reveal his violation toward Christian Morality value.
In addition, Review on Philosophy was applied for a better understanding about philosophy and its function in human’s life and since this study tried to reveal the moral-philosophical issue of Silas, the review of the relation between philosophy and literature was applied in order to support the writer’s analysis about the philosophical aspect through literary work.
CHAPTER IV ANALYSIS A. The Characteristics of Silas in The Da Vinci Code As mentioned by Murphy in his book Understanding Unseen, there are
several ways to discover the characteristics of a character; those are by personal description, by presenting the characters as seen by another character, by speech, by past life, by the conversation of others, by reactions, by direct comment, by thoughts, and by mannerisms. In this analysis, the characteristics of Silas is traced out by his personal descriptions, his past life, his conversation with other characters, his speech, his reaction toward some situations, his thoughts, and his manner. The writer also tries to find the characteristics of Silas through other characters’ – Robert Langdon, Bishop Manuel Aringarosa and the Teacher or Sir Leigh Teabing – opinion and point of view about his character.
1. Silas as the Pitiful Character
Before the writer moves to a deeper analysis, the writer realizes that it is important to portray Silas as a pitiful character in order to give a better understanding regarding Silas from which his underlying motives as a religious fanatic can be further understood. The writer categorizes Silas as a pitiful character for two reasons, first is because of his miserable life as an albino and second is because of his desperation of protecting his new life leads him to be
The portrayal of Silas’ past in this novel tries to illustrate the pitiful life of an albino. Albinism – the term refers to certain people with lack of melanin pigment in the eyes, skin and hair – can be so difficult, especially for young people because the society might isolate and be so cruel to them, just like what Silas experiences in this novel.
Silas’ real name is unknown. He is an albino who originally lived in Marseille with his parents. His condition as an albino makes him being rejected by the society and even by his own father. His father who cannot accept his physical condition often beats Silas and also his mother for an accusation of having an albino son.
His drunken father, a burly dockworker, enraged by the arrival of an albino son, beat his mother regularly, blaming her for the boy's embarrassing condition. When the boy tried to defend her, he too was badly beaten (p. 60).
Not only beats Silas’ mother, his father also eventually kills his mother. Silas feels so guilty for his mother’s death and thinks that it is his entire fault. Enraged by his father, then Silas murders his father.
Without a word, the boy stabbed him in the back. His father cried out in pain and tried to roll over, but his son stabbed him again, over and over until the apartment fell quiet (p. 60). It can be seen that Silas is not naturally an evil man. He is driven to violence by others’ cruelty. He murders his father because he is angry to his father who kills his mother, the only person in the world who loves and cares for him. The psychological scar which is created by the loss of his mother is the first thing that
There are two crimes committed by Silas before he becomes the monk of Opus Dei that is narrated in this novel. First is when he is twelve years old, he almost kills a drifter girl who is twice older than him for mocking his condition as an albino and trying to steal his food. Second, at eighteen, he kills one of the two sailors who catches and beats him for stealing a case of cured ham from a cargo ship just because the sailor smelled of beer, just like his father did. Silas had a traumatic experience with his father, so that when he finds this sailor similar with his father, his traumatic experience begins to haunt him again. Being so afraid of it, he unconsciously commits the same thing like he did to his father.
At eighteen, in a port town, while attempting to steal a case of cured ham from a cargo ship, he was caught by a pair of crewmen. The two sailors who began to beat him smelled of beer, just as his father had. The memories of fear and hatred surfaced like a monster from the deep. The young man broke the first sailor's neck with his bare hands, and only the arrival of the police saved the second sailor from a similar fate (pp. 81-82).
Driven by his violence, Silas grows as an albino with horrifying look. People are more afraid of him than before and see him as “a ghost with the eyes of a devil” (p. 61). Some are just mocking him as a ghost. The society has made him feel like he never existed. He starts to lose his individuality by also considering himself as nothing but a ghost, “and he felt like a ghost... transparent... floating from seaport to seaport. People seemed to look right through him” (p. 61).
Rejection from the society is the second thing that also influences his crime. Society never appreciated him as a human being therefore he also cannot appreciate other people as human beings. Yet, Silas cannot be judged as a person
It is from Bishop Manuel Aringarosa Silas finds refuge and love. This Bishop gives him shelter and also name. From the story of The Book of Acts
chapter 16 about the prisoner named Silas who is also freed by an earthquake, this bishop finally gives him name Silas. Treated like a man, Silas feels like he finally has an identity as a human being.
The verses told of a prisoner named Silas who lay naked and Acts 16. beaten in his cell, singing hymns to God. When the ghost reached Verse 26, he gasped in shock. “...And suddenly, there was a great earthquake, so
that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and all the doors fell open.” His eyes shot up at the priest. The priest smiled warmly. “From
now on, my friend, if you have no other name, I shall call you Silas.” The ghost nodded blankly. Silas. He had been given flesh. My name is Silas (p. 64). Silas’ years had pass without anyone who care or show any kindness to him, but Manuel Aringarosa is very kind to him and since then he is the only person that Silas trust most. Later Silas becomes very loyal and obedient to the bishop and to the organization that is lead by this bishop, Opus Dei. This attitude of him that soon will lead Silas to be misused to do bad things.
Silas sees Opus Dei as the symbol of the beginning of his new life, one in which he can find peace and acceptance. Therefore, when he is told by Aringarosa that Opus Dei is under the threat of losing its power, Silas is extremely disturbed and is convinced that he needs to do whatever it takes to save Opus Dei. As he murdered the four leaders of The Priory of Sion, it is obvious that besides hatred, he is also driven by his desperation. Silas cannot afford to lose his sanctuary and his place of peace. The Opus Dei is the only place where he can escape from the Indeed, had it not been for this desperation, he would not have been so eager to do his murders.
As the pitiful character, Silas is one that a lot of people can relate to. Having a past as miserable as his will lead anybody into desperation. His cruelty and murders, though fearsome and terrifying, shows just to what extent a person will protect the things that are important to him. Silas may have taken the wrong advice and done the wrong things, but that is what makes him feel more human. In desperation, most people make the riskiest decisions only to find things becoming even worse. This desperation is also testified by the character of Leigh Teabing after he learned Silas’ attack on The Priory of Sion, “men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire. I sense a desperation in this assault on the Priory” (p. 288).
Silas’ mistake is that he takes the advice from the wrong person: Leigh Teabing as the Teacher, who seeks to destroy the very foundations of the Christian faith. Had he received the guidance from a different person, a more trustworthy person, then perhaps things would not have become the way they are, and Silas would not have had to die.
It is very important to really know who is giving the advice. Just because the bishop saved Silas from a certain problem does not mean that whatever the person says must be true. It is thus important to keep in mind that even in the case of emergency, it is important to keep a cool mind in order to judge which advice or advisor is good, and which is not.
2. Silas as Loyal and Obedient Monk
Silas, as a person who had been saved by Opus Dei, shows his loyalty and to the organization, or to be more specific to the leader of Opus Dei, Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, by always obeying all the bishop’s commands to him. There are two actions of his loyalty and obedient that will be explained in this chapter, first is his action of obeying the bishop’s command to obey the Teacher fully.
Silas’ contact with the Teacher happens since Bishop Manuel Aringarosa knew that the Vatican will revoke its sanction of Opus Dei. This revocation happens because His Holiness has become uneasy with Opus Dei aggressive recruiting policies, practices of corporal mortification, and also with Opus Dei policies regarding women. Vatican considers Opus Dei has become a liability and an embarrassment for the Catholic Church. Knowing this news, Manuel Aringarosa feels that all his effort to build Opus Dei is threatened. He does not want to lose all his power in Christendom. Therefore, he asks Silas to follow the Teacher’s way to perform the mission of saving Opus Dei existence. The mission is about uncovering the hiding place of a sacred relic that will bring Opus Dei great power that can even make the Vatican bow before Opus Dei, the Holy Grail. Very loyal to Opus Dei, Silas is willing to sacrifice his life to perform this mission and agree to obey the Teacher fully just because the bishop orders him to do so.
How the Teacher gathered his information, Silas did not know, but Aringarosa had placed enormous trust in the Teacher, and he had told Silas to do the same. "Do as the Teacher commands you," the bishop told Silas.
"And we will be victorious” (p. 213). ignores the fact that he is breaking the Law of God, “you Shall not kill” (Exodus 20: 13, RSV), simply just because he is blinded by his loyalty. All he cares about is that he can help the bishop to gain the victory for Opus Dei.
When Silas finds that he and the bishop are deceived by the Teacher, he actually becomes really angry and is willing to sacrifice his lifetime to take revenge to the one who has deceived them. But the bishop tells Silas to forgive the Teacher and prays for forgiveness. This request will lead Silas to his second action of obedient; he loyally obeys the bishop’s command to pray in his last breath. He prays to God for forgiveness and above all for the bishop’s second chance to live and to run Opus Dei.
With every living cell in his broken body, Silas prayed. He prayed for forgiveness. He prayed for mercy. And, above all, he prayed for his mentor...Bishop Aringarosa...that the Lord would not take him before his time. He has so much work left to do. The fog was swirling around him now, and Silas felt so light that he was sure the wisps would carry him away. Closing his eyes, he said a final prayer (p. 459).
3. Silas as a Brutal Monk
Silas is a brutal monk because he is willing to do everything to gain his goal. As a monk, he allows himself to torture people, “if they did not reveal where they had placed the keystone, Silas would have to enter and persuade them with force” (p. 285), and from Robert Langdon’s statement to Silas, is insisted that Silas is even willing to commit a murder to get what he wants, "You're wrong. You want it much more. You've proven you're willing to kill for it" (p. 387).
When he is trying to find the information about clef de voûte or the threatens his informers, the four top members of the Priory of Sion; the three and their Grand Master Jacques Saunière, by death, “The prospect of
death is strong motivation” (p. 13). After he gets the information, then he really murders his informers.
The attacker aimed his gun again.”When you are gone, I will be the only one who knows the truth." The truth. In an instant, the curator grasped the true horror of the situation. If I die, the truth will be lost forever. Instinctively, he tried to scramble for cover. The gun roared, and the curator felt a searing heat as the bullet lodged in his stomach. He fell forward... struggling against the pain. Slowly, Saunière rolled over and stared back through the bars at his attacker (p. 4).
When he is trying to find the keystone in Saint-Sulpice church, Silas also kills Sister Sandrine Bieil brutally because he is so angry knowing the fact that this sister helps the priory to keep their secret and moreover because this sister criticizes Opus Dei’s way.
A sudden explosion of rage erupted behind the monk's eyes. He lunged, lashing out with the candle stand like a club. As Sister Sandrine fell, her last feeling was an overwhelming sense of foreboding (p. 146). Silas stated that “She was working against God! She scorned the work of Opus Dei!”(p. 233). According to Silas this sister is one of the enemies of God, and the enemy of God deserves to be killed.
4. Silas as a Faithful Monk Although Silas is a brutal monk, actually he has a very strong faith in God.
He strongly believes that God has released and saved him from suffering and gives him salvation, “The Lord has provided me shelter and purpose in my life”
From the day he had been saved, Silas always dedicates his life to God. In everything he does he always prays for God guidance. When he is in a mission of getting the Holy Grail, he offers his work to God, because he is strongly believes that he is doing the work of God, ”Dear God, I offer up to you this work I do
today.... ” (p. 96).
Silas does not care about people judgment toward him. According to him, people can judge him not worthy for God because of his sin, but he believes that it is “God alone judges the worthy” (p. 300). He knows that his service to God requires the sin of murder, but still he has faith that God will forgive him because he is willing to sacrifice himself to be sinful just to do the work of God. he told himself, grateful that the Teacher had given him time to
carry out the necessary penance before entering a house of God. I must The sins committed today had been holy in purge my soul of today's sins. purpose. Acts of war against the enemies of God had been committed for centuries. Forgiveness was assured. Even so, Silas knew, absolution required sacrifice (p. 14).
As the follower of Opus Dei, it is a must for Silas to practice Corporal Mortification, a kind of Opus Dei ritual which requires its follower to do self- torture. Silas always puts so much appreciation to this ritual. Moreover it is a pleasure for him to do this ritual, because through this ritual he feels that his faith in God can grow, “The measure of your faith is the measure of the pain you can
” (p. 80).
Even in his last breath when Silas has already known that what he is doing is a sin, Silas never lost his faith in God. He asks God to forgive him and to give
With every living cell in his broken body, Silas prayed. He prayed for forgiveness. He prayed for mercy. And, above all, he prayed for his mentor...Bishop Aringarosa...that the Lord would not take him before his time (p. 591).
After he prays, He believes that God will forgive him because he has faith that God is merciful, He will always forgive those who admit their sin, “Our Lord is a good and merciful God” (p. 459).
B. Aspects of Religious Fanaticism as Shown by Silas
Through the characteristics of Silas, the writer finds five aspects of religious fanaticism by applying the review on religious fanaticism and the divine command theory.
1. Total Submission to His Group
A fanatic will leave other aspects of life behind and give his total submission to his group in order to see a religious goal as his only purpose in life (Mirdal, 2002, http://www.psy.ku.dk/mirdal/terrorisme1.htm). This attitude is depicted clearly through Silas. After meeting Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, Silas feels that he has been reborn. He considers Opus Dei as a symbol of the beginning of his life.
He pictured a younger Bishop Aringarosa, standing before the small church in Spain... the church that he and Silas had built with their own hands. The beginning of my life (pp. 377-378). Therefore, he surrenders his life to be used by Opus Dei and took the role of a
Yet, even as a monk of the Opus Dei, the memories of his past still haunt him from time to time and whenever that happens, Silas always tries to suppress it by performing corporal mortification.
At the moment, though, in his room at the residence hall, it was his father's disappointed voice that whispered to him from the past.
Tu es un désastre. Un spectre. (you are a disaster. A ghost)
Kneeling on the wooden floor, Silas prayed for forgiveness. Then, stripping off his robe, he reached again for the Discipline (p. 181). He feels that the Discipline can erase the violent memories of his past and clean his soul from his past sins, and enable him to rebuild his new life as a part of Opus Dei.
His application of the Discipline is extremely harsh, so much harsher than what is required of an Opus Dei monk, because he feels that the blood that is resulted by his version of the ritual can free him from his memories of past violence, cleanse his past sins and enable him to fully became the Silas of Opus Dei.
Five hundred miles away, the albino named Silas stood over a small basin of water and dabbed the blood from his back, watching the patterns of red spinning in the water. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, he prayed, quoting Psalms. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Silas was feeling an aroused anticipation that he had not felt since his previous life. It both surprised and electrified him. For the last decade, he had been following The
Way, cleansing himself of sins... rebuilding his life...erasing the violence in his past (p. 34).
Silas is also willing to let go of many of his life aspects, including his sex life. He does really have sexual desires, but he is willing to leave all his indulgence and choose to live a celibate life in order to follow Opus Dei.
39 return. A vow of celibacy and the relinquishment of all personal assets hardly seemed a sacrifice (p. 79). Silas’s total dedication to The Way causes him to give his entire self to be used for any purposes of his organization. He sees his leader as the only one who has the right to determine his path. Therefore, when Manuel Aringarosa asks him to be a “soldier of God” to get the keystone in order to save Opus Dei’s power, Silas easily obeys it. For Silas, the bishop’s command is the same as a command from God and it is his duty to make any necessary sacrifices.
The bishop had seemed hopeful for the first time.”Silas,” he whispered, “God has bestowed upon us an opportunity to protect The Way. Our battle, like all battles, will take sacrifice. Will you be a soldier of God?” Silas fell to his knees before Bishop Aringarosa—the man who had given him a new life—and he said, “I am a lamb of God. Shepherd me as your heart commands” (pp. 212-213).
2. Blind Obedience to His Leader
A fanatic is the one who sees the leader of his group as a person who has ultimate status. He sees his leader as the one who has equal position as God Himself and it is a must to obey all the leader’s words without reasoning, because for him, the leader’s words is as absolute as the word of God Himself (Mirdal, 2002, http://www.psy.ku.dk/mirdal/terrorisme1.htm). This characteristic can be seen clearly through Silas. Silas considers his leader, Bishop Manuel Aringarosa – a person who had saved him from his miserable life – as God Himself. Therefore, he is willing to obey all the bishop’s commands without questioning and this attitude that soon will lead Silas to be a blind obedient monk. The writer can say
41 questioning and considering the consequences and the effects behind his action of obeying the command fully.
To begin this analysis, the writer will point out the cause of Silas’ blind obedience. As mentioned in the previous analysis, Silas has a very horrible past.
People are cruel to him and he always finds himself rejected by the people around him. It is Manuel Aringarosa who saves his life. Manuel Aringarosa is the first and the only person who is really kind to Silas. He is not only his caretaker but also the only person who considers Silas a friend. Not only being a very good person to Silas, Manuel Aringarosa also gives him name. Silas is the name that the priest gives after being considered a ghost – fleshless – by people for a very long time. In a sense, it is Manuel Aringarosa who gives Silas flesh – an identity as a human being, education, and purpose of life. It is also Manuel Aringarosa who builds Silas’ self confidence, teaches Silas to appreciate himself for what he is – an albino – and tells him that God will use Silas to do His work, just like He used Noah of Ark, who was also an albino, to save all of life on the entire planet. Over time, slowly but surely, Silas begins to learn to appreciate his life. He learns to see himself as precious; an angel and not a ghost.
“My friend,” Aringarosa had told him, “you were born an albino. Do not let others shame you for this. Do you not understand how special this makes you? Were you not aware that Noah himself was an albino?” “Noah of the Ark?” Silas had never heard this. Aringarosa was smiling. “Indeed, Noah of the Ark. An albino. Like you, he had skin white like an angel. Consider this. Noah saved all of life on the planet. You are destined for great things, Silas. The Lord has freed you for a reason. You have your calling. The Lord needs your help to do His work.” Over time, Silas learned to see himself in a new light. I am pure. White. Beautiful. Like an
42 Silas is blinded by his gratitude toward Manuel Aringarosa. His thankfulness toward Manuel Aringarosa soon makes Silas willing to obey all the bishop’s words. He sees the bishop as equal to God, the one who had given him a new life, “It had been Aringarosa who gave Silas life in the first place... in that small rectory in Spain, educating him, giving him purpose” (p. 181). According to his belief, the bishop’s word is the same as the word of God; it must be obeyed without reasoning or excuses.
The bishop had seemed hopeful for the first time. “Silas,” he whispered, “God has bestowed upon us an opportunity to protect The Way. Our battle, like all battles, will take sacrifice. Will you be a soldier of God?” Silas fell to his knees before Bishop Aringarosa—the man who had given him a new life—and he said, “I am a lamb of God. Shepherd me as your heart commands” (p. 213).
After being a member of Opus Dei, Silas is taught the Bible. From the Bible, he knows exactly that there are three basic teaching in Christianity, those are love, peace, and non-violence. Never having had any other education, Silas is uncritical; he strongly believes that this message should be protected from the enemies of Christ, and anybody who “threaten God with force will be met with force” (p. 34). His belief is also strengthened by the bishop request to be the “soldier of God”; to perform the mission to save the power of Opus Dei.
Silas’ unquestioning loyalty towards the bishop is recognized and used by the Teacher when he manipulated Silas into killing all the top four members of the Priory – the Grand Master and the other three sénéchaux – in order to get information about the location of the much pursued keystone. The bishop’s
“The Teacher promised me there would be no killing, and I told you to obey him fully” (p. 446).
In this case, Silas is blind obedient because although he actually knows that killing is strictly forbidden in his religion but still he ignores the fact that he is breaking his religious law because all he cares about is that the bishop had ordered him to obey everything that the Teacher commanded, that it is therefore his duty to obey the Teacher. He does not want to disappoint the bishop’s desire to make Opus Dei become more powerful, as if he does not want to disappoint God himself.
His blind obedience to Opus Dei, or to be more exact, to the bishop, gives Silas a twisted understanding about God and the Laws of God. First, he understands that what he is doing is evil. As a Catholic, he knows exactly that killing people is strictly forbidden and is also a great sin as it breaks the 10 Commandments of God. As a Christian he actually knows that the Law of God is absolute, and yet, he breaks it by reasoning that he becomes sinful in the service of God, “His service to God today had required the sin of murder, and it was a sacrifice Silas knew he would have to hold silently in his heart for all eternity” (p.
106). Silas believes that he is doing the service for God because both the bishop and the Teacher, his leaders whom he considered to be equal as God, said so. the bishop asks him to make any necessary sacrifice in the service to God and the Teacher makes him believes that he has done “a great service to God” (p. 14) by eradicating enemies of God. Therefore, Silas believes that God will justify his
44 according to his belief still performs the truest value of Catholicism, which he feels is pleasing God tremendously. He thinks that the murders he made are in accordance to God’s will because he treats religious goals – helping Opus Dei to save the true faith of Christianity by finding the Holy Grail – above anything else, including the innocent lives. Killing people is, of course, breaking the laws of God. However, Silas believes that God can make exemptions in His rules and judgments whenever God wills it. Therefore, even though he knows that his action is breaking the law of God, he still ignores it and believes that God will forgive him and justify his actions because according to his understanding he must act just like what God commands and the action of obeying the command is definitely right simply just because God has commanded it. God can simply change the moral rule simply by His will (Hinman, 1994: 98).
3. Absorption of All the Group’s Belief
A fanatic believes that his group holds the ultimate truth. Therefore, whatever the group – or in this case, the group leaders – says will automatically be absorbed and given the highest priority without further considerations (Mirdal, 2002, http://www.psy.ku.dk/mirdal/terrorisme1.htm). As a fanatic, Silas habitually absorbs all his group’s teachings, especially the sayings of Bishop Manuel Aringarosa, and makes it his main ideology of life. This is why when the bishop hands Silas over to the Teacher; Silas has no problem absorbing whatever the Teacher tells him. In his mind, Silas believes that as he absorbs the sayings of the beliefs that Silas holds throughout the novel as the result of his interaction with the Teacher. The first one is that the enemies of God must be exterminated.
After becoming the member of opus Dei, Silas is taught the Bible by the bishop. He knows exactly the basic teaching of Jesus Christ is peace, love and nonviolence. However, his fanaticism to Opus Dei prevented him from truly understanding the true meaning of the message and then he steps in to offer a conclusion that this is one message that must be protected at all cost, even if he must murder and kill.
This was the Jesus' message is one of peace... of nonviolence... of love. message Silas had been taught from the beginning, and the message he held in his heart. And yet this was the message the enemies of Christ now threatened to destroy. Those who threaten God with force will be met with
For two millennia, Christian soldiers had
force. Immovable and steadfast
defended their faith against those who tried to displace it. Tonight, Silas had been called to battle (p. 34). He absorbs this group belief that in order to be a soldier of God he must exterminate those who endanger his faith, just like what some Christian soldiers did in the past.
The second belief is that performing murder for the sake of Opus Dei in order to save the existence of The Way - the basic teaching in Opus Dei which consists of 999 points of meditation for doing God's Work and feeling God’s existence in everyday life – is a white sin and therefore forgivable. As a background, in the Novel, it is told that the Vatican will be revoking its sanction of Opus Dei i.e. The Vatican will disassociate itself from Opus Dei. This revocation means that many of Opus Dei’s followers might lose their faith in the organization, as it will no longer be considered an official Catholic prelature. This will greatly endanger Opus Dei’s existence.
Silas’s attitude towards this situation is very extreme; he must do whatever is necessary to save Opus Dei, including murders. Silas knows that his action of murder means breaking the law of God and it is definitely a great sin. However, he feels that it is all right, because the sin of murder that he is committing will be forgiven as it is done for a holy purpose, and that is performing a mission from God to protect the existence of The Way, the true faith of Christianity, “I do the
” (p. 311). This belief is taught and reinforced by
work of God. The Way is in peril
the Teacher, whom he sees as the highest leader, “the one who had assured him his actions were ordained by a higher power” (p. 80). Silas believes that his final goal of getting the Holy Grail will justify his action. Therefore God’s forgiveness is assured.
The sins committed today had been I must purge my soul of today's sins. holy in purpose. Acts of war against the enemies of God had been committed for centuries. Forgiveness was assured (p. 14).
The last group’s belief that he absorbs is that The Way is the only way to be close to God and it can be seen from his action of giving so much attention to Corporal Mortification. His group’s belief emphasizes that the pain and the blood caused by Corporal Mortification ritual will bring believers close to God and therefore will clean him from his sins.
Corporal Mortification is a sacred ritual that requires its follower to practice a kind of self-torture, which includes wearing a cilice – “a leather strap, Christ's suffering” (p. 14), and doing the Discipline – a kind of self torture by using a heavy knotted rope to whip the body.
As one of the truest followers of The Way, Silas absorbs his group’s belief that the pain caused by the devices will remind him to Christ’s suffering and it also “helped counteract the desires of the flesh.” (p. 14). Pain is good, is the wisdom of The Way that is strongly believed by thousand of faithful servants of Opus Dei, including Silas. He applies that wisdom fully in his life because he believes that the pain will bring him closer to God. He absorbs his group’s belief that the more he can endure the pain caused by this sacred ritual, the bigger his faith. Therefore, he always wears the cilice longer than the requisite two hours.
Besides using cilice more, Silas also practices the Discipline harder than the requisite. Usually, the Practice of the Discipline does not cause bleeding, but Silas practices using the devices until it causes bleeding because he believes that the pain and blood cause by this ritual will purify him from sin.
Five hundred miles away, the albino named Silas stood over a small basin of water and dabbed the blood from his back, watching the patterns of red spinning in the water. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, he prayed, quoting Psalms. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow (p. 34).
It is an enjoyment for Silas to perform this ritual. It really does cause pain, but he feels that the pain that he receives from the ritual will discipline his soul and cleanse him from his past. He also considers this practice as a great service to God.
One mile away, the hulking albino named Silas limped through the front gate of the luxurious brownstone residence on Rue La Bruyère. The spiked Furthermore, he believes that the measure of his faith can be gauged by measuring the amount of pain that he can endure. As he wishes to be one of the firmest, most dedicated followers of The Way, he thus seeks to cause as much pain as possible during the ritual as a statement of his faith. As his pain and faith gets stronger, he believes that he is further saved from his miserable past. It is for this reason that he puts so much appreciation to the corporeal mortification ritual.
A fanatic will consider the ideology that he absorbed from the group as the only truth worthy to be his ideology in life, and any other teachings, even those from his own religion (who are not taught by his leaders), will only be seen as insignificant chatter. This means that a fanatic will often be an intolerant person even towards the believers of the same religion (Flossen, http://pages.prodigy.net/krtq73aa/fanatic.htm). Silas as a fanatic displays this sort of behavior too. As a Christian, Silas is supposed to put his faith in the word of God. However, his understanding of the word of God is limited to only those that are selected and taught to him by his leaders. Therefore, his version of the Word of god is a stunted, distorted version. Nevertheless he believes that his understandings of the word of God and his ways of applying it are identical to the word of God itself. This attitude leads him to become an intolerant person even to fellow Catholics.
Silas basically sees himself and the people who have the same belief as the
49 with godless lives and therefore deserve to die, “how all four of his victims, moments before death, had desperately tried to buy back their godless lives by telling their secret.” (p. 13). His intolerance towards the Priory is further proven by his feeling no guilt whatsoever when killing all the top four members of the Priory.
On top of that, as a fanatic, Silas does not want to accept or listen to other ideas or arguments. All he cares about is that his slogan must be upheld and that those who are working against the Opus Dei are scorning God. Therefore, when he discovers that Sister Sandrine is against Opus Dei’s ways of applying the word of God – on top of helping the Brotherhood of the Priory to hide the keystone – this sister becomes the next target of Silas’ intolerance.
Sister Sandrine is the keeper of the Saint-Sulpice church who cannot accept nor understand the ways and rituals of the Opus Dei. According to this sister, Opus Dei has strayed from teachings of Jesus Christ. She knows that Jesus Christ never taught his followers to torture themselves to prove their faith. The sister’s understanding is actually truer to Christian doctrines than Silas’ but she will never be able to make Silas understand this. True enough, at the first sign of her criticizing the ways of Opus Dei, Silas kills her.
According to Silas, the sister of the Church who helps the Priory and questions the ways of Opus Dei has betrayed God. Therefore, the sister also deserves to die.
“You are a sister of the Church, and yet you serve them?”
A sudden explosion of rage erupted behind the monk's eyes. He lunged, lashing out with the candle stand like a club. As Sister Sandrine fell, her last feeling was an overwhelming sense of foreboding (p. 146). “She was working against God! She scorned the work of Opus Dei!” (p. 180). Being an intolerant person, he separates his world into two: those who are with him and those who are his enemies. This can be seen through his treatment and judgement towards those who have different beliefs and towards his fellows who have different perspectives with him, The Priory and Sister Sandrine.
5. Readiness to Sacrifice Others
Religion and humanity can not be separated. That is, all religions teach their followers to always respect humanity. The same thing applies to Christianity.
In its core, Christianity is all about teaching people to love and respect one another. However, Silas though is a Christian, breaks this basic rule. He – as most of all the fanatics do too – does not hesitate in ridding of all the innocent people who oppose the beliefs of his group (Flossen, http://pages.prodigy.net/krtq73aa/fanatic.htm). He thinks that murder is necessary and that the people he murdered deserved it because according to him, everybody who is in contradiction with Opus Dei is the enemy of God. Opus Dei’s The Way is the only absolute and ultimate truth. Therefore, it must be defended at all costs by eliminating its mockers. This is another aspect of Silas as a fanatic that is his intolerance that allows him to sacrifice others – all the top four members of The Priory and also sister Sandrine – for Opus Dei.
When he gets the order from the Teacher to murder all the top four members of the Priory, Silas actually is very reluctant to do it. He is actually very reluctant to even hold a weapon, “At Rémy's suggestion, Silas had wiped down his gun and disposed of it through a sewer grate. He was glad to get rid of it. He felt lighter” (p. 411). However, since he is told that these “heathens” (p. 59) are a threat to his belief, and that the keystone that they hold will lead to the Holy Grail
- – the key to give Opus Dei great power over the church – he is eager to kill. He kills all the top four members of the brotherhood both in order to force them to tell the location of the keystone and to punish them for mocking Opus Dei, his sanctuary.
When he comes to Saint Sulpice church he does not originally plan to kill the presiding Sister Sandrine, because at first, Silas thinks that Sister Sandrine has nothing to do with the brotherhood.
She is a woman of the cloth, and it is not her fault the brotherhood chose her church as a hiding place for their keystone. She should not be punished for the sins of others (p. 95). But when Silas finds out that Sister Sandrine is actually helping the brotherhood to hide the keystone, his attitude changes. He eventually becomes enraged and kills the Sister when she criticizes Opus Dei’s harsh ways in applying the word of God. Silas cannot tolerate those who question Opus Dei’s doctrine, and therefore loses his temper when he hears the sister questioning the righteousness of it.
According to him, this sister deserves to be killed because by scorning the work of Opus Dei, this sister is working against God, and enemies of God must be can see it. Robert Langdon, for example, knows that Silas is so obsessed with the keystone that he is ready to sacrifice people to obtain it.
Although Silas sneered outwardly at the threat, he felt a flash of fear. This was unexpected. He aimed the gun at Langdon's head and kept his voice as steady as his hand. “You would never break the keystone. You want to find the Grail as much as I do.” “You're wrong. You want it much more. You've proven you're willing to kill for it” (p. 387).
C. The Significance of Silas’ Religious Fanaticism in The Da Vinci Code
Literature is one of the media that is used by many philosophers to reflect their idea. First, philosophers use literary works for both criticizing the issue that occur and after that they use the criticism to find the truth and goodness (Knight, 1962: 14-15). Thus the criticism and the truth and good finding can be found through the character of Silas in The Da Vinci Code.
As a character, Silas is essential to the storyline of The Da Vinci Code because many of the events that happened in this novel take place because of this character. This character is especially significant for the role as the murderous fanatic. And through studying this character’s example of religious fanaticism, the writer is able to learn two important points regarding religious fanaticism. First, Silas’ religious fanaticism is used by Dan Brown to criticize the issue of religious fanaticism that occurs in the society and second to give religious followers, particularly the Christians a better understanding regarding the attitude to take in facing religious fanaticism.
1. To Criticize the Issue of Religious Fanaticism
a. The Ignorance of Religious Fanaticism
Essentially, human beings are born to be truth seekers because they truly know that their understanding of the truth is never perfect. Religion is one of the media that is used by humanity to search for the truth. While religion may not be perfect, it has successfully guided many people in taking the wiser decisions in life. A good and wholesome understanding of religion, therefore, should help people to lead a happier life on earth.
This is not the case for most fanatics and this is the case that Dan Brown wants to criticize about religious fanaticism. As a religious fanatic, Silas is not a truth-seeker. He usually does not use religion as a tool to seek truths because he considers his understanding of the Law of God is perfect. In fact, he usually does not have a wholesome understanding of his religion. He only uses parts of his religion’s belief that “For two millennia, Christian soldiers had defended their faith against those who tried to displace it” (p. 34) as his evidence to support his conclusions regarding the truth, even if those conclusions are intolerant, bigoted, and violent and he would usually feel that his conclusions are absolute because it is supported by parts of his religion – although his religion may actually prove to be in contradiction with the conclusions. Thus, ironically, this attitude results in the ignorance of the fanatic’s own religion; and religious fanaticism then becomes a form of spectacular ignorance of the basic nature of the true religion.
Silas’ religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci Code represents his lack of
54 Dei, Silas had been taught teachings of Jesus Christ, which is the basis for all Christian doctrines, and he knows that as a Christian he must place Christ’s message in his heart to guide his way.
This was the Jesus' message is one of peace... of nonviolence... of love. message Silas had been taught from the beginning, and the message he held in his heart (p. 34).
However, his actions do not describe him as a person who understands Christ’s teaching. He reads the Bible, but still he fails to recognize the irreconcilable contradiction between his violent actions and the peaceful messages in the Bible.
Aringarosa shook his head, looking sad as they prepared to wheel him away. "Silas... if you have learned nothing from me, please... learn this." He took Silas's hand and gave it a firm squeeze. "Forgiveness is God's greatest gift" (p. 450).
While the Bible tells Christians to forgive, Silas seeks to destroy those who are in his way. This happens because Silas sees the doctrines of Opus Dei the ultimate and its leader’s words as the words of God itself, which must be obeyed without questioning. Silas puts the absolute conformity to these doctrines in the higher priority than love, which actually is the basic doctrine for Christianity, “to be the follower of Jesus Christ we are demanded to love others and to give up our lives for others” (Kohmescher, 1990: 150). Silas breaks this basic rule in Christianity. For a true Christian, the way to salvation is through reliance in the teachings of Christ – which says that besides loving God, Christians have to love others. True followers of Christ, would then, in a personal response to Christ’s teachings, attempt to create a life that is harmonious and peaceful wherever they
Yet, Silas does not apply this teaching in his life. Throughout the novel, the only thing that he is concerned about is his own organization and the bloody agenda given to him by the Teacher which he believed would ensure the greatness of his organization. And although the Teacher’s teachings are breaking the law and the teachings of Christ, he still does it in the assurance that he can still get redemption from sin by simply performing Corporal Mortification, his organization doctrine.
Silas knew, absolution required sacrifice. Although Silas already had worn his cilice today longer than the requisite two hours, he knew today was no ordinary day. Grasping the buckle, he cinched it one notch tighter, wincing as the barbs dug deeper into his flesh. Exhaling slowly, he savored the cleansing ritual of his pain. Silas turned his attention now to a heavy knotted rope coiled neatly on the floor beside him. The Discipline. The knots were caked with dried blood. Eager for the purifying effects of his own agony, Silas said a quick prayer. Then, gripping one end of the rope, he closed his eyes and swung it hard over his shoulder, feeling the knots slap against his back. He whipped it over his shoulder again, slashing at his flesh. Again and again, he lashed (pp. 14-15).
It is important to note that while Corporal Mortification is one ritual that is taught by Opus Dei, the Opus Dei never intended for this ritual to bring redemption. Corporal Mortification is actually only a symbolic ritual as perpetual reminder of Christ's suffering, and not one for “drawing blood to cleanse sins”.
Silas, however, adds his own conclusions into the ritual and begins believing things that are not taught by his organization. He begins feeling that he finds redemption through Corporal Mortification. While this ritual is more symbolic in nature, he makes it a very real thing in his life. He puts so much
55 Up in the balcony, Sister Sandrine was shaking. Moments ago, she had been about to flee and carry out her orders, when the man below suddenly removed his cloak. When she saw his alabaster-white flesh, she was overcome with a horrified bewilderment. His broad, pale back was soaked with blood-red slashes. Even from here she could see the wounds were fresh. This man has been mercilessly whipped! (pp. 137-138).
On the other hand, the whole ritual is, of course, nothing biblical. This is never taught by Christ, and in fact, most Christians would find the idea of serving Christ through self-torture to be repulsive, pointless, and wrong, because besides loving God and loving others, Christians are also demanded to love themselves, “A Catholic morality is a morality of love of God, of others, and of self” (Kohmescher, 1990: 153). Thus, Silas’ ignorance is complete: He does not understand the Teachings of Christ, nor does he comprehend truly the teachings of his own organization. He has become fool, driven only by his limited understanding, which he valiantly believes to be absolute.
Therefore, when his leader puts him in the mission to save The Way, it is not wisdom that guided his hands, but ignorance. He feels true honor in the becoming a defender of the laws of God, and yet in his ignorance he has broken this law. Still, he claims that God is on his side, which makes him feel good about what he is doing – including killing innocent people. His lacking conception on God’s will becomes his self-justification.
As a fanatic, Silas seems to know what he defends, but actually he does not know at all. He only understands parts of the doctrines of his organization and the sayings of his leaders and blindly follows them all without questioning. really understands what he is going to believe in, and decides with conscience whether or not he truly wants to believe it or not. A fanatic is trapped in his own doctrinal errors, driven by blind obedience to leaders with hidden agendas.
b. The Violence of Religious Fanaticism
Because of his ignorance toward his own religious’ teaching, a Fanatic would often believe that God’s ways are absolute, just, and merciless, and that he, as followers of God, must also then be just and merciless. This meant that he must, from time to time, represent God in serving heavenly punishments to enemies of God and people who God deem to be unworthy and sinful.
Of course, God does not send faxes from heaven listing His enemies and people who are worthy and who are not. Usually, his leaders will concoct the list of “God’s Enemies” or “Satan’s Evil Henchmen” for him, condemning people they disliked and adding in random religious verses to make the list seem heavenly. Once the fanatical follower sees the list, he would simply understand it as God-sent – and therefore absolute – and that the only treatment that these enemies of God will receive from him is violence.
The idea is that if God also hates the people he hates, then it is acceptable to indulge hatred towards these people. Not only is it acceptable but also somehow approved and even encouraged by God. This justification of hatred will then enable the fanatic to mercilessly move against the people that the list condemns. We can see this in the interaction between the Teacher and Silas. The Teacher gave Silas the names of the three sénéchaux and the Grand Master, and Silas confronts them with deadly force.
“Teacher, I have returned.” “Speak,” the voice commanded, sounding pleased to hear from him. “All four are gone. The three sénéchaux... and the Grand Master himself.” There was a momentary pause, as if for prayer. “Then I assume you have the information?” “All four concurred. Independently.” “And you believed them?” “Their agreement was too great for coincidence.” An excited breath. “Excellent. I had feared the brotherhood's reputation for secrecy might prevail.” “The prospect of death is strong motivation” (p. 13). It is clear that when given the order, Silas is never too hesitant to use violence to hunt, interrogate and kill the four members of The Priory. In fact, it seems that for him, violence is the only answer, whether it is physical violence or non-physical violence, when it comes to interacting with people that he has been told are “Enemies of God”.
This sort of attitude is common among fanatics because for them, only two kinds of people mattered: those who follow and respect their holy religion, and those who seek to defile and destroy their holy religion (http://www.psy.ku.dk/mirdal/terrorisme1.htm). They love only those who conform to their ways; and for those who are against them, they are given the privilege to be defenders of God to seek and destroy. Indeed, as defenders of God, they feel that they have become superior beings and have been given the right to remove those who challenge their doctrine. Violence, for them, no longer becomes a burden, but an honor. Killing an enemy of God means that you have
59 is why a lot of fanatics run to battlefields to wage war in the name of their religion.
Silas’ fanatical zeal towards his religion brings him through the same twisted emotional experiences. When the Teacher tells him to eliminate the Priory of Sion because they have a keystone that could threaten the existence of his Church, Silas immediately sees that order as a heavenly quest given by God. He believes that God is requiring his service to save His great name. He feels great honor knowing that he is tasked with the carrying on God’s will, even though he knows that it will require the sin of murder. He also feels that all his violence can be justified because what he is doing, using his skills to hurt people, is done in service to God.
Tonight, however, it had all come rushing back. The hatred he had fought so hard to bury had been summoned. He had been startled how quickly his past had resurfaced. And with it, of course, had come his skills. Rusty but serviceable (p. 34).
This brutality is, of course, a contradiction to Jesus Christ’s teaching that is “to love others” (Kohmescher, 1990: 150) without exception. Yet Silas created his own wisdom in order to justify his actions, and it is that those who try to destroy the message of Jesus Christ must also be destroyed.
Jesus' message is one of peace... of nonviolence... of love. This was the
message Silas had been taught from the beginning, and the message he held in his heart. And yet this was the message the enemies of Christ now threatened to destroy. Those who threaten God with force will be met with (p. 34).
force. Immovable and steadfast
Therefore in reality, he is actually also working against God. It is a logical fallacy to think that he can save the Laws of God by breaking them. Yet his fanatical
He is just too ignorant to realize that while he aims to please God, his fanatical violence has caused him to become unworthy to be called a Christian.
c. The Double-Edged Sword of Religious Fanaticism
Silas’ religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci Code brings one significant message that is instead of representing the form of the true faith of Christian, religious fanaticism is actually a violation toward Christian belief.
As mentioned in the previous analysis, Silas as a fanatic believes only in the correctness of his own belief, even if that version is a distorted one. He also believes that since he is performing the mission from God, it means that all his actions can be justified, and even necessary. His heavenly mission gives him, in short, a license to murder enemies of God – which, as we find in the novel, are mostly innocent civilians. Moreover, he always believes that every action he takes, every help he gets, every coincidence that happens while performing the mission from God, happens because of divine intervention.
Silas felt the fiery throb transforming now to a prickling sting. The vodka tasted terrible, but he drank it, feeling grateful. Fate had dealt Silas a healthy share of bad luck tonight, but God had solved it all with one miraculous twist. God has not forsaken me. Silas knew what Bishop Aringarosa would call it. Divine intervention (p. 378). Of course, God never gave Silas any special missions or any licenses to kill anybody. Silas is simply fooled into believing that. The fanatic is tricked into believing that as a dedicated son of God, he is saving God’s house by doing what has to be done, and is helped by God in every step of the way. However, He does but a certain person – in this case, the Teacher – who is using him to achieve his own personal agenda.
However, the Teacher is not only using Silas as his tool to gain what he wants, but also as the weapon to destroy Silas’ religion at the same time. The Teacher was using the fanatic in order to tarnish the name of the church, and he succeeded in doing that. By having Silas kill the four members of the Priory and then having him caught and gunned down by the police, the Teacher has successfully caused people to question the integrity of the Opus Dei for years to come. Silas is, in the words of Aringarosa, being “double-crossed”. The Teacher gains his goals – discovering the secret bloodline of Jesus and framing the church
- – and it is all possible because of how much a fanatic Silas is. Silas’ blind obedience and his limited understanding of his own religion have made him the perfect weapon for the Teacher. The Irony here is that while Silas is zealous and dedicated to his religion, it was this zeal and dedication that finally brought shame to his religion, “Teabing's ultimate insult, of course, had been to demand payment in Vatican bonds, such that if anything went wrong, the investigation would lead to Rome” (p. 462).
Of course, Silas does not understand this. He does not understand that his crimes will make people doubt his religion and see Opus Dei – as Catholic organization – as a big hypocritical organization. How could an organization that teach Love and promote holiness order one of its monks to murder its enemies? That is just wrong. Besides, though he may be forgiven in his own community as Common people will simply consider him as an insane lunatic and a criminal who does not have conscience.
Silas may consider himself as a hero, as the noble one who is willing to sacrifice himself and take up the necessary sin of murder for the sake of heaven.
But the truth is, Silas never realizes, as most fanatics do not also, that actually fanaticism is like a double edge sword: while he allows himself to do everything to gain his own religious goal and to overthrow the enemies of God, he is in fact, at the same time, ruining Christian’s name as a religion that puts love as its basic doctrine. So though he may aspire to be a hero, he has, in all sense of the word, become a zero.
2. To Give a Better Understanding Regarding the Attitude that ChristiansShould Take in Facing the Idea of Religious Fanaticism
may have presented a more negative perspective
The Da Vinci Code
regarding the religious. The church seems ready to cover up a secret involving the faith of many Christians, and Silas as the devoted Catholic is a murderous monk.
However the message that author wants to convey is really not anti-religious. It is not disputing the existence of God. Instead, it is merely pointing out that people have their own ways of reaching God, by presenting some examples of people’s ways to reach God.
“...Hieros Gamos had nothing to do with eroticism. It was a spiritual act. Historically, intercourse was the act through which male and female experienced God. The ancients believed that the male was spiritually the divine. Since the days of Isis, sex rites had been considered man's only bridge from earth to heaven. “By communing with woman,” Langdon said, “man could achieve a climactic instant when his mind went totally blank and he could see God” (p. 335). One mile away, the hulking albino named Silas limped through the front gate of the luxurious brownstone residence on Rue La Bruyère. The spiked
belt that he wore around his thigh cut into his flesh, and yet his soul sang with satisfaction of service to the Lord (p. 12). One thing that can be learnt from the story is that basically all human beings are truth seekers and religions are only man-made media to help people to search for the truth.
"The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book" (pp. 250-251). The novel reminds the readers that no human is perfect, and therefore, there is no religion in this world that holds full understanding of God and that nobody should try to force their belief on another, and especially not with brute force.
Church, which means a group of people who follows Jesus Christ, can give many statements about the truth, and much of the statements are good.
However, Christians should not see the Church’s version of the truth as the only standard measurement of the whole truth. Since no religion – as man-made product – is perfect, then our dedication towards that religion should not be too overwhelming, and that it should never reach the point where we would sacrifice the lives of others for our religion, because then people would become fanatics.
Fanatics are, like Silas, devoted followers. Silas the monk is devoted to his a true follower. A fanatic sees only one version of religious truth and is intolerant, ignorant, and violent towards the truths of other religions. The true believer, on the other hand, understands that the world is filled with different kinds of people with countless perspectives regarding the truth, which allows them to be tolerant, respectful, and open minded (Wijaya, 1997: 4).
Truly, fanaticism is not something that is acceptable in this world of diversity that we live in. A fanatic seeks to create a world where there is only one form of religion, and that kind of idea tends to lead to violence, warfare, and genocide. More than half the world must die before the fanatic could create his utopia, and that is really unacceptable, especially in this world of ours.
On top of that, the ignorance that the fanatic has would make him easy target for conspiring leaders. Like Silas, the fanatic would only destroy himself for his faith and devotion while the leaders would reap all the profit. The saddest thing is that he would not even know if his sacrifices would really benefit his religion. In Silas’ case, he does not even know that all the things that he does do not only not save his religion, but also destroys its good name.
Granted, Silas is tricked by the Teacher into killing others. However, Silas’ fanaticism is one that is nurtured by himself, long before he met the Teacher. If Silas had understood more about Christ’s teachings, he would have refused to follow the Teacher’s violent commands. Yet, he is eager to hate, to kill, and to destroy. In the end, the only things that he truly destroyed are himself, his savior Aringarosa, and the good reputation of his religion and organization.
Christians could learn a thing or two from Silas’ tragic death. Firstly it is important to not simply accept what is being taught by church leaders. Church leaders are humans too. It is therefore important to judge every teaching and take to heart only those teachings that prove relevant and acceptable to our current society. Even the corporal mortification that Silas practices really has no biblical basis. It was originally established only as a symbolic ritual by the founder of the Opus Dei. There really is no reason to believe that hurting yourself could earn you points for the afterlife.
A Christian should understand that there are many things written in the Bible that is either too violent or too strange to be applied in our society, especially those written in the Old Testament – the practice of sacrificing animals or polygamy, for example. It should be remembered that the Bible, instead of, as mentioned in The Da Vinci Code, did not fall straight from heaven. It is more like a recording by people who had religious experiences with God. Therefore, the Bible is full of the perspectives of these people from the ancient times, which really is no longer suitable to our modern era. Christians, which really means the followers of Jesus Christ, should base their understanding on the teachings of Christ, use the teachings to filter everything that contradicts it, and be faithful to the teaching of Jesus in all decision (Kohmescher, 1990: 152). Fanaticism, therefore, is in direct violence to Christian doctrines and should be rejected. Christians should always promote love, understanding and tolerance instead.
CHAPTER V CONCLUSION The story of The Da Vinci Code is a very interesting one. It is first of all
controversial, not only because of the marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene that the story suggests, but also because of the characters of the story, and one of them is Silas who becomes the focus of this study. Silas is a very compelling character, very faithful, very dedicated, very naïve, and yet at the same time very angry, very twisted and very cruel. This dark character is a very significant character simply because of his complexity and his importance to the storyline in general – without him, The Da Vinci Code would not have been the same.
The writer feels compelled to make the character of Silas as the focus of this study because the writer sees that this character is very significant and by analyzing him, there are many things that can be discovered and learnt. This analysis begins with the studying of Silas’ characteristic. Through his characteristics the writer captures aspects of religious fanaticism that then helps the writer to discover the significance of his religious fanaticism in The Da Vinci
Silas is a very complicated antagonist character. He is a faithful Opus Dei monk who believes what a Christian will believe – in Jesus Christ, in Salvation, in peace, and yet, he is brutal because of his readiness to torture and even kill people cruel, Silas is truly the sympathetic character in the novel. He had a miserable childhood before he becomes a monk of Opus Dei, growing up as an albino with a drunkard father around in a discriminative society. Later saved by the bishop Aringarosa, Silas became a monk at Opus Dei, believing it as the beginning of his new life. Yet the threat from the existence of the Priory of Sion enraged him and led him to his desperate missions that would finally get him killed.
Silas’s fanaticism can be seen through his characteristics. First is his total submission to his organization. After leaving all his past behind him, he sees his group as his main and only purpose in life. He spends his lifetime to be the Silas of Opus Dei by following The Way fully and dedicating his entire self to be used by his organization. He sees Manuel Aringarosa, the leader of his group, as the only one who has right to determine his path and this attitude that soon will lead Silas to another aspect of religious fanaticism, and that is blind obedience. His fanaticism towards Aringarosa and Opus Dei is mostly influenced by his feeling of gratefulness. As a fanatic, Silas sees his leader as the one who has equal position as God Himself. He considers his leader’s words as the ultimate commands so that it is a must to follow the commands without questioning. Therefore, when The Teacher commands him to kill the top four member of the Priory, Silas is willing to obey it – though he actually knows that his action will automatically cause the sin of murder – simply just because The Bishop has command him to obey The Teacher fully. Silas also believes that God can justify his action and forgive his sin. As a fanatic, Silas absorbs all his leader’s saying and makes them into his only ideology of life. There are three extreme beliefs that The Teacher as the main conspirator, and those are that the enemies of God must be exterminated, and that performing murder for the sake of Opus Dei in order to save the existence of The Way is a white sin, Finally, according to Silas’ own understanding, The Way is the only way to be close to God and it can be seen from his attitude of giving so much attention to Corporal Mortification. As a fanatic, Silas believes that he holds the ultimate truth; he does not want to accept or listen to other ideas or argument and this attitude leads him to become an intolerant person, even toward those from his own religion who are not taught by his leaders. He sees his community as the faithful, whereas the Priory as the heathens and sister Sandrine as the betrayer of God, therefore they all deserve to die. Being an intolerant person, Silas is willing to sacrifice others who oppose the beliefs of his group, Opus Dei. According to his understanding, they all are enemies of God, and therefore, murdering these people is necessary.
Silas, as the antagonist character may seem vile. However, his role as the religious fanatic in the novel is really irreplaceable. The murders would not have happened had he not been so zealously religious, The Teacher would have lacked an important key in his ambition to obtain The Grail, and Robert Langdon, the main character, would not have had the chance to display any of his brilliant analysis and impressive knowledge on symbols and history. Simply put, the good would not have shined so well had the bad not been so grimly dark. The writer finds him repulsive, and yet at the same time pities him because the writer can see how desperate this character is, and how what he is really looking for is what most of us are looking for also: forgiveness and acceptance.
69 religious fanaticism that occurs in the society. The writer finds three tendencies of religious fanaticism. The first one is religious fanaticism represents ignorance. In this part the writer criticizes Silas’ tendency to only use some parts of his religion’s belief as his evidences to support his conclusion regarding the truth. The second tendency is that religious fanaticism always tends to be violence. In this part, the writer criticizes Silas’ attitude in murdering people who he considers to be the enemies of God. Finally, in the last part the writer discovers that in his attempts to protect his belief, he actually at the same time running the good name of his own religion and this makes his religious fanaticism becomes like the double edge sword. The second significance of Silas’ religious fanaticism is it is used to give a better understanding regarding the attitude that a Christian should take in facing the idea of religious fanaticism. As the followers of Jesus Christ, Christians should put the teaching of Jesus Christ that puts love above all aspect of life as their basis of their understanding and use this teaching to filter all other teachings that have been taught by the church leaders.
In conclusion, the writer wants to emphasize that it is true that religion is essential to many people’s life, but it is important to remember that religion is, after all, just a media for humans to reach God and enhance its humanity. Religion may offer many ways to understand and even, perhaps, to reach God. However, the followers must be aware of what they are learning. Followers must not allow themselves to be misled and to become violent towards others. The faith that is invested into a religion must be one that is guided by conscious consideration and intelligence to achieve a harmonious society.
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APPENDICESAppendix 1: Opus Dei
Opus Dei, Latin word for “The Work of God”, is a Catholic based organization founded in Madrid, Spain on 2 October 1928 by Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer – a Catholic priest. In 1982, Pope John Paul II made Opus Dei became the Catholic Church’s personal prelature. This organization is formally known as The Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei.
As the organization of the Catholic Church, Opus Dei also shares the theology of the Catholic Church. The founder of Opus Dei uses the phrase “God created man to work” (Genesis 2:15) and Jesus’ life as a carpenter as the biblical roots of their belief that people must sanctify their work, sanctify themselves in their work, and sanctify others through their works. This organization emphasizes on the universal call to holiness, the belief that “everyone is called to holiness and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity”. The mission of this organization is to help people to turn their daily life into occasion for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving the society.
Opus Dei has neither monks nor nuns. Most of its members are common people and priest as the minority of its member. This organization is led by a bishop. There are six different classes of membership in Opus Dei, those are:
1. Numerary The members of this class who generally live in Opus Dei houses pledge to
74 incoming and outgoing – to their directors, practices various form corporal mortification including wearing cilice and practicing the discipline.
2. Supernumerary The members of this class may be married but they still follow the rule of the numerary, though not ass deep as the numerary. They give their income in large portion to Opus Dei, often at the expense of their local parishes.
3. Numerary Priests The members of this class join Opus Dei as lay members, but these members who hold the top government position in Opus Dei. Some may also hold important position in the Vatican. They are responsible for saying Mass, hearing confessions, and giving spiritual direction to other members of Opus Dei.
4. Associate Opus Dei Members Just like the numerary, the members of this class also pledge celibacy, but they generally do not live in Opus Dei houses.
5. Numerary Assistants The members of this group are women who pledge celibacy and are responsible for the care and cleaning of Opus Dei residences.
6. Cooperators Cooperates are not considered as Opus Dei members and they do not have to be Catholic. Cooperates are the people who provide financial support for Opus Dei.
Nowadays, Opus Dei has for about 87.000 members in more than 90 countries including the United States, England, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, countries in Central and South America, and many others.
Appendix 2: The Way
The Way is a spiritual book written by the founder of Opus Dei – Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer – that consists of 999 points of ways to answer the yearning to see and feel Christ. This book was first published under the title of
Consideraciones Espirituales in 1934 and it was entitled “The Way” in 1939.
Nowadays, this book is wide spread, and more than four and a half million copies of this book have been sold in over than 43 different languages.
The Way was written based on Josemaria Escriva’s reflections on the gospel and his application to some specific situation regarding to his personal pastoral experience. It has a conversational style because there are two kinds of points in this book, the first points are his counsels of spiritual direction and the other is the letters that he wrote and received.
Appendix 3: Corporal Mortification
Corporal mortification or mortification of the flesh literary means “putting the flesh to death”. The practice of corporal mortification is considered as the way of following Christ who died in crucifixion. The main purpose of this ritual is to cut the desire of the flesh. This most controversial practice is regularly practiced by Opus Dei celibate members.
76 There are six ways of applying corporal mortification, those are:
1. Wearing Cilice Cilice is a spiked chain which is worn around the upper thigh. This device is worn for two hours each day, except for the Church feast days, Sundays, and certain times of the year.
2. Discipline Discipline is a practice of whipping the body using a leather whip which is studded with sharp metal barbs. Opus Dei members who wants to practice this ritual more often must ask for permission first.
3. Cold Shower It is the practice of taking cold shower everyday.
4. Meals It is a small mortification which is including drinking coffee without sugar or
5. The Heroic Minute This corporal mortification requires the followers to jump from the bed, kiss the floor, and say “Serviam” – Latin word for “I will serve” – right away after they hear the knock at the door in the morning.
6. Silences After making an examination of conscience, the followers of this practice do not speak to one another until after Holy Mass in the morning. They are still trying to avoid any conversation and not listening to music until the dinnertime.