Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Da Vinci Code

As I said here, we started our St Paul's preaching series on issues arising out of The da Vinci Code last Sunday. The first one dealt with the reliability of the Bible. We got a gratifyingly larger-than-usual attendance (120 or so compared to 65-85 regulars) so maybe we have moved our scratching a bit nearer the itch. It made the extra hours of preparation feel worthwhile anyway.

I have received an interesting email from someone who was a visitor there, engaging with the issues, and I had several interesting conversations in the coffee lounge and then pub after the sermon. So far so good.

But today I had a priceless letter. I think I may frame it. It concerns a piece I wrote in the Leamington Courier last week to plug the series, in which I used the word 'cool' to describe the movie trailers. It says:

Dear Rev Tilley,

I learn from The Courier that the trailers for The Da Vinci Code are "cool".

"Cool", in that context, is an interesting word, being bereft of meaning and used entirely to prove that one belongs to the "right" group: it is, in short, a shibboleth. I am delighted to say that I belong to the "wrong" group.

You may or may not be aware that "shibboleth" comes from one of the many sanguinary passages in The Old Testament.

Yours sincerely,

I have many ideas about a reply and am currently considering something along the lines of:

Hey Dude,

Fanx 4 da funky letter it was well good. Me an da posse r8 it a top laugh. Respek.

Your bruvver


However my previous efforts at comedy letters have been trumped by your attempts dear readers and so I look forward to your suggestions. My money would have been on Stewart but now he works for a Cabinet Minister (well done on your boss's promotion mate) he may have important constituency business to deal with first.

Your call friends.


Youthblog said...

Dear Sir

Thank you for your instructive missive.

I however believe "Cool" is far from being bereft of meaning, it provides a useful,understandable and culturally relevant description.

It might be argued that it would be far more of an aid to understanding that the esoteric and discombobulating lexicography, you employ, that draws on obsure and sanguinary passages of the old testament.

Thanks again for a 'wicked' letter
(that's a compliment)

Mike said...

We all know what happened to those who couldn't say shibboleth properly. 42,000 dead. He'd better be careful not to try and say cool!!

Simon said...

I read that DaVinci Code rubbish. It's almost sillier than the bible.

Have you guys read "Cearsar's Messiah"? Now there's a funny book.

Simon said...


Stewart said...

As you guessed Steve, I am very busy this week - so I am afraid this is less polished that I would have liked...

"Dear Sir

Thank you for your recent letter, responding to my comments in the Leamington Courier about the trailers for film of ‘The Da Vinci Code’.

Far from being “bereft of meaning” as you suggest, the word ‘cool’ has been used to denote ‘excellent’ in common parlance for around half a century now, and this definition has been listed in Webster’s Dictionary for over 30 years. I appreciate that you may be unhappy that yet another possible meaning has been added to this poor, overloaded and overworked word, but I think you may have ‘missed the boat’ somewhat with regard to contesting this particular evolution of the English language.

If – as would appear to be the case - you are determined to fight a rearguard action against this usage of the word ‘cool’, the Leamington Courier would hardly seem to be the appropriate battleground. May I suggest that you refocus your efforts on the bastion of popular culture that is the New Musical Express? Some of their correspondents use the English language in a way that would make your hair stand on end (assuming of course that you still have hair… somehow I suspect that you do not).

On a final note, you comment in your letter that when it comes to the shibboleth that is the “The Da Vinci Code”, you are “delighted” to belong to the ‘wrong’ group. Given that for 42,000 Ephraimites the cost of belonging to the ‘wrong’ group was death, might it not be advisable for you to be more circumspect in future when declaring your allegiances? After all, now I know where you live...

Yours faithfully,

stocky said...


Thank you for your letter. I thought it icy, but an improvement on the normally tepid feedback I get to most Courier articles. By giving The Da Vinci Code the cold shoulder you will at least protect yourself from getting too warm under the collar - you may or may not be aware that Audrey Tautou appears alongside Tom Hanks in the cool trailers, and she is hot. Maybe that is cold comfort.

Yours temperately,

And, like, chill.