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May 02, 2006
Some DaVinci Thoughts
Walking from meeting to meeting in New York City last Friday—-it was a beautiful Spring day in the city and I preferred walking to a taxi or the subway—-I passed St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is a stunning site at any time, but what stunned me was the sight of a bus stop placard adjacent to the Cathedral for the movie The DaVinci Code. It was a vivid symbol of Dan Brown and his sponsors “flipping the bird” in the face of the Church.
I read the DaVinci Code last year because it was being discussed so widely by non-Christians, and being so thoroughly criticized by Christian believers who hadn’t read it.
Now the movie is about to apppear, and those of us who are followers of Jesus have to deal with the question of how to react and what to do. Do we know how to answer those who come away from the book and movie with deep doubts and new, false information about the foundations of our faith?
Does the church have the moral authority or societal relationships to effectively respond to this great cultural affront to the fundamentals of historic Christianity?
I found the novel to be fine, about on par with dozens of Robert Ludlum novels, and not as good as most Tom Clancy stories. I found the ending disappointing—if you’re going to be bold enough to make the claims about Mary Magdalene, have the guts to find her grave.
But it is, of course, profoundly blasphemous, and historically inaccurate on so many counts. Christianity is based on many empirically proven facts and accounts, but it also requires what Francis Schaeffer called “the leap of faith.” But rather than find a basis of doubt in that leaping area, Dan Brown based the blasphemy on the wrong telling of known facts.
But Brown’s supposedly bold effort simply reminds me of being in 6th grade. During that year, north of Boston, I pursued grade-school rebellions of that time—-the mid-1960s—-sneaking off behind the big house on the hill with other prepubescent friends to smoke a pack of Kents from the purse of a friend’s mother. Pulling a fire alarm and running. And a variety of other stupid acts that were made delicious because they were so wrong according the rules my parents had communicated so clearly.
And so it is with Mr. Brown. He can call Jesus names and get away with it. He can say that the church made up all that stuff about Jesus Christ being God, and the church can’t touch him. He can make God Incarnate sexually active, and the culture will snicker and sneak off into dark theaters to watch the revelation, because Christians won’t declare a jihad against writers like others would.
There is much being written and said to equip Christians to confront the lies that have been presented as the truth behind Brown’s fiction.
Included are these examples:
To give just one example, Ben Witherington III of Asbury Theological Seminary is following up the criticisms of the novel in "The Gospel Code" with lectures in Singapore, Turkey and 30 U.S. cities. He's given 55 broadcast interviews.
Assaults on "Da Vinci" don't just come from evangelicals like Witherington. A senior Vatican official, Archbishop Angelo Amato, called for a boycott of the film Friday, saying it contained slanderous offenses against Christianity.
Among more liberal thinkers, Harold Attridge, dean of Yale's Divinity School, says Brown has "wildly misinterpreted" early Christianity. Ehrman details Brown's "numerous mistakes" in "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code" and asks: "Why didn't he simply get his facts straight?"
The whole "Da Vinci" hubbub, Witherington says, shows "we are a Jesus-haunted culture that's biblically illiterate" and harbors general "disaffection from traditional answers."
But he and others also see a chance to inform people about the beliefs of Christianity through the "Da Vinci" controversy.
"If people are intrigued by the historical questions, there are plenty of materials out there," Yale's Attridge says.
And that may be the book and movie’s greatest contribution. We welcome the honest inquirer who asks: Who is this Jesus?
Posted by Jim at May 2, 2006 09:09 AM
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Tracked on May 13, 2006 09:50 AM
Ya know, I really don't get the uproar. It's fiction, right? I enjoyed the book and my faith has remained intact. Go figure.
Posted by: Dan Trabue at May 2, 2006 04:45 PM
It provides unnecessary doubt as a barrier between the unbeliever and God. Probably won't shake a believer such as you. The book is fiction, but even much that Brown says is true is fiction. That's the problem.
Posted by: Jim Jewell at May 2, 2006 06:42 PM
"It provides unnecessary doubt as a barrier between the unbeliever and God."
Trust me, Jim— it's not worth worrying about.
We non-believers have known for generations that the Bible itself is a much better tool for inserting doubt and uncertainty between believers and their Christian faith than any pulp penny-dreadful will ever be.
Let me help you out. The way to keep the sheep from straying out of the flock is to cheerfully point out that Dan Brown merely ripped off his cheesy suspense novel story from a completely whack piece of mutant weirdness called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. My two friends at MojoWire and I have a running joke about that book— we describe just about any kind of batshit insane conspiracy theory mongering, which even we don't find plausible, with the phrase that simultaneously came into all three of our heads when we read the final section of that book. We say, "...and then the space aliens came down and ruined to plot of the book completely."
Really. If you guys are gonna get all twisted into knots over a cheesy ghost story, you've got bigger problems than you know.
Posted by: s9 at May 2, 2006 08:40 PM
Want to truly understand ancient Symbology?
I read the DaVinci Code last year as I was finishing the first edition of my own book. My take on it is different than most because I'm a real life symbologist. I just finished the second edition so you (and everyone else) can learn to understand the ancient symbolism that permeates the canons of all three Faiths of Abraham, the Gnostic texts, and serves as the background to Dan Brown’s most recent books.
What I liked about the DaVinci Code was that Mr. Brown either really understands the symbology he’s writing about or he expertly arranged the story it so it seems that he does. The book’s ending (like the Bible), which many people were puzzled by, only makes sense once you understand ancient Hebrew symbology, which very few do, (including most who say they do). Most people didn't get it because they overlooked the fact that it was about a symbologist, symbolic characters, and ancient topics that have long been mysterious because they were purposely encoded by structured symbolism. The book’s ending was symbolically encoded also and I have yet to find one person online who truly understands the full import of the book or its ending. After you read my book, the secret meanings can be understood and interpreted. Likewise, you’ll also be able to finally understand the texts of the Bible, hence the meaning of the word Apocalypse!
My comprehensive tome is a FREE download (PDF E-Book) at the following URL. It was not written about nor is it in response to the DaVinci Code. That was merely a convenient coincidence. I began my research into the truth about the ancient wisdom symbology that permeates the canons of all three faiths of Abraham and related texts before the DaVinci Code was published. The link attached to my name also has a number of relevant articles and related information.
Here is Wisdom!
Posted by: Seven Star Hand at May 3, 2006 06:28 PM