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Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Freaking out over The DaVinci Code
In my in-box this morning was a message from Crosswalk.com, imploring me to help spread the word about Josh McDowell's book, The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers.

Seems that Crosswalk has been receiving some e-mails from confused people who are getting confused by the fictional story The DaVinci Code. And with the book going mass-market paperback this week and getting the Hollywood treatment with the tag-team of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, the questions of what is the truth and what isn't are expected to go through the roof.

And my reaction to this controversy is the same as always--people, it's just a book. It's not reality. It's a suspense-thriller by Dan Brown. In the same way the Tom Clancy incorporates elements of real world espionage and technology into his books, so does Dan Brown incorporate elements of the life of Christ and the creation of the Catholic church into his story. In both cases, they are just elements of a story. They may use the real world or real events as a staring point but that doesn't necessarily make the overall conclusions real or valid. They're elements in the telling of a good story.

And it will be the same thing with the movie. Just becuase it's on the big screen or the printed page doesn't necessarily make it true.

So why are people getting their noses out of joint about this book and movie? I can see that it doesn't paint the Catholic church in a very good light. But then again, there are a lot of books that may not paint the Catholic church in a good light. How many of them get to be New York Times bestsellers for eleventy-billion weeks though?

The thing I don't understand the most is why people would accept the book at face-value. Why would someone read it and say--wow, this sure seems real, so it must be true. I've read a lot of science-fiction novels in my time and one thing that authors will work hard to do is make their universes believable and authentic. This does not mean that I think there is a planet out there called Arakasis that holds this spice that will help humanity figure out how to easily travel the large expanses of the universe. But in the context of the Dune novels, it works for the story. Same thing with The DaVinci Code. I do not necessarily think that Jesus was married to Mary Magdaline and that their child and blood line is the Holy Grail. But for the sake of enjoying The DaVinci Code for what it is--a fictional novel--I can accept that for the context of the story.

And yes, the movie is marketing itself as a search for "the truth." But I no more think that what the movie purports to be its truth will have any more bearing on the real world or be an accurate reflection of the real world than I thought that Mulder's quest to find the truth about the existence of aliens would be an actual reflection of the real world. They're both elements of a fictional universe--nothing more, nothing less.

That said, I like what the web-site Crosswalk linked to had to say. Instead of wanting to ban the movie or attacking the book, they see it as an opportunity to witness and share the faith. Instead of greeting the person with questions with hostility and a closed mind, you embrace them, understand their questions and take a chance to share with them the reality of who Jesus is. I find that open-mindedness and want to reach out to those who question to be wonderful and what I'd like to think Christianity is all about. And the books seems to be a way to help these elements and find a way to talk about them to a person with question.

But I haven't read the book (the McDowell book...I read Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code two years ago) so I can't say for sure. There is that old adage about not judging a book by its cover. I'd add you shouldn't necessarily judge a book by its marketing campaign either....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/29/2006 08:18:00 AM | |
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