May 25, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Yes, Preacher's wife and I saw the movie. I also read a blog of one of my friends that I tend to agree with. I thought you might be interested in how some other Christians think.

My friend writes:
I’ve read the Da Vinci Code. I plan on seeing the movie, which I hear is better than the book. I liked the book. It was a fun read.

I have no interest in discussing Dan Brown’s scholarship or lack thereof. Anyone who paid attention in seminary has heard of these extra-biblical sources and knows that Mr. Brown’s book is an adventure story and not a biblical or historical treatise. The Da Vinci Code has roughly the same relationship to biblical and church history that James Bond has to the world of secret agents. And hey, what’s wrong with that? It’s a good read. Like a Clancy novel.

I’m interested in two larger issues that this whole Da Vinci Code debacle has brought to my mind. The first is interesting, but the second is more important.

First, when will religious groups finally figure out that publicly denouncing a book or a movie is the surest way to guarantee its success? Religious people never seem to understand that the world is filled with people who do the exact opposite of whatever they suggest. Hell, I'm one of those people myself. If I hear that church people hate a movie, I'm in line for tickets on opening day. Has the Church forgotten Salman Rushdie? Would any of us know that name if he hadn’t been condemned by the Muslims? Has the Church forgotten Martin Scorcese’s movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ?” In that case, the Church in America single-handedly turned a mediocre movie into a blockbuster hit.

Nice move Church. Perhaps you should have added some basic chess lessons to your seminary curriculum.

But whatever. If the Church wants to make a lot of money for Dan Brown and Ron Howard, what do I care? Both the book and the movie will be off the radar in a few months. Nothing will have changed.

The second thing I’d like to mention is more important for the Church to consider. Christianity is a major, world-wide religion. It is 2000 years old and is the largest common expression of spirituality in the history of humanity. Does the Christian Church really need to worry about a book and a movie? These things are here today and gone tomorrow, almost literally. The Christian Church has withstood the Roman Empire, medieval Christianity, and the Age of Enlightenment. Somehow the Church even manages to survive its most dangerous challenge - scandal, decadence, and corruption within its ranks. Will Dan Brown now topple us?

I understand a carefully worded response to scholarly inaccuracies, but I don't understand the anger, the outrage, and the hoopla. Anything more than a gentle, factual correction is as silly as if George Bush were to show up at Patooka Elementary School with the secret service because a 4th grader said something mean about him. It's as silly as if Ron Howard and Tom Hanks were to show up at my door, screaming at me for lifting a Da Vinci Code graphic from their website. Why would they bother? What threat am I to them?

The best and only appropriate response for the Church is to be about the business of the Church. Don't we have, I don't know, CHURCH things to be doing? Or even better, human things to be doing? If our love of humanity was as radical as Jesus called it to be, then we would never have to say a word.

In my mind, every time the Church responds to something like this with angry words, it is a bold indictment of our lack of active love, and therefore lack of relevance in this world.


Anonymous said...

zacktly. (I agree)

Pat Keltner said...

I knew I could count on you to say a good word about a GREAT book!!! I loved it! Action packed, mystery and intrigue, historical setting, with some fact thrown in just to make it interesting! Can't wait to see the movie.