Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

I finally saw the Da Vinci Code this week. In true Ken form, I only read a few pages of the book when it came out. Then I missed the movie when it was in the theater. My wife Angie on the other hand read the book when we were in Germany 2004 and saw the movie with my step-daugthers.

I guess the movie is a little different from the book (so the police chief is not Opus Dei in the book), but here are some thoughts.

Sheerly on the merits of the plot, clever. This is a kind of genius to be able to weave things together this way. Of course it is the same kind of genius that we see in conspiracy theories and Left Behind eschatology. But it is very clever indeed. It would be even clever-er if the historical facts were a little more accurate, :-) but more on that in a second.

I can see why many devout Catholics were offended. The book/movie basically pictures the RC church as systematically trying to squash the truth about Jesus being human and having children. Members of Opus Dei I imagine were particularly offended. My impression is that the movie toned down some of this anti-catholic rhetoric.

Is Brown yet another bitter ex-Catholic? The same kind of conspiracy theories were rampant in the early 90's over the Dead Sea Scrolls. People were arguing that the Church didn't want to let the scrolls out because they contradicted Christianity. Of course it all proved to be false hype. Then there was the movie Stigmata that took a similar schtick. This is a genre, the "The Catholic Church is evil and conspiring against you" genre.

Of course there are a number of historical "cheats," as Jim Garlow and many others have pointed out. For example, the Council of Nicaea was about the Trinity, not about what books belong in the canon or about the divinity of Christ. Nicaea was in 325 and we don't even have an instance of someone suggesting the current list of NT books until 369. And while Nicaea did debate whether Jesus was the first of God's creations, the gospel of John in the 90's already has a picture of Jesus that goes way beyond the one Da Vinci pictures being abandoned in 325.

As for Jesus being married or having children, I find nothing intrinsically heretical about that. He was fully human--no council denies it. Sex and human passion are not evil, nor is having children. Of course I don't think Jesus had any children and the Bible gives us no reason to think he was married. Then again, we wouldn't know that Peter was married if Paul hadn't made an off handed comment about it in 1 Corinthians 9.

More problematic from a Christian point of view is the sloshy, maybe humans are divine thing at the end of the movie. Reminds me of Star Trek V. New age-y.

So it was a very clever movie. I can see why it hit so close to home for so many. Reminds me of the meat offered to idols issue. Some people can watch these things and see it for what it is--a fiction. For others, the world it projects is just too unpleasant to enjoy, even as a novel.


Brian Russell said...

I read the Da Vinci Code several years ago (as well as all of Brown's other novels).

I found the Da Vinci Code to be a gift from God to the Church. It was never easier to strike up a conversation about Jesus with strangers than during "Da Vinci mania." All you had to do was go to a public place and lay a copy of the Da Vinci code somewhere conspicuous and within moments you would be in a theological conversation.

I still believe most churches missed the boat by over-reacting.

I spoke at multiple churches about Da Vinci. My advice was always the same. Change your church sign to read:

Dan Brown is right! There is a conspiracy. Come and join it.

Anonymous said...

I can see that Brian. I bet it was fun!

Steph said...

I think Jesus getting married and having children would cause increased discontent among women of all time. "Why couldn't I marry Jesus?" That would be like a chick flick coming true. Or maybe not.

Anonymous said...


Don't forget the other reference to Peter being married was Matthew 8 when Jesus went to Peter's house to heal his mother-in-law.


Maybe more women married men like Jesus than we think. A guy who spends all of his time hanging out with the guys, running around the countryside living off of others, and not eeking out much of a living.


Ken Schenck said...

Leaving Jesus out of the picture for a second--I'm that guy!