Another Great Escape

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Well, I've read it, the book that apparently is going to rewrite the history of the church. You better not tell my mum, she wouldn't be impressed. She still hasn't read or seen Harry Potter because of what some of the Christian media said about the books when they first came out (they have since gone very quiet about Harry Potter), rather than read it for herself and make up her own mind. But I'm not talking about Harry Potter -

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is a fairly good read. It's not as good as his Angels and Demons, although it follows a very similar plot line. The Character gets a message, he goes to investigate, he gets drawn into solving a mystery, get chases, attacked, looks like he's not going to save the world, eventually overcomes against all odds and gets the girl.

As for the "controversy" I'd be a bit put off if the book was in the non-fiction catergory, but it's not. As a piece of fiction, which is what Dan Brown intended, it's a fairly good read. The apparent revelation that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had kids which are still alive today wasn't as shocking as all of the hype lead us to believe. The basic premise of the book was that the Catholic church has sought to suppress this information and have actively tracked down and eliminated it's opponents. The later bit is probably true, the Catholic church was the first international conglomerate. Like any large company, to keep it's power it must protect it's assets. (This isn't going to be a catholic bash-a-thon). According to Tom Clancey, the CIA use the Jesuit Order to assist them, as the Jesuits have places around the globe. That's kind of cool.

Anyway, I think the more hype and created controversy over it, the more people, who haven't read the book, heap scorn on it. If you've read the Gospels you'll know that there's a bit of a major gap in Jesus' life, they stop recording his life pretty soon after he legs it away from his parents and goes to the temple and then all of a sudden he's 30 and it's the wedding at Canaan (if only my theology prof's could read by wonderful synopsis!). There's a gap of about 18 years. Now, some people think that he spent those years twiddling his thumbs waiting for his call to kick off his ministry. I don't necessarily believe that what's in the book is true, it is after all fiction but it does raise some interesting points.

In the book Dan Brown gives quite a convincing argument as to why he might be correct. The bible as we know it has only been that way for about 1700 years. About 300 AD Constantine got together a group of people to sort out what was okay to go in the bible. Constantine was the Roman Emperor, he converted and created the Catholic Church, he brought Christianity to the Roman Empire. They edited out all the bits that they didn't like and what they produced we still use today. According to Brown, this meant that Jesus' relationship with Mary M was deleted, apart from what is there now. Whose to say that Jesus didn't marry - there is nothing in the bible that says he shouldn't or didn't. There's that gap of 18 or so years. He's a bloke, he'd want to settle down. It was weird for men of that time not to marry. I don't think it makes a difference, to who Jesus was and is and to what happened.

Brown goes onto say about how the C.Church sought to separate Jesus' humanity and divinity. Placing more emphasis on his divine nature, they put him on a pedestal, looking at what they saw as pure and chaste, ignoring his human nature. Mary got the same treatment, someone I knew at college, was convinced that once Mary had had Jesus that was it, separate beds, no more kids. I'm sure Joseph wasn't pleased about that. They forgot/ignored that Jesus was 100% human - which is what makes the message more applicable than anything.

In the book, the Catholic Church wasn't happy about their secrets coming out in the open. They sensed that their grip on the "truth" was slipping. What was slipping was their construction of religion. The Christian Religion and Christianity are two very different things. The religion being the human construct, the human imperfect construct. I have a lot of respect for the catholic church, but they get things wrong - like any human organisation. With all of this faff around the Da Vinci Code, people are drawn into defending something that is flawed and forgetting they important things. There was a reporter on radio 2 that was commenting on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter message. He said that people are more interested in the mysteries and conspiracies than religion. The reporter basically said get a grip. The church is tough enough to survive. Very true.

All of these Christian Crack pots who seem to protest about everything are just fuelling peoples misconceptions and prejudices. If it's not Harry Potter it's Jerry Springer the Opera. If not that, then its The Da Vinci code. What will be next?? Why not protest against Lord of the Rings - that is full of wizards, etc, what about the Passion of the Christ - how violent and bloody was that? Where are all of the Harry Potter protesters now? I remember when the Simpsons first came out, the "Christian" press saw them as the ultimate abnormal family - now you have the book The Gospels according to the Simpsons. There are commentaries on how there are spiritual themes throughout the Simpsons. Some people just choose to shout about things without first looking at them properly.

I'm not sure what to think about the implication of the Da Vinci code - or if it has any implication at all. As a work of fiction it's quite good. Dan Brown has worked in sufficient amounts of believable stuff and fiction to make people wonder if what he has written is true. I've a soft spot for conspiracy stories - maybe it's true - but what difference would it make? I don't think it would. Dan Brown doesn't refute the resurrection, the divinity of Jesus, that Jesus existed, or Jesus' redemptive message. The only controversial thing was that he married and the catholic church didn't like it. You make up your mind. We only have the bible to go by, god inspired but human written, it hasn't got everything in. Maybe we'll be able to ask the big guy one day! There's one thing I am sure of: All this hype only leads to one thing - More money for Dan Brown.

My advice to any Christians who are concerned about the book is to read it and make up your own mind. Don't jump on the evangelical bandwagon laying scorn to everything that is different or seemingly anti-Christian. See it, read it, listen to it before you condemn it.

Just don't buy it full price - ebay it or get in on Amazon Market place - mine cost 5p. Not a penny goes to D Brown!! Ha ha.

Thus endeth the lesson.


  • Hey Joel... thanks for popping by my Blog... glad you found it... in response to your comment... feel free to link to WayOutWest.

    Re. TDVC I have read all of DB's books... I needn't have bothered but I don't like to comment without knowledge... anyway they all share the same plot, terrible character development (or lack of it), puzzles that could be solved by a chimpanzee... suffice it to say I think the guy is an inept author who made the bestseller lists by hype alone... and guess what a film is about to be realeased so he is 'embroiled' in a court case against two authors who share the same publisher... smell a publicity stunt/rat? My advice is go find something worth the time to read... ignore the hype/controversy it is all marketing... Bad book/bad author regardless of the controversy!

    By Anonymous Mark Berry, at 10:19 PM  

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