A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some Thoughts on The Da Vinci Code

It has been fascinating for me to observe the huge phenomena created by Dan Brown�s best selling novel The Da Vinci Code, and now to watch and listen to all the hoopla over the upcoming movie. It seems to have created something of a dilemma for traditional Christianity, particularly Catholicism, and it has also, I believe, offered an important moment for the church in its articulation of the faith.

Reaction to the novel on the big screen has been passionate and quite diverse. Those who know very little about historic Christianity and who are attracted to conspiracy theories find much truth in the book. For those disillusioned with the church, Brown simply confirms their skepticism. On the opposite end, a Catholic Bishop has urged a boycott of the movie. Pope Benedict XVI has also expressed concern over how it portrays the Catholic Church. I sympathize with the Pope. The Da Vinci Code is quite anti-Catholic and clearly unfair in how it portrays the church.

Nevertheless, I do not think boycotting the movie or protesting outside theaters is the right posture for Christians to take. It will simply reinforce to people what Brown claims in the opening sentences of his book�the church has something to hide.

Instead, I think the popularity of the book, and now the movie, presents a great opportunity for the church to proclaim the message of the Gospel by engaging in discussion as the truth is corrected. It seems to me that Brown, in his clear distortion of church history and some of the essential claims the New Testament makes about Jesus, has caught the attention of people who are not Christians. The church has not been able to interest them in Christianity, but Brown has. If the church is smart, it will capitalize on that interest to present, in the form of discussion, the true and much more satisfying account of the Good News of Jesus.

The Da Vinci Code is clearly a work of fiction, but it is fiction that is believed by many, if not totally, at least in certain key places. For Christians to pass up this moment to foster important dialogue with those around them in favor of boycotts, protests, and angry rhetoric is to forget the mission Jesus gave us.

I plan to see the movie; after I do, I will write a series of reflections on the story and its refraction of the truth. Ultimately, The Da Vinci Code will be unable to stand in the light of the facts, but there are many who do not see it that way.

Let the discussion begin.


Jordan Barrett said...

Great post! I think you are correct in that we shouldn't boycott the movie. I wouldn't say "the world is watching", but a large majority will be watching to see the way Christians react to this, and I think our reaction will say a lot - perhaps more than we really want to say.

I've heard others propose an idea: see the movie, but not on opening weekend. This way the ratings for opening weekend won't be as high, but, I don't know how much that would do. Nevertheless, I think you're right in that we shouldn't be afraid to see it. If anything we'll be better equipped - having seen what others saw - to deal with the questions that come our way.

Lastly, and I'll go out on a limb here, I think DVC has actually been a blessing (and it appears you imply this in your post). Many Christians have been sent to the Bible over this, they have learned more Church history than they knew existed, and personally, I think they are coming away refreshed and more confident in the Church than ever before. Sadly, there are those who don't care for the facts (and the truth!) and love the conspiracy, but we'll always have those people around us. What a great opportunity we have before us! Thanks again for your post.

Allan R. Bevere said...


You are absolutely right. The Da Vinci Code has been a blessing in that it has provided the church with another opportunity, not only to proclaim the Gospel, but to embody the Gospel in how we respond.

Living in a society where we have come to believe that getting at the truth comes by way of muscling oneself against everyone else, the church, it seems, has forgotten the way of the cross.

No doubt, there are Christians and churches that will, in their anger, let this opportunity go right by them; indeed they will not even recognize that there even is an opportunity. Fortunately, however, there are those who will seize the moment for God's Kingdom.

Thanks for your insight.