WEIGHING IN ON DAVINCI

Even with all the hype surrounding the book The DaVinci Code, the movie came and went with a yawn (though it was a very lucrative yawn). The controversy generated that brought the pre-movie hype to a fever pitch seemed to fade away overnight. Truth be told, I was over-saturated by the controversy, the hype and all the books that sought to “break the code,” or “debunk the code,” (and books like that are still coming out) so I still have had no desire to see the movie yet.

Therefore, unlike the woman who has never read a Harry Potter book but wants them banned from her kids’ public school library because she believes they are evil (HP Controversy), I will not comment on something I haven’t seen and therefore do not have firsthand knowledge of. This review of sorts will make no references to The DaVinci Code the movie.

I did, however, finally read Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The DaVinci Code. About a week ago, I was in Wal-Mart at about midnight after babysitting to pick up some household items and saw the mass market paperback edition in the checkout line available for less than $5. My curiosity got the best of me and I had wanted to read it (otherwise, how could I give an informed opinion on it?), so I purchased it.

I can see why The DaVinci Code has sold over 40 million copies. It’s a very well-written work of fiction and I read it as such. I read it in about three days. It was very difficult to put the book down even as my eyes drooped from tiredness at the end of the day. The DaVinci Code is a page turner in every way. Action. Intrigue. Mystery. An intellectual thriller. Many of my friends who have read the book have commented on how the book draws you in, holds your interest, and doesn’t let go until the very end. Though I found it somewhat predictable, it was still a great read.

Now for the controversy part. Did I mention that The DaVinci Code is sold in the fiction section in bookstores and is also catalogued as such? Yet many in the Christian community feel the Gospel is threatened or that people are being led astray by this work of fiction. Why?

I have searched the book’s prologue thoroughly and I still don’t see the phrase(s) in which many Christian commentators have asserted that this is where Dan Brown says that this fiction book is true, especially the parts about Jesus Christ. Misquotes have abounded and fanned the flames of controversy surrounding this book.

Author Dan Brown merely states in his prologue that the two historical Christian groups mentioned in the book are real (the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei) and the “descriptions of the art, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” That’s it.

Many people did not read the book and freaked out over their trusted Christian commentators’ assertions that what Dan Brown has said about the deity and life of Christ described in his book are true. Hence the umpteen books published on breaking and debunking the code that flooded the market from the time the book was first released until this very moment.

Ah, controversy, the publicist’s best friend: Thank you for your misinformation, we don’t really care. Thank you for helping us SELL MORE BOOKS. I’m sure they were counting on the Christian community’s outrage. If you want to sell books or further your cause, make sure the misinformation (whether planted or generated by an outside source) about your book, movie or whatever, gets “leaked” to the Christian press. The fury will be worth, at the very least, free publicity.

It’s true, I never like to see the Christian community or the Bible attacked, but it happens. Jesus told us we’d be strangers to this world and we would suffer because of him. Still, nobody likes to see what they believe in run through the mud. I do not think I will see that end in my lifetime.

What gets me, really, about The DaVinci Code controversy is that many in the Christian community have gotten up in arms about how the life of Christ is portrayed (and do I need to say it again?) in this fiction book. Granted, what is said in The DaVinci Code about Christ goes directly against what the Bible says and what has been believed for centuries. But again, The DaVinci Code is fiction, right? Can one fiction book take on the Bible?

If, as a Christian, you believe in the inerrant word of God, then how can one little fiction book (or movie) change your mind about what you believe? What, as a Christian culture, are we so afraid of? If, as a Christian, you believe that the word of God is the truth and is the same yesterday, today and forever, do you really think Dan Brown and his 40 million copies of fiction can change that?

No. And yet the books and pamphlets abound.

Giving your neighbor a book or pamphlet (that he didn’t ask for by the way) about how awful The DaVinci Code paints the church is only going to make him wonder what you’re afraid of… because your neighbor knows The DaVinci Code is fiction. If he reads the pamphlet, he wonders why his eternal soul is in question because this book has been published. He wonders why people are protesting this work of fiction when there are children starving in Africa, or even down the street. People are more impressed by words more than actions anyway (“I was hungry and you fed me,” vs. “I was hungry and you preached at me,” but that’s another topic all together).

What is the Christian community really afraid of? Well, from what I’ve seen (and read), it’s ignorance of the word of God within their own ranks. Most Christians are ill equipped to handle The DaVinci Code, because they do not know the Bible well enough to tell fact from fiction and they are afraid that their “less educated” non-Christian friends/neighbors know even less and might believe The DaVinci Code might actually be more truth than fiction.

The book’s controversy really does cast a light on a very sensitive area within the church. Many Christians attend services, but fewer read and study the Bible. They depend on the man behind the pulpit to teach them all they need to know, and quite frankly, that is much more frightening to me than the insinuations made The DaVinci Code.

I believe that the word of God defends itself, stands by itself, speaks for itself. God does not need me to defend it from best-selling fiction books (or any book for that matter). The word of God is so powerful, someone opening it for the first time can read it and be changed by it. For thousands of years, this book has guided and educated those in the faith of how to live for God while journeying in this world.

Ten years from now, some may still be reading The DaVinci Code, but the Bible will gain new readers. Twenty years from now, some may remember The DaVinci Code, but the Bible will still be the lamp unto our feet. Thirty years from now, few will remember The DaVinci Code, but the word of God will live on, shaping the lives of those who follow Christ.

I really don’t see where God has anything to worry about from Dan Brown.

I must admit I’ve seen one good thing come out of The DaVinci Code controversy. This work of fiction has affected change in some areas of the church. Because of the nature of the storyline, Bibles were opened, facts were gathered, and study of the word of God has ensued on a personal level. When neighbors have asked questions, concrete answers were able to be given. People became aware of their need to actually know what the Bible says… for themselves.

In that way, The DaVinci Code is indeed a very powerful work… of fiction.

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