Friday, April 21, 2006

Da Vinci on Screen

In some ways, it was the book “the Da Vinci Code” that began this space. Not that it was the inspiration. The book'’s only inspiration is fictional doubt. Several summers ago, I spopubliclylly about the Da Vinci Code fiction novel by Dan Brown. Now, it will soon be in theaters for what they hope will be a blockbuster summer movie.

Already churches are beginning to boycott, websites are being established, campaigns against the movie are being waged. I have a campaign of my own. It is much more modest and its goal is a little odd, but it is one I believe in. Here are three thoughts that I offer in the form of requests.

I ask that you look at the copyright page of this book. Notice how it is categorized: Fiction. It is not based upon truth. It is a clever and creative work of fiction that blurs the lines of reality and imagination. This is what good fiction does - blur what is real and what is illusion to the point they appear the same.

I could only hope that the uproar with James Frey's memoir “A Million Little Pieces” would be a prelude to a similar uproar about this book of viction. If you remember Frey wrote what he said was truth about his life, but in fact it was embellished to make him appear tougher and meaner than he is or was. People were outraged to realize that he had deceived us.

No such luck with Dan Brown. He has lied, but unlike Frey he has properly catalogued his book as fiction. Do not forget it is fiction for a reason.

My second request is that you not go see the movie. When any of us go to a movie we are casting our dollars as votes in favor of a movie. I would encourage you not to vote for this movie. This is not some form of a strong boycott, which just gives this more publicity. My hope is that the movie will do poorly. I do not think that will happen because Christians run around picketing or complaining or damning people to hell who go see this movie. That just makes people want to go.

Instead, I am asking you not to go see it. If you must see it, then go see it when it comes to a discount theater, check it out from your library when it is on DVD or rent it sometime later. There are many other movies you could see (maybe they are not worth voting for either). My campaign is to get people to spend their money on something other than this movie and their efforts and emotions in another direction. This brings me to my final request.

If you have read the book or eventually see the movie, then I ask you to read a book like Ben Witherington'’s book on the Da Vinci Code. Get some more information before you allow an artistic piece of fiction to be the basis for belief or disbelief.

Here is one brief example of the fiction of Da Vinci. Brown doubts the authenticity of the biblical texts and manuscripts. Because there are differences and there are no "original" or "“signed"” copies of biblical books, then they must be untrue. Lets do a quick comparison with some other ancient texts. Homer's Iliad was written in 800 BCE and the earliest manuscript we have is from 400 BCE and there are something over 600 copies of it. That is 400 years after it was written, which is a long time. Or maybe you'’ve heard of Plato'’s works which were written in 400 BCE, but the oldest manuscript we have is from 900 A.C.E. That is thirteen-hundred year gap and there are about 7 manuscripts.

How do these manuscripts (we could use many, many others) compare with the evidence for the Bible? The gospel of John was written between 50-100 A.C.E. and our earliest copy is 130 A.C.E. and I have actually seen this fragment. That is a distance of 50 years to the original work! There are manuscripts of the entire New Testament that date from 325 A.C.E. which is about 225 years removed from the originals. IsnÂ’t it interesting that the manuscript evidence for the Bible is so strong. This is only one thing to consider, books about the Da Vinci Code can unpack many more.

So, here are my simple requests: remember the Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction, wait to go see the movie and read a book about the code. At bare minimum, I hope this book and movie can be a coffee discussion between people of Christian faith and people of other faiths. Learning will take place for everyone and God will be made more real.


Anonymous said...

Brady, Good post, fist of all. However, I dont really agree. The Da Vinci Code was not written to provoke the minds of Christians to see something other than the truth. It was book written to be enjoyed. I read it very recently and was absolutely enthralled by Brown's writing! I thought it was an awesome book? Do I believe what was written is fact? No. But it is by far the best book Ive ever read. As I devoted Christian, I think that no matter what is written about Jesus, I still am a believer in Christ, and no book can change that. You must look at it from an entertainment standpoint, not from an educational. After all, if it was meant to be believer, it wouldn't be fiction, would it?

Anonymous said...

I've noticed many religious writers as well as churches participating in the anti Da Vinci campaign and I'm not sure what to think about it. It seems that as a Christian, I certainly need to be on the look out for antichrist messages or "clever and deceiving arguments" and maybe Brown's book falls into that category. Thinking about blurred messages, though, I guess I hear a lot of those, some of which even come from teachers of regligion. It also seems to me that Christian theologians owe a greater debt of honesty in many regards. After attending many churches of various faiths across America, I have found myself frustrated by softspoken Christianity and non-fictional cover-ups, those that allowed real problems to go unaddressed. The Da Vinci outcry seems a little Wormwoodish, too. For unbelievers? --probably in need of clarifying messages from people of faith. But for Christians? -- (shrugg). What kinds of things are they not hearing from clergy about God that would have strengthened them against such deceit in the first place?