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24 April 2006

Danger Than Fiction

There’s a controversial new film coming out next month. The film is based on a popular novel written by Dan Brown that was published in 2003. It’s called The Da Vinci Code. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

The Da Vinci Code has been criticised for a number of reasons. I haven’t read it, but, not surprisingly, the novel has been condemned for being derivative and poorly written. Two separate lawsuits (neither of which prevailed) have also accused Brown of plagiarism. But by far the biggest criticisms of The Da Vinci Code have come largely from Evangelical and Catholic Christians who dispute the book’s historical and religious claims.

Some have been critical of the latter criticism. After all, the book is fiction, they say, and should be regarded as such. I agree with that, up to a point. A conspiracy hidden for thousands of years by the Catholic Church regarding the marital status of Jesus is a very compelling idea. But that doesn’t mean it really happened.

The problem is that works of fiction do shape our perception of reality. Our modern conception of heaven and hell, for instance, comes largely not from Judeo-Christian scripture or historical Jewish notions about the afterlife, but from Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Milton’s Paradise Lost. That people’s ideas about the historicity of Christianity would be negatively impacted by Brown’s book is likewise not hard to understand.

I do find it funny, though, which novels Christians react strongly against. The Harry Potter series was vilified for quite some time by Christians who needed something to complain about after losing the war on rock and roll back in the 80s. Now The Da Vinci Code is taking Potter's place.

And yet there is strangely very little criticism from Christian circles of the Left Behind novels*, whose muddled, perhaps even heretical, theology have frightening real world implications. The worldview inherent in Tim LaHaye’s poisonous novels impacts attitudes about the environment, war and peace, Middle Eastern policy, kingdom living, even the arts, and far more negatively than any book about Jesus’ secret wife. I expect most of us won’t even remember Don Brown’s name when we’re all wearing gas masks because we failed to take global warming and pollution seriously.

*Slacktivist's ongoing deconstruction of the first Left Behind novel being a very important exception.

Comments on "Danger Than Fiction"


Blogger jasdye said ... (4/24/2006 10:53:00 PM) : 

yeah, i never read any of d. brown's bunk (and he is horrible, if a quarter of what i hear is true, just in terms of research - or lack thereof). but i did have the misfortune to read a whole hundred pages of the Left Behind series.

i wouldn't blame it for our environment burn'em philosophy (although, now that i think about it, ev./conservative christians seem to have a very gnostic spiritual-v.-physical approach in these regards). but it's - regardless of theological standpoint - horribly and blandly written.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4/25/2006 12:00:00 AM) : 

Okay, so everyone's heard of Hal (Late Great) Lindsey, Jerry (Liberty U) Falwell, and Tim (Left Behind) LaHaye. But how many know the lowdown about the 19th century British import (the mahvelous eny-moment pre-trib rapchur - Suthun style) that's made them famous and sinfully wealthy? Well, one historian spent decades searching in Britain etc. for early rapture documents that were either unknown or had long been covered up on purpose. Yahoo has his stunning piece titled "Pretrib Rapture Diehards." Before you change channels, let me add that the same 176-year-old rapture fantasy produces all-time bestselling books (oodles of moola for rightist political agendas) - books we now know are filled with plagiarism (type in "Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal") by authors who, in the same breath, demand that the rest of the Ten Commandments be displayed everywhere! For more examples of superb scholarliness and heavenly honesty, type in "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)." Just think: the hucksters' popular prophetic view can be traced back unbroken to only a humble Scottish lassie in 1830, but that germ of dementia has now become an American Godzilla that even our leaders are afraid to displease! Just thought you'd like to know what's behind all the Left Behind hoopla.


Blogger Nicole said ... (5/02/2006 07:58:00 AM) : 

Did that comment make much sense? Has finals totally fried my brain?


Blogger jasdye said ... (5/02/2006 04:21:00 PM) : 

nope. of course mine above that didn't help out at all.

and i can't even blame finals. although i can blame teaching. mine.


Blogger Wasp Jerky said ... (5/14/2006 02:38:00 PM) : 

I certainly wouldn't say that fundamentalists are solely to blame for our environmental woes. We Americans in general use far more than our share of the world's resources, and we're generally uninformed, short-sighted, selfish bastards. But the worldview of Left Behind is one that is sceptical of peace in the Middle East, that thinks the destruction of the environment is part of God's master plan and shouldn't be interfered with, etc. It's self-fulfilling prophesy and a very dangerous way to go about public policy. Yet that seems to be the sort of view our President (and much of AmeriChristianity) has of things.

As for anon, I think s/he is saying that the rapture is an idea that's basically 176 years old, certainly not the historic interpretation of the book of Revelation, etc.


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