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.