Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The DaVinci Code

So, I finally joined the ranks of many of my congregation and read The DaVinci Code. I enjoyed it - I love mysteries, and it was a good mystery, and definitely a quick and easy read.

I wasn't shocked, really, by anything I read there - as Dan Brown has said himself, these aren't really new ideas he's putting forth - certainly a new spin, a fresh story, but the idea that Jesus was married is one I've heard before. So what to say about this book?

Some of the 'facts' Brown puts forward can be interpreted or outright disproven. I didn't take a lot of church history courses in seminary, but enough to remember that Constantine wasn't the one who decided the canon, even if that took place during his reign, under his 'guidance'. Also, his suggestion that Jesus' divinity status was the result of a vote is also stretching things. The nature of divinity was the center of a controversy, but it wasn't as black and white as he makes it sound. But, Brown is writing fiction, so I'm not concerned about these details too much - I'm more interested in the broader themes he's trying to get across, and the fact that this is a book that has people talking about religion, and I don't think that's ever a bad thing. People always seem threatened by things that have people asking questions about religion and faith. To me, this only signifies that the people who are threatened must think their faith can't withstand the pressure of questions...

Anyway, here are the positives I see in DaVinci:
1) I think it is great to reclaim feminine images in the Divine, feminine voices in church history, etc. On the other hand, I wish Brown had given us more voices of women in the plot! Sophie is a great character (I can't wait to see Audrey Tautou play her in the film) but she is the only female character of import in the novel. And no, I don't count her cameo-grandmother or Mary Magdalene. Where are the women?
2) I think the book's point that we always take the winning side as the only side is very important. I do remember in church history talking about the 'losing sides' in lots of controversies, and how those strains of Christianity get lost and trampled. It is good to remember them. Good to read those other gospels that do indeed exist. Good to stretch our minds!
3) The book certainly gives me a greater appreciation of DaVinci specifically and art in general. I like drama and music, but I'll admit that visual arts has been lower on the list. This book made me want to go hit a museum!
4) I appreciate the emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. I didn't think the book was suggesting that Jesus was not crucified - as I've heard some say this does - but that he was married and had a child - which could have been the case whether or not he was crucified. What would be diminished about Jesus if he had been married and had children? I think how we answer that question is very telling, and I think Brown raises great conversation for us in this.

I guess that's it for now. let me know what you thought of the book!
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