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max venable
05-16-2006, 03:26 PM
At my church, we've been doing a weekend message series about The Da Vinci Code. We've been looking at some of the claims the book makes, comparing them to Biblical teachings as well as historical records. It's been very interesting and fun. I'm giving the next talk (May 20, 21). It's about the Bible and The Da Vinci Code

In researching material for this weekend's message, I listened to an hour-long interview with the author of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown. He's an interesting guy. Very thoughtful...a deep thinker as you might imagine. Here are a few interesting tidbits I learned about him:


He claims to be a Christian. Interesting. He says he grew up with a dad who was a math teacher and a mom who was a church organist. He says he always felt conflicted when it comes to science vs. the Bible because of this interesting dynamic in his life. He comments that as a young boy, trying to decide which way to believe, he chose to land on the side of science rather than biblical teaching because it just made more sense to him. He also says that as he's grown and learned, he's decided that science and religion actually compliment each other and should be viewed as partners in a person's faith.


He reinforced the fact that the book is a novel. He thinks religious leaders have made way too much out of all of this (although I'm sure he welcomes it--it helped him sell over 50 million books). He says he doesn't pay much attention to the press and has not looked at a single book that "refutes" or "rebuts" his book.


I also found this very interesting: here's a guy who just got paid $6 million for the movie rights to Da Vinci, he's sold over 50 million copies of the book...in other words, he could live anywhere, do anything, etc...and he chooses to live in New Hampshire...and he says he's in front of his keyboard by 4 a.m. each day (he feels like if he's not there by then he misses the most productive part of his day)...and he's working on the sequel to The Da Vinci Code. You've got to admire/respect that kind of dedication.


He keeps an hourglass on his desk and takes a break every half hour to do push-ups, sit-ups, and hang upside down (he says it helps the blood get to his head and helps him with new ideas--a fresh perspective).


He claims to write an average of ten pages for every one page that actually makes it into a book.


He's thrilled with the way the movie turned out. He says it reminds him of what the whole movie theater experience used to be about--he says that when he was a kid, movies took him to places he'd never been, they challenged him, they moved him, they scared him, they inspired him...he says this movie is just like that.


He thinks its great that the book has generated so much talk about faith and has caused people to investigate the claims of Christianity and the Bible. Of course, it helped him sell a whole bunch of books. But I got the impression that he's sincere when he says this.


The movie opens this Friday. And, yes, I plan to go see it. I've read the book. It was interesting, and fun. I expect the movie to be the same. The key for me is that I approached the book as it ought to be approached--as fiction. If one approaches it otherwise, it certainly could confuse a person.

It's amazing to me how many people have read the book and taken Dan Brown's "fictional theories" as fact. I guess if people see it in print, they tend to believe it...even if it's written as a part of a novel.

I think another factor in all this is that everybody loves a good conspiracy. So we're always looking for things we can say, "Ah-ha!" to. We're dying to believe that stuff is "not always as it seems" or at least "not always as I've been taught to believe."

One more thing, at the risk of getting this thread locked for being "religious" (it's really not, it's just intended to be a Da Vinci/Dan Brown thread...but here goes):

I think that there is, within the dark part of many of us, a kind of cynicism that we leverage to protect a lifestyle that we know wouldn't square with the teachings of the Bible, and that makes it very difficult for us to come and do an honest search, an honest quest, for what the Bible is really all about. I think that when we read something like what Dan Brown wrote—something that begins to question the authenticity and authority of the ancient moral guidelines we find in a book such as the Bible, we go, “Shew…good. Now I feel a little better about the way I’m living…"

Just a thought.

Consider the can opened. :evil:

savafan
05-16-2006, 04:25 PM
I've read the book, and I plan on seeing the movie as well. I thought Angels and Demons to be very good also.

People tend to take fiction books a bit too seriously these days. For other examples of this happening, look at The Celestine Prophecy and the Harry Potter books.

Crash Davis
05-16-2006, 04:59 PM
While I realize many religious leaders and members of the media have tried to stir up a debate (and I'm sure you're very right about Dan Brown welcoming the extra income from the attention), I just keep chuckling and shaking my head.

Where's the debate? It's a work of fiction. Much like Joe Morgan and Moneyball, the only people I've actually heard trying to "debate" The DaVinci Code are those who have not even bothered to read it.

Not to mention I'm still awaiting the media's notice to these religious "outliers" that the book upon which they've chosen to base their whole life's purpose is in fact, like The DaVinci Code, a work of fiction. I love irony.

Roy Tucker
05-16-2006, 05:16 PM
I think part of the allure of the book is its believability. You read through it, get caught up in the moment, and think "golly, I think he's on to something here".

But then you do a little research and find out, yes, there is some fact, but Brown took a few nuggets of truth and mixed in a whole bunch of fiction to make a very heady story.

But at the end of the day, that's all it is, a made-up story.

RedsManRick
05-16-2006, 05:17 PM
Great 'take' Max. I've explored both the science and religious approaches to the "big" questions in quite some depth and have been completely turned off from the religious community, facts aside. I find very frustrating that many (if a very vocal minority -- as the "religious right" tends to be) Christian conservatives are unable to discuss this book, and other like topics in the appropriate terms; particularly when I know there are very open, inquistive, questioning, scientific Christians out there.

Max, it sounds like your church has taken a very open approach and I'm sure the discourse has been very interseting. It's unfortunate that so much rhetoric and propoganda has to be involved. Dan Brown, as you said, has admitted that this is not a work of science, or of theology, but of fiction. I compare it to a Michael Crichton novel. It's a story based on a plausable extrapolation of facts -- not a claim of truth.

westofyou
05-16-2006, 05:20 PM
Dan Brown + Jesus = The Da Vinci Code

Bernard Malamud + Eddie Waitkus = The Natural

Blimpie
05-16-2006, 05:22 PM
I have actually just now gotten around to reading the book. Say what you will about Dan Brown's beliefs--he is simply an excellent writer. So far, I find the book a very compelling read...

Larkin411
05-16-2006, 08:51 PM
Yeah I'm wondering if there really are people who take it seriously. My co-worker was asking me about it(she's very religious) and mentioned that a lot of people think it's true and think Jesus and Mary Magdalene dated but honestly I've yet to see proof of these supposed people.

Sweetstop
05-16-2006, 09:17 PM
I have actually just now gotten around to reading the book. Say what you will about Dan Brown's beliefs--he is simply an excellent writer. So far, I find the book a very compelling read...

I don't think Dan Brown is a really excellent writer. I DO think TDVC is a fun, entertaining mystery novel that keeps you reading full steam ahead, and I would bet, with the moviemakers attached, that the film will be likewise. First film I'm interested enough in to make a trip to a movie theater this year.

pedro
05-16-2006, 09:28 PM
Yeah I'm wondering if there really are people who take it seriously. My co-worker was asking me about it(she's very religious) and mentioned that a lot of people think it's true and think Jesus and Mary Magdalene dated but honestly I've yet to see proof of these supposed people.

that is entirely possible even rest of the story around the Da Vinci Code is fiction. A lot of folks have thought that for years before TDVC came out.

BTW- DVC is largely based on a book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail that came out in the 80's. While not a novel it's premise (that Mary Magdalene came to france after the crucifiction) is derived from the same hoax perpetrated in the 1950's as is TDVC.

savafan
05-16-2006, 09:29 PM
I have actually just now gotten around to reading the book. Say what you will about Dan Brown's beliefs--he is simply an excellent writer. So far, I find the book a very compelling read...

You should read Angels and Demons. It's even better, IMO.

max venable
05-16-2006, 09:33 PM
Yeah I'm wondering if there really are people who take it seriously. My co-worker was asking me about it(she's very religious) and mentioned that a lot of people think it's true and think Jesus and Mary Magdalene dated but honestly I've yet to see proof of these supposed people.
I have personally spoken to people who, not necessarily take it completely seriously, rather, they're confused by the theories the book presents. They say things like, "But what about the woman painted next to Jesus in The Last Supper?" And many more things along those lines. The Council of Nicea stuff and Constantine, the sacred feminine, stuff like that has them confused. Brown has sprinkled some truth in with his fiction and it's caused some people to wonder about some of it.

GAC
05-16-2006, 09:37 PM
A good article (below) that basically says it all for me.

It's fiction, and people should enjoy it as such. I'm sure it's an entertaining book and movie.

The problem is that Mr Brown presents it as authentic. And he's been proven wrong on many points many times over.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-05-14-da-vinci-welborn_x.htm

5 BIGGEST FLAWS IN 'DA VINCI'

Fiction : The Priory of Sion is an ancient group charged with protecting the secret of the real Holy Grail, and Leonardo da Vinci was a Grand Master of the Priory of Sion.

Fact : The Priory of Sion was established in 1956 by a crackpot Frenchman who was exposed as a fraud in the French media in the 1980s. The documents claiming Leonardo's role were forged and planted in French archives in the 1960s. Since there was no Priory of Sion in the way that The Da Vinci Code describes it, Leonardo couldn't have been a part of it. Simple logic.

Fiction : Politics determined what Gospels made it into the Bible.

Fact : By the mid-second century, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were widely accepted as the foundational texts of Christianity. The criteria had nothing to do with gender or power. It was all about whether they reflected the witness of the apostles about Jesus, how old they were, and how useful they were for the entire church, instead of just a small group.

Fiction : Constantine invented the divinity of Christ in 325.

Fact : Even a cursory look at textual evidence shows that Christians worshipped Jesus as Lord long before Constantine's reign. The Council of Nicaea was called to address a heresy called Arianism, which taught that Jesus wasn't fully divine.

Fiction : Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

Fact : The Gospels are all very forthright about Jesus' familial relations, and they don't hide the existence of Mary Magdalene, either. If they had been married, there would have been no reason to hide the fact.

Fiction : Christianity demonized Mary Magdalene in order to suppress her influence.

Fact : Mary Magdalene is a saint. In every Gospel, she is cited as the first person to find the empty tomb. She was the second-most revered saint of the Middle Ages, after Mary, Jesus' mother. That's an odd way to demonize.

griffeyfreak4
05-17-2006, 12:05 AM
You should read Angels and Demons. It's even better, IMO.
Everyone tells me that..........
.......maybe I should read it.........

cincinnati chili
05-17-2006, 01:34 AM
he could live anywhere, do anything, etc...and he chooses to live in New Hampshire...



That's interesting. We went to the same high school (eight years apart). I would have thought he'd have the good sense to move away by now.

The last time I checked there's no state income tax in NH, but still...

zzzzzzz.....


brrrrr....

in terms of the movie, the "controversy" is going to be a bigger deal in the developing world then over here. Those Filipinos take their Catholicism very seriously.

dsmith421
05-17-2006, 01:47 AM
Say what you will about Dan Brown's beliefs--he is simply an excellent writer.

I actually think he absolutely sucks. His dialogue is laughably unrealistic and trite . His characters are boring and one-dimensional. The "plot" of Da Vinci code consists of poorly researched unconnected historical events connected by the most attenuated innuendos and coincidence. Half the novel consists of the protagonist getting into trap after trap, each one he just happens to have the specialized tool it takes to escape. It's laughable after a while. Even the title of the book is dopey: da Vinci describes where the artist Leonardo was from, it's not his surname. It's like referring to Santa Claus as "Claus" or Francis of Assissi as "of Assissi."

I admit that the book is exciting, and the movie will likely be, as well. I suppose the theories involved could be very interesting if you've never read anything about the subject. But to argue Brown himself is anything but a dime-store hack, especially when compared to other bestselling authors who have tilled similar ground, e.g., Umberto Eco and Arturo Perez Reverte, is tough for me to buy into. Even compared to, say, Stephen King, Brown's prose is abysmally poor.

(And yes, I agree with savafan that Angels and Demons was superior. Still not good literature, but at least better conceived.)

I'm a Catholic, am well aware that the Church has been involved in all sorts of backroom skullduggery since the beginning of time, and still don't understand
how anyone can take this book seriously as theological or historical truth. A more dignified (and effective, I would argue) response by the Church would have been to state plainly that the book is BS, provide scholarly research, and shut up.

SandyD
05-17-2006, 02:04 AM
chili, I recently read the book. Left it out on my desk at work a couple of days. One of my coworkers asked me about it. I gave her my opinion, and asked her if she had read it. She said no, and that she wasn't going to either. Why? She "already knows she doesn't believe it, so why read it?"

Johnny Footstool
05-17-2006, 02:21 AM
Fiction : Politics determined what Gospels made it into the Bible.

Fact : By the mid-second century, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were widely accepted as the foundational texts of Christianity. The criteria had nothing to do with gender or power. It was all about whether they reflected the witness of the apostles about Jesus, how old they were, and how useful they were for the entire church, instead of just a small group.

Yeah, the church would NEVER be influenced by politics.

:laugh:

westofyou
05-17-2006, 02:25 AM
I actually think he absolutely sucks. His dialogue is laughably unrealistic and trite . His characters are boring and one-dimensional.I felt it read like a screenplay, which if you've had to ever read a hundred or so you can plainly see it within the first 3 paragraphs, and like a screenplay it can be downright telephatic in their foreshadowing.

pedro
05-17-2006, 02:34 AM
GAC, I'd welcome discussion some of the finer points of your rebuttal on the other board. :)

SandyD
05-17-2006, 02:54 AM
It was a fun read. Got a bit tedious at times. Maybe it's that "screenplay" effect you speak of.

Timeline is a bit unrealistic, if you think about it too much. He wakes up at 12:30am, and nearly 400 pages later, he checks his watch, and it's just 6:30am. And lots of stuff happened in between. I don't think so. So no, it's not a well crafted novel. Still, it's a fun read, if you can suspend your disbelief.

Roy Tucker
05-17-2006, 08:59 AM
I'll agree with Sandy. It was a fun read. Kind of like riding the roller coaster at Kings Island. Lots of speed, motion, and thrills. I enjoyed it immensely.

I can't say Dan Brown is an excellent writer, but he can write a page-turner. Which you can make a lot of money doing.

woy's comment about a screenplay is spot-on. Come to think of it, the book does have a certain 24-ish quality to it. Robert Langdon is a college professor version of Jack Bauer.

Sweetstop
05-17-2006, 09:20 AM
This a.m. I heard a brief review of the film from a critic who saw the sneak preview at Canne. He said the performances were excellent, but he was a bit disappointed in the overall movie. He felt the whole concept didn't seem as plausible and played out slower on screen. Evidently some of the other critics who saw it had a similar reaction.

max venable
05-17-2006, 10:16 AM
Yeah, the church would NEVER be influenced by politics.
I don't think anyone would argue that the church could not/would not be influenced by politics, the point is, however, in regard to Constantine and the Council of Nicea, The divinity of Jesus was not a political maneuvering of Constantine…it was an accepted teaching from the earliest days of Christianity. And there's a whole bunch of evidence to support that.

paintmered
05-17-2006, 10:17 AM
This is turning into a political/religion thread and must be closed. I do however, encourage everyone to continue this thread over at ochre's board.

- paint