Introduction: Just Fiction?
1 Peter 3:15
Simply proclaim the Lord Christ holy in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have.Well, on May 19, 2006, The Da Vinci Code Movie premiered. I laughed to read the reviews of the critics, which panned it all around, but sadly, the wisdom of critics is often overlooked by the movie-going public.
Ever since the book came out 4 or so years ago, it has been making waves in the Christian world, with its claims that Jesus wasn't God, married Mary Magdalene, and that the Catholic Church hid that truth through often treacherous means. It takes some clear and offensive pot-shots at our faith, and I've been asked, tragically on more than one occasion, how much of the book is true?
On the other hand, many people see absolutely nothing wrong with The Da Vinci Code, appealing to the book cum movie's label as "fiction" to minimise the impact of what the book teaches. And yes, it is fiction. However, too many people make the mistake of saying, it's just fiction. For something to qualify as fiction does not mean that everything about the book is false or made up. "Historical Fiction" is a quite popular genre precisely because much of the action takes place in "the real world" and is therefore more believable. And it is at this blurry little line that we run into problems, because, similar to an historical fiction writer, Dan Brown has made the claim that much of what he has written is not fiction, but fact. He has even said that the "fiction" lies simply in the plot of two people trying to figure out why some guy at the Louvre was murdered. Meanwhile, just after the title page, there is a page of supposed "Facts":
Fact:The problem is that his claim itself is fiction. What Brown touts as facts in his book are more often than not fictitious. For example, the Priory of Sion founded in 1099 was not a secret society, but a religious order that looked after The Church of St. Mary's in Zion, until it was destroyed by Muslims after the first Crusade. After that time, they spread through Europe teaching the Gospel, until in 1617 the last remaining members joined the Jesuits. The "secret society" known as "The Priory of Sion" was founded in 1956 by a man convicted of embezzlement and fraud, named Pierre Plantard, and Les Dossiers Secrets have been shown to be a forgery by Plantard.
The Priory of Sion--
a European secret society founded in 1099--is a real organisation.
In 1975 Paris's Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo Da Vinci.
The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brainwashing, coercion, and a dangerous practice known as "corporal mortification." Opus Dei has just completed construction of a $47 million National Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.
All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.
Moreover, Opus Dei is described as being brainwashing and coercive, and practicing a "dangerous" ritual known as "corporal mortification." Yes, Brown admits that these are just "reports", but still, they are on his facts page and imply that they should be taken seriously--and many do. More to the point, Brown still himself editorialises by calling "Corporal Mortification" a dangerous practice. It is not. Remember on this blog, the article about Fasting? That's a form of "corporal mortification." It is simply denying our body something in order to be more able to focus on the spiritual things of God, and is not in the least "dangerous."
Finally, Brown's descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals are anything but accurate. We'll be discussing that more in depth in the following parts, but for starters, the bathroom in the Louvre where Langdon and Sophie Neveu get rid of his tracking device by tossing it out the window--that bathroom doesn't have a window! So much for accurately describing architecture. The glass pyramid at the Louvre that allegedly has 666 pieces of glass, actually has 793 panes! So much for accurate descriptions of Art! As I said, we'll explore the rest of these as we go on. Suffice it to say that Brown's "Fact" page is just as fictional as his plot. But people in our culture often do not have the discernment nor the ability (nor patience) to decipher what is true from what is false. And so too often people (including good, Catholic people) ask me, "How much of this is true?"
Anything with the potential to lead people away from Jesus and His Church is never just fiction. It is dangerous and should be stood against. Hence, I'll be posting a five-part series examining and dismantling the "facts" of The Da Vinci Code (that was originally published at Grace for the Wayward Heart based on a series of talks given to my former youth group). Part 1 will look at Who Jesus Is. Part 2 will look at The Church. Part 3 will address Where We Got the Bible. Part 4 will discuss whether, in truth, the Church really Oppressed Women. And finally, we'll examine some of the Art featured in the novel. Hopefully in so doing, I will help people to have an answer ready, for when people ask us about the hope that we have.
So stay tuned for what I'm sure will be, for myself at least, a pleasurable opportunity to set the record straight and preach the Truth, over and against what was written in a novel that, in my opinion, has characters about as deep as those in a Hardy Boys Mystery and a plot that is as unpredictable as an episode of Scooby-Doo.
Man, I want those 10 hours back that I spent reading that book!