Friday, May 12, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

There is no escaping it! It opens here on Wednesday a day earlier than most countries and the publicity is incredible. It's everywhere. Originally, I was worried that preaching and talking about DVC might just serve to give it more publicity, but I don't think I need worry. It has all the publicity it could ever need. So I think it's better to take the opportunity it presents to speak about the issues it raises. So next week to coincide with the launch I am going to be preaching on it and talking to whoever will listen! I imagine many clergy will be doing the same.

I don’t know how much friends in the US have followed the recent case in London in which Dan Brown’s publishers were sued for copyright infringement by the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. The judgement went against them, but, in the course of the trial, Dan Brown gave evidence and the Judge in his judgement sums up his evidence and describes the writing process. He also makes comments on the themes of the book along the way. While the conclusion of the judgement has been reported, most people will have missed some of the comments that the Judge makes. I would recommend anyone interested in responding to the Da Vinci Code to read the judgement. It is available at this link:

I would particularly draw attention to paragraphs 345 and 346. The judge writes concerning Dan Brown’s evidence:

'His failure to address these points in my view shows once again that the reality of his research is that it is superficial. This in my view is the explanation for his evidence. He has presented himself as being a deep and thorough researcher for all of the books he produced. The evidence in this case demonstrates that as regards DVC that is simply not correct with respect to historical lectures.'

It is quite fascinating because, in the course of the trial, the way in which Dan Brown wrote the book and the sources he used all come up for scrutiny and description. The Judge is worried that his comments may be used out of context, but it is fairly plain what he thinks of the research, or rather lack of it, behind the book. I must confess to having been surprised myself. It seems clear that Dan Brown relied heavily on the whacko brigade without doing much in the way of original reseach himself.

This is all very well if it is just a crime thriller you are writing, as the Judge himself acknowledges, but Dan Brown wants his novel to be read more seriously than this and makes FACT claims for the material it is based on. I wonder if he has read any of the orignal writings that he wants reassessing: the various Gnostic Gospels, for example? Perhaps he has. But having read the judgement, I do wonder.

Unfortunately, to a certain extent it does not matter. The book is now out there, as the Movie will be next week, and then the DVD! Our job as Christian teachers is to deal with it, not just by trying to discredit it and its claims, but by giving the positive case for Christianity. In fairness, that means not engaging with Dan Brown second hand, but actually researching the material for ourselves.

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