Seems I’ve heard from students a lot lately, and there is only one question: What do you think of The DaVinci Code. In the last ten days I’ve gotten about six or seven phone calls about this, and this is what I’m saying:
First, many have pointed out the historical problems, the historical howlers: Constantine didn’t invent the Creed or the NT, Jesus wasn’t married (there’s a perspective on this one in the book that is entirely non-Jewish), Jesus didn’t marry Mary Magdalene, they didn’t have a baby, and there was no dynasty of Jesus. The DaVinci stuff and the painting and the Dead Sea Scrolls comments … I could go on. On top of this is the revisionist understanding of early Christian history … and some of this needs to be more up front and part of the story, but the Church has always had a selective memory and the Church has always had all this stuff available to any who wanted to know about it.
But, for my take, this is not the most profitable angle for addressing this movie or the book behind it.
Here’s what I’m suggesting we begin to discuss along with this movie: Why is it that so many, in spite of repeatedly hearing about the historical implausibilities and the impossible scenario Dan Brown created for history, want to believe the inherent story of this book?
The facts show that many want to believe that the Church suppressed alternative views of Jesus, used its power to suppress the variety of Christian beliefs, and the question is “Why believe this story of history over the standard one?”
My contention is that we live in a culture that does not believe the Church for a variety of reasons: it uses a hermeneutic of suspicion; it learns that there are parts of the Church’s history that are not pretty; it hears facts about the priests and the pastors who have abused their calling and turned spirituality into crime; it knows of Christians who are hypocrites — and it simply says, “Well, maybe all along they’ve been a bunch of power-suppressing liars.”
There are some responses to each of these, but this is what I’m hearing, and I hope we use this movie to press the Church to learn to be more credible, trustworthy and full of integrity.