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Author Topic: My Issues with THE DA VINCI CODE  (Read 9677 times)
indianasmith
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« on: August 25, 2007, 04:21:47 PM »

I brought this up on another thread and a discussion began, but I didn't want to be a thread hijacker (I rank them barely above spammers!), so I thought I would open a thread here where it belongs. 

First of all, this is going to be a primarily religious topic!  If you don't like such, don't read it!! Lookingup

Secondly, a word of explanation.  I am a Christian, and have made no attempt to hide it on this board.  But I am not one of those book-burning, movie-banning, clinic-protesting stereotypes that seem to define our faith to so many.  I mean, after all, I am a Dedicated Viewer on BadMovies.org!!!!  I rarely have issues with works of fantasy or fiction because they are, after all, made-up stories created for entertainment.  Even JESUS H ZOMBIE, which someone posted a link to not long ago, didn't get a rise out of me - even though I do find the concept a little offensive - because it's so over-the-top stupid that NO ONE in their right mind would ever take it seriously.  Same with Harry Potter, Star Wars, and any number of other works that simple minded people have gotten their knickers in a twist over.

The DA VINCI CODE is different, however.  (NOTE: My comments are based on the book which I read cover to cover, not the movie, which I have not yet seen.)

First of all, although it is a work of fiction, Dan Brown says in the beginning that "All the architectural descriptions and commentaries in this work are historically accurate" or something to that effect.  And he has repeatedly said that he believes the major historical premises of his work to be true.  So even though this book is a novel, he is attempting to market it as a HISTORICAL novel, which always implies a ficticious story in a realistic historic setting.

So what are the historic points he tries to make?  Let's see -

1.  Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and had children with her.
2.  Jesus was not, and never claimed to be, the Son of God.
3.  Jesus entrusted Mary to carry on his ministry after his death.
4.  Jesus never rose from the dead.
5.  The other disciples were jealous of Mary and drove her away, hijacking the church from its original purpose.
6.  Christianity was originally a female-dominated cult that used sex as a way to achieve communion with God.
7.  The church censored some 80 gospels that showed Jesus as a wise teacher but only a mortal man, and accepted only those 4 that presented him as a divine being.
8.  The church did not proclaim Christ as a deity until the Council of Nicea in 324 AD, and then only did so by a very close vote.
9.  The church has carried out a systematic war against women, and a smear campaign against Mary Magdalene,   throughout much of its history.
10.  A secret organization called the Priory of Sion has protected the bloodline of Jesus and the truth about his teachings for 2000 years, led by men like Leonardo da Vinci, Victor Hugo, and the French diplomat Talleyrand.

Everyone of those premises is either COMPLETELY false or grossly misrepresented in the book.  (If you have a question on any of those points, I'll be glad to present my evidence, but it would take me several hours  to type up my comments about each of these.)

 The Da Vinci Code is one of the most insidious attacks on Christianity in decades, because it wraps an all-out assault on every major tenet of the faith in the form of a fast-paced, well-written mystery story that is very engaging and hard to put down.  It has caused a great amount of unmerited doubt to be cast on the origins of Christianity and the authenticity of the New Testament with no strong historical proof to back up any of its claims.  Most folks will never know how flimsy Brown's historical claims are, because after all, it's a lot easier to watch a movie or read a thriller than it is to do real historical research.  Please note I am not trying to force anyone to my religious or historical point of view, but I am trying to put some information out there for anyone who cares to read it.  If no one comments, this thread can quietly die.  If you have questions about any of the points I have raised, I will be happy to address them.  This may cost me all my karma points, or add to my total, but I don't really care.  I'm too Baptist to believe in Karma anyway . . . . Lookingup
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indianasmith
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« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2007, 04:24:38 PM »

"I mean, after all, I am a Dedicated Viewer on BadMovies.org!!!! "

OOOPS!!!  I see I've been upgraded to Bad Movie Lover!
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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2007, 05:20:34 PM »

I've neither read the book nor seen the movie - and doubt I will any time soon.  Though also a Christian, my reason for avoiding these is more the hoopla surrounding them than any notions of being offended or at least irritated.

I tend to avoid movies/books/tv shows/etc that are heavily hyped and 'big news' in pop culture.

This said, reading in your post the points that Brown uses as historical basis for his novel is amazing.  And saddending - as you said, many folks won't take the effort to educate themselves on historical fact and what is believed in scholarly circles.

To that end, I will address only one of those points - the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  One afternoon years ago, I caught a TV show (Nova perhaps???) about the New Testament that covered the Gospels and Acts in particular.  I recall from this show a whole bunch of academic scholars, including some admitted atheists and devout skeptics, interviewed about the resurrection.  Their point was as much as they may not WANT to beileve it, there is a LOT of historical evidence that SOMETHING happened.  Of all the men alive and active at the time of Christ who may be been called a Messiah, Jesus is the ONLY one for whom MANY historical records show was seen by MANY people after his death.

Now, I don't want to derail the discussion into a "did Jesus rise from the dead or no" religious debate.  The only point I am trying to make is that Dan Brown is nuts if he thinks the historical record does not support the Resurrection of Christ.  There's a whole bunch of antheist academics that would love to side with Brown, but they know the facts.
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indianasmith
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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2007, 06:08:14 PM »

Thanks, Ulthar!!  That is very typical of Brown's style - ignore well established history, and go for whatever supports your wild assertions.  indeed, whether you believe it actually happened or not, the very existence of the early church and the rapid growth of Christianity is incomprehensible without a strong  belief on the part of the disciples that Jesus did, indeed, return from the dead.  Paul himself said in AD 54, about 20 years or so after the fact, "If Christ be not raised, we are of all men most to be pitied!"
I appreciate your commentary!
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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2007, 06:13:31 PM »

While I have not (and will not) read Brown's book (there are just too many other, better books to read), I am familiar with several of his arguments. And, as you have already noted, many people won't bother to find out the facts, instead preferring to believe Brown and others like him simply because Christians denounce him (and so they must have something to hide). The Priory of Sion has conclusively been proven false repeatedly. The man who made the whole thing up came forward and admitted as much, and it is this same "organization" that put forward several of your other points.

That said, and while I wish people like Brown would not get the public recognition they do, I am by no means in favor of silencing them, as some who can only identify Christians by the stereotypes might believe (how snarky a statement is that?). I do not favor censorship in any form or fashion (Christianity has survived two thousand years of denouncement; it can survive more without the government's or Church's help). If the Christian faith can't endure attack, it doesn't deserve to exist.

I heard another interesting take on the Resurrection, from Chuck Colson of Watergate fame (while he's too conservative in some ways for my taste, he does do some good work through his organizations). He said that one of the main things that finally convinced him of the Resurrection was his own experiences with the Nixon administration (in a roundabout way, at least). Those guys, Nixon's most trusted confidantes, couldn't keep quiet about their roles in the Watergate burglary for more than two weeks, and they were simply threatened with jail time. The apostles were executed for proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah, and not one of them (okay, Judas betrayed Him, but then he killed himself when he realized the extent of what he'd done) ever claimed anything had been faked or that Jesus had not risen from the dead. Colson's contention was that it is highly unlikely for a group of people to uniformly stick to a false claim in the face of death threats and executions, but not at all unlikely for that same group to stick to its claims if they were true.
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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2007, 06:26:46 PM »

I have to admit, I have very little time for religion - I'm not one of those pushy atheists that dismisses all religious believers as zealots or anything like that - if faith makes you happy, that's fine by me, but I personally don't believe.

Anyway, now that I've made my position clear, allow me to say that I have no problem with The Da Vinci Code's religious standpoint. If that's what Dan Brown thinks, then he is more than entitled to say so - freedom of speech, yada yada yada. If he is solidly presenting something as fact, that is a different matter, but he has frequently stated that the book is a work of fiction. There are parts of the book which are accurate (the architectural details for example), but to the best of my knowledge, he has never claimed that any of the things with regard to Jesus Christ are fact. He has stated that he believes they are true, but not that they are fact.
My point is, Mr Brown is entitled to believe what he likes, and he is also entitled to express that belief in his work, in this case the book. It works the other way round too - if you've ever sat through more than five minutes of some of the televangelists crowing away on tv, they will express their opinions and beliefs in a very strong manner indeed, and once again with precious little proof to back it up. I might even go so far as to say that one or two of them probably do claim their beliefs as fact, but I cannot prove that, so I won't.

In my opinion, the church themselves are as responsible for the popularity of the book as much as, if not more than the book itself. As any Z-list celebrity will tell you, any publicity is good publicity as far as trying to sell something goes. If they hadn't have kicked up such a huge fuss about the book, there's a better than reasonable chance it would have acheived moderate sales and then quitely died away. Dan Brown is not a particularly brilliant writer, and his other works (other than Angels and Demons, which is better than The Da Vinci Code by some distance) are tepid, thriller-by-numbers jobs, but because of all the hype and publicity, it has attracted a massive audience who would not normally read books. Heck, even my younger brother, who ordinarily wouldn't know a book if the Oxford English Dictionary fell on him from a great height has made an attempt to read it.

All in all, I feel that the Da Vinci Code is partly a demon the church itself has created. However, I do feel sympathy for Christians, because there are plenty of idiots out there who are quite prepared to read the first thing they see in black and white, and unfortunately, The Da Vinci Code has snared quite a few idiots.
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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2007, 07:05:47 PM »

In my opinion, the church themselves are as responsible for the popularity of the book as much as, if not more than the book itself. As any Z-list celebrity will tell you, any publicity is good publicity as far as trying to sell something goes. If they hadn't have kicked up such a huge fuss about the book, there's a better than reasonable chance it would have acheived moderate sales and then quitely died away. Dan Brown is not a particularly brilliant writer, and his other works (other than Angels and Demons, which is better than The Da Vinci Code by some distance) are tepid, thriller-by-numbers jobs, but because of all the hype and publicity, it has attracted a massive audience who would not normally read books. Heck, even my younger brother, who ordinarily wouldn't know a book if the Oxford English Dictionary fell on him from a great height has made an attempt to read it.

All in all, I feel that the Da Vinci Code is partly a demon the church itself has created. However, I do feel sympathy for Christians, because there are plenty of idiots out there who are quite prepared to read the first thing they see in black and white, and unfortunately, The Da Vinci Code has snared quite a few idiots.

I would tend to agree with this notion. The same thing happened with The Last Temptation of Christ. I finally watched that a couple of years after it was released and, frankly, found it more boring and silly (not to mention pretentious) than sacrilegious. The hype/controversy surrounding it catapulted it into international attention and caused many to go see it when they otherwise would not have bothered. Even today, some still claim it is "great art," mostly because (it seems to me) doing so ticks off Christians. I knew the same would happen when I first heard about The Da Vinci Code, and, sure enough, an otherwise unremarkable book gained worldwide fame. Same with Rushdie's The Satanic Verses a few years ago in the Muslim community. If Christians could learn to ignore things like this, or at least only defend against them at appropriate times and in a calm, reassured manner, most of these "attacks" would simply die away. Sadly, even Christians do not seem to want to educate themselves on these types of issues and so can only defend their faith with the "That's evil! Ban it!" defense.
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2007, 07:34:21 PM »


Sadly, even Christians do not seem to want to educate themselves on these types of issues


Wow.  That's a mouthful.  And true in so many (too many) issues, in many of which the 'public' side of Christianity give Christianity as a whole a bad name.

I recently taught a class at our church called "Chistianity in the News: Evolution vs. Intelligent Design."  The point of my class was to 'expose' both sides of both issues and how both sides are, nowadays, in more of a political/social arguement than a theological one.  We spent a fair amount of time discussing how some Christian groups are doing Christianity more harm than good.

As a Christian I am not threatened by someone else's non-belief.  As a former atheist, I think I understand many of the reasons behind that viewpoint, but now view it with a bit of sadness.

I am not in favor of censorship.  Some comments I have read/heard against Christianity do anger me, but mostly because these particular commentors had closed minds.  There could be no intelligent discussion and there certainly was no "tolerance."  But, I do remember the "Moral Majority" days and loud cries for the burning of books, record albums (backward masking -- OH MY) and other such "cleansing."  Nothing good comes from this sort of thing.

I could go on an on (as you all know), but I'll close with this thought.  I believe God created our creative, imaginative minds.  If we create a work of fiction or more substantive philosophical challenges, that should be celebrated.  Something that should not be celebrated, in my opinion, is the kind of willful ignorance IndianaSmith alluded to in the original post - those folks who take the words in a work of fiction as fact without troubling themselves to learn if those words are true or not.

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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2007, 08:25:20 PM »

Being a non practicing Christian myself I have never read the book, but it just another look at something that could have happened.  A co-worker of mine had an interesting comment about religion but I will not go into it, since it was quite complex. 
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indianasmith
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2007, 08:50:42 PM »

I've never said I was in favor of censoring Brown's work.  Free will, free speech.  It just grieves me that so many immature believers have let such a poorly researched piece of claptrap rattle their faith.

BTW, I've heard some architectural historians say his descriptions are inaccurate as well! LOL TeddyR
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2007, 10:19:11 PM »

I've never said I was in favor of censoring Brown's work.  Free will, free speech.  It just grieves me that so many immature believers have let such a poorly researched piece of claptrap rattle their faith.

BTW, I've heard some architectural historians say his descriptions are inaccurate as well! LOL TeddyR

Sorry if I seemed to imply that you were in favor of censorship, indianasmith. I just brought the point up because that is the stereotypical "Christian" reaction to issues like this. I never got the impression you wanted to ban the book; I just wanted to make it very clear that, while I do not think it is in anybody's best interest to try to put any credence into Brown's ideas and wish that they had not gotten any publicity, I personally would never favor a ban or somesuch. As you say, free will, free speech.
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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2007, 12:09:32 AM »


Religion is one of those touchy topics that seem to get knickers in knots way too easily.  Luckily most of the people here on this board seem to have a bit of sense that allows them to choose the right battles.

I personally found the whole Da Vinci Code idea interesting, but only from a story-telling standpoint, since I'm a big fan of "What-If" story-telling.  But for me to think this is real... Come on... That's just silly. 

I haven't read the book, but the movie was ok.  Not great but not bad.  After watching it, anyone thinking that this is based on true fact is just a plain moron.  Sure, you can have your own 'but WHAT IF' moments about it and talk about what may have happened. 

I think that's actually pretty constructive: discussing an issue and in doing so learn more about not only the subject [in this case this particular religion] but some of the opposing 'theories' on it.  It's like an anti-drugs campaign on in our country at the moment with ads promoting parents to talk to their kids about drugs. 

The theory is to dispel wrong notions about drugs and expose kids to the idea, making it less of an issue when they're actually confronted with the choice.  This can easily apply here when talking about bannings etc.

You can take the offending text and talk about it logically in constructive argument and I think that'll do wonders.  Screaming blue murder and trying to ban something is akin to sweeping it under the bed and out of sight.  It's still there, and the curious will always want a gander.

All in all, I think that anything that promotes discussion of an important topic is an important tool, whether it be religion or something else.
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« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2007, 12:39:59 AM »

First of all, although it is a work of fiction, Dan Brown says in the beginning that "All the architectural descriptions and commentaries in this work are historically accurate" or something to that effect.
You read the book, where's your copy?  I don't want to give you a hard time, but if you're going to go to the trouble of stating a case as you have, you should be quoting the object of your criticism, not offering a paraphrase of the "something to that effect" ilk.  Without doing so your commentary comes across as from someone you have claimed you are not.  (I read that book too.  Of course it is a fiction.) 

And he has repeatedly said that he believes the major historical premises of his work to be true.  So even though this book is a novel, he is attempting to market it as a HISTORICAL novel, which always implies a ficticious story in a realistic historic setting.
"...attempting to market...?"  Babe.  You missed the boat on this one; I mean this book ain't new and has been marketed, very well sold, one of the best-selling books yet printed, made into a film as you noted, and read by "...everybody..."  (even me and I don't read novels anymore; but this book is a lot of fun). 

Most folks will never know how flimsy Brown's historical claims are, because after all, it's a lot easier to watch a movie or read a thriller than it is to do real historical research. 

Or, to maybe...read the bible !!   Smile
Since I avoid Religion and Politics, I will say these are interesting thoughts, Indianasmith, and I read everyone's response.  As for my own opinion on this topic, the only thing I have to say is I do not think it is at all appropriate or smart for anyone to comment upon a book that he has not read, such as The DaVinci Code, or The Bible or The Tale Of Peter Rabbit.   
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indianasmith
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« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2007, 08:35:25 AM »

Thanks for your comments, AllHallows.  I did indeed read the book, but not wanting to put any money in Dan Brown's pocket, I borrowed someone else's copy, so I  had to do the quote from memory.   I believe it was substantially correct, but I am sorry if I gave the impression that I hadn't actually read it.
 It was a quick read - I finished it in a single weekend.  The story is quite engrossing.  Again, my whole issue was with the presentation of a LOT of false information about the Bible and the early church in a context designed to make people think it was factual.  That's intentionally deceptive!

Oh, and I have read the Bible too - all of it, more than once. TeddyR
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2007, 08:45:28 AM »

I read about halfway through the book.  Just WAY too much exposition.  Authors are supposed to show, not tell, and that's something Dan Brown doesn't know how to do.  I think it would have been much better if he had the characters finding out about various things through their actions, not just making 90% of the book a bunch of conversations where everything is explained.  His descriptions of Paris were almost laughable, like he was writing a travel guide.  Authors are supposed to make you feel as if you're in a place, giving you the sights, sounds, smells, etc.  Brown was telling us how many kilometers it was between point A and point B, LOL. 

When an author lacks even the most basic skills at his craft, as Brown so obviously does, the best option is to wirte something controversial, because that's the only way he'll get noticed. 
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