Get ready for the Da Vinci wave

apr282006 874 875 lgSo, how many of you are already fed up with the mainstream coverage of The Da Vinci Code? I think the nice puff piece interview with Ron Howard and Tom Hanks in Entertainment Weekly was the official start of the tsunami. Not that you will learn much from it other than that -- believe it or not -- there are uptight Christians out there who are upset about what is clearly, clearly just an ordinary work of fiction.

Oh well. Whatever. Never mind.

In recent months, a very interesting debate/discussion/argument has broken out in which people are asking how traditional Christians should respond to the movie (since 40 million books failed to get the attention of some church leaders). Some people think the right approach is to ignore it. Some want to "debate it," using the movie as a hook for evangelism. I have not, praise be, heard anyone talking about some kind of attention-grabbing wave of protests. There have been interesting variables on these positions. Click here for a USA Today story on the various sites dedicated to all of this.

Now I am a "debate the culture" kind of guy and have been for years. I think this novel is impossible to ignore. The question, to me, is whether the definitive statement of Dan Brown's evangelistic screed -- for his own postmodern, semi-Gnostic version of Christianity -- is the novel or the movie.

Thus, I wrote an article for the controversial Da Vinci Dialogue site (part of the actual publicity campaign for the movie) entitled "Who is Dan Brown?" In it, I argued:

... (It's) crucial to note that Brown is not opposed to faith or to Christianity. He is only opposed to forms of Christianity that hold fast to the faith's 2000 years of doctrine on issues such as salvation, Christology, moral theology, the Trinity, the Resurrection and a few other picky details. ...

Truth is, Brown is a liberal, feminist Christian whose views would be right at home in thousands of mainline, progressive churches and the seminaries that prepare men and women to stand at their altars. He also sees himself as someone who is searching for that crossroads where modern science, the sexual revolution and all the world religions meet and work out their differences in the embrace of an all-embracing goddess, god or pantheon of gods to be negotiated at some point in the future. But the key to the Gospel According to Dan Brown is not who is right, but who is wrong.

The bottom line: Anyone who truly wants to know what Brown is all about should skip the movie and read The Da Vinci Code instead, along with Angels & Demons, which preceded it.

tn davincicode poster2There are many articles to read on these subjects (let us know the best you have found), but I want to point to one in particular -- Catholic-nun-turned-screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi's piece in Christianity Today entitled "Let's 'Othercott' Da Vinci." For her, the bottom line is that The Da Vinci Code is so warped and anti-Christian -- yes, anti-Catholic most of all -- that it is wrong to urge people to go see it, even if the ultimate goal is some kind of piggyback evangelism.

Thus, Barbara is a bit ticked off:

DVC as great opportunity for evangelism? Hmmm. The climate of evangelism is not consistent with a posture of defiance and cynicism. Is slander an opportunity? Is angry superiority an opportunity? DVC represents all the "opportunity" that the Roman persecutions offered the early Church. Rah. And here's another thing that troubles me about the "opportunity for dialogue" stance. The debate is all on hell's terms. ... DVC represents a debate in which the questions start with Satan's presumptions.

So what does Nicolosi want people to do?

Here's the twist. She wants people to buy a movie ticket the day that DVC comes out, only for a different movie.

On DVC's opening weekend -- May 19-21 -- you should go to the movies. Just go to another movie. That's your way of casting your vote, the only vote Hollywood recognizes: The power of cold hard cash laid down on a box office window on opening weekend. Use your vote. Don't throw it away. ... The major studio movie scheduled for release against DVC is the DreamWorks animated feature Over the Hedge. The trailers look fun, and you can take your kids. And your friends. And their friends. In fact, let's all go see it.

Here's my point in bringing this up.

Legions of reporters are about to spill oceans of ink during the next few weeks about The Da Vinci Code. I think it's important for journalists to realize that there are people out there in Middle America and even the blue zip codes who have viewpoints other than one that can be called "fundamentalists who hate open-minded people in Hollywood." It's time for reporters to be creative and find some alternative "experts" and quote machines.

It's journalism. Just do it.

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