Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Duh Vinci Code

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40 million heretics can't be wrong, but these ladies aren't so sure.

I must admit, I'm late to the whole Da Vinci Code party. I didn't want to part with the $25 for the book in hardcover, and it is never in the library, so I held off until it came out in paperback. I did read Angels and Demons in one sitting (one trans-Atlantic sitting) and liked it well enough. Dan Brown is not a fantastic writer. He shifts point of view in the middle of action without warning, and he relies heavily on the exclamation point (which is inadvisable in fiction-writing, IMHO). I bought The Da Vinci Code at BJs for $5, and figured I'd give it a go.

It's a quick read, and he brings up some interesting points. But The Da Vinci Code follows the same formula as Angels and Demons did. Langdon gets a call to an unfamiliar place, meets an attractive woman who is in distress, hijinks ensue. I'm not saying it's a bad read-- the book goes quickly-- but it's not going to win a Pulitzer.

I know the whole brouhaha about The Da Vinci Code novel, and now movie, is because of the subject matter. Christians believe that the argument that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married is heretical. The Vatican is flipping its collective shit, throwing anything that will stick, trying to have a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie calling it fiction, in case that wasn't clear.

Here's the thing: I am excited for the movie. The novel reads like a screenplay, and I can imagine the cars dodging around Paris and the French countryside. As a book it isn't high art, but it should make an excellent movie. It apparently did not make an excellent movie, but I still plan to see it tomorrow so I can compare the two. Obviously, lots of people are excited for the movie, even if they're Catholics.

I just can't get behind the Church freaking out about what boils down to a cheesy novel and a cool action movie. The Mary Magdalene issue is almost secondary to the action of the plot. Maybe the arguments Brown presents go against your beliefs. That's fine. The Passion of the Christ goes against my beliefs and my tastes, but I didn't start a letter-writing campaign or go on a hunger strike to stop its release. People have different opinions. It shows that the Church believes the stories of its demise even more than us "godless" heathens do. If the Church really wanted to refute the claims The Da Vinci Code sets forth, they should start a web site or publish a pamphlet people can read with proof that Jesus was unmarried, and drop it. Making an international case of it doesn't help.

I'm not saying one person is right and another is wrong. Religion is the cause of a lot of violence and death in this world, but the majority of people derive a lot of good from religion. It gives people a community, a moral code, a sense of security that those we love are happier when they die. But true believers of religion know it takes faith. We can't prove Jesus existed. Hell, we can't know Shakespeare wrote Hamlet and that was much more recent than Jesus' exploits. You have to honestly believe that Jesus performed miracles, that he's the son of God. If a fictional novel and a summer movie can challenge so many people's faith so deeply, the Church is right to freak out. But people will either stay away from the movie on principle, just like I did with The Passion of the Christ, or they'll go and still have faith when they leave.

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