Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Postmoderism and "The Da Vinci Code"

I didn’t think The Da Vinci Code was a good novel. There are some things that Dan Brown did very well but he did just as many things very poorly. He just happened to hit on the right combination of good and bad writing to make it a page-turner. I loved Mary DeMuth's post on authorial convenience. It's the same issue I have with the Left Behind series, The Lost World by Crichton (sequel to Jurassic Park) and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (sequel to Ender's Game) – the authors are preaching at me about one thing or another. If I want a sermon, I’ll go to church or listen to talk radio. When I pick up a novel, I want good characters and a story.

So why has The Da Vinci Code sold 40 million copies? There are a lot of reasons but I think what Brown did right was capitalize on the postmodern culture.

Ladies, don’t be fooled by this novel. Brown is no friend to women. In the beginning, he really plays up Sophie's independence and intelligence - until they get to Teabing's estate. Then she seems to lose all ability to reason and act on her own, buying anything the two men say and doing whatever they ask. I don't think Brown is an advocate for women. He basically condones sexual exploitation of women akin to temple prostitution! Ladies, it sounds noble but this is an old scheme used in the name of spirituality. I think Brown is a wolf in sheep's clothing where women’s issues are concerned.

In the story, I think it's fascinating that Teabing yanks out all these books to prove his point. Where do these come from? What's their validity? It's very pomo and very cunning by Brown. If it's written down, it must be true. I don't know how many times I've heard, "If it's on the internet, it must be true."

I've also wondered why homosexuals haven't come out against Brown. Basically, he says homosexuals cannot achieve spiritual enlightenment because they don't have sex with women. He never addresses gay sex but he makes it very clear that woman is key to spiritual fulfillment.

My friend, Erin, sent me a great article on the 10 mistakes Christians Make in the Arts. I saw a headline on The Drudge Report before the movie opened that Christians were boycotting the movie, which this article addresses. I'm torn. People think it's so noble that Islamists turn violent at any mockery of their god or physical scriptures. I think we should be offended at mockery and lies about our God but they are non-believers. And isn't our God and conduct more relational than the Islmist's are? Their god is not personal. God is in my heart not in print.

Last year my small group decided to discuss the historical and scriptural references made in The Da Vinci Code. The novel was having impact on the culture and we wanted to be able to discuss it. As a result, we were asked to present our material to the entire church. My topic was the reliability of scripture. But I find it much more important to get believers to understand how to communicate with their culture than in providing them with facts about their own gospel.

Christians see the opening of the movie as a great opportunity to discuss Jesus. It is but I urge you that the audience for this discussion is very small. The people open for this discussion are (1) Christians or believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who's faith is shaken by this or (2) non-believers who accept this as their next spiritual guide.

The audience for this discussion is not simply everybody who goes to see the movie or reads the book! When my unchurched, postmodern friend heard we were doing a study at church about the novel she said, "You guys are taking this way too seriously. It's just a novel." She's not your audience.

Not only is the audience limited, the Christians who are called to discuss this are limited. Only certain people are called to go to Papua New Guinea. I believe that My Geek and I are uniquely gifted for the multi-media/art based mission field. In one church group discussion about the novel, a guy spoke up and said we were wrong for purchasing Dan Brown’s book. I don't think this person is called to this mission field.

Here’s a question.

My lost friend asks me to go see the movie with him. I see it as an opportunity to have a spiritual discussion. Is it o.k. for me to see the movie?

My lost friend asks me to go to a strip club. I see this as an opportunity to talk about marriage, monogamy and sexual purity. Is it o.k. to go to the strip club?

What’s the difference, if any?

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