Da Vinci Code etc.

This past Friday, Dateline on NBC ran a 1-hour program evaluating the Da Vinci Code and its claims. They brought together scholars from both sides of the argument from contemporary theological academia, the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and an art historian. Dan Brown could not be reached for comment, but since he could not be with them he sent his fridge.

In typical Dateline fashion the entire hour (or however minutes actually aired between commercials) was soundbited (soundbitten?) to death, sprinkling dramatic music and video montages over Stone Phillips’ bland interview style.

I was initially frustrated. I was getting exactly what I expected: the series of “what-ifs” and open hypothetical questions designed to cast shadows over every aspect of the person and work of Christ that is confessed by the Church. But then in a flash of journalistic integrity, the tenor of the piece unexpectedly changed. The last thought the program left in the viewers’ minds was that there really was no evidence for any of the book’s claims. And I came away from it relatively impressed. After all, this is the network that made an absolute mockery of the biblical account of the flood several years back. This turned out to be a generally even-handed attempt to deal with the drivel that is once again taking the nation by storm.

I have read the book. I borrowed a copy from a friend. I won’t see the movie until I can do so with no statistical or financial boon to the author. Yeah, my $12 is a drop in the bucket compared to the money he’s raking in hand over fist, but for me it’s about my integrity.

Not only have I read The Da Vinci Code, but I have read two of his other books: Angels and Demons and Deception Point. In the last of these, I ran an experiment for a couple of chapters: I read the first line of each paragraph and no more. Then I went back and read the chapters in their entirety. You know what? I hadn’t really missed anything the first time. The dialog was bland, the plots were predictable, and the characters were two-dimensional at best; most were only really one-dimensional. In short, even only as novels these books were lacking. I came at them with an open mind, but they were, in a word, lame.

I’ll not go into the claims of The Da Vinci Code. It’s been done and redone, and I don’t really have much to add. I’m bored with the whole thing. But I simply don’t buy the bit about, “Well, it’s a really good work of fiction, even though I don’t buy the philosophy of it.” No. No it’s not. It’s pulp fiction. It’s lame and predictable. Here’s the Dan Brown formula for a successful novel: Church = bad. NASA = bad. Government = bad. Any-established-authority = bad. His only draw is the controversy, and the controversy is contrived. Dan Brown took a lesson from the Coen Brothers when they made Fargo. They took a work of fiction and called it a true story–and people bought it. Dan Brown introduces his tripe with a “fact” sheet that his readers simply trust like so many sheep. It’s sad, really.

Take away the controversy. What’s left is predictable drivel by a two-bit crap peddler in a turtleneck and tweed jacket.

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