Warning: This post not related to technology or the north coast of California. Skip at your own risk.
The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction. That could be considered a statement of fact in spite of the author’s assertions that the story is based on historical accuracy. The movie of the novel by the same name is, then, clearly a work of fiction. So why all the controversy about the book and the movie? Why are so many religious folks so upset?
At the risk of being denounced as a blasphemer (that has happened before), I think it’s because the very basis of Christianity, the stories in the Bible, have clearly been revealed as works of fiction themselves. It’s not that they were based on fictional characters. It’s quite possible that Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Peter, Judas and all the other characters we know really existed in some form. But the people who wrote about them didn’t know them first hand. They wrote down stories they had heard and which had been passed down over many years. The canon (the group of books that have come to be known as the Bible) were selected from a large number of texts over many years in a cultural and political climate that we can barely comprehend at this distance. The defenders of the canon violently excluded other versions of the stories we have come to accept as factual.
So, I profess the virulent denounciations of The Da Vinci Code, both the novel and movie arise out of defensiveness. Of course, the stories in The Da Vinci Code are fiction. No one has proclaimed otherwise. But because the alternative reality they have put forth has captured the popular imagination, people who believe in the stories of the Bible suddenly feel that belief undermined. If the fictions of the book and the movie are so popular, doesn’t that call in to question the reality of the biblical stories? Especially since we now already have numerous alternate interpretations of the life of Jesus that are only considered ‘fiction’ because a group of men in the early centuries of the Christian movement declared them so.
To understand why Christians are feeling so defensive, see the books by Elaine Pagels which chronicle how the canon was formed, and the recenlty revealed ‘Gospel of Judas‘. These revelations undermine the absolute authority of the canon. Their influence is limited to a small minority of readers. But they have plowed the fields in preparation for the more popular and fast spreading shcock of The Da Vinci Code.