Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Useful Idiots?

I am not a fan of the DaVinci Code as anything like either theology or history, I am on record for that, and I in no way want to modify that position.

But I do wonder to what extent the church's being a Nervous Nelly about the DaVinci Code movie is simply a part of the marketing technique of Sony Pictures and Dan Brown? The more sweat we pour over this flick, the more people might suspect something is up, the more curious people get, the more people see it. And if church groups organise outings to view the movie, who is Sony to care? It's still money in their pockets. Are we just being useful idiots here?

This is just a suspicion. I do, of course, think it is worthwhile to discuss and explore the sorts of things that the DaVinci Code says, even though it is fiction. (After all, fiction isn't always a synonym for 'lies'.) And besides, Sony/ Dan Brown/ Doubleday aren't the only ones cleaning up: writing books on the history/myth/ lies behind the DaVinci Code has become a cottage industry. So who's zooming whom?

(And I suppose, behind the patina of 'spiritual quest' or 'questioning authority', there really simply lies the profit motive. If Da Vinci weren't making scads of cash, Sony and Doubleday wouldn't be promoting it, and all the other publishers wouldn't be piling on. I'm not sanguine about this, as it points out how our preoccupation with the market and money ultimately make questions of meaning and truth -- human questions -- trivial or meaningless.)

There is actually one such book I might take a look at, that I just discovered today. It is The Da Vinci Code and the Secrets of the Temple, by Robin Griffith-Jones. (With a name like that, you know he's British!) He is the current Master of the Temple in London, and a well-respected mainstream Anglican biblical scholar to boot. (To read more about him, his book, and what "Master of the Temple" really means, check out here.)

But I do wonder if our tutting and nervous glances have actually made a page-turning ultra-quick read with sloppy, half-baked history into much much more than it should be?

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(BTW, Andy Goodliff has a post which partly amplifies some of these thoughts of mine, and is worth checking out here. (That doesn't sound clear -- what I mean is, he posted his ideas before mine, although I came up with these thoughts independently of his post, although reading his post encouraged my thinking a bit more. His post does not rely on mine in any way. There, fully disclosed!))

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