Try "Da Vinci Code" on Google and you will get over 9 million hits.

To be honest, I am already tired of this before the movie even comes out this weekend. But when I dug into the controversy I was fascinated.

I wanted to be intellectually honest when I am asked about the book. I know that Dan Brown will be fascinated with my critiques because I only need to sell another 39, 975,000 copies of "When Bad Christians Happen to Good People" to be dead even in sales with Brown.

I just need everyone in my beloved home state of Ohio (Go Bucks!) to buy a copy. That will increase my tally by over 11 million. Then if every Longhorn in my adopted state of Texas buys just one solitary copy I will have a combined total of 34 million. To be honest, I will settle for that. I don't have to be even with Mr. Brown. I am that selfless.

So here is my contribution to the "Da Vinci" Over Load:

  • It's a good read. I suppose you don't sell forty million copies of a bad read but this is truly a page turning thriller. At times the plot is a bit implausible but I enjoyed the book very much.

  • It is fiction but the line is dangerously blurred. I found myself being inclined to believe certain outrageous claims because they were logically proclaimed by likable characters. But since I have a rather large stake in this whole following Jesus thing I made notes to go back and investigate many of the claims later.

  • I feel encouraged that Christians are generally engaging the debate and not burning torches and demanding a boycott.

  • I feel very encouraged that a novel and movie that promotes what is clearly heresy to many Christians is being civilly debated and discussed. Ask Salmon Rushdie about his experience with a similar fictional approach to faith.

  • I was amazed at how glaring some of the errors were in Brown's declaration of "facts". One amazing goof is this statement at the very beginning of the book. The heading of the page is FACT. And on that page this statement appears:

The Priory of Sion, a European secret society founded in 1099, is a real organization.

Brown got one thing right. It is a real organization. But the Priory of Sion was founded in 1956! I have researched some things poorly over the years but plus or minus a millennium is not a very good standard! Dan Brown apparently accepted at face value some premises that have been proven false by scholars on all sides of the debate. The Priory of Sion was founded by Pierre Plantard and Andre Bonhomme a mere 857 years after the date Brown proclaimed as a fact. Then he adds the following "fact":

In 1975 Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

What they discovered were forged documents placed there by Plantard. The more one does research the more one comes to value the simplicity of the website  Wikipedia.org, which accurately summarized and corroborated hours of independent research.

Plantard began writing a manuscript and produced parchments (created by his friend, Philippe de Cherisey) that a local priest had supposedly discovered whilst renovating his church. These forged documents purportedly showed the survival of the Merovingian line of Frankish kings. Between 1961 and 1984 Plantard contrived a mythical pedigree of the Priory of Sion. This can be easily proved to be historical fiction because the various claims as found in the Priory Documents never existed before the early 1960s in any shape or form, and cannot be substantiated from the known historical records. Furthermore, letters in existence dating from the 1960s written by Pierre Plantard, Philippe de Cherisey and Gerard de Sede to each other confirm that the three were engaging in an out-and-out confidence trick, describing schemes on how to combat criticisms of their various allegations and how they would makeup new allegations to try and keep the whole thing going.