Christians Shouldn't Shrink from "The Da Vinci Code"
- Tuesday, May 16, 2006
[NOTE: This analysis of The Da Vinci Code phenomena contains spoilers from the book that I assume will be included in the film. I have not yet seen the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, but I will be at a special press screening on May 17. What follows is a brief analysis of the cultural phenomenon of, and Christian responses to, The Da Vinci Code.]
Seated across the aisle from me on a small regional jet out of Houston, a young woman pulled out a brand new paperback copy of Dan Brown's bestseller, "The Da Vinci Code." I had just purchased a copy, confident that Sony would not be providing screenings for Christian cultural analysts (I have since been proven wrong), so I asked her how she liked it. She said that she had picked it up at the airport bookstore: "I just wanted to see what all of the fuss was about."
When books reach the kind of critical mass generated by "The Da Vinci Code," they take on a life of their own. People, who ordinarily never would have dreamed of picking this thriller out of a sea of similar titles offered up each year, find themselves drawn to the cultural event. They want to know, what is the big deal? What is it about this book that has generated so much controversy? A desire to be "with it," to be culturally included, has driven Dan Brown's book into the stratosphere, and spawned a blockbuster film, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard.
With dozens of books addressing problems with, or defending attacks on, "The Da Vinci Code" populating the Borders or Barnes & Noble near you, the question remains, "What is all the fuss about?" The question is emphatically not a request for more information; instead it centers on significance. And questions concerning the significance of spiritual things ricocheting across Western culture should excite every Christian that ever wanted to share his faith with the skeptical or otherwise disinterested. Sure, Hollywood may laugh all the way to the bank while the controversy over the film drives the box office. But that should be of limited concern to prepared Christians who will be presented with an evangelistic opportunity that might prove even more potent than that which followed "The Passion of the Christ."
The Dangers of Boycotting a Cultural Event
"The Da Vinci Code" long ago ceased being simply another thriller. With over 40 million copies in print in hardcover it transcends mere book status. Make no mistake: "The Da Vinci Code" is a full-fledged cultural event. As a result, it has drawn a varied reaction from Christian leaders.
Some, shouting "Blasphemy," are calling for a complete boycott of the film. One of the reasons given is that we should be concerned about putting money into the hands of its makers. I have written often that Christians should vote with their wallets, because what makes money is what gets made. But in the case of "The Da Vinci Code," there is no way that Christians can have any meaningful economic impact on the box office.
While no one should see "The Da Vinci Code" in violation of their conscience before God, I argue that some mature Christians should see this film, accompanied by non-Christians, because it will likely be the best open door to a conversation about the Gospel that will appear on a movie screen this year. Most important, our faith should not be threatened by the preposterous claims of "The Da Vinci Code." If Hollywood churns out high production-value films that address spiritual issues and create opportunities to share the truth about the faith, then I am all for that. It is too much to expect that every film will be "The Passion of the Christ" or "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."
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