Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cynicism about DaVinci books

It is hard not to be cynical when the books keep rolling off the press every time there is a new cultural phenomenon. Those who are bewildered by the twenty books about the DaVinci Code currently on the market have only to go down a short memory lane and remember all of the poorly written and poorly researched books that came out about Armageddon when Gulf War I and II happened.

Cynicism is warranted at some level but it is always dangerous. It is a prideful thing to think that we know the heart of why somebody else did this or that, published this or that, wrote this or that. The facts are that we don't know and we are commissioned to believe the best of our brothers.

I'm sure that some companies are trying to capitalize on the Da Code, but is that wrong? Paul himself said that there were some that were preaching the gospel in his time to somehow inflict pain on him while he was in prison. His response was to rejoice that the gospel was going out.
For this particular book, the errors are so great, cover such a wide range of categories (Theology, history, art, architecture, politics, ecclesiology, ethics) that for any one book to tackle them all would be prohibitive and intimidating.

To even try would be to produce a tome that got little to no readership and therefore was an ineffective tool in taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ or destroying the idle speculations in a culture that the Scripture enjoins us to do.

I have now read three books by four different authors and have benefited from each one's different perspective. One tackled the historical errors related to church history. One tackled the errors related to the gospels and early church literature. One tackled the errors related to Da Code's view of woman, sex and fulfillment.

On another path, some people know who Lutzer is and will buy his book because he is a hero of a sort to them. Others won't buy Lutzer's book because for whatever reason, they have already written him off. Others don't know Lutzer from Ron Howard and might respond to someone else.

General rule: Screw the lid down on cynicism pretty tightly. It is an easy and culturally hip thing but it really flies in the face of 1 Cor. 13 and Phil. 4:8.


Jen said...

I think my main concern with the DaVinci Code avalanche is that I have not seen as much grassroots evidence PERSONALLY of the effects of this book as people keep claiming. Yes there is a movie, and yes news stories keep cropping up about it, but doesn't that happen frequently in our culture? The media at large thinks the nation is on fire for something, and the nation at large couldn't care less. (see Abu Ghraib, Brokeback Mountain, etc.)

Though I will wisely concede the book has clearly sold an overwhelming amount of copies, I have yet to see the effects of it in any tangible way. Perhaps that's because I work from home and don't chat a great deal with other people my age.

In light of my personal experience with the effects of the book, I am led to ask, "Are we making a mountain out of a molehill? Are we beating a dead horse that just might hop out of the grave and nip us in the hindquarters? Will we incite more interest in the book by continuing to thump on it?"

And, please, for those of you involved in the local church who are doing seminars, discussion groups, etc., I am not criticizing you or your ministry. Please continue meeting the needs of your constituents as the Lord leads you.

I am not making these comments to invite a discussion of just how influential the book is and consequently how necessary scores of retaliatory books are. I am merely saying that in my sphere of the world, there is not a burning need for such a focus in the Christian world at large that may drive people towards this heretical book rather than The Book.

ChosenRebel said...

Good comment. Reasonable issue raised. But I think you will find that with the case of "Da Code" it is having a wide influence. Partly because the "selling" of it in the media, independent of any push back from the Christian community, is relentless.

I was visiting an inmate in prison two years ago, and found out that D. Brown and his DaVinci book was one of the most read books in the prison.

I think the nation at large is concerned and embarassed by Abu Ghraib (we'd like to see it go away and be forgotten). Unfortunately, the media won't let it happen and continues to open up the wound in the Arab/Islamic world. Brokeback Mountain? I went ot End of the Spear and saw far more people going into the theatre next door selling homosexuality as a beautiful Cowboy love story.

Film leaves an imprint, as any person addicted to pornography can tell you. That we haven't seen the effects is little reason to not address the issues of error. We rarely have the privilege of seeing the effects of anything in print immediately. Often it takes a generation or two for the consequences to play out. But they will play out because ideas have consequences.

So in general, while the Christian community needs to be careful not to make mountains out of mole-hills (and we sometimes have a tendency to do so) I think this one is a good one to bury under a mountain of evidence that demands a verdict on the issue of truth. (I don't think Josh will mind that last sentence!)

warriorrob said...

There is something that bothers me about the whole discussion of the Da Code. I understand the outrage of suggesting that Jesus was anything less than divine and the opposition of the gross inaccuraces of the historical content. The issue is this, if a movie has the power to grossly influence millions of people concerning the story of Jesus, the church then has certainly failed to perform the great commision. If our only charge from Jesus is to "go and tell" and a movie can effectively tell an untruth more convincingly than us, we have failed and need to get on our knees, ask for forgiveness and GET BUSY DOING THE WORK!

ChosenRebel said...

I completely agree. 100 percent accurate.

At the same time, giving a defense of the truth and combatting error is part of that task. So, whoile the book/movie challenges the lack of effectiveness and faithfulness in Christian witness, it also provides an opportunity to speak.