Thursday, April 27, 2006

the duh-vinci code

Sure is a lot of hubbub about "The DaVinci Code" movie coming out... sure is a lot of hubbub from folks who haven't read the book.


The part about all this that compels me to blog is, specifically, Christians who are speaking out against the book as tearing down Christianity.


The book is FICTION. It's clearly stated it is FICTION... and for those people who want to bury their heads in the sand - people have been talking about these same "theories" about Jesus' lineage for a long time (very very long time).

Not even Historical Fiction... it didn't even say that.

But now that it's a best-selling book, and soon to be a movie - every church, minister and Christian business is jumping on the bandwagon to make money off of this movie.

Take, for instance, this website from Tyndale House Publishing > DaVinci Didn't Convince Me. Among other things, the site is designed in somewhat the same feel as TDVC official movie site (sadly, DVDCM's site lacks the intriguing content of the official site). And, if you don't want to visit either site, I'll share with you a few tidbits from the DVDCM site.

Capitalism. Gotta love it. Way to go Tyndale House - you bottom-feeders. And I hope this does the opposite - I hope it DRIVES people to see the movie (which cannot be as good as the book - and the book was good)!!!

First, the homepage has some great stuff - heh... - this is a gem:
"... blurs the line between history and fiction, leaving readers, and now movie-goers, thinking that Christianity is based on a lie."
AND my favorite...
"Learn the facts behind the fiction that is SHAKING THE FAITH OF CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE..."
Now, as a Christian, and as SOMEONE WHO HAS READ THE BOOK - it didn't shake my faith at all. I read this FICTION book for entertainment. Shake my faith? HARDLY!

Blur the lines? Of what! The book IS FICTION.

Is this the state of Christianity? The state of Christian faith is one *so* delicate that a book or movie could shake it?

Stolen by Dan Brown!

Entire churches are doing sermon series on how it's fake. DUH. And the lemmings are putting their [Cartman voice on] Dollah in the box [/Cartman voice off] - buying into how this movie is evil and horrible and ruining Christianity.


I had a similar personal experience with someone about 6 years ago at Fellowship Church of Grapevine, Texas. I'll keep it brief:
I was on the music team for 2 years and seldom used on the platform... and when I asked why, I was brushed aside. Finally, the situation came to a head when I was told I wasn't needed for the service the weekend after Christmas. I had cut my Christmas vacation short to be back to sing - and was shocked when I was told that I wasn't needed and that the music directors at the time would talk to me the 3rd or 4th weekend of January.

Unhappy with that answer (why wait 3 or 4 weeks, let's just settle this), I went up to the church Saturday night and confronted Rob and Lianne about it (they were very shocked to see me). After the service, I was told the two reasons I was no longer on the music team... "I wasn't the image they wanted to portray from the stage". Part 1 - my appearance (overweight) and Part 2 - the biggest part (which goes with this blog entry) - that the Jr High Minister's wife told them I was working on a website that was "Satanic". Or rather, Oprah-esque (new agey).

They simply could not have that image on the platform! And I was cut lose, without even asking me my side. They didn't even know the name of the website in question, nor had they seen it. All of that based on one person's false representation - based on gossip.

Here is where my tie in with this DuhVinci stuff comes in - Lianne (music leader person) said to me - LITERALLY - "I would not feel comfortable going to such a site, it may hurt my faith. I certainly would not even consider going to it if I were alone."

I remember laughing a bit and asking if she was serious. She was.

Long story short - the meeting ended with my husband and I never returning to Fellowship Church, even after asking for one of the pastors to get involved and mediate the situation. A certified letter to Ed Young (the senior pastor) went unreplied to.

Yeah - hurt her faith. A website. Yeah, right.

Anyhow, back to somewhat of a point:

If one's faith is so weak as to be rattled by a book of fiction or a movie, such a person should first figure out what they believe and WHY. Why is their faith so shaky as to be blown by this or that?

I didn't see the Jews going all ape-shit over "The Passion of the Christ". And to them, Jesus being the Son of God was fiction. They weren't all going crazy over how this movie would hurt their faith and numbers!

Just, wow.

Yet another reason church just isn't for me (that and the aforementioned bad experience with places like Fellowship Church).

I'll close with some words that were on a sign above the door to my 9th Grade History Teacher's office:
"Ignorance is Expensive".
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Maria said...

I think that a lot of people's problems with DVC stems from the fact that Dan Brown prefaces the story by saying "all architecture, paintings and rituals are factual" (or something to that effect), so people think that all he says about Jesus is factual as well.

The irony is that he's COMPLETELY wrong on all counts - for instance, some of the buildings he describes are blatantly wrong. It just seems to me the height of arrogance that he assumes noone would notice.

That said, I read the book and enjoyed it. It's a good book for what it is, and definitely didn't shake my faith at all.

I'm sorry to hear about your experiences with church, I'd heard it before, but still get appalled every single time... I really don't get how churches can behave like that! Please believe me that not all churches are like that. Come to Denmark and join mine! :-)

(sorry if you get this comment multiple times - something is going wrong each time, so it doesn't show up at my end)

60 and counting said...

I think anybody who is afraid their faith in church will be affected by a book of fiction or the internet has already got doubts about their beliefs. I really feel sorry for them..

Betsie said...

I could not agree with you more. I am so tired of hearing people say that a "good Christian" would not be involved in such things. A.) Good Christians don't judge others. B.) I have more solid belief in my faith now more than ever, and I would not be a good Christian if I could not go through the day to day whatevers without it effecting me. Faith does not mean cowering in fear of all that is around us. It feels good to know that I am not the only one that encounters these things. I had a pastor tell me that I was going to hell because my parents are divorced. Ignorance is ramped in those who should be knowledgeable in the most.

Anonymous said...

Well, you know my feelings on this. Our pastor did a sermon series against DVC recently and it made me angry. I don't come to church to learn about why things in pop culture are bad. I come to learn about God and Christ and how I can be the best Christian I can be while I'm walking around down here.

Because I have not read the book, I can't say whether I would think of it as good or bad entertainment. I may think it is well written, but if it portrays Christ in a false manner, I won't enjoy it. To me, Christ isn't just another historical figure and altering his character in a work of fiction might be offensive to me.

Having said that, I enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar. I just can't make a judgment call until I actually read the book for myself. :P

Oh, and I agree that people who say their faith could be shaken by reading a fictional work probably have a weak faith to begin with. These are the same people who never try to explore WHY they believe what they believe. They are content to hold on to their spoon fed Christianity and never question anything their leaders say.

Just a comment though, I do believe the "judge not" phrase is abused. Christians are most certainly called to judge, so that there can be some justice on this earth. Unfortunately, judgment is abused by too many people in power. It's part of the sin nature, I'm sure, that we desire power and prestige... And I believe that is what happened to you at Fellowship. I would like to find a church (and I think I have, finally) that won't melt when the sun gets too hot.

Dr. Zoom said...

I think our church is going to see it as a group trip. We're a bit on the progressive side.

What makes the DVC popular is not that it tears down Christianity, which it doesn't, but that it's a conspiracy novel. We Americans love us some conspiracy. I think by the time DVC actually opens, the fringes that have been wailing will go hoarse.

I must take issue, however, with one statement. The Jewish community most certainly DID go apeshit over "Passion of the Christ," charging that it was inflaming anti-Semitism. And at least in the case of Eric Cartman, they were right. :)

Average Jane said...

Maria - I agree that his facts are even fiction. Did you hear that Opus Dei asked Sony to put a disclaimer in the beginning of the movie stating that they're really not how the book/movie is portrayed? And I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater on all churches - but Fellowship wasn't my only bad experience. Perhapse that's a blog entry of its own? Jane's Church Horror Stories. ;)

Average Jane said...

60 - welcome, and thanks for posting a comment. I agree that those folks need a good dose of pity. Why believe in something so loosely? What's the point of believing at all.

Average Jane said...

Betsie! The best line - "Faith does not mean cowering in fear of all that is around us." Gosh that's soooo true! But, as I said this one time - in an old post on an old blog, too much of Christianity is motivated by fear instead of being thankful for Christ's love.

I've seen too many altar calls, and heard too many ministers say "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell? Eternal life with Christ, or eternal torment in hell." I find that the spiritual equivalent of putting a gun to someone's head. And thus, a person's motivator isn't about Christ's love and sacrifice, it's about the fear of hell.

How different Christians would be, and Christianity would be, if fear was never used as a motivator.

Average Jane said...

Canticles - I do know how you feel, and I'm really glad you didn't buy into that at your (soon to be) old church. I seldom lump you in with my generalizatoins.

"They are content to hold on to their spoon fed Christianity and never question anything their leaders say." - Soooo true, again! This is a close 2nd to Betsie's comment for greatest line.

When did Christianity become being stupid sheep? Worse yet, there are too many not-so-smart shepherds.

Average Jane said...

Dr. Zoom - I know that the Jewish community had some beef, but I didn't see it to the same extent as what I'm seeing with this... but hey, I could be wrong, and thanks for the info (and the Cartman reference).

thatsoneword said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

thatsoneword - Who are you? LOL

thatsoneword said...

After hearing what the superintendent at Canticles' school said about Brokeback Mountain... "I know none of MY teachers would go see that movie." I think maybe I'm going to rent the DVD and watch it. I've already seen one person's review about it who said that it's not really that big of a deal... and this reviewer is a *gasp* Christian.

About the Code movie. I borrowed a copy of the book and will read it before seeing the movie, even if I don't see the film while it's in the thee-at-ree. I think that as Christians, we should watch films like this as a way to 1) minister to other Christians who may be struggling with their faith afterwards (or before), and 2) minister to non-Christians who are confused about what is presented in the film.

And I'm sorry. I don't see anything on your person saying that you design websites for witches/mystics/the Antichrist. How is someone in the congregation going to know?

oh, look... Mandy over there is a prostitute. she has it plastered on her chest. What are you doing looking at her chest, Mommy?

Tish Grier said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tish Grier said...

Hi jane!

Every time I hear churches getting their knickers in a bunch over some silly film, all I can think is that if they were doing their jobs and nurturing people to mature faith, they wouldn't have to worry so much about this kind of stuff "destroying" their faith.

as dr. zoom says, we loves our conspiracy here in America. Look at all the stuff about the death of JFK. None of that will die down until the last person who remembers the assassination finally dies. and then, who knows...

I've been both a religion scholar and a film scholar and whether a film is religious/anti-religious can be determined by the mindset of the filmmaker. From what I've heard, Ron Howard felt that he was making a thriller, not a religious film. Probably some of the worst threats to religion, or to filmmaking, are those "Left Behind" things with Kirk Cameron. yikes! talk about travesties of both filmmaking and theological interpretation!

(p.s.: can't believe the stuff about the music group--but, on another level, I'm not surprised. Ever get a gander at Joel Osteen and his wife?? If we're not perfect along some idealize American looking model, we're just not worthy. That's got nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with marketing)

Justin said...

I think a lot of the problem is that the people who are anti-DVC have a real problem seperating fact from fiction. Case in point: The Left Behind series. I know many who take those books as gospel. "That is how it is going to happen." Well, last time I checked the rapture is never mentioned in the Bible.

Our church is currently doing a sermon series based on the questions raised in TDVC. It began last week with a look at how the cannon was created. The questions raised are interesting, but like others said, if it threatens your faith, then how strong is it to begin with.

(Oh yeah, nice blog, I came here via the comments in Dr. Astrozoom's)

Dr. Zoom said...

This just in ... The Da Vinci Code is getting ... welll ... crucified by critics. So maybe it won't threaten Western civilization after all.

Rexy Smart said...

I, of course, loved this response. ;)