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Monday, May 15, 2006

Christians and DA VINCI or: Stop waiting for James Dobson to tell you what to do!

Last week I reviewed the novel The Da Vinci Code. It was enough to make me feel that I could not care about watching the movie version this week, and come away none the lesser for it. To be blunt: the book is awful, and with each passing day I can't help but think the problems in it overwhelm whatever good it has. Why The Da Vinci Code has remained so popular is beyond my comprehension. I honestly am starting to believe that once the film version comes out and more people - who have not read the book - see this story unfold, that The Da Vinci Code will start to lose its luster.

Anyway, that doesn't diminish the fact that there is intense interest in The Da Vinci Code. A lot of it is maybe unhealthy obsession over it. And I speak about my Christian breathren in this regard more than I do about those outside the church. It was only in the past week or so that I've noticed the massive cottage industry that evangelicals have grown around de-bunking The Da Vinci Code: books, CDs, DVDs, all sorts of vindictiveness available for a few dollars or a "donation" to some Christian TV or radio show.

If you've read this blog you know what I'm gonna say: too many Christians are secretly happy that something like The Da Vinci Code has (a) been written and (b) is wildly popular. Because it gives said Christians an opportunity to (a) become prominent and (b) use condemning it to make a lot of money. But there's more to it than that: too many Christians also, it seems, are totally incapable of thinking on their own without "Christian leaders" guiding them.

He wrote it a month ago but Dick Staub has an excellent article on his blog about "evangelical childlike hysteria" and The Da Vinci Code. Here's some of his thoughts on the matter...

...Can you imagine the New Yorker reminding readers that, "skipping a movie is a viable option?" These kind of comments make evangelicals seem like babies strapped into a high chair waiting for Dr. Dobson to tell them what to do next.

If it is true that evangelicals require somebody to tell them they should take part in the cultural conversation than evangelicals are nothing but a docile version of fundamentalism, withdrawn from culture but not feisty about it. An alternative view would say evangelicals are hopelessly conformed to culture, consuming it, marching like lemmings off the cliff, incapable of thinking independently, revealing the truth of Mark Noll's comment "the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is so LITTLE of the evangelical mind." If either of these views is true, evangelicals may sell a lot of books and CD's and cast a lot of votes in culture, but will not ultimately "influence" culture intellectually, spiritually or artistically.

Excellent read, as are the reactions his article elicited.

Anyhoo, the next few days, for me anyway, with all the Da Vinci Code "specials" on TV - both for it and against it - I'm starting to feel deluged by cheaply produced historical pornography. Hope I can maintain perspective and sanity despite it all :-)