"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The DaVinci Cod

Ross Douthat has a pretty persuasive post on why Christians (at the least) shouldn't bother
to go see the movie version of the DaVinci code. I think he's right, but not for quite the right reasons. He says it's just "anti-Christian" propaganda. I think that gives it too much praise. Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy is anti-Christian propaganda - it's Nietzsche with a wizard's hat on, you might say. The DVC is pure marketing. Why do you think Dan Brown (the author) makes ambiguous claims about whether things in the book are true or not, hmm? It's right out of the "Blair Witch Project." Whatever the postmoderns around us say about the death of Truth with a capital "T" it's still pretty powerful and alluring. Even when it's false.

15 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

This very morning I was thinking that I'll have to brush up on this. As a Catholic, I'll have a whole new set of misconceptions and calumnies to wade through. As if we didn't have enough troubles, now we get the Oliver Stone treatment.

At least we didn't kill JFK. (Or did we? I didn't see that movie either.)

Carl E. Olson said...

Might I shamelessly suggest The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius, 2004), which I co-authored with medieval historian Sandra Miesel? I would add that while the novel may not qualify as pure propaganda, it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and has struck a large, raw nerve with a significant section of readers who are, in turn, gullible, confused, curious, excited, and/or befuddled.

Devang said...

I would like to go see Rosslyn Chapel... thanks to the book.

Tom Van Dyke said...

So what, Mr. Devang? I went to Disney World, thanks to "The Swiss Family Robinson."

Matt Huisman said...

I would like to go see Rosslyn Chapel... thanks to the book.

I'll bet you're not the only one. Take a look at Expedia or SideStep - they've got pilgrimage discounts over there all the time.

Devang said...

So nothing, Tom. It was a passing mention.

On my one visit to the birthplace of the british empire two summers ago, The Da Vinci Code phenomenon hadn't affected me. It wasn't until I saw a history channel special, the following summer, on the subject that I even found out what it was about. Then, I saw that my christian roommate had bought the book and I read it as mere fiction and somewhat of a conversation piece.

I'm a Hindu, and I couldn't careless about the book, other than it's mention of Matriarchal vs Patriarchal society, there are very few Matriarchal societies I've heard of, the biggest being in southern India. I haven't bothered with more research...

oh... discounts! There are many other places (India) much higher on my list of places to visit, for now...

connie deady said...

My very devoutly catholic aunt and uncle-in-law mentioned that they were told during a homily to avoid the book. They thought it was dumb to worry about a book of speculative fiction.

My Catholic husband enjoyed the book a lot, didn't take it seriously, but thought it was an interesting, but flawed, historical speculation.

Maybe I'm insane, but what's the difference between Catholics getting up in arms about a fictional book and Muslims getting up in arms about a cartoon?

Matt Huisman said...

Not that much; mostly just the killing.

S. T. Karnick said...

Matt, what a zinger!

connie deady said...

well doh. I guess you didn't have a serious difference. Isn't the principle behind the objection the same? If not, I'd seriously like an explanation why.

Hunter Baker said...

Sometimes a difference in degree can be a pretty big deal.

connie deady said...

I don't know Hunter. In some ways I'm a Platoist and see arguments as just reason. It seems to me that the principle behind Catholic objection to the Da Vinci Code and Islamic objection to cartoons is the same.

Perhaps we should look at it like an SAT test. Which of these two is alike? They both stand on the principle that it is wrong to question or make fun a basic religioius truths. Or which of these are different? They are different in terms of the response to the denigration of the religion.

Matt Huisman said...

Connie, the problem with 'The DaVinci Code' goes beyond its insult to Catholicism. It's intent is to drive sales by planting seeds of doubt about the intentions of the faith through the use of detail is not obviously either true or untrue.

The ambiguous nature in the detail is too complex to expect the average reader to verify, yet it will undoubtedly influence their opinions on the subject. As Mr. Simpson points out, the fact that Dan Brown will not acknowledge which items in the book are fabrications because he understands that the books success is due to more than just good storytelling.

It would be like me writing a novel about Planned Parenthood, starting with a few facts about who and where they are today, and then going on to tell how they were founded by Nazi sympathizers and eugenicists intent on eliminating the black population...wait, bad example, that stuff's all verifiably true.

It would be like me writing a novel about the Democratic Party's involvement in the Civil Rights movement...nevermind.

Well, you know what I mean. (Man, coming up with a good analogy is harder than you think.)

Kathy Hutchins said...

Catholics object to The DaVinci Code because it is untrue. That it is wrong to lie is a universal moral precept, derivable from natural law, and applicable to everyone. The Muslim objection to the cartoons is based on the fact that they find it offensive, for reasons that seem fluid, self-contradictory, and, frankly, fabricated. They are not just the same animal with different colored fur, they are completely different phyla.

Matt, good analogies are not hard to come by if you're willing to bend the Nazi rule. The DaVinci Code is like starting with the observation that many European and North American Jews are prosperous, well-educated, and influential, and deriving the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Matt Huisman said...

Nicely said Kathy.

Connie: Don't take the little jabs at the end of the last post too personally. Hunter's busy playing Mr. Nice-Reasonable Conservative on the main page - the least I can do is give you the satisfaction of knowing that you still have good reason to think we're annoying.