If you think that the uproar over The DaVinci Code has nothing to do with you, think again. Do you think that folks are jumping up and down, screaming and waving their arms wildly, simply to alert the rest of us that a novel shouldn’t be read as non-fiction?
Are there any literate adults out there who don’t know the distinction between fiction and non-fiction? If so, don’t worry about learning it now; it’s much too late. In the meantime, the rest of us Christians will forgive this brazen insult to our intelligence.
Let’s face it; each of us creates our own reality, anyway. And that’s really what’s at the heart of this backlash against Dan Brown’s murder mystery: man’s incessant proclivity toward controlling others’ thoughts and dictating their beliefs. Historically, we have marginalized or murdered those whose beliefs or behaviors have disagreed with ours.
In this case, we have a novel published in these United States, where the very first amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, the press, and religion. Dan Brown exercised his First Amendment rights and created a novel in which the search for a murder motive led to the unmasking of an ancient secret. Sounds like the ingredients for great drama, huh? That’s just the half of it.
The ancient secret in this fictional tome, for both of you who haven’t read or heard about it, was that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children. That’s when the real drama began. The audacity of Brown to concoct a fictional story that not only depicts Jesus as human, but reveals how and when he transcended humanity and became a deity. Mesmerizing stuff.
I have hundreds of books in my personal library; very few of them are fictional. Not one of them was a murder mystery, until my daughter convinced me to buy The DaVinci Code. She insisted that as a journalist and a seeker of truth, I should make this exceptional murder mystery an…OK, exception.
She was right. I devoured this book—and more. As a journalist, I had to know: Did the novel accurately portray the Roman Emperor Constantine and the decisions of the Council of Nicea that have impacted—no, dictated for nearly 2,000 years—what we Christians believe to be the absolute truth?
Within a very short time, I located a wealth of reference material, dating back centuries and written by Bible scholars and theologians. They make some of the same claims as The DaVinci Code.
Have you heard about any protests against these non-fiction books? Don’t you find that fascinating? It would appear that calling attention to this scholarly research would put these issues in the public domain and raise some tough questions that many don’t want to answer. So it makes sense that they would freak out when Brown had the temerity to expose this obscure research and put it in the hands of millions who’ve read it on buses and in bedrooms.
Don’t get me wrong. I fervently believe that those who love God should be protesting just about now. If we could just find someone to lead us. No one has organized a boycott against the Bible writers or publishers, even though this book portrays God as exhibiting unholy vengeance and wrath. Am I the only one who is pained that God is depicted in the Bible as bi-polar, inhumane, indecisive, hypocritical, and possessing the conflict resolution skills of Atilla the Hun? Where’s the picket line?
How in the world can anyone one explain all of inconsistencies—including the Good God/Bad God character? The very first chapter has so many conflicting facts that Bible purists, literary buffs, and proofreaders should be gnashing their teeth.
Jewish and Christian Bible scholars have demanded a vetting of the Bible’s narrative for centuries. In our lifetimes, the reasoned cries of Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong, the Rev. Marcus Borg and others have been virtually drowned out by hysteria such as we’re witnessing now.
There’s no traffic jam on the path to Truth, by any stretch of the imagination. Most of us own Bibles; few of us have noticed any irregularities in the narrative. Even a casual perusal would reveal some trouble spots.
Quick—how many of each wild animal species was on the ark? One male, one female? The answer is yes…and no. The number changes several times. Why?
How many days did it rain—40? Yes…and no. It depends upon which verse you’re reading in the same chapter. How many days passed before they got off the boat? Pick a number. After saving animals’ lives, what’s the first thing Noah did when he got the all-clear? The answers to straightforward questions shouldn’t change, whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, but they do in this book. The DaVinci Code revealed to many of us, for the first time, the reason why.
“How did I miss these contradictions?” I wondered. Others ask the same thing when I suggest that they read the Flood Story for themselves.
I’ll tell you how we missed it: We let preachers read selected portions of the Bible to us and we nod our heads and say, “Amen.” The other reason we missed these nuggets is what I call the Fear and Intimidation Factor. Many of us are afraid to question or even acknowledge these obvious factual inconsistencies because we’re afraid we’ll accused of having no faith—or worse, that we’ll be labeled an atheist. Name-calling isn’t exactly a Christian value and neither is judgment, which segues nicely into something else that demands protest: the Bible’s character assassination of God.
Anyone who has read or studied the Bible has noticed that the Old Testament God is diabolical; the New Testament God is divine. Card-carrying Christians have a simple explanation: God “changed” His mind and consequently, “changed” His behavior. Yeah, right.
If God is absolute, He doesn’t change. He’s either good all the time—or never. So what really has changed since the ancients’ perception of God was captured in writing? It is the culture, the era, the politics, the motivations, agendas, and the religions of the human hands that wrote, re-wrote, improvised, hyperbolized, added to and subtracted from, and inaccurately translated this anthology.
God changed His mind? The only mind that seems to change is ours—with the wind. Those of us who call ourselves Christians claim to see God in the same perspective that Jesus (not his real name, by the way) saw God. Then, we inexplicably reach back into the Old Testament and quote scriptures depicting a God that Jesus viewed as too unforgiving, too unloving, too violent, too vengeful, too homophobic, too sadistic, and too unfair to really be “Our Father”.
Anyone protesting that? Nope. Anybody figured out yet that we have to choose which God we believe in—the sadistic, genocidal one or the Prodigal Son’s Dad.
How ironic is it that protesters who demand factual integrity demand that we have blind faith in writings that clearly malign the integrity, the compassion and the unconditional love of the God that Jesus believed in?
They also insist that we have blind faith (emphasis on blind) in illogical stories that claim, on one hand, that a pregnant Mary knew that she was carrying God’s child, the Messiah. Despite that, she raised him to be a carpenter; and years later, she and her other kids were mortified when Jesus launched a ministry and preached that God was the polar opposite of the one in Jewish scripture? According to the Bible, Jesus’ mother and his sibs wanted him to come home and sit quietly somewhere.
How quickly did Mary forget the angel, the star in the East, the magi, and those wonderful gifts? She raised her son to work with wood, not wisdom; and then she and his sibs begged him to stop talking about God in public. It doesn’t add up. But who’s challenging these ancient details when Dan Brown is a much easier target?
I haven’t heard any of Brown’s critics vilify New Testament claims that Jesus was born twice, either. Now remember: to fulfill Jewish scripture, the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem. Two strangers—Matthew, a Jewish scribe and Luke, a Gentile physician—neither of whom was a disciple or an eyewitness to anything Jesus did or said, crafted conflicting birth scenarios attempting to establish that Jesus was the Messiah.
One writer claimed that Jesus was born in a barn and placed in a manger after Joseph inexplicably made a very pregnant Mary travel by foot and ass from Nazareth. (You remember Joseph. He made that cameo appearance in the Christmas pageant, never to be seen or heard from again.) The other gospel clearly mentions no journey; Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem, and Jesus was born at home.
I know, “How’d I miss that?” You’re wondering.
Which story is the truth? Those who believe that the Bible is inerrant say that it’s different parts of the same story. And they’re protesting fiction. Let a novelist create a character that was born in two places, and these nit-pickers would flip out. But I digress.
You might also recall that Jewish scripture predicted something else about the Messiah: he would be a descendant of King David. The Jewish writer’s birth narrative certainly didn’t forget this. He painstakingly traced Joseph’s lineage back to David. Of course, this little detail implies that Joseph, rather than God, is Jesus’ biological father. Oops.
Has anyone protested against this non-fiction writer’s blasphemous egg-sperm genesis of the baby Jesus? Nah. Matthew can claim that Jesus was fully human; but they’ll pummel Dan Brown for daring to say it in a work of fiction. Curiously, not of these 21st century protesters is offended by Biblical quotes hinting that Jesus of Nazareth was actually illegitimate.
Won’t anyone decry this apparent lack of family values in the books that are called gospel? Nope, what riles these protesters most is the claim that Jesus might have been a family man with a wife and kids.
Strange, isn’t it? Maybe not. These same folks attend church on the pagan’s day of worship, rather than on the Bible’s Sabbath. Ditto for celebrating December 25. It, too, is rooted in paganism: the tree, the gifts, the date itself. None of it is related to Jesus’ birthday; yet none of these protesters has proposed that Christians separate themselves from pagan rituals. But let a novelist write a murder mystery and appropriately do his historical research so that the narrative framework is strong enough to hold his fictional storytelling, and these folks scream bloody murder.
Personally, I like the idea of a fully human Jew who received the divine revelation of what God really is, and who walked throughout the countryside teaching that we are One. It inspires me that someone with flesh and blood demonstrated that the Holy Spirit is within us, that we should love each other as we love ourselves; we should judge not, fear not. We should condemn not.
It’s a much more powerful story when a man reveals that through love, we can heal ourselves, heal each other, and heal our world. If only half-Spirit, half-egg beings can achieve inner peace, treat others with divine love, and enjoy a truly life-altering relationship with God, how can we egg-sperm created humans do it?
Is it more important to worship Jesus as half-egg, half Spirt—or to do what he urged us to do: follow him, i.e. do what he did. On no occasion did try to squelch others’ beliefs in favor of his. He made no attempt to start another religion. He was born and he died a Jew—a Jew with a grander vision of what God is and who we are, as Sons of the Father.
Saying you’re a Christian only reveals what you believe. By contrast, Christ-like reveals how you behave. Too often, they are mutually exclusive, used as a wedge to separate and denigrate others. Excuse me; is this what the Prince of Peace would do?
I sincerely believe that the Dear Ones who are protesting this novel and movie have a passion for Truth. I also believe that if they applied the same Truth barometer to non-fiction as they do to fiction, their passion for Truth would send them circling in front of religious bookstores, instead of movie theaters.
I can only imagine what would happen if the zeal that they’ve focused on The DaVinci Code were channeled into busting the real code—the code that has inflamed unloving, judgmental behavior for more than 2,000 years and continues to contradict the teachings of the Prince of Peace that these activists claim to follow.