On the way to and from home I was listening to the radio. Christian talk radio is all over The Da Vinci Code. Personally, I owe Dan Brown a thank you letter. I've never been so well versed in the history surrounding the canonization of the Bible. It truly was an amazing and divine and human process. One that I've become acquainted with because of The Da Vinci Code. I'm not blaming anyone that more people don't know how the Bible was canonized, if it were not for Dan Brown's book, most sermons on the topic would elicit a resounding yawn echoed by deafening snore throughout the church pews of America. But now, well, first through third century history--this is riveting stuff!
Of course all of this is good information for the already convinced. But what about those who would listen to that radio show and liken the commentator to a used car salesman?
I have to admit I am somewhat taken aback at the fact that so many seemingly smart and intelligent people are taking Dan Brown's book as, well, gospel. Why? I think it boils down to a distrust of authority. This issue gets flung around quite a bit. Those in authority decry societies lack of acceptance of it, and those who are constantly rebelling against it have a steady stream of examples from school teachers to politicians to religious leaders to parents who have abused their authority. The book came out amid torrents of reports of the Catholic church's systematic cover up of pedophiles within the priesthood. This makes it difficult for a priest to stand in front of his parishioners and tell them that someone just like him many, many, many years ago read a bunch of manuscripts and decided which ones were most truthful. Catholics are also having to defend a heap of traditional beliefs that prove burdensome anyway. Why can't priests marry? Did Mary have other children? Why is birth control wrong? I only say this because I, personally, haven't heard that many evangelicals or protestants question their faith because of this book. But I have heard some of my Catholic friends begin to ask some pointed questions about their beliefs.
But the distrust of authority exists along the religious and political spectrums. Conservatively minded individuals for years have been tuning in to Rush Limbaugh to learn how our media twists the truth to convey what they want the vast unsuspecting masses to believe, how much easier would it have been two thousand years ago? Meanwhile, we grew up reading Animal Farm, we are not dummies, we know how people in power can lead huge numbers of people astray. So all of this begins to look like a neverending argument between those who are in authority and those who serve. It is a centuries old war that no one will truly win unless you believe that Christ has won it already. Jesus, the final authority in one of his final displays of authority, kneels down and washes the disciples' feet. This action helps to define his action on the cross as well as direct the future actions of his disciples. Jesus says--no, he shows that ones who are in authority serve.
Please understand, Dan Brown's book is fiction, but we can't just expect to win people over with the better argument. There is simply too much information out there for people to make informed decisions.
So what do we do?
Picket the movie?
No, I think we need to realize that if this movie can shake the faith of Christians and provide an alternative faith for spiritual seekers, then maybe it is time for a little self examination. Because, after all, we have the light. Right? I mean, if you are trying to find your way out of a dark room, whose most responsible? The one with the flashlight.
I can present all the historical facts I want, but if the person whom I am trying to convince thinks the historian and priest are liars, then I won't get very far. (And perhaps it should be noted that if someone is persuaded by Browns book, they were probably not led astray by it--they were probably pretty lost to begin with.) Perhaps I need to step back a little. Live a bit more quietly, serve a bit more humbly, ask a few more questions. Above all I need to remember that I am called, not just to follow Christ, but to be like him. And if Christ makes such a crazy demand, he must empower me to do so.
I do believe that for those who are looking for reasons to be their own authority The Da Vinci Code gives them arrows in their quiver. No amount of historical fact will persuade these individuals at this point in there lives. So it is imperative that I lead a lifestyle that blesses those around me. That is in tune with the creator, that celebrates life in a manner in keeping with Christ. I can't have the best argument in a world that doesn't believe truth exists. But I can introduce Christ and allow the relationship to build from there.