May 18, 2006

`Da Vinci Obsession'

Driving around town yesterday (yeah, on my birthday) I caught several Christian radio people just obsessing over Dan Brown's book. I thought Richard Land might pop a vein on his show. "Poppycock" he uttered at one point.

Ok, then. On Hank Hannigraf's show, Lee Strobel was equally apoplectic (even as he shilled for donations for Hank's show). Evidently, he was referring to some polling data that suggests that people are actually losing faith after reading the book.
`Da Vinci Code` protesters organize online: "These religious leaders are engaging in the media because they say they feel Dan Brown`s novel, 'The Da Vinci Code,' has already taken its toll on the faith of many individuals. Movieguide founder Ted Baehr, a panelist at the conference, cited statistics that linked a 4-percent loss of faith and a 10-percent change in beliefs toward Jesus Christ after reading the novel in France."

Imagine the chaos if more see the movie. "Historical accuracy" shout the angry Christians--seemingly welcoming this film because it serves to reinforce what they already tell themselves--that Christianity is under attack and they are being persecuted just as Jesus said they would.

Nevermind that passage has become a Biblical license to be an asshole, but this entire exchange reminded me of several things. Like the student who comes up to me and says if I don't get a "C" in your class, I flunk out. It always makes me feel bad, but then I remember that my class is just the last straw. Had they performed better in other classes, they could afford to flunk my class and still remain enrolled.

First, I doubt very much that the faith is in trouble because of this book. As Kevin Powell suggested, this film will come and go, and the faith will persist just fine, thank you very much. (Reminds me of Anglican's prescience that the Passion controversy would fade too (though we still have to see if Mel's recent broadside on Bush might cause some of his defenders to question their favorite bloody Christ film--afterall, criticism of Bush is a criticism of the God who elected him, eh?) . And for the most part, it has. I suspect that the Passion will still make the rounds in Church theaters (literally) every Easter, but that is probably it.)

Ok, so the Da Vinci Code isn't really making people lose their faith. If anything, perhaps, like my student, the film could be the last straw for some. Why?

Maybe it is the conservative church's insistence on:
  • ignoring science and choosing Intelligent Design or Creation over evolution.
  • like Dobson and so many others, deciding that environmentalist concerns--even global warming--are just the most recent cases of prioritizing animals and trees over people (evidently Dobson's science is so bad, he assumes that a warming globe won't harm people).
  • raising holy hell over homosexuals and the Ten Commandments, but strangely silent about poverty.
  • worse than that, tacit approval of torture.
  • the continued commercialization of the faith and the open embrace of greed and capitalism.
  • with that, the marketing bonanza of intellectually thin religiously themed books and the paucity of serious theology either in church bookstores, or the megabookstores. Perhaps it is no wonder that the "churched" don't really know anything about their faith.
  • And, along with Roy Moore's idol and the last point, a wonderfully ironic preference for pseudo American history that relies on a hack from Oral Roberts and ignores volume after volume of scholarly work on American religion. "Oh, but you say, we are concerned about historical accuracy." Yeah, except when the Passion characters speak latin or rely on mystic visions, or when David Barton (aka, the ORU Hack) produce poorly researched semi-GOP authored "histories" of American Christianity.


    PS, and one more thing. It is just a movie based on a novel!

    Greek Shadow said...

    You'll find the last entry on my blog says pretty much the same thing.
    Usually those that get on their high horse of righteous indignation need to take a closer look at the animal they are on. It usually has long ears and brays instead of neighs.

    u.b.u.b. said...

    They're riding Democrats?!?! Streak is right - our home-grown fundamentalists really ARE in complete control now!

    Kevin said...

    The religious rights are only happy when they are outraged. White, heterosexual, Christians are a persecuted minority, evidenced, of course, by Dan Brown's crappy little book and movie.

    Their persecution complex arises out of their anti-biblical lust for power. Andrew Sullivan calls them "Christianists" rather than "Christians." I think that's a great way to think of them. They don't represent the joy of salvation in Jesus, just knee-jerk, angry, self-righteous, moralism.


    Kevin said...


    Happy (belated) Birthday!