I’m used to hearing absurdities when I listen to conservative talk radio, but this really jarred me: today I heard “The Da Vinci Code” being compared to holocaust deniers. Geez, righties, you should at least make a halfway attempt at rational discourse.
This evening Victoria Taft interviewed Michael Chapman of the Media Research Center, which bills itself as “the leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias.” He was frothing about all the Christian bashing that’s gone on with coverage of The Da Vinci Code book and movie.
Funny. I haven’t noticed it. I’ve read quite a few articles about The Da Vinci Code (and the book itself). Without exception they’ve noted that the book is fiction and that its claim that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a daughter is just that: a claim which neither can be proven nor disproven.
Just like the Bible itself. Almost certainly, the Bible is nearly as fictional as The Da Vinci Code. Scholars agree that there were many conflicting accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings circulating among the early Christian community. There wasn’t agreement about whether he was human or divine, resurrected or plain dead, a Jewish prophet or a harbinger of a new faith.
A few Gospels were picked out of many. Bingo, a religion was born. A fictional religion, in the same sense that second- or third- hand accounts of happenings that may or may not have occurred fifty years ago are fiction. It’s impossible to distinguish truth from untruth in such a mish-mash.
So Chapman was way off base when he said that The Da Vinci Code is to Christianity as holocaust deniers are to the killing of six million Jews. He bemoaned the fact that the media jumps all over someone who writes a book about how the holocaust never occurred, but has been giving The Da Vinci Code lots of positive press.
Earth to Michael Chapman: this is because the holocaust is an irrefutable historical fact; Christian theology, on the other hand, is entirely subjective and thus eminently debatable.
Both Chapman and Taft used the term “Christian bashing” a lot. They’d probably give this appellation to many of my Church of the Churchless posts. Well, if I or Dan Brown (two writers on opposite ends of the best seller list) were to point out that there is no evidence for the existence of leprechauns, I guess believers in Irish elves would call that “Leprechaun bashing.” Me, I call it stating the obvious.
Good Christians, you’re in the same boat as good Jews, good Muslims, and good believers of any other religion. Your faith is the only thing keeping you afloat. There’s no objective evidence that you’re floating on real water.
Dan Brown knows that The Da Vinci Code is a product of his own mind. In that sense he’s more in touch with reality than religious believers who mistakenly consider that because a holy book says “everything written here is true,” that makes it so.
Brown said something of the sort at the beginning of his book and that statement certainly hasn’t been uncritically accepted. So why shouldn’t the Bible be equally open to debate? And, yes, even bashing.
The Media Research Center notes disapprovingly that Da Vinci Code actor Ian McKellen said in an interview:
Well I've often thought that the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying, this is fiction. I mean walking on water? I mean it takes an act of faith. And I have faith in this movie. Not that it's true, not that it's factual but that it's a jolly good story and I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction and discuss the thing when they've seen it.Right on, Ian. Bible and The Da Vinci Code: two fictional pieces of literature. Read them both. Enjoy them both. Just don’t take them as fact. Or, too seriously.