06 May 2006

Da Vinci Code: Ignore the Hype and Enjoy

I'm trying to get a book published. Last week, I got a very constructive "no thanks" letter back from an editor at Penguin Books, and I've decided to rewrite key sections of The Sandal on the Obelisk to ramp up the action and make the conflict clearer.

Of course, if I wanted to be published that badly, I would put Da Vinci or Opus Dei in the title. Then it would get plenty of attention! It's amazing to me how easily our country's polarized Culture of Outrage can be perverted to sell books and movie tickets. There is much money to be made--hey folks, how about cutting this aspiring author in on the racket?

I read The Da Vinci Code about a year ago. I loved it. It was a thriller that I just couldn't put down from Chapter Two onward. It begins with a spectacular murder in the Louvre. Three sets of people focus on the crime: the granddaughter of the murdered man, who, with the help of an American scholar, races through France and Britain to unravel the secrets of her lineage; the French police, who believe the aforementioned pair are responsible for the murder; and a reclusive English baron who is on his own search for the Holy Grail.

There are so many clues, so many excellent plot twists, your head is spinning and spinning until the end. I must say that I thought the end was disappointing. Brown fumbles the romantic element of the story and the discovery of the Holy Grail...well, it can't live up to the hype.

Speaking of hype, the Culture of Outrage" has really bought into the hype, driving sales of the book to 30 million (most of any novel, ever). Why the hype? Well, one of the plot elements is that Sophie (the granddaughter) is a descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (whose womb, according to Brown, is the real Holy Grail--can you understand the letdown, now?).

To me, these are plot twists, just like other thrillers I've read revealed the location of Hitler's secret child, the passcode to the secret Enigma machine, or evidence of a conspiracy by the FBI to assassinate JFK.

I am a devout Christian, but I don't believe in the holiness of a Grail or in the survival of any clay cup used at the Last Supper. I am mildly offended by allusions to a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary, but Christ's virginity isn't exactly a cornerstone of my theology. What is the big deal? If a thriller about the Holy Grail is enough to make a Christian lose their faith in Christ's holiness, then by the same logic, a ghost story would be enough to make them lose belief in the Resurrection.

No, it's the usual suspects at work again in our Culture of Outrage. Just like Mel Gibson tweaked the usual suspects (Jews and secularists) to drive movie sales of The Passion of the Christ to over $300 million; Brown and movie director Ron Howard are tweaking the usual suspects (Christian fundamentalists) to drive controversy and sell books & movie tickets.

Will I see the film? Probably not. As a rule, I ignore overhyped movies. The only movies I see nowadays are kid flicks anyway. I've read the book--and I enjoyed it--and that's why I shared this with you.


april mcnulty said...

I probably won't watch the movie either. Ellie did very good in the musical last night. We had a lot of fun up there.Hope you enjoyed it.

Mike Potts said...

I am opposed as well to the 'culture of outrage'. Instead I hope this book/movie helps us to learn that the culture needs to see Jesus' love prior to listening to Jesus' message and the faith claims of orthodoxy. You should read the 3 volume set by John Maier on Jesus. Remind me to give it to you before it gets packed.