Friday, May 12, 2006

Leonardo, The Templars, and the Antichrist

Fiction with Biblical themes? You mean To Kill a Mockingbird or Cry, the Beloved Country? Oh, probably not.

I wasn't going to write about The DaVinci Code. I thought it was entertaining when I read it, and I think the movie will be fun; end of story. I thought the Narnia series was insufferably boring (I read all seven volumes out loud to my kids one summer, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when they became competent enough readers to revisit the series on their own). I read a few of the Left Behind books and found them revolting.

But
Ubuntu asks whether The DaVinci Code is no worse than Left Behind, and I thought I'd reprise the comment I left there:

********************************

I think the Left Behind series is far worse than The DaVinci Code. Left Behind presents a nineteenth century cult-like view of an angry, vengeful god, and details and glorifies violence a la CSI. It plays into the very worst of our natural inclinations to seek power and redemption where there is none.

The DaVinci Code, while certainly disingenuous with its historical claims, at least keys in to some of our more rational and generous inclinations -- a natural curiosity about the earthly life and humanness of Jesus, and a desire to unearth the sacred feminine in a glorious faith that has largely sought to deny that element of both God and humanity.


*********************************

I thought about this subject a little more today, and I concluded that the gender dilemma is at the heart of it all. Left Behind presents a fierce and intensely masculine god -- a version of God with whom most Christians have at least a passing acquaintance. In fact, many Christians embrace exactly that characterization of God. And many people who don't just shrug their shoulders and conclude that, since that appears to be who the Christian god is, they're not interested.

The DaVinci Code
offers an intriguing look into a god who is is both and neither male and female, and into fictional cultural attempts both to suppress and to revive that understanding of God. A number of people find that latter effort appealing, but have so little knowledge of the Bible and Christian traditions that Dan Brown's concoctions seem like a refreshing bit of clarity illuminating a murky pool. And then, of course, there are those who find any mention of "female" and "god" within more than a few words of each other an appalling denigration of their version of the Christian story.

Yep -- gender. The female one in particular -- such a subversive Other in her very existence that fundamentalists decry even the questions raised by The DaVinci Code and laud Left Behind as something akin to fact.

As usual, "there are more things in heaven and earth. . . than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Sometimes we need a Hamlet or a Scout Finch or a Stephen Kumalo far more than we need a Tim LeHaye or a Dan Brown.

5 comments:

Cynthia said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I think the uproar over books like The DaVinci Code is just another way for a particarly vocal group of Christians to draw more attention to their point of view. I loved the book. It was escapist fun that made me want to go and read real history afterwards and study the Bible more for representations of the femininity of God/dess. Taking it as fact seemed absolutely silly to me.

OkieLiz said...

Well, here is your comment from a person of "a particularly vocal group of Christians," I guess.

The Left Behind series did get boring to me and I never finished the last few books.

I wanted to read The DaVinci Code because it like a good read, I even bought it, but I was convicted that we need to keep the 2nd commandment, Exodus 20:7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

Fictional books about Jesus, who is God, are blasphemy. If you believe that Jesus was God, and you believe that His name is Holy, shouldn't a line be drawn? Or are there no lines to cross and everything is acceptable - even lies when speaking of the Most High.

Is nothing reverant anymore? There would be a huge uproar if someone wrote a fictional book about Pope John Paul and gave him fictional love interests and long lost children and he was just a pope! When a book is about a real person, Jesus or even the pope, and they are not alive to refute it, someone must. IMHO

And I could have remained anonymous.

Kathryn said...

I thought "DaVinci Code" was fun, thought-provoking FICTION. My catholic church has a very active women's spirituality group which has explored Mary Magdalene and theories of her relationship in great detail as well as the lives of other women in the early church. We also think about, talk about, and pray about the man-made rules of our church which minimalize the role of women.

I was thinking of picking up the "Left Behind" series out of curiosity. It sounds like I'll leave it on the shelf.

Globetrotter said...

I think the hoopla over the Da Vinci Code is ridiculous. I agree that the premise behind the Left Behind series is revolting. I read one chapter of one book and that was it for me. You're also right that gender plays a huge roll in all of this, but I believe there is much more than that afoot here. Unfortunately I'd get carpal tunnel syndrome if I tried to explain here. If we think the hoopla over Da vinci is bad I can't wait to see what happens on 6/6/06 when "The Beast" is released. It seems to be a pretty well-kept secret at this point; a movie about the fundamentalist Christians doing all they can do repress the truth , which is that Jesus never existed.

Should be interesting to see the reviews though I have no intentions of seeing it.

Lisa H. said...

I liked the DaVinci Code, thought it was entertaining fiction. But I always thought the hoopla was not just about Jesus & Mary Magdeline, but the underlying thought that the Church is hiding something. I was more intrigued by the idea of Church secrets (which is not a new concept) than the fiction of Jesus's married life.
As for the Left Behind Series, it started off interesting and I read the last one just to see how it ends. That might be worth picking up, you don't miss much in between.