May 2006 - The Da Vinci Code: Faith, Fact and Fiction
Bill boards nationally are plastered with images of the Mona Lisa and shelves in bookshops are stocked high. The frenzy surrounding The Da Vinci Code intensifies.
Few could have escaped, during the last year or so, the hype and lively debate which has been stimulated by the firstly famed best selling novel; which has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and now the Hollywood film version of the story staring Tom Hanks.
Whilst the novel is purely a work of fiction, with many independent experts united in their critique of the author’s so called ‘historical research’, the Da Vinci phenomenon from a cultural perspective, reveals very important things when it comes to trying to engage with today’s spiritual enquirers.
In the hearts and minds of many, the story seems to provide compelling evidence that Catholicism is based on conspiracies, cover-ups and lies. Whatever evidence might be presented to the contrary, fiction seems to have a more powerful appeal than faith and fact. This presents challenges for us as Catholic community. How are we to respond?
Interest in the novel reveals that there is a widespread need for people to question things spiritual and to believe, to have faith in someone or something. The novel has given people a licence to publicly discuss their beliefs and who they think the person of Jesus Christ is. It has validated open communication about religious faith which in the British culture is often seen as a no-go area during a night out. This is good news indeed for evangelisers. – the Da Vinci Code has made it okay to talk about Catholicism, God and the meaning of life.
As a result of reading the novel many say that they are able to relate to Jesus more because he is presented as a modern man – he is said to have had a wife and family. The dangers surrounding this untruth are numerous, not least that the true love story between God and men and women is lost. God does not have favourites. His love is not exclusive and to each person He offers the fulness of Himself. This is the true story that each of us is called to communicate to Da Vinci fans.
Dan Brown has and had an agenda. He deliberately presented this fictitious story as fact, and to many his voice holds more authority than the ‘not to be trusted’ Catholic Church. How ready are each one of us to enter this debate? Our challenge as a Christians perhaps, is not to de-bunk – that’s the quick fix response and only serves to fuel suspicion and distrust. It is perhaps for each one of us to reflect on how we can use this opportunity to positively engage with those who have a seekers heart, and in turn direct them to the real story and the person of Jesus Christ and His Church.
See our brand new web page on the Catholic Enquiry Office’s website especially created for fans of The Da Vinci Code. It can be found at: http://www.life4seekers.co.uk/the-da-vinci-code/the-da-vinci-code.html