I’ve had a very long and busy week, so anything I’m now posting is already old news . . . but I’m going ahead anyway.
Last Tuesday afternoon, May 2, I went to a special event at the Tribeca Film Festival — a panel discussion called “What would Jesus . . . Direct?” All the people on the panel were Christians involved in the film industry. They discussed how Hollywood is waking up to the fact that there is a huge Christian audience out there, but they really don’t know how to reach us.
The talk soon turned to the upcoming Da Vinci Code movie. Cuba Gooding Jr. seemed to get the most microphone time — but then he is an Academy-award -winning actor (and does ever know it!) He made some good points. Among them, that the Christian audience does have a good sense about movies that would be worthwhile from their viewpoint. Back in 1981, when Chariots of Fire came out, Christians and others turned out for a film no one had heard of and made it a hit. Now with the Da Vinci Code, he said “they will have it on their radar — and if they sense it isn’t something they want, they won’t come, and the film will flop” (or words to that effect).
This made things a bit difficult for another panel member, Jonathan Bock, president of Grace Hill Media, who was working with Sony on the marketing campain for The Da Vinci Code. He declined to say much about his work on it, but insisted the film was a great opportunity to “engage the culture” and get “dialogue” going. “After all,” he said, “when was the last anyone cared about what happened at the Council of Nicaea?”
It’s hard to blame him for defending his work — which is one of trying to minimize the damage that the book and movie are causing, engaging in dialogue and debating the very real issues involved. But forgive me for being a little dubious. Of course, any of us who are able to and who have read the book, should by all means engage in dialogue with those who want to. I’ve done so myself. Just the other day, a young colleague at work, who had just recently returned to the Catholic Church, asked me about the truth of the “historical” claims in it. She had not read it, but was certainly curious. I gave her the straight dope, and she seemed satisfied.
But there is a whole other group of people, the Da Vinci Code “true believers,” who cannot be brought to engage in dialogue. When they listen to our explanations of the truth, they tend to reply “Oh, you Catholics are brainwashed — you’ll believe anything your Church tells you,” or “the Church is afraid — anything they say is just more lies to maintain power.” Most of them are led not by belief in Dan Brown so much as anger against the Church. Many don’t care about truth, but cling to the book because it’s what they want to believe. It’s very hard to debate when one side is interested in truth, and the other is wandering in a crackpot fantasyland. The claims in the DVC are, to borrow one of my favorite phrases from C. S. Lewis, nonsense that has not even risen to the dignity of error. Discussion here is not going to do much good — and the movie is going to fuel the fire.
Certainly there are issues that need to be cleared up – the reasons for believing in the divinity of Jesus, the truth of the Gospels, the too-negative attitude of some Christians toward sex, the Church’s treatment of women — but if you are going to seriously tackle these things, it would be best to leave The Da Vinci Code out of the discussion altogether, since it only spreads error and confusion.
Above all, the main reason not to go see the film continues to be the fact that we would be putting money into the pockets of people who are defaming Christ and insulting the Church. Let’s not let Sony sucker us in to get our money to support blasphemy. If you want to read the book in order to be prepared for questions, please do — but borrow it from the library, or, as I did, from a friend.
And the “Othercott” is gaining steam — more than 16,000 hits on Google as of today! Also an article in the New York times on Thursday.
See you at Over the Hedge on May 19!