The book and movie “The Da Vinci Code” combines fact with fiction in ways that are likely to confuse many, but hopefully will cause some to ask as well as answer worthwhile questions. One question I have is, what does Dan Brown (the author of the book) actually believe about the key assertions of his “fictional” work?
According to today’s CNN article, “‘Da Vinci Code’ meets with catcalls,” Brown does not hold that the novel’s key themes are factual. But read the following quotation carefully. Brown does not actually say this, although the initial sentence summary (written by the reporter) does:
Author Brown himself does not purport that the novel or movie are historical or theological fact on “The Da Vinci Code’s” Web site.
“This book is not anti-anything,” he writes on the site. “It’s a novel. I wrote this story in an effort to explore certain aspects of Christian history that interest me.
“The vast majority of devout Christians understand this fact and consider ‘The Da Vinci Code’ an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate.”
All Brown said in this quotation was that the book is “not anti-anything” and “it’s a novel.” He did not state what he believes.
According to Dr. Darrell Bock, author of “Breaking The DaVinci Code: Answers To The Questions Everyone’s Asking,” Brown made very different statements in television interviews aired in 2003. In the introduction to his book, on page 3, Bock writes:
On the ABC News Special “Jesus, Mary, and Da Vinci,” which aired on November 3, 2003, the book’s author, Dan Brown, proclaimed himself a believer in these things. In an interview on “Good Morning America” the day of the special, he declared that if he had been asked to write a piece of nonfiction on these things, he would change nothing about what he claimed in the novel. In his book, key characters state that Jesus was married and had children. Moreover, the Catholic church lied about this and suppressed the fact that His wife and children fled to France. In that interview, Brown affirmed the views of some of his novel’s characters. He told the primetime audience of around 15 million viewers that after having begun his quest as a skeptic, he became a believer. In fact, this is what he said: “I began as a skeptic. As I started researching the Da Vinci Code, I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magalene and Holy Blood and all of that. I become a believer.”
Those quotations from 2003 are much more definitive than the quotations the CNN reporter is citing in May 2006. Why does this matter? Well, I’ll write more about that later, but for now I think it is enough to say that these purported direct quotations from Dan Brown indicate the opposite of what CNN is claiming. They indicate Dan Brown actually believes the primary assertions of his FICTIONAL work, his novel. That is a fairly significant fact, if true.
The same quotation I cited above from Darrell Bock’s book is included in the Dallas Morning News article from May 16, 2006, “Ripping ‘The Da Vinci Code.”
What sources are credible, and which ones are not? How do we decide what to believe and what to reject? These are essential questions for any age, and our networked one is no exception. The debates around “The Da Vinci Code” are important because people are asking many questions that DO matter. Amidst the question asking, hopefully lots of people are checking sources and doing more research. That is what information literacy should be all about! As they used to say on a favorite TV show of mine, “The X Files,” …. The TRUTH is out there! 🙂
Incidentally, the ABC News special from 2003 “JESUS, MARY AND DA VINCI: 11/3/03” is for sale on the ABC News website for $29.95. If this was on sale in the iTunes store for $1.99 I might buy it to hear these words directly from Brown, but there is no way I’m spending $30 to hear it. Thankfully, I just discovered it is also available from NetFlix, so I’ve just moved it to the top of my movie queue! I’ll report on it next week after I watch it. My strong suspicion is that Darrell Bock’s quotations are accurate.
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