Running the race of life: Should I read the Davinci Code?

Running the race of life

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Should I read the Davinci Code?

I'm thinking about reading the Davinci Code. I'm fairly sure its deserved at least some of the criticism its received but I think its only fair to read it first.

The title of this post reveals the deeper question I think we all wrestle with in terms of being a Christian and engaging culture:

"How do we determine when its right/useful to read/see something within the culture or when it is not appropriate/helpful? How do we negotiate this tension?"

I'm not sure if that makes sense, and I know there isn't easy answers. I don't think we can be ostriches with our heads in the sand because the Church is in the world and our faith is ever so incarnational.

On the other hand, we also have a responsibility to guard our senses and our minds and to be renewed in the Gospel.

If you have any thoughts I'd appreciate it.


At 1:22 PM, Blogger Chris T. said...

I found it mildly entertaining and fairly poorly written/badly researched. But I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you enjoy those kinds of books. The controversy just doesn't strike me as that important—it gives too much attention to Brown's bad research and doesn't engage the underlying issues that made the book popular.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Very appropriate questions, Jonathan.
I've got The Da Vinci Code on hold at our public library. I want to read it, but don't feel like putting my money in Dan Brown's pocket.

I highly recommend reading, Finding Common Ground: How to Communicate With Those Outside the Christian Community ... While We Still Can, by Tim Downs.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

It's fiction. Mildly entertaining as Chris says. But fiction.

I think with all the controversy some people have forgotten the fiction part.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Don said...

I don't usually like those kinds of books, but I'm going to the movie with my family when it arrives locally. Is my faith in Christ so weak that a movie will shake it? Peace.

At 5:05 AM, Blogger Paula said...

Well, we have to take the risk that you talk about if we want to witness Christ in the world. As we build our spiritual life in Christ, we can discern easier when to assume a risk and when not.If we feel vulnerable and not prepared to confront a particular risk, then it is better to stay away from it.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger samrocha said...

I have read it and its prequel Angels and Demons, I'm a sucker for fast-reading fiction books about twice a year and I don't find it offensive at all - considering the theories are not new and the history if highly misinformed... but if it wasn't it wouldn't be fiction, right...

I will be posting on this issue shortly this week...

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

I tagged you for a meme on my blog .

By the way, Tuesday would have been Bishop Jerome Pechillo TOR's birthday.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Siobhan said...

Jonathan, I am really glad you posted this question. I have read both Davinci and Angels and Demons. They are definitely page turners and I found all the symbols and the ties to European cities and architechture in the plot engaging.

I believe that DaVinci Code prompts a lot of interesting questions about both the treatment of and role of womsn in the early church (which I believe was, in Jesus ministry, ground breaking) and about how the New Testament canon came into being. I think becoming educated about and discussing those topics is a good thing. This is not to say that I agree with his conclusions.

I have a lot of issues with Dan Brown though. First of all, he thinly disguises his own personal agendas in the book and I could not find much depth to his writing. While the book is fiction, he prefaces it with a page of facts which I believe sets the stage for people taking it as gospel. But my biggest peeve is that he presents these events as if they are historical and simply unfolded 1-2-3 and we can be as certain of them as of modern day events. Somehow, he forgot about the Dark Ages!! And that its always the "bad evil conniving Catholic church" at the root of all the negative events. I am not saying the church is perfect by any means and I have my own issues with it but please..I am so tired of hearing one sided accusations about Catholics! I really think its a kind of bigotry. If any another mainstream religion was featured in those books I guarantee you there would have been a publc outcry!!

Sorry for the soapboxing-these books are just lightining rods! I say, though, read them. It's good to be informed and to be able to discuss the issues they bring up-no matter how you feel about them.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Jonathan St.Andre, T.O.R. said...

Thanks for your thoughts everybody! I still haven't read the book or watched the movie but I'm pondering it... even more importantly is the deeper questions that your insights gave clarity to.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Suzywoozy said...

well... your question was:
"How do we determine when its right/useful to read/see something within the culture or when it is not appropriate/helpful? How do we negotiate this tension?"

Some useful guidelines I read on Catholic Answers Forums were give by Fr. Vincent Serpa-

Other than the story line, there are two things that I am concerned about when I’m discerning whether or not to see a movie.

One concerns whether the movie might be a temptation or an occasion of sin for me.

The other is whether by my financial support I am supporting the making of movies that contradict my values and which could lead others to sin?

To choose to see a movie that is a temptation for me could lead me to serious sin. Likewise, to pay for a movie that supports values contrary to my Catholic values could be a serious sin for me.

Going to the show is not just a matter of looking at a flick. Being an adult Catholic means making respsonsible choices.

I'd think that would apply to books as well.

For the da Vinci code, I read it long before all the fuss was made about it. It did scare me a bit, but since I already had quite a strong faith, I didn't just accept it as the truth.

I would not recommend it to anyone, and I think if I could go back, I wouldn't read it either... fiction is fine, but when an author makes a deliberate attempt to damage the Catholic Church, that goes against the grain.

Also, the issue of obedience comes in sometimes- the archbishop of a neighbouring diocese asked Catholics not to read it. Think that worked? But as a faithful Catholic, it does work to avoid something like that.

If you want to defend your faith, or talk about it if it comes up with friends, read up about it. If you want to do some in depth research about it, read it. But if your motive is just idle curiosity, I'd say stay away.


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