I've read and heard a lot lately from Christians who suggest that we should be willing to "engage" The Da Vinci Code, so that we can be a part of the "cultural conversation." Believers are touting the upcoming movie as an "opportunity for evangelism" and even an incentive to bolster our own faith.
This film is based on a book that wears its heresy and blasphemy as a badge of honor, and I intend to stay far away from it.
I get lots of calls to do interviews about The Da Vinci Code, but I duck as many of them as I can. Basically, I hate talking about DVC because I have a personal relationship with Jesus—and he isn't a proto-feminist goddess-cultic with a weak personality that could have been simply co-opted by power-hungry misogynists.
I love Jesus. It makes me physically sick to entertain discussion about the ways in which the defining acts of his life—his Passion, Resurrection and establishment of the Church—could be a diabolical scam that he never anticipated nor experienced. It would make me sick to hear salacious lies about anyone I love; how much more my Savior?
Besides that, I don't think we should encourage people in the terrible sin against the Holy Spirit of speculating that things that are holy are evil, and that things that are evil are holy. Isn't that what is going on here? How is that not painful for anyone who knows the Lord?
Don't debate the Devil
DVC as great opportunity for evangelism? Hmmm. The climate of evangelism is not consistent with a posture of defiance and cynicism. Is slander an opportunity? Is angry superiority an opportunity? DVC represents all the "opportunity" that the Roman persecutions offered the early Church. Rah.
And here's another thing that troubles me about the "opportunity for dialogue" stance. The debate is all on hell's terms. I am somebody who reads about exorcisms. I don't know why. I just do. And one of the first rules of exorcism is that you never answer the Devil's questions. You don't debate the Devil. You do not give evil the authority to question God.
DVC represents a debate in which the questions start with Satan's presumptions. I find it beyond naive to convince myself that the folks who are lapping up DVC are on a "search for truth." They're not. They are on a crusade to validate their own rejection of the authority of Christ and the Church.
Here's a typical DVC-inspired dialogue. See if you can find a search for truth in it.
It usually starts with something like this: "Everybody knows that the Church Fathers were liars. Can you prove the compilation of the Bible wasn't pure politics?"
And just when you start saying, "Well, I don't agree that the Church Fathers were--", the questioner moves on with eyes flashing unnaturally, "Why is the Church so afraid of women, huh? Why has it suppressed them since the beginning? Answer THAT!"
You clear your throat and say, "Well, I wouldn't say that the Church is afr--"
But they've moved on: "The fact is, there is no evidence for the Resurrection. Have you ever read the Gospel of Mary Magdalene?"
"Well, no, but--"
"See you people are all brain-washed." [Exhalation of disgust.] "How so many people could be so stupid is amazing to me."
When you debate with Satan, there is no opportunity for anything but people digging their heels into the sludge of chaos and confusion.
Scandalizing the sheep
I also hate the idea that some of the sheep would be scandalized away from Jesus by this idiotic story. And they will.
The sheep have been bred as teeming little narcissist lambs who stubbornly consider themselves "special," no matter how mediocre their understanding and living out of their life of discipleship. We have a global pasture full of sheep pasturing themselves, with coats shamefully besmirched by loving their sins.
They bleat defiance and pride of their filth, and insist that Jesus is indifferent to their degradation and shame: "Who knows, Jesus is probably just like us!" They don't know, and don't know that they don't know, or don't know, and don't care that they don't know.
And now The Da Vinci Code comes along to sheepish ears that are primed and ready to be told that holiness is impossible. And that is why this book is a success. It says to people, "If Jesus was a sham, then anything is permissible." (Ref. "You shall be like gods!")
I thought of this when I read a recent DVC rant from Mark Shea, who wrote that "the most maddening thing about this book is the thought of somebody losing their faith over this—this!—stupid piece of dimestore erudition. If you are going to risk your eternal soul, it should at least be over something noble and romantic and big. If you are bound to damn yourself, then at least let it be over a torrid and star-crossed love affair, or out of tragic hubris that sought to know What Man Was Not Meant to Know .… But to lose your soul over this cartoonish, illiterate, dishonest piece of hack drivel?"
I recently attended a DVC event at a local evangelical church. Several panelists gave long speeches about how Christians should welcome DVC as an opportunity for dialogue, then opened the floor for questions. A woman began her question by saying, "I don't have any problem with the fact that Jesus had sex .…"
Unbelievable! Yeah, let's all march our troops into "dialogue." The fact that our troops are completely disarmed for a fight seems to be irrelevant!
Many of our Christian sheep will be ripe for slaughter from DVC. All they will have to go to battle with is the Bible. But DVC undermines biblical authority by saying that the Bible was the product of a purely political process. This debate will shake the faith of many who are not prepared for it.
An alternative "boycott"
So, what can we as Christians do in response to the release of this movie?
Some are suggesting a protest. But the problem with this option is that it doesn't work. Any publicity is good publicity. Protests not only fuel the box office, they make all Christians look like idiots. And protests and boycotts do nothing to help shape the decisions being made right now about what movies Hollywood will make in the next few years. (Or they convince Hollywood to make *more* movies that will provoke Christians to protest, which will drive the box office up.)
Some suggest that we simply ignore the movie. But the problem with this option is that the box office is a ballot box. The only people whose votes are counted are those who buy tickets; if you stay home, you have thrown your vote away, and you do nothing to shape the Hollywood decision-making process regarding what movies will make it to the big screen.
Some suggest that we go see the movie so we can be better prepared to discuss it, to "engage the culture," so to speak. But if you've read this far, you already know how I feel about this. The problem with this option: No one's listening. They think they know what we're going to say already.
But I'd like to offer another option.
On DVC's opening weekend—May 19-21—you should go to the movies. Just go to another movie. That's your way of casting your vote, the only vote Hollywood recognizes: The power of cold hard cash laid down on a box office window on opening weekend.
Use your vote. Don't throw it away. Vote for a movie other than DVC. If enough people do it, the powers that be will notice.
The major studio movie scheduled for release against DVC is the DreamWorks animated feature Over the Hedge. The trailers look fun, and you can take your kids. And your friends. And their friends. In fact, let's all go see it.
Let's rock the box office in a way no one expects—without protests, without boycotts, without arguments, without rancor. Let's show up at the box office ballot box and cast our votes. And buy some popcorn, too.
As for The Da Vinci Code, don't go see this stupid movie. Don't pay money to have the insidious lies of the enemy introduced into your heart and mind.
Let's "othercott" DVC on May 19 by going to see Over the Hedge instead.
This commentary was adapted by permission from Nicolosi's online blog, Church of the Masses.
Barbara Nicolosi is the founder and director of Act One, an organization whose mission is to train committed Christian writers to work in the Hollywood film industry.
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