Dan Brown’s war on Christianity

JP: I’m sure you’ve heard about, or read the book, or perhaps seen the movie The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown’s * book Angels & Demons has been made into a film and is soon to be released. Whether you see this film or not – I don’t recommend it! – you should surely be knowledgeable about the debate.

The American Conservative comments on Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons:


… The latest Dan Brown atrocity has hit the silver screen. Though I am myself a lapsed Catholic waiting for the Tridentine Latin mass to return in force before being born again, I find that I am offended whenever someone is out there making a buck by bashing Holy Mother the Church. “Angels and Demons” preceded the Da Vinci code and is, if anything, more appallingly written. If you enjoy Harvard professors leaping out of exploding helicopters and using a piece of cardboard to glide down to a safe landing in the Tiber River you will dig it. As I lasted only about six minutes into the Da Vinci cinematic feast before putting my foot through the television screen, I predict that my tolerance for Angels will not even last that long.

What offends me most is that the books were marketed as being meticulously researched to suggest to the potential reader that the tales of skulduggery in the Church are all too plausible.

A recent NYTimes editorial details Dan Brown’s agenda: Dan Brown’s America :


Brown is explicit about this mission. He isn’t a serious novelist, but he’s a deadly serious writer: His thrilling plots, he’s said, are there to make the books’ didacticism go down easy, so that readers don’t realize till the end “how much they are learning along the way.” …. He’s writing thrillers, but he’s selling a theology.

In the Brownian worldview, all religions — even Roman Catholicism — have the potential to be wonderful, so long as we can get over the idea that any one of them might be particularly true. It’s a message perfectly tailored for 21st-century America, where the most important religious trend is neither swelling unbelief nor rising fundamentalism, but the emergence of a generalized “religiousness” detached from the claims of any specific faith tradition.

The polls that show more Americans abandoning organized religion don’t suggest a dramatic uptick in atheism: They reveal the growth of do-it-yourself spirituality, with traditional religion’s dogmas and moral requirements shorn away. The same trend is at work within organized faiths as well, where both liberal and conservative believers often encounter a God who’s too busy validating their particular version of the American Dream to raise a peep about, say, how much money they’re making or how many times they’ve been married.

These are Dan Brown’s kind of readers. Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, he serves up a Jesus who’s a thoroughly modern sort of messiah — sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in the Galilean suburbs, and no delusions about his own divinity.

But the success of this message — which also shows up in the work of Brown’s many thriller-writing imitators — can’t be separated from its dishonesty. The “secret” history of Christendom that unspools in “The Da Vinci Code” is false from start to finish. The lost gospels are real enough, but they neither confirm the portrait of Christ that Brown is peddling — they’re far, far weirder than that — nor provide a persuasive alternative to the New Testament account. The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — jealous, demanding, apocalyptic — may not be congenial to contemporary sensibilities, but he’s the only historically-plausible Jesus there is.

For millions of readers, Brown’s novels have helped smooth over the tension between ancient Christianity and modern American faith. But the tension endures. You can have Jesus or Dan Brown. But you can’t have both.

For readers who care to dig deeper, Westminster Theological Seminary has created a helpful website that debunks Dan Brown: truthaboutangelsanddemons.com

* Not this Dan Brown!

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