- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 20, 2006

Though author Dan Brown has made a personal fortune from sales of his work of fiction “The Da Vinci Code,” no one has yet to give him credit for the trickle-down effect the book has had on the American economy.

Mr. Brown’s novel, which portrays the orthodox teachings of Christianity as fraudulent and the result of a centuries old cover-up by the church, has created a cottage industry of rebuttal. The combined sales of dozens of responding books by Christian authors and theologians as well as of “The Da Vinci Code” movie probably surpasses the gross domestic product of some small European countries.

Why a novel becomes popular is never easy to determine but certain elements of “The Da Vinci Code” may help to explain its success. First, the book appeals to feminists and, therefore, the left, in that it claims a woman, Mary Magdalene, not Jesus, was the true leader of the early Christian Church. According to the story, Mary Magdalene was removed from her rightful seat as the feminine deity of Christianity by the church’s “patriarchal hegemonic” structure. Thus, men, more specifically white men, are the bad guys.

It seems to escape the novel’s feminist fans exactly how Mary Magdalene acquired her feminine deity status — according to Mr. Brown, by marrying Jesus. And though the novel asserts Jesus was just an ordinary man who, contrary to the teaching of orthodox Christianity, never rose from the dead, somehow marrying him made Mary Magdalene godlike. Though this is anathema to the feminist ideology that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” it does help to explain why they ignore the fact Hillary Clinton all but acquired her U.S. Senate seat through marriage.

Secondly, Mr. Brown seems to take special pleasure in attacking and criticizing the Roman Catholic Church, always a popular target.

In fact, much like the rebuttals to Mr. Brown’s novel, criticizing the Roman Catholic Church is its own cottage industry. And not just by non-Catholics. Many people who claim to be Catholic relish the opportunity to state what is wrong with “their” church. Though these “Catholics” do not believe in the teachings of that church, somehow claiming they are Catholic gives them the moral authority to criticize and jettison the very basis for their so-called beliefs. When asked why they don’t just become Episcopalians, these “Catholics” are incensed you would have the audacity to suggest that.

But the overarching theme of Mr. Brown’s novel, that Jesus is not the Son of God, is probably what has made his book so successful. Nothing whets the appetites of the hordes of postmodern, moral relativists like the denial of Christ’s divinity. Any theory of denial, whether from thin air or based on mythical “fact,” as in Mr. Brown’s novel, is readily embraced.

Most people have no problem with a belief in a god, as long as that god remains generic. However, when the name of Jesus is invoked, most people become uneasy. Why the discomfort?

Many justify their uneasiness by complaining Christianity is divisive and resort to the new secular creed of “inclusiveness.” Their argument says “everyone must be included and since Christians think their religion is right they aren’t inclusive because no one can be right and be inclusive unless everyone is right.” Thus, “spirituality” is perfectly acceptable because, basically, it is meaningless. The “believer” gets to define God, everything is true (meaning nothing is true), and all roads lead to heaven.

Mostly, though, people do not want to believe in a God outside their own imaginations because they would then have to admit they were accountable to that God. The Christian belief is that man is indeed wretched and in need of salvation. However, postmodern society tells us human reason is the highest accomplishment and, contrary to 5,000 years of evidence, man is in no need of being saved. Thus, the very idea of Jesus is an affront to man’s haughty self-esteem.

Dan Brown may or may not have had all this in mind when he wrote “The Da Vinci Code.” His novel claiming orthodox Christianity is a fraud has been simultaneously embraced and heavily criticized. And though his book was an offense to millions of believing Christians, never at any time did any Christian leader call for physical harm to Mr. Brown. That’s because Christians are secure enough in their faith to know a novel is no threat to their God.


McLean, Va.

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