Years ago, when I was a teenager and The Da Vinci Code first became a bestseller, I had some religious friends tell me not to read it. They said it was blasphemous, and the author deliberately attacked Christianity. So, as a faithful Christian, I was a little hesitant to pick it up – but I decided it was high time I judged for myself.
Here’s what I found: The Da Vinci Code is fiction. It casts the ancient Catholic church in a negative light, it speculates that Jesus was married, and makes some claims about ancient worship. It also claims that Leonardo da Vinci included symbolic messages in most of his paintings, that a secret society knows the location of the Holy Grail, and that an off-shoot branch of Catholicism would hire out albino hit-men. It’s an extremely well-written thriller, researched well enough to make you believe, for a moment, that what Dan Brown is writing actually happened. I guess that’s why some Christians find it threatening: they think Brown is trying to write a historical treatise, when he’s just trying to keep you interested and make the plot line believable.
The author himself said, “I do something very intentional and specific in these books. And that is to blend fact and fiction in a very modern and efficient style, to tell a story. There are some people who understand what I do, and they sort of get on the train and go for a ride and have a great time, and there are other people who should probably just read somebody else.”*
Personally, I thought it was a fantastic train ride. The book starts off intense, and then mellows out in just a confusing enough way to make you want to read more. It begins with action, keeps you interested with a feeling of, “What in the world is going on?”, and then reintroduces the action. Brown mixes puzzles with gunfire so well that, even after seeing the movie, I still found myself wondering how his characters were ever going to get themselves out of the mess. And they did, quite cleanly I might add.
If you’re not okay with someone speculating about religion, avoid it; otherwise, I highly recommend The Da Vinci Code.
*“Dan Brown on dealing with criticism”. today.msnbc.com. RetrievedSeptember 21, 2009; qtd. from Wikipedia article “Dan Brown.”