A friend of mine the other day mentioned that he really wanted to read Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code." I told him that would be a grave waste of time and that he was better off reading Andy Riley's "The Book of Bunny Suicides," a personal favorite of mine.
He had never heard of my recommendation, but he insisted that "The Da Vinci Code" is supposed to be a really good book; it's even being made into a movie directed by Ron Howard, due later this year.
I can understand his interest; the book is very entertaining, but the problem with "The Da Vinci Code" is that it's a horrible misrepresentation of history that leaves the reader with a skewed view of Christianity.
I'll go ahead and warn non-Christians: If you seek to discredit the Christian faith, don't use Dan Brown as a model. "The Da Vinci Code" is a work of fiction, yet it opens itself up to this kind of scrutiny because of its claim to represent artwork, documents, architecture, etc. accurately as fact. Oh, and the fact that it paints the foundations of Christianity as "the greatest cover-up" to which the world has ever fallen.
Yes, it is a work of fiction, but that doesn't mean it can't help shape public opinion drastically. Anyone ever hear of "Uncle Tom's Cabin?"
Great works of fiction have always been able to change the hearts of people either for better, as in the case of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," or for worse, as in the potential case of "The Da Vinci Code."
To mention all the problems with the book or to even begin to refute the argument inherent in Brown's book are tasks too large for the scope of this article and can be found on the Web. Christianity Today published an impressive series of articles dealing with the book that are readily available on its Web site. Instead, the purpose of this article is to warn would-be readers and fans of the book about the many problems that plague it.
The fact that this book exists does not surprise me at all. It's a rehashing of agnostic arguments that have existed for quite some time and have been given a fresh coat of postmodern revisionist paint. Brown, to his credit, admits the ideas are not his own on his Web site.
In an interview on an ABC special about his book, Brown acknowledged that his intention behind writing the book was to question the history and perception we have of Christianity. Unfortunately, he wishes to question it quite sophomorically, and the reader really doesn't learn anything through the ideas posed by him; instead readers are left with skewed "facts" and a deviant revisionist ideal of the early church and Christianity as a whole.
In the postmodern age, historians have taken to rediscovering history "from below," not trusting the history that has been given to us by "the victors."
Among a litany of problems with this philosophy are the cases like Brown's where history is butchered because fiction is presented as fact. Viewing the book in this context is essential because if we take to heart the arguments that Brown's characters pose, we open ourselves up to a meandering path that misinforms us of some of the most valuable truths available to man.
Simply because it is a work of fiction doesn't mean we can easily dismiss the dangerous implications the book holds. Read the book if you will, but think twice before you believe one of Brown's "facts."
Tyler Wittman is a junior speech communication major. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.