Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Please, We Need Even More Publicity for The DaVinci Code!

The local newspapers out here in Wisconsin are utter disappointments, a genuine disgrace to their profession. The Appleton paper, for example, has fallen way behind the rest of the media world by providing only 3 front page stories about the anti-Christian movie, The DaVinci Code - and only two of those were the focus story in full color, and one was just on the front page of the "Life" section of the paper, not page A1. Perhaps I missed a few additional stories inside the newspaper, but it's clear we're far behind the times.

On the plus side, our local media have done a good job of following other basic best practices for the US media, including giving The DaVinci Code far more positive publicity than The Passion of the Christ, depicting Dan Brown's shoddy anti-Christian work as an interesting theory with merit, not suggesting that anti-Christian bigotry might be associated with the work, and not exposing the work for its ridiculous factual errors. One recent article focused on which was better, the book or the movie (answer: "both are worth your money"). Ah, now that's journalism.

See "The Trashing of the Christ," a summary of a report by the Media Research Center, to get a feel for how the TV networks have promoted Ron Brown's work.
The report concludes that one reason for the commercial success of The DaVinci Code movie (as well as the book) was very aggressive salesmanship on the part of the network news divisions. "Network television news stars may boast at seminars that they are tough on everyone, but in real life, their devotion to secularism is almost religious in its intensity."
Yeah, sometimes it kind of makes you wonder what possesses them.

Of course, I'm being too harsh. There are other journalistic priorities to consider, like the Green Bay Packers, reminding us that everything is going to be OK thanks to the new immigration bill, and getting the latest scoop on Hollywood celebrities. Perhaps we'll get a full section devoted to the movie this weekend, so there's still hope.


Update: Several people have expressed the notion that Dan Brown's work is, after all, just fiction and nothing to worry about. One commenter didn't see why I would call it anti-Christian. Here is my response:

I understand that the movie is so drenched in dull dialog, two-dimensional characters, and a ridiculous developments that reviewers simply could not find a way to lavish praise on Ron Howard's work. But the negative reviews about the directing and acting don't detract from the real thrust of the media efforts to give positive attention to Dan Brown's work.

While the novel is fiction, Dan Brown and his supporters insist that it is carefully researched and based on historical fact. And while readers know it is fiction, many of them are being convinced that Jesus was an ordinary mortal, that Christianity is based on a lie, the paganism is a superior religious expression, and that Christian religion is inherently anti-female.

I know of at least one Latter-day Saint family that has been devastated by the impact of the anti-Christian agenda of The DaVinci Code. The LDS mother became convinced that the Church's foundation in Jesus Christ was a foundation on a lie, and that the Church, like Christianity in general, was anti-woman. Great harm has been done.

Most of the opponents of Christianity believe that the Bible is fiction. But it is fiction they dread and oppose, for a book, fiction or not, can shape the hearts and minds of people. References to that alleged work of fiction are largely banned in our schools, and even silently reading that work of fiction in public has resulted in teachers being fired. The book is a threat to what they stand for.

How many of the anti-Christian vigilantes shrug their shoulders and say, "Well, it's only fiction - why not let everybody read it and discuss it?" No, they recognize the power that a book can have. And while I despise the means they use, we should at least learn from them that books and movies can affect a culture.

Christians too often ignore the endless assaults on our faith and culture from the elite of our society. It's time we recognize when we are being attacked and, in a civil and just manner, fight back.

Step one is to recognize that Dan Brown and his many supporters are deliberately pushing an anti-Christian agenda. The divinity of Christ and the foundation of Christianity is under assault. I think Latter-day Saints and all Christians need to understand that and be prepared to speak out against the offensive agenda of Dan Brown.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you mean Dan Brown.....
I read the book, It was a good read even though utterly false, as long as you keep that in mind it really isn't that bad.

Anonymous said...

You know, according to Rottentomatoes.com, The Passion of the Christ got positive ratings from about 51% of critics, while The DaVinci Code has positive ratings from about 41% of critics, which suprises me because I haven't read a single positive review of the DaVinci Code (the best I've seen is to the effect of, "It's not as bad as the book . . ."

Frankly, I had hoped the movie would be any good--the book is horribly written, but plenty of horribly-written books can be turned into decent action movies. But the coverage of the movie (although virtually omnipresent) has been so nearly universally negative that I don't think you can accuse the mass media of promoting the movie.

samdb

Anonymous said...

I loved reading the book and enjoyed the movie too. While the material is certainly fictional, I think it is a stretch to call it "utterly false." I think there are interesting theories and speculation presented in it that need not erode anyone's testimony of the truth.

Enjoy it for what it is. As with so many controversial works, it is disappointing to watch people take extreme stances (sometimes without even having read, watched, etc.)that only serve to polarize people.

Roy W. Wright said...

Could someone with more knowledge of the book than me (which would be practically any at all) clue me in as to how it's anti-Christian?

quandmeme said...

Fire or ice? When the Nephites were spiraling, they "did curse God and wish to die" and when they did formed secret combinations they swore by the heavens. Maybe opposing something keeps it alive in a culture. In contrast amoral movies pretend that there is nothing heavenly to even consider. My take is that I would rather have the controversy, the anti-Christian, than have it all end in ice, for matters of divinity and transcendent morality disappear. That said, neither the book nor the movie has earned by dollar.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is anti-Christian at all. I think the people that make that overstatement are referring to the questions in the story about the divinity of Jesus. (Was he just an amazing man or truly the Son of God?) Much as we'd like everyone in the world to accept the truth of the Savior's divinity, there will always be those that do not believe and find arguments to present supposed evidence to the contrary. Presenting a story that revolves around those ideas is not anti-Christian in my opinion. If anything, it is somewhat anti-Catholic as it presents quite a bit of negative information about the Catholic church.

Even if you were to accept all the wild theories of the story, it still would not disprove the truth of the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen the movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster? Would you call that movie "anti-Christian" too?

Mormanity said...

I understand that the movie is so drenched in dull dialog, two-dimensional characters, and a ridiculous developments that reviewers simply could not find a way to lavish praise on Ron Howard's work. But the negative reviews about the directing and acting don't detract from the real thrust of the media efforts to give positive attention to Dan Brown's work.

While the novel is fiction, Dan Brown and his supporters insist that it is carefully researched and based on historical fact. And while readers know it is fiction, many of them are being convinced that Jesus was an ordinary mortal, that Christianity is based on a lie, the paganism is a superior religious expression, and that Christian religion is inherently anti-female.

I know of at least one Latter-day Saint family that has been devasted by the impact of the anti-Christian agenda of The DaVinci Code. The LDS mother became convinced that the Church's foundation in Jesus Christ was a foundation on a lie, and that the Church, like Christianity in general, was anti-woman. Great harm has been done.

Most of the opponents of Christianity believe that the Bible is fiction. But it is fiction they dread and oppose, for a book, fiction or not, can shape the hearts and minds of people. References to that alleged work of fiction are largely banned in our schools, and even silently reading that work of fiction in public has resulted in teachers being fired. The book is a threat to what they stand for.

How many of the anti-Christian vigilantes shrug their shoulders and say, "Well, it's only fiction - why not let everybody read it and discuss it?" No, they recognize the power that a book can have. And while I despise the means they use, we should at least learn from them that books and movies can affect a culture.

Christians too often ignore the endless assaults on our faith and culture from the elite of our society. It's time we recognize when we are being attacked and, in a civil and just manner, fight back.

Step one is to recognize that Dan Brown and his many supporters are deliberately pushing an anti-Christian agenda. The divinity of Christ and the foundation of Christianity is under assault. I think Latter-day Saints and all Christians need to understand that and be prepared to speak out against the offensive agenda of Dan Brown.

Anonymous said...

Really?!?!? Sounds vaguely like a conspiracy theory. Have you actually read the book? I know a lot of stalwart Mormons who really enjoyed it DESPITE its shortcomings.

Roy W. Wright said...

I ask again: Could someone clue me in as to how the book is anti-Christian?

Nevermind; I'll try to find a good synopsis somewhere.

Roy W. Wright said...

Hmm... judging from synopses, whatever's anti-Christian about it seems to be in its conclusion, because they're not giving it away. Doesn't the book have something to do with the theory that Mary Magdelene bore Jesus' children? I've always thought that that particular idea was quite sensible (I'd wager in its favor if I had to), and it certainly predates Dan Brown's writing.

But what is it that is anti-Christian about the book? Just its general tone towards Jesus and other sacred things?

Brooke said...

Take a look at pages 231 through 234. That could be considered anti-Christian.

Bookslinger said...

I don't have the link, but there was a recent official news release from the church about how the scriptures are silent about whether the Savior was married during his mortal ministry, and that the church currently has no formal opinion or doctrine on the subject.

Like Jeff, I haven't seen the movie. But my understanding is that the conclusion that the movie offers is "because Jesus married someone, he couldn't have been the son of God.

Before I joined the LDS church, it never occured to me that Jesus may have been married. But upon learning of the importance of celestial/eternal marriage, exaltation, eternal progression, etc., then my mind wandered. "Gee, if we have to be married to attain unto exaltation, and if those who attain unto exaltation become like Jesus and Heavenly Father, then that means Jesus and Heavenly Father ...."

The church has no official post-correlation material other than the Proclamation on the Family to indicate that Heavenly Father is married or that we have a Heavenly Mother. But given our other doctrines, it is almost a forced deduction.

I know of no Bible or Book of Mormon passages that require the Savior to have been a bachelor during all of his mortal life.

Early leaders of the LDS church are on record as saying Heavenly Father is married. Brigham Young and other early prophets may have said that Jesus was married while on Earth. (I don't have references handy.) Later and current leaders are silent on the subject. So the possible presence or absence of the Lord's earthly marriage has no effect on us.

It may be embarassing to other churches. But if someone where to point the finger at the LDS and say "Aha! Jesus was married!", the proper rejoinder should be "So what? If his personal and family life were any of our business, the Bible or Book of Mormon, or other revealed scriptures would have told us about it. Since the scriptures are silent, it's probably not any of our business."

Mormanity said...

Haven't seen the movie and don't wish to, but have read a couple of Dan Brown's books and will admit I find his novels intriguing and almost fun - though perhaps not as entertaining as the writings of the Tanners or the various advocates of the Spaulding theory. But his chapter in DaVinci featuring pagan immorality rites was just stupid and gross.

Jeff said...

I'm sorry Jeff. But, as a Latter-day Saint, I praise The Da Vinci Code and welcome its message to the world. It is not Anti-Christian, but Eye Opening, and good for everyone. As Mormons, the notion of Christ having a wife (or wives) is hardly new to us. Orson Hyde preached in great detail on the subject 150 years ago. The Great Apostasy is a subject we teach in our missionary discussions.

The characters in the movie are portrayed as more-or-less human, thus having different beliefs. Some of them accept Christ as The Son of God, some do not.

I once attended a lecture at UVSC by Orson Scott Card, and one of the points he brought up was that he places characters of varying religious convictions into his stories, and that people have often confused his characters beliefs for his own. This, in my opinion, is the mark of a great author.

Christianity needs a slap in the face. The Da Vinci Code does contain much which is fiction, because it is a work of fiction, but it also contains many true things.

On another note, I've been a long time sideline observer of your sites and articles. It is nice to finally chime in.

Walker said...

What is the Da Vinci Code's "message to the world"?

I would be quite curious as to how this message to the world coincides with ours--at least in its core elements. Simply because it shares some commonalities with our beliefs does not lead to our endorsement of them. I can find commonalities between our church and the Wiccans--I'm not going to tout the WIccans' message to the world.

Furthermore, there is such a thing less-than-useful truth ie Christ's marriage. After all, as Ben Franklin noted, simply because a thing is true does not make it useful. Is the D

The real question is: how are the truths of the Da Vinci Code useful?

Jeff said...

What is its message to the world? Good question. One thing I got out of it, and at least a few of my friends as well, is to look past the smoke screen, look past people's self-aggrandizing versions of history, and you might find something even more honorable.

Geoff said...

I'll take a stab at the anti-christian aspect:

1) Jesus was just a man. This is a critical statement of Christianity, but mere disagreement isn't enough to be 'anti'. Otherwise claiming that Jesus is the Son of God is anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, etc.

2) The claim for Jesus' divinity was concocted at the council of Nicea. This is closer to the anti-christian claim. The claim is false, but it also infers deliberate deception on the part of people whom mainstream christians view as spiritual fathers. While LDS don't have any allegiance to the council of Nicea, the claim of Christ's divinity being proposed there is one we'd object to as well.

3) The various abuses of the christian church against women, heretics, etc. Of course, these alleged abuses (some false, some distorted, some accurate) would have been no better if pagans, monarchists, whatnot were the reigning power. Don't get me wrong, bad things happened, but I'm smart enough to know that a pagan Roman power would have persecuted heretics just as gleefully.

Bookslinger said...

I read one film reviwer who said that anti-Christian films were to be expected after the success of Gibon's "The Passion of the Christ."

Anti-Christian films are also to be expected given that Hollywood producers, executives, and distributors were very red-faced after refusing to invest or distribute Gibson's film. The DaVinci Code, and other recent anti-christian films might be either revenge or saving face.

Another aspect in which the DaVinci code might be beneficial to the restored Gospel is that the movie is more anti-Catholic than anti-Christian. If the Catholic church is "wrong", then further credence is given to the reformers and leaders of the Protestant movment. And even more so to Joseph Smith Jr., who was the instrument of the Lord in restoring the fullness of gospel to the earth.

Jeff L. wrote: I think Latter-day Saints and all Christians need to understand that and be prepared to speak out against the offensive agenda of Dan Brown.

I think this is a case in which we need to make efforts so that we don't allow the church's opponents to frame the discussion.

I don't think we need to carry water for the Catholic church or other churches in regards to a movie.

I also think we do not need to speak against the movie at all. To paraphrase something Pres Hinckley once said, we shouldn't be anti-anything. We should proclaim and promulgate our beliefs in a positive manner without having to tear down or belittle any other beliefs.

Mormanity said...

Good point, Bookslinger. You're right.

Walker said...

Jeff:

Do we need to a book with sin-laced rituals to tell us to look beyond self-aggrandized versions of history? Furthermore, is Dan Brown any less guilty of creating history here than Opus Dei? If anything, Brown is the one who has invented history. If I want to seek through historical smokescreens, I read historical monographs and talk to established scholars--not watch movies where the ultimate intent is to make a buck.

Bookslinger
I worry also that most viewers are not going watch the movie critically enough to really distinguish between anti-Catholic and anti-Christian. We think about these things a lot--most don't. I can just most folks coming away thinking--"y'know them institutionalized religions, they're just in it for themselves," though they will have a particularly bad taste in their mouth over the Catholics.

Personally, I want to give my Catholic acquaintances the same respect I would hope they would give me if someone made a similar movie about the Danites--that is, not give my stamp of approval on something by giving it my money.

Jeff said...

Would it really be such a bad thing, if the movie keeps some people away from false religion?

Walker said...

I think so. Because false religion isn't the only thing it will keep them away from. It will keep them away from religion of all Christian kinds--including the true one. Falsehoods don't lead to truth--they lead to cynicism.

We might as well sanction anti-Baptist, Hindu, and Islam movies. We would be declaring war on the entire religious world! (not to be confused with our war on Satan's kingdom--not the same thing). After all, it doesn't matter if they're true, right?

I think the Lord has more honorable methods than that. Falsehoods beget skepticism which begets more falsehoods. People no longer believe there is truth, which is the greatest of all lies.

Furthermore, think of it--Mormon missionaries, all dressed the same who all teach the same thing, already smack of an Opus-Dei esque association. To some, we're, at best, brainwashed victims of a sinister empire. At worst, we're lackeys who are bent on brainwashing others so we can get a cut of the 10% (rofl).

If Peter gives Paul a hammer to hit John, what would keep Paul from hitting Peter?

Tammy said...

I just saw this movie over the weekend, and the message that I got from the movie was not anti-Christian in nature, but pro-Christian and strengthened my faith. Jesus being married and having a child does not make him any less divine by any means. If anything, it further proves the truth of the Gospel. Jesus literally while here on the Earth set an example of how to live our lives for us. He was baptized, honest, and accepting of all. Why would he not get married and have a child as well? It wouldn't make sense for him not too. It isn't a secret that women were oppressed or that the Bible had major 'books' omitted. Most of the negative connotations in the movie were directed at the Catholic church specifically. I think any intelligent person can watch that movie and understand the fictional vs factual content and if anything just ponder the ideas that are stirred up.

I am surprised that Mormanity was opposed to the movie. I thought it was thought provoking, not to the point that I couldn't think for myself, but gave me ideas to ponder. Such as, yes Jesus was divine (that isn't a question to me) and he probably had a wife and child. That idea is perhaps anti-Catholic, but certainly not anti-Christian.

Bookslinger said...

Perhaps I spoke to soon about carrying water for the Catholics.

Dan Brown's next target may be the Mormons and the apparent links to Freemasonry, according to a report by KSL.

So perhaps it would behoove me to be more charitable when other religions are maligned by the entertainment industry.

Anonymous said...

Good point about Dan Brown's next book. It's always easy to jump on the bandwagon when the focus is on someone else, but what happens if Mr. Brown portrays Mormons in a very negative way next? I might wish I hadn't been so complimentary of his previous works!

Walker said...

Or if he portrays them in a positive way, but based on false premises?

Jeff said...

I for one wouldn't mind a popular movie portraying modern Mormonism in a negative way. In many ways, more than I can imagine, we probably deserve it and are in need of a kick in the pants to help us get back on track.

Walker said...

Am I taking you correctly Jeff whe you say modern MORMONISM needs a kick in the pants rather than "the Mormon populace"? If so, then you do realize you're saying that Christ's doctrine needs a kick in the pants? Just checking ;)

If you want to ask for persecutions, that's you're business. I just remember on the mission, we would sometimes (half) joke about the elders who prayed to be humbled--all kinds of issues suddenly heaped themselves upon them. Like Elder Maxwell said, those who've been through the refiner's fire probably shouldn't get in line a second time to cheer, "let's do that again!"

Anonymous said...

I told my catholic (fromer nun) friend how neat the movie was . . . and she (who had been told by the pope not to watch it) told me how neat the HBO show 'Big Love' was. I said 'touche!' I'm offended by 'Big Love' and the constant talk show parade of the Greens reinforcing negative stereotypes of LDS and off-shoots. Why shouldn't she be offended? But, on the other hand, some take the truth to be hard- I think there are points of fact in the fictionalized work of Dan Brown, and unfortunately, there are strands of (in my opinion distorted) truth in the off-shoots.
*sigh* in the end, how much respect are we paying each other?

Walker said...

Well said, Anon @4:11.

The "it's just a movie--just let it be a movie" comment doesn't fly by me. There are reasons why we enjoy watching the things we do. Sometimes those reasons are harmless, fun, and even quite amusing. BUt other times, we simply don't like facing the possibility that we have less-than-attractive leisure activities. So we tell ourselves: "it's just a movie," shutting essentially shutting up everyone who disagrees, even if it be our better self.

Stacey Pokorney, the "Party Crasher" said...

Some appear to be asking what is "anti-Christian" about the Da Vinci code. The best and most fair analysis I have come across is on the Fox News website. Scroll down and check out Father Jonathan's blog - he has written four articles about the movie.

I am not a fan of rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth reactionism. I prefer rational, well-reasoned thought. That's what Father Jonathan provides in his writings on this topic. He is presenting what is fallacious about the Da Vinci Code and what is problematic with the history presented by the book and the movie.

I'm not sure whether I will see the movie or read the book. Aside from whether or not it is anti-Christian, it sounds like a rather ridiculous premise and the plot of the book sounds ludicrous. However, my curiosity is piqued, so I may indeed be making Dan Brown just a tad bit richer before all the hooplah hits its finale.

Derek P. Moore said...

Dan Brown spread a bunch of lies about Knights Templar and its associated esoteric societies when he could have just linked to their national and international websites. Had he been so kind as to just link to their websites, you wouldn't have had to read his horribly written book.

http://www.orderofmalta.org/
http://www.smom.org/
http://www.orderofmalta.org.uk/
http://www.smommuseum.ch/
http://www.smom-za.org/

http://www.ordotempli.org/
http://www.osmth.org/
http://www.smotj.org/

Thanks, guys, for innovating fractional-reserve banking and "the law of the water".

PS: As I read law, I'm beginning to think the Mormon doctrine that the water is Satan's domain has more to do with the law of the water than it has to do with bodies of water.

PPS: Dan Brown, it's called a "columnar transpositional cypher" not a "Caesar box".