How thin the church's veil-- Part One

The thing that both amuses and frustrates me the most about the Gnostic mess that is the "Da Vinci Code" and its ilk is how willing people are to believe that the church just makes stuff up.

That might make sense if we were only selling an earthly system of good life and rewards. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense to suppress a woman apostle (because the largest market for a powerful church would have been men), to vilify Judas (so the story has a clear villain) to fill in the holes in Christ's story with words that make sense and advance our human agendas (no one likes loose ends, after all) and to invent a continuing human bloodline that connects us all to a majestic historical figure (because we humans are hard-wired to seek and value that kind of connection.) But we have a bigger prize at stake.

We're not marketing an inspirational system where good people get rewarded with fame and power, the way the Church's various councils and decisions have been portrayed. We're teaching a way of life that puts us last on the totem pole (counterintuitive and not fun), where women have been a vital part of the church from Eve and Rahab to Lois and Eunice, and worshipping a king who died! If we don't preach what Jesus actually said and did and is, we lose the whole point of our faith and wind up not spending any time with him in the Kingdom. Why would we want to make up a story that takes away our salvation and negates all the Godly goals we've been working toward for centuries?

At Confirmation last week, a parent came up and thanked me for talking with her children-- "you know, really talking to them-- about real ideas!" That's what our faith is made of-- real ideas, real stories, real promises-- that we preach and practice because they are the only way to get anywhere other than dead. The things that we read between the lines in Scripture and in Christian writings are fictions, nothing more. They engage the imagination, but have no hold on our souls.

So I won't condemn Dan Brown's work, since he has done what every fiction writer does-- hold up the question "what if?" and use it to fill in holes in what we know about our world. I don't own it, and won't see it in the theater, but I don't think it's evil. Instead, I encourage us all to focus on knowing the real ideas and the real Christ that are behind our lives. The recent furor has given us all a look at what we don't know about Christianity and with those things laid bare, there are no longer any excuses for the gaps in our knowledge.


Esther said...

Excellent post. I've linked to it on my blog because it's such a good read.

Isaac, The Rookie said...

Thanks, Esther! This post and the one or two that are going to follow it have been kicking around for a while but not jelled until I was watching one of the Da Vinci specials on Discovery Channel (in the commercials of The Simpsons) and heard an historian come right out and say that the whole Mary Magdalen as wife thing comes from a place where there's a literal hole in the manuscript and we don't know what the word was.