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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen

It's Called "Fiction", Your Eminence

I'm currently reading Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and while I'm enjoying the book thoroughly, I am amazed at people's reaction to it on several different levels. I'm amazed that people talk about the book like it's a work of genius. I'm amazed that it takes a mass market novel to introduce the public to what should be pretty obvious truths about the history of the Roman Catholic Church. And I'm amazed at the Church's reaction most of all.

First... the book itself. It's a great read, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. (I'm only about halfway through, BTW, so don't spoil anything for me.) But let's face it, people: this isn't War and Peace. Robert Langdon is such a two-dimensional character that it becomes hard for me to care what happens to him. Sure, I want to watch the plot unfold, but let's not start handing out Nobel prizes just yet.

With regards to the conspiracy theory that forms the basis of the plot, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that so many people are hearing some of these challenges to the Church for the first time, but honestly, this has been a hot topic for maybe fifty years already. The demonization of pagan symbols, the suppression of female divinity, and the story of the Templars' heresy are all well-covered topics. A thousand books have been written on each of these topics. It's a good thing that the more people are starting to consider the fact that what they learned in Sunday school may not be the whole truth, but if your first exposure to the idea is from a guy trying to sell conspiracy novels, you should probably be careful about drawing conclusions.

But now a cardinal is calling the book "lousy history". That's right, Your Eminence, it's called fiction. It's a telling reaction, actually. After all, they don't feel the need to call other works of historical fiction "lousy history", do they? Apparently, The Da Vinci Code is so popular and people are so impressionable that the Church wants to make sure that Billy Bob Alabama doesn't get the wrong idea. But does the Church really expect competition from a novel? According to the Church, there is a wealth of historical evidence to disprove Brown's tale. If contradictory proof were so obvious and readily available, as they claim, there would be no need to ban the book (as they did in Lebanon) or make statements denouncing it.

Comments on It's Called "Fiction", Your Eminence
  Comment from Blogger Alessandra at Tuesday, April 12, 2005 9:35:00 PM
I´m still reading the Da Vinci Code, several initial reflections here (in English):

Opus Dei, action script, how educational it is, the word puzzles, Sophie and Langdon, the albino, the secret ritual and more...

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.