Friday, May 19, 2006

Wait No Longer! The Complete Links to My Lectures on "The Da Vinci Code"

Just in time for the movie, here are the recordings from my four lectures, "The Da Vinci Code: Fact & Fiction."

* The character of biblical Gospels and Gnostic gospels.

* Constantine, the canon, and the Council of Nicea

* Married to Mary? and the role of women in early Christianity

* Why is "The Da Vinci Code" so popular?

Let me know what you think and where you think I'm off my rocker.


John said...

To paraphrase an old magazine ad:

I laughed when you sat down at the piano, but when you started to play...

If you haven't noticed from my previous comments, I pretty much feel like the Da Vinci Code controversy is a horsefly on a donkey's derriere. So, I was skeptical about these lectures before I began them. However, since I am your friend, I was compelled to download the podcasts and listen to them during my commute.

I was pleasantly surprised! They're great lectures and I really enjoyed them.

First, my most adolescent response: assuming I am your "homie" thanks for the "shout out." Also, what is "Mr. Pickle's"?! I hazard to guess.

Also, tiny point, but Freud was a neurologist, who nonetheless was the father of psychology.

OK, some more serious feedback.

Surprisingly, the lecture on Mary Magdalene was my favorite. I would love to chat with you about demonology sometime.

I think you did a good job discussing canonization, but I think there could be questions about the validity of the current canon. In a later post on your blog, you point out that the validity of prayer is not based on the quantity of the pray-ers, but on the authority of the One. Could it not be the same for scripture? I think there are some people who question the "majority rule" and even ecumeninism of the canonization process. What if the majority got it wrong? What if the scriptures they selected were simply most compatible with their own goals and desires of the church?

Finally, I don't feel a need to hold Dan Brown accountable for his fiction, as you do. Granted, in his introduction, he makes statements insisting on the accuracy of the information, but the book is still filed under "fiction" in the library. I am reminded of the introduction to Huckleberry Finn:

"PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."

Though Huckleberry Finn is, in fact, all morality and brilliant plot, Twain is playing with his reader and using a literary device in a dada-like fashion to challenge the reader. In doing so, Twain forces the reader to internalize any morals they extract from the plot as coming from themselves, and not from the moralizer. Twain is challenging the reader to their own integrity.

I don't think Dan Brown's book is the caliber of Twain's, nor do I think his motive for writing is as noble. But I do think he is working out of a similar modality in his introduction. And regardless of his intent, I believe, as Twain did, that it is the responsibility of the reader to process the text with their ~own~ integrity, independant of what they read.

In the Last Temptation of Christ, Scorsese's casting or David Bowie as Pontius Pilate is whimsically brilliant. Is it his fault if audience members take it seriously? I realize Scorsese didn't have a similar statement of fact at the beginning of Last Temptation. Nonetheless, for a reader to pick up a book from the fiction section and believe an opening pledge of accuracy is a little irresponsible.

All said, I liked your approach a lot. It was an excellent survey of the most fictional claim's from the book, as well as some good foundation in church history.

Job well done, dude.

Anonymous said...

Greets to the webmaster of this wonderful site. Keep working. Thank you.

Aquanine said...

Among the tenets of the Christian faith is a belief that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

It does not play into the agreement about prayer that John refers to, as we have nothing of the divine about us. We are not on level with God therefore we cannot compare something we create, prayers, with something He has wrought through the work of the Holy Spirit, Scripture. To say that the Spirit lead formation of the scripture may have been slave to concerns about goals and beliefs of the church at that time is to call into question the Bible's underlying authority and presents and equally revisionay perspective on it. One may say then if that is the hazardous way in which the scriptures were devised then perhaps there are places we may "revisit" in order to appreciate their modern relevance and/or find things we think are inaccurate or misleading and change them.

To say, even in passing, that anything Mark Twain wrote was anything like the Dada movement is laughable and displays an ignorance of the ways in which texts are represented and the ways in which they are interpreted.

Dada is characterized by absurdism, nihilism, deliberate irrationality, and disillusionment. As was pointed out, even that front piece in Huckleberry Finn was deliberately focused on accomplishing a specific goal in the reader; everything Twain wrote was painstakingly devised and manufactured at an acute level.

A last point on authorial fact in fiction: the act of using fact in fiction to heighten the dramatic effect and appeal to certain audiences is wide-spread and does not mean that the facts themselves are naturally in question if their truth is attested to by the author.

Crichton in “State of Fear” does this. What constitutes the fiction in the novel is the characters and events themselves in the narrative sense, not many of the facts presented in the course of the plot (as in Brown's fiction).

Brown does this, he does so deliberately, the effect of which is to plant seeds of doubt in individuals concerning the church, and he should be held accountable for that.