Brown on Da Vinci

davincicodeGloomy reviews (23% at Rotten Tomatoes, 2.5 stars from At the Movies) persuaded James and I not to bother with the movie, The Da Vinci code. But there’s been so much fuss, I felt duty-bound to read this battered public library paperback copy.

The grand hypothesis of the novel is that the church has ruthlessly suppressed the femininity that should be at the heart of a genuine Christianity. Setting aside the bogus ‘history’ of the novel, I’m in sympathy with a feminist theological critique of contemporary church belief and practice.

But even from an “alternative” prespective there is more than enough information to thoroughly debunk author Dan Brown’s speculations. Bishop N.T. Wright has an has an excellent article in Response 26(2) Summer 2005, published by Seattle Pacific University:

One of the fascinating questions about the book is, why is it so popular? It can’t just be because it’s a page-turner; there are plenty of those around. Where does it fit in to our culture? In what way is it saying things that so many people are so eager to hear? Granted that many readers can see how fantastic its conspiracy theories are, why do they still want to believe, or at least be open to, some of the more extreme and bizarre of its claims? I believe the book does indeed represent a quintessential statement of where a significant part of our culture, not least here in North America but also in the UK, passionately wants to be. It is for this reason, not simply because the book is well known or because it perpetuates some currently popular but ultimately silly ideas about Jesus, that I want in this . . . presentation to work down through some of the surface noise of the book to the issues at the heart of it all.

Yet, in the end, the book is a fiction. The book is a novel. It’s not historical fiction. Despite rave reviews and huge sales, to me the book is a failure even as simply a mystery thriller. The characters are flat and underdeveloped, so that all that drives the book and makes it a page-turner is the unravelling of the mystery of the location of the ‘Holy Grail’. But this cannot be anything but unresolved at the anti-climactic end of the story. There’s pages of description that add nothing to the story but to slow it down. The writing is uneconomical and dull. Pages and pages are devoted to speeches filling in the fictitious historical background that plays no part in solving the central mystery of this one-plot wank.