Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Friday, January 05, 2007

The DaVinci Code --Movie Review

Here’s a few observations from the Da Vinci Code movie that my wife and I watched back in November. Sorry it took me so long to post it.

For a movie and book/philosophy that is supposed to elevate the feminine, they sure kept the main female character, Sophie Neuveu (New Wisdom) rather clueless throughout the movie. Sadly, even though she was a cryptologist by trade—a code breaker, she was unable to figure out most of the clues and she constantly needed a man or men to explain things to her—ironic.

Langdon (Tom Hanks) was never so skeptical of the SangReal theory in the book—but was much more of a proponent—several of the lines and questions he offers in the movie are direct results of criticisms leveled since the book’s explosion in popularity.

  • For example—during the conversation with Teabing, Langdon points out the 1967 forgery suit in France to which Teabing responds that whole scenario was just a cover that the mysterious “they” want you to not believe in the Priory.
  • Also, Langdon’s retort that the Council of Nicea only confirming already held beliefs—which is true—but Teabing’s argument was just too solid to dispute—how convenient.

During that conversation with Teabing, Teabing argues that Constantine truly was a lifelong pagan—which is true, he was the High Priest of all pagan worship baptized on his deathbed (in part so he could hold both titles simultaneously, but also because the common belief of the time was that any sins committed after one’s baptism would be unforgiven, so many people put off their baptism until their deathbed—hence the emphasis on Last Rites in some traditions.)—Teabing argues Constantine was only interested in unifying a nation divided around competing belief systems.

That begs the question of the choices this man would have made between the Old Pagan system and the New Christian system. The old was predictable and had worked for centuries—the new was a wild card and no one knew politically whether it would work at running an empire. If this lifelong pagan held the information and the power that could destroy the new Christian system—it would make much more sense for him to destroy the new Christian system and preserve the Pagan—where his own heart would have been anyway—why would he suppress the one bit of information that would turn the tide against Christianity when he could have destroyed it and kept the status quo?

Teabing asks/states, no one can be sure who began the atrocities of the time. I can—non-christians—began by executing Jesus, the Jewish leadership (in no way implicating all Jews), which included Saul, later Paul the apostle, stoned Stephen, and went to other towns (Damascus) to round up these believers of the Way. Pagans did—the ruling powers of Rome and other provinces began targeting Christians as early as the 40-50’s AD as seen in the book of Acts, Nero in AD 64 blaming the burning of Rome on Christians, and numerous others. For centuries there were not enough Christians to have any significant fighting force.

Later, there would have been the potential for fighting as Christianity was making inroads into the Roman Military—and that in no way excuses or condones it--but my goodness—using the sword to spread Christianity is totally contrary to its central beliefs—which has sadly been forgotten at many points in church history. Likewise, even the best moral teaching is often incapable of preventing people from defending themselves when attacked—it probably wouldn’t for me in most circumstances—it should, though difficult, prevent retaliation.

Teabing argues that the Bible (really he means the New Testament, but why undermine part when you can do it all) was presided over by one man. That is completely false—that would be like the claim that the only valid English translation of the Bible is the King James based on the fact that it has the king’s “approval and authority”—sorry, but the Bible never needed the approval or authorization of any government leader—it is what it is independently. The early church determined the criteria, not Constantine.

1. The looked for—Apostolic Connection—either written by an Apostle—ex. John or Matthew, Paul, Peter or someone closely tied to an apostle—Luke & Mark. That’s one reason why the Gnostic Gospels didn’t make it—they were written in the late 100’s to 200’s and used Pseudonyms—like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the Gospel of Judas—in an attempt to add credibility when those people had been dead for over 100 years or more.

2. They looked for widespread distribution and acceptance—ie. Not an isolated copy—from one city, or one rejected by just about everyone but a small group.

3. They examined Teaching and Theology to determine if it was consistent with apostolic teaching—oral teaching & other epistles as well as the Old Testament—the Gnostic Gospels (Thomas, Mary Magdalene & Judas among others) did not qualify here either because their philosophy of Gnosticism—such as physical/material world = evil, only spiritual = good, is not a biblical concept.

Concerning the Immortality of Jesus being established by Constantine and the debate—there were 2 primary groups—those who emphasized Jesus’ deity at the expense of His humanity and those who emphasized His humanity at the expense of His deity. Back then, it was easier for them to accept Jesus’ divinity but harder to accept how the divine could also be human. Brown makes it sound like the results mirrored our recent presidential elections—50.8% for 49.2% against—and that is nothing like it at all—the vast majority confirmed the already held belief of Christ’s deity—a belief already held by probably 97% of Christianity. Those that didn’t hold this position were also on the outside of other issues as well and largely left the orthodox church.

Then there was this interesting exchange.

· Tom Hanks—“You’re interpreting the facts to support your own conclusion”—(again, he was never so antagonistic in the book)

“How many people have been murdered over this?”

Teabing—“As long as there has been a ‘One True God’, there’s been killing in his name.”—the implication is that if we would get rid of this concept everyone would be better off—go back to many gods and we won’t have all this killing.

That’s just stupid—First—killing in the name of religion exists in polytheistic settings as well—after all, he had just said the pagans were fighting the Christians. Second, killing happens for more than just religious reasons—money, property, power, women, jealousy, rage—it is part of our sinful human nature—we kill each other for many reasons—long before and totally independent of monotheism.

  • Teabing—“For 2000 years the Church has rained oppression and atrocity upon mankind, crushed passion and idea alike and all in the name of their walking god.”

Yeah, that’s accurate—let’s see, has anything good been done due to Christianity? You wouldn’t think so listening to this. Without Christianity, you wouldn’t have hospitals but quack shamans and medicine men, orphanages—they’d just be left to die, universities, scientific method, hmm… most of these were started by Christians or the Church. Most were improved by the same.

· “Proof of Jesus’ mortality can bring an end to all that suffering—drive this church of lies to its knees.”—

Even though said by Teabing—the bad guy—he would have been fine if he hadn’t resorted to killing people—this is, I believe the true intent of Dan Brown—after all, especially in the book—this essentially becomes the cause of the main character Langdon—he’s just tempered with enough faith and discovery to know that you shouldn’t kill for it. The only real problem with Teabing’s goals is that his passion is only misapplied and that he becomes overzealous and willing to kill. Langdon then becomes a reasonable hero with balanced and appropriate goals.

· “The living heir must be revealed—Jesus must be shown for what he was—not miraculous, simply man. The Dark Con can be exposed. Mankind can finally be set free.”—

Again, the modern society has a hard time accepting the divinity of Jesus, we want to remove the supernatural from Him—it makes Him easier to ignore. Quite the contrast to the early church who had a much easier time grasping His divinity, but had a harder time understanding how that could coexist in His Humanity. How could the divine, Son of God also be a human being in all that entails? It’s a hard concept to grasp, even for some today.

· “all the oppression of the poor, of the powerless, of those of different skin, of women… you can put an and to all that.”

Yep, the Church & Christianity are responsible for all the evils of the world—those things would never have existed if Christianity hadn’t existed—yeah, that’s accurate. Has the Church been guilty of those things—sadly yes—but it is people that are the problem—implementing their own prejudices, with their own self-interests.

· When Teabing tries to force Sophie to open the Cryptex, Langdon says—“She can’t do it, Leigh.” In other words, she needs a man to open it for her—another case of irony in a movie that is supposed to elevate women.

· Looking at the Star of David—“Blade & Chalice fuzed as one—as the pagans would have wanted.”—I wonder what the Jewish reaction to this statement is? Anyone know?

Briefly, Langdon’s/Hank’s final speech to Sophie has several gems that I’ll just throw out.

· “History shows us Jesus was an extraordinary man—a human inspiration… that’s it. That’s all the evidence has ever proved.”

The “evidence” does show that Jesus was an extraordinary man, but certainly not, “that’s all.” This is of course allowable only if you reject the biblical Gospels as any type of reliable source. So the reliability of the Scripture is the heart of this statement. Yet they are throwing out the most detailed descriptions of His life and ministry and teaching. That would be like building an understanding of Benjamin Franklin only after throwing out all his writings, inventions and accomplishments as an adult and only looking at his grades in elementary school.

· “Why does it have to be human or divine? Maybe human is divine.”

This is a great desire of the New Age movement. The orthodox Christian position is that Jesus is both Human AND Divine. If solely divine, then Jesus would not be able to call us His brothers—He would not have truly identified with our position in a sinful world. Yet if only human, Jesus would have been a sinner like you and me—He would have died for His own sins—it would have never reconciled us with God or made atonement for our sins.

· “Why couldn’t Jesus have been a father and still been capable of all those miracles?”—This one I thought was silly. Jesus’ ability for miracles was not dependent on his singleness! But His purpose for coming was—Jesus did not come to start a family, but to die—He knew that from the beginning.

· “A living descendant of Jesus Christ, would she destroy faith or would she renew it? What matters is what you believe.”

Destroy and renew is probably the real desire. Destroy the current expression of Christianity and replace it with the pagainized, sex central worship.

I did have this thought about the ending. When TH is praying over the Louvre and the “final resting place of Mary Magdalene”, what/who do you think he is praying to at this point?

What would he be praying for?

She is just a normal woman, what good would it do?

Well, I know this is long, but all in all, I’m glad my faith is not built upon that shaky foundation, nor is it shaken by anything in this movie/book. I hope you got something out of reading this.

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