I generally try to avoid the hype over the upcoming DaVinci Code movie. I hated the book and I never go to the movies anymore anyway, so why waste time blogging about it? But Sojourners interviewed Brian McLaren and raised some points I hadn't seen in any other conversations about the topic. McLaren's main question is about why the book appealed to so many people:
I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown's book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church. Why would so many people be disappointed to find that Brown's version of Jesus has been largely discredited as fanciful and inaccurate, leaving only the church's conventional version? Is it possible that, even though Brown's fictional version misleads in many ways, it at least serves to open up the possibility that the church's conventional version of Jesus may not do him justice?
Dan Brown is more concerned with selling books and undermining authority than he is with history and theology, but he clearly tapped into a vein of discontent in American culture. McLaren argues that the American church is so negatively associated with hypocrisy, politics, and judgmentalism that many potential believers are turned off by a distorted faith and corrupt organized religion. (And his assessment squares with the experiences of many of my non-Christian friends, family, and colleagues.)
While I don't think McLaren is suggesting that we change the content of Christianity to suit DaVinci Code readers, I think he may be on to something with his worries about how organized religion is perceived. How do Christians reach out to people who are distrustful of religious authority? How can our faith address the very real needs and concerns of those who seek truth in Dan Brown's pseudo-Christianity?