Monday, April 17, 2006

Lutheran Da Vinci Code

Books do not generally make it to the top of the best-seller list, and stay there, because the author is a master of prose. See, for example, The Bridges of Madison County. Nevertheless, my first beef with Dan Brown's book is the writing. It's not good. I admit, my prose on this blog and elsewhere can at times be clumsy. But I like to think this is because it is topical and timely, and has not gone through the rigors of a review process with editors leading to publication.

Here are some of the concepts in Strunk and White that Brown sins against:

1) Do not use dialect unless your ear is good
2) Do not affect a breezy manner
3) Do not overwrite
4) Use figures of speech sparingly
5) Do not inject opinion (to which I add: and do not call opinion fact)

But let's put aside the issue of style for a second, and answer this question: How should a Lutheran respond to The Da Vinci Code ?

First, and most basically, by remembering that it is a work of fiction. Nothing more. If this novel shakes your faith and worldview, you've taken it far too seriously.

Second, remember that Gnosticism, secret societies, secret knowledge guilds, etc., have been around for a long time. There's always somebody somewhere trying to tell somebody that if they only knew all the inner secrets (and by the way, if you've got some money we can let you in on some of those secrets), they'd achieve some form of enlightenment or salvation. Gnostics think knowledge is salvation. Christians believe otherwise.

What is Gnosticism? One great example would be Scientology. But the idea is so big and has such a long history, I refer readers to a good dictionary or encyclopedia of religion.

Third, if salvation is not about knowledge, it must be about something else. Lutherans believe and confess that salvation is about a relationship, being brought into the very life of Christ through baptism, living out that life around the table in sacrificial love of neighbor. Faith, hope, and love are the things that shake a Lutheran's world, not hidden signs in paintings.

Fourth, remember that lots of religions and peoples, ever since Christ was crucified, have been trying to argue that Christ didn't really die on that cross. The crucifixion of Christ (God incarnate) was a scandal then and still is. It is THE scandal of the faith. It is also the most central aspect of our proclamation. If Christ was not crucified and raised, then faith is null, and the promise void. As nice as it might sound (for it makes him seem even more human than he already was), Jesus did not get married. He died a young meaningless death on a cross, crucified at the hands of many, and God made something out of that death- new life.

1 comment:

  1. After borrowing this book from a library, my son spent a lot of his hard earned money to buy us this book for Christmas. I haven't read it yet; feel I "have" to do so soon. Then, darn it all, he had to buy himself a copy for a class.