Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How the Church Has Done the Marketing for the Da Vinci Code

Did you know that there was a movie based on the book The Da Vinci Code coming out? Probably. There have been previews on the television and in the theaters. There was a game on Google (pretty fun, actually).

But if none of that had actually happened, people would know that this movie was coming out. How? Because a lot of churches are marketing for it too. Many, many churches are having "Discussing the Da Vinci Code" (like Otter Creek) or "Debunking the Da Vinci Code" or the like. You can find how many churches are addressing it here.

Here's the thing. I really understand why churches are doing this. I think that there is a lot (from what I've heard; I haven't read the book yet) of material that could really be disturbing to people. The idea that Jesus could have been married and fathered a child is an issue that really bothers people. And so congregations are equipping their members by educating them about it, but they are also doing a ton of leg work for the studios on this. They are keeping Da Vinci in the forefront of people's minds and constantly reminding people that it's coming out. So there's this weird balancing act that goes on.

I like what Brian McLaren has said in an interview about the movie and book:

What do you think the popularity of The Da Vinci Code reveals about pop culture attitudes toward Christianity and the church?

Brian McLaren: 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?

And here's the deal in my mind. I think the real reason people are bothered by Da Vinci Code is the same reason that Christians fight so hard on the evolution/creationism/intelligent design argument. Those things are the micro versions of the macro issue, which is how trustworthy is the Bible. For many people their entire faith is based on truth as revealed through Scripture and any challenge to the authority of Scripture is a challenge to their faith. And so, you get court cases about teaching creationism (only the Christian kind?) and you get churches educating about a movie and doing the marketing for the studios.

And the funny thing is that it doesn't look like the movie is going to be very good.

Dull even.


Philip Booth said...

I went to the advance screening last night.

I was underwhelmed, and several critics (including me) chuckled out loud at the biggest "revelations."

Really, it was kind of dull and occasionally quite silly.

greg said...

I'd also read some relatively negative reviews. However, my opinion was that the book itself wasn't really that good. I think had it not been controversial, it would not have sold nearly as many copies. So, I'm not going to be surprised if the movie falls short as well.

Kat Coble said...

I was all set to see it, then I saw the several previews on my TiVo and the NBC Preview Extravaganza.

The movie looks boring.

TCS said...

I am right with you on this post. Haven't read it. Find it interesting that chruches are stirring up so much interest.

Tony Arnold said...

It is always a fine line in knowing the difference between defending and illuminating truth or just providing free publicity and credibility to ignorance.


Greg Simmons said...

Good point. I believe a similar furor gave The Passion of the Christ it's boost.

@ Tony: You're right, we walk a fine line. But, I believe we are called to toe that line and call a spade a spade. The hard part is doing it without turning people off to the Truth you are trying to share with them.

Interestingly, I listed several stories over at my blog where Muslims and Christians actually are in AGREEMENT against the movie.

And, of course the reviews I found have been quite harsh at times.

Tony Arnold said...

Greg, I agree we must tow the line on truth. But it isn't an easy task.

Problem with fine lines is sometimes you are going to be on the wrong side of the line.

I don't think addressing the Da Vinci Code by the religious community is itself a fine line. The fine line is in how we address. Some are doing a good job and others hurting themselves when silence would have served better.

I have to admit that one my biggest beefs with all the backlash against the Da Vinci Code is that a poor literary product and from what I have heard a poor film product are getting a lot more attention and revenue than they would have if left to stand on their artistic merit alone.

I hate giving credibility to a poorly written book or bad film regardless of its content.


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