My Thumbnail Review

Saw the movie tonight with Mike Gunn and my wife, Jenn. We worked on The Da Vinci Code Adventure together, and wanted to see the movie together too. Boy, were we in for a bit of a surprise.

Earlier today, MSNBC carried an AP story which reported that Ron Howard's movie "subtly softens" the material of Dan Brown's book. The Associated Press couldn't have it more wrong.

Yes, Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon does find some new dialogue in his mouth courtesy of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, words that at least play devil's advocate with Ian McKellen's Leigh Teabing. But in the end, the cinematic Langdon becomes much more of a true believer than does his literary counterpart.

Three major innovations introduced by Howard's movie:

First, his film portrays Opus Dei and the "shadow council" of the Vatican as really being in cahoots, really conspiring to kill people in the name of God, really trying to supress intellectual inquiry, really turning its back on truth and righteousness. In short, Ron Howard turns the Catholic Church into a genuine villain. Shameful.

Second, the movie further fabricates ancient history, making the charge that history is unclear whether the Roman Empire or the Christians were the first agressors. Please!

Third, and most importantly, the film invests significant energy in validating the Magdalene myth. While in Brown's book Marie Chauvel basically leaves the existence of the Sangreal documents and Magdalene's bones to the world's imagination, Howard has Langdon and Neveu discover plenty of material evidence to back up the claim.

Where's the mystery that feeds the soul? Where's the adventure? You'll have to find it in the book, I'm afraid. There's no codebreaking here, just polemic.

And in the end, Brown's book, whatever its faults or strengths, worked far better as a book than Howard's film works as a movie. The packed house I saw the movie with—a completely partisan crowd that didn't have to pay a dime to get in—was underwhelmed. They didn't giggle and hoot the way the crowd at Cannes did, but they were hardly enthusiastic.

I would not be surprised to see this film crash and burn; but then, I said the same thing about the Narnia film, too. So what the heck do I know?

Mixed Reviews, Panned at Cannes

The screening of the film at Cannes was less than a resounding success. Toward the end of the movie, when an as-yet-undisclosed revelation is made by Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon, the audience responded with hoots and catcalls; and when the film concluded, it was greeted with not even a smattering of applause.

Of course, Hollywood blockbusters do not normally receive a warm embrace from the industry insiders and critics who habituate the festivals at Cannes, which typically honor films of international and independent sensibilities. So a cold shoulder at Cannes is never a true indicator of a film's quality or chances of success.

But early reviews are definitely split, though both FoxNews and Roger Ebert give the movie pretty solid marks.

Here's a smattering of summaries of the debut at Cannes:

Survey Reports Gullibility

A new survey of Britons, commissioned by critics of the book and film, reports that a significant percentage of Brown's readers believe the contentions of the novel's characters. Naturally, the percentages are significantly higher than for Britons who have not read the book.

What the survey doesn't get at is how many of those readers are naturally predisposed to think ill of Catholics and doubt the veracity of Christian history. While I rather imagine the figures reported by the survey are largely accurate, I still doubt that Dan Brown's book did little more than confirm those readers' own worst suspicions.

People will believe what they want to believe -- even fiction.

The Telegraph (UK), 17.05.06

Touch and Go on Censorship Abroad

In India this week, planned (peaceful) protests by an alliance of Catholics prompted the nation's film ratings board to reverse its approval of the film, pending a screening for concerned Catholics. Representatives of the Catholic Church also decried last week's "dead or alive" bounty called for by one prominent protestor. The latest word is now that, following a screening of the film as previously mentioned, one of India's prime ministers has declared that the release will proceed as planned, with the film receiving an adults-only rating, also as planned. He further reiterated that the film must have disclaimers attached, granting that negotiations with the film's producers on that score may delay the film's release by a few days. (I should say so, given that prints of the film have undoubtedly already arrived in exhibitor's hands.)

But the movie faced its most severe challenge in Thailand, where the police-run censorship board seemed set at one point to demand that the final ten minutes of the film be cut—this in response to calls from Christian protestors. Sony's local distributor, however, filed an appeal, and a review panel reversed the decision, allowing the film to be screened under an adults-only rating—provided that it is screened with a disclaimer prior to and after the film, as in India's decision.

In the Philippines, meanwhile, the Manila city council reportedly passed a resolution banning screenings of the film, despite the national government's refusal to block the film, which is also carrying an adults-only rating there.

Korean courts rejected lawsuits aimed at preventing the movie from being screened.

In an interesting related twist, Muslims in India and Russia are also calling for restrictions on screenings of the film due to their own reverence of Jesus as a prophet.


Comments from McKellen

MTV News has scored some juicy bits from Ian McKellen, the rather famous British actor who portrays Sir Leigh Teabing in the upcoming film. The interview-based article includes extensive quotes from McKellen, who happens to be a rather outspoken atheist (just so you know)...

MTV Movie News, 15.05.06

The Brown on Brown Interview

The hardcopy of USA Today is running an exclusive interview with Dan Brown, in which he comments on the upcoming movie and the surrounding blather. The interview is conducted by Dan Brown himself.

Syndicated journalist Terry Mattingly, a friend of mine who is not too keen on Mr. Brown or his book (just so you know going in), has blogged about the interview, including some excerpts...

Get Religion, 15.05.06


Comments from Tatou and Hanks

The Christian Post has deftly summarized comments from the star of the upcoming movie, comments regarding the Christian response to the controversy. If you're tired of rummaging around, and would like to see them all collected in one place, click through on the link below...

Christian Post, 13.05.06

Excellent Insight on Indian Protests

The Hindustan Times is running an excellent editorial about the recent Da Vinci Code protests in India, and, more broadly, on the pyschology of protest in Indian culture. The article really has very little to do with The Da Vinci Code, but it's a terrific and insightful piece.

Hindustan Times, 14.05.06


China Gets 2-Day Jump on Code

Go figure. Somehow, China's premiere will be happening on Wednesday, and due to time zone differences between Beijing and Cannes, that means the Chinese will beat the film festival screening by some six hours.

That also means the Chinese public will see the movie before many US film critics, who will be attending press screenings on Wednesday and Thursday. Wow.

Expect early reviews from the Chinese screenings to scoop many official press outlets.

xinhuanet.com, 13.05.06

Interview with Jean Reno

The Star (South Africa) is running a short interview with Jean Reno, who plays Bezu Fache in the upcoming movie.

The Star, 09.05.06

Da Vinci Code Wiki

DVC debunker Dan Burstein has partnered with a Seattle technology company to promote a Da Vinci Code wiki. If you're interested in helping build an online storehouse of knowledge about Dan Brown's book, here's your chance!

Or, if you have no idea what a wiki is, and want to find out, this is your chance, too...

Seattle P-I, 12.05.06

First "Ban" Not Really Ban

Residents of the Danish-ruled Faroe Islands will not be seeing Ron Howard's movie in their two local theatres. But no religious or government authorities have banned the movie; the theatres owner just decided not to book the movie.

Yes, the decision was reached because of pressure from indignant Christians; but this still does not constitute a ban. It's simply a question of economics and market forces. Why would you book a movie in your theatre that no one will go see? That's financial suicide.

Such booking practices are common. Happens all the time. It just doesn't usually draw press attention.

Monsters and Critics, 12.05.06


First Review In

The Telegraph (UK) managed to score an early screening of the film and published the first full-oout review of the film that I've seen. It's got a handful of spoilers but not many. The article, in fact, has the feel of a piece that's been tightly controlled for content. But what John Hiscock does say makes it pretty clear that Howard and company have plenty of tricks up their sleeves...

The Telegraph, 12.05.06

Interview with DVC Screenwriter

The Toronto Star is running a nice interview with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, who's off to help "promote" the movie at Cannes. Not only is the interview one of the very few legitimate publicity ops to surface, it's a pretty decent read. Kudos to Peter Howell.

The Star, 12.05.06

Sorry, No Riots in India

If you happen to come across reports of rioting in India, don't believe them; not yet, anyway. One online news source, reporting on the call for a hunger strike by a small group of Indian Catholics, slapped a bogus headline on the article, calling the incident a riot. Knowing how things propagate on the internet, I rather imagine you might see that headline repeated elsewhere.

But I checked the facts, such as they are, and no riot has yet been reported.


No Reel News, Just Sound Bites

The publicity machine behind Ron Howard's movie is keeping the production under tight wraps prior to the movie's release. Very little in the way of real information about the film is getting out in the press. Of interest, though, is Entertainment Tonight's apparently exclusive sound-bite coverage of the film—but you'll have to watch TV to get that.

Meanwhile, Starpulse has a few comments from Audrey Tatou about why she didn't think she'd get the gig as Sophie: "[Ron Howard] was doing one day of casting where he was going to meet everyone, but I was in Mexico and I said it's not even worth it for me to go. I didn't see how it could work. I thought this character had my strong-mindedness but it didn't go further than that. And I thought at 27 that I was a bit too young when Ron contacted me."

Yahoo Entertainment, 08.05.06 and Starpulse, 09.05.06

Mockery on Saturday Night Live

Hollywood.com offers a report on last weekend's Saturday Night Live appearance by Tom Hanks. During the opening monologue, the star of Ron Howard's upcoming film
opened the show by taking questions from regular cast members dressed as clergymen and clergywomen--and Jesus himself. Comedian Chris Parnell took on the guise of a cardinal and asked the actor, "I was wondering when you were making the film and you were meeting with the producers and writers and the director, in all that creative process, did you ever wonder what it would feel like to burn for eternity in hell?"
Later in the segment, "another show regular, Jason Sudeikis, dressed up as a comedic Jesus. He quipped, 'Mr. Hanks, I saw your film and I just want you to know that I forgive you.'"

Offensive? Actually, yes, I think so. But the true shame of the situation is that the parody is not as much a parody as you might think. I've participated in media junkets with members of the Christian press who have treated directors and movie stars in just as condescending and judgmental fashion as Parnell's and Sudeikis' characters treated Hanks. Once again, reality can be just as ugly as fiction.

The behavior of many Christians is actually shameful; while that doesn't excuse shameful behavior on the part of others, it does call to mind a certain line from Jesus about throwing stones...

It'll be interesting to see what Hanks has to say on Sunday's new segment for Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio.

Hollywood.com, 08.05.06

Reality Gets Wierder than Brown's Fiction

I'm sorry, but it really seems that Christians are getting totally wigged out over the impending release of Ron Howard's movie. The wierdest part is how the response from the Church is all over the map.

In the most recent news reports, one Catholic cardinal is suggesting that the appropriate response is through the courts—despite the fact that he could offer no concrete options for carrying out such a plan, and despite the fact that Scripture specifically recommends staying out of the courts. Huh.

In Singapore, conservative pressure has led to the film being rated NC-16, which prevents any children below the age of 16 from seeing the film at the theaters. In India, small groups of Catholics have gathered to burn books and effigies of Dan Brown, and are calling for a hunger strike to protest the movie's release. And in the Philippines,
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said he would lead a crusade to ban the film because it was “sacrilegious against God.” Brown’s book, released here last year, did not elicit a similar controversy. “In a predominantly Christian country like the Philippines, making publicly available such [a] film is sinfully condoning blasphemy and undermining the very limits of the people’s values and religious foundation,” Arguelles said in a letter to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. But Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said banning the movie would likely only stir more interest. “We neither oppose nor endorse its showing. We don’t want to ride the commercialization and marketing hype because we know that this is all marketing strategy and the bottom line here is money—it’s not religion,” Quitorio said.
Christian author Brian McClaren seems to side with Msgr. Quitorio. Says McClaren, "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?"

Various Sources, 07.05.06-10.05.06


Leigh and Baigent Bankrupt?

When Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent recently lost their lawsuit against Random House in the UK, they became legally bound to pay not only their own court costs, but a significant percentage of Random House's legal fees as well. The total bill? Somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million. The really bad news? The boys don't have the resources to pay the bills! This, despite rocketing sales of Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Baigent's new book, The Jesus Mysteries. The more I see and hear of these guys, the less impressed I am. They just don't seem very bright, and they apparently place trust in very very bad legal and financial advice.

The Telgraph (UK), 04.05.06

This Week's Response Blotter

Amidst talk of Maltese protest pilgrimages quashed by the Catholic Church and ongoing debates about banning the movie in the Philippines, Jordan and South Korea, here's a roundup of higher-profile responses to Ron Howard's film and Dan Brown's book:
  • Last Monday, a group of about 50 Catholic in Rochester, NY, picketed the Tinseltown USA Theatre in protest of the movie's upcoming screening. The protest was reportedly led by representatives of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign, which had previously said it would simply be organizing peaceful demonstrations on the day of the movie's release. So much for planning.
  • At a conference in Rome this week, Opus Dei's Fr. John Wauck (who runs a Da Vinci Code blog) suggested that the upcoming movie might actually lead people to the Church rather than away from it. “If you find what you see there attractive you will probably enjoy a Catholic Mass,” he said. “I’ve seen people who have come back to their faith after reading The Da Vinci Code.”
  • An affiliation of Roman Catholic Church leaders called "The Da Vinci Code Response Group," coordinated by Dr. Austen Ivereigh, Director for Public Affairs of the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, issued a press release with a very succint summary in direct contradiction to last week's Vatican rumblings about a boycott: "Our first message to people planning to see the film is: enjoy yourselves, but do not believe anything in it. The Da Vinci Code is fiction trading as fact. Our second message is: the story of the real Jesus is much more compelling than the gospel according to Dan Brown. Enjoy yourselves; then discover for yourselves the real thing."
  • In the Protestant world, the best thing I read this week was a column run in the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal-Gazette written by pastor Steve Conner of the local Covenant United Methodist Church. Among other things, pastor Connor says, "Real truth can usually stand the test. And if it can’t, then it must not have been true to begin with and needed to be challenged. There’s room to explore, grow, discover, wonder and wander while seeking a deeper understanding of all things, and sometimes that means even being willing to challenge the thoughts, ideas or perspectives we hold most dear. Usually, truth, real truth, can stand the scrutiny. It is important for us to learn to think theologically and critically about the issues that concern our world and us." Ahhh. How refreshing.
Various Sources, 04-06.05.06


The Da Vinci Code Adventure

I am very pleased to announce the upcoming release of The Da Vinci Code Adventure by Mars Hill Church co-founder Mike Gunn. My wife Jenn and I edited and contributed to Mike's stunning and enjoyable tour through the text of Dan Brown's thriller.

In contrast to the host of "debunking" books on the market, Adventure is written by and for people who actually enjoy The Da Vinci Code! And, in the spirit of Dan Brown's book, The Da Vinci Code Adventure peers under every philosophical, religious, historical, and literary rock mentioned in the Code. It picks up where Brown's characters leave off—much as Dan Brown intends for his readers to do.

Yes, the book is written from a distinctly Christian perspective—but not defensively so. Mike Gunn writes with a confidence, humor, and keen intelligence that easily matches Leigh Teabing and Robert Langdon. Jenn Wright balances the machismo that Mike and I bring to the project, offering great insights into human nature and the character development of Brown's heroine, Sophie Neveu.

Besides a relentlessly positive and informed approach, the Adventure also offers links and references to external sources of study, inviting readers to draw their own conclusions; it also discusses more than twenty movies similar in theme and content to The Da Vinci Code, including The Omega Code, The Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus of Montreal, Left Behind, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

And one last bonus—all references to Brown's book include page number citations from both hardback and mass-market paperback editions! No other book on the market has offered that.

Says Steve Kellmeyer, author of Fact and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code and Sex in the Sacred City, "The Da Vinci Code Adventure is easily the most innovative, positive, constructive response to The Da Vinci Code on the market. If you enjoyed Dan Brown's novel, this book will be a delight!"

The Da Vinci Code Adventure will be released May 16, just in time for the movie's premiere.

Publisher information can be found at Hollywood Jesus Books.

Copies of the book can be preordered through Hollywood Jesus. They'll ship on May 16.

Opus Dei and the Spotlight

According to the Times (UK), Opus Dei is actually starting to enjoy the attention its received due to the latest furor over the upcoming Da Vinci Code movie. No, they haven't withdrawn their request for a disclaimer on the film (a request that is still being ignored, naturally); but the new face of the once-shadowy prelature is becoming "cheery, energetic, transparent, as open as its doors," according to Austen Ivereigh, the Archbishop of Westminster's director of public affairs.

Times Online (UK), 04.05.06

Code Smears Jews, Too?

So says David Klinghoffer, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Jewish Week has published an extensive essay by Klinghoffer about how Dan Brown's book is indirectly linked to anti-semitism. Here's a snip:
Plantard (1920-2000), the French monarchist and anti-Semite who gave us the Priory of Sion, spent much of his life inventing minuscule esoteric organizations intended to “purify” France of the evil influences of modernity — and of Judaism. In 1940 he wrote of the “terrible Masonic and Jewish conspiracy” that threatened France.

Jewish Week, 05.05.06


New Promo Photos

Yes—something actually related to the movie!

Comingsoon.net has added some new publicity stills to their DVC gallery. Have a look!

Coming Soon, 30.04.06

Boycott? Maybe. Still no War.

The latest news out of the Vatican is a statement made by Archbishop Angelo Amato, "the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year, who called The Da Vinci Code "stridently anti-Christian ... full of calumnies, offences and historical and theological errors regarding Jesus, the Gospels and the Church." He went on to tell attendees at a Catholic conference, "I hope that you all will boycott the film."

Still, this does not constitute an official pronouncement from the Church in favor of a boycott. And, contrary to the desires of some in the press, apparently, a Holy War has still not broken out—thank God!

Meanwhile, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) is planning a "campaign" to "hold 1,000 peaceful prayer vigils outside theaters nationwide beginning May 19. 'These public acts of reparation will literally blanket the country... Volunteers are banding together for protest prayer vigils in front of movie theaters showing the blasphemous Da Vinci Code movie,' said America Needs Fatima director Robert Ritchie."

The Scotsman and Christian Newswire, 28.04.06


Those Witty Judges...

Okay, I did say that I liked this one... The judge in the UK lawsuit against Dan Brown's publishers encoded a secret message in his ruling, in the spirit of the Code. Journalists are now falling all over themselves trying to get to the bottom of it all...

Update: The Code's Been Cracked. And what a disappointment. See the second link below.

The Scotsman, 27.04.06 and The New York Times, 28.04.06

Only ONE Cryptex?!!?!?

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly has got a few details on the upcoming movie, but not a lot. It does sound, though, like there will be a lot of plot and detail streamlining. Will that spoil the fun? Dunno. We'll see. The real question is now: so what's the password going to be: sofia, apple, or something else—like "money"?

Check it out on the newsstand.


Olson's Hoax and Education

A Eugene, Oregon paper is running a fairly decent article about Carl Olson's book and similar efforts at dealing with the issues raised by Dan Brown's book. Here's a snip:

Olson is by no means the only believer hoping to use the book and movie as a tool for education. At the University of Oregon, for example, Campus Crusade for Christ adviser Mike Alverts and students in the interdenominational group plan to distribute brochures challenging the ssertions found in "The Da Vinci Code." I don't feel threatened by the book or the movie, but this is a good opportunity to talk about this kind of stuff because people have these questions," says Alverts. In an era when fact and fiction are increasingly blurred, a novel can leave "an assumption of validity," Alverts says. He especially worries, he says, "about the person who is interested in but doesn't have any real education about Christianity. They could connect dots that are not really there."
The Register-Guard, 23.04.06

Dan Brown Speaks (Publically)

Boston.com has a great report on Dan Brown's lecture on Sunday. Here's a snip:
He's happy his best-selling novel about hidden religious history, secret societies and code-breaking has captured popular interest. The rest is not his responsibility. "Let the biblical scholars and historians battle it out," he said Sunday during a writers talk presented by New Hampshire Public Radio and The Music Hall of Portsmouth. "It's a book about big ideas, you can love them or you can hate them," Brown said. "But we're all talking about them, and that's really the point."
Boston.com, 23.04.06

"Holy War"??? NOT!

A Scottish Catholic priest has undertaken to distribute a DVD titled Debunking the Da Vinci Myths, saying that TDVC's "inaccuracies are equivalent to claiming John Knox was a child abuser."

Okay... I guess I don't see the comparison.

But really. The press is labelling this promotion a "Holy War." Please. In holy wars, people die. I don't think that's what's going to happen here.

Here's a snip from Scotsman.com:

Reilly's assault on the "monumentally inexcusable nonsense" of Dan Brown's book will be sent to all 60 Catholic secondary schools and 500 parishes and is deliberately timed to coincide with the release of the movie.
Scotsman.com, 23.04.06


Finally! Some Movie News!

Okay, it's not much. Actually, just a single quote from Ron Howard. But it's news, and it's about the movie! The director talks about shooting in the Louvre...
Howard says, "We had to be very specific about every single shot we were going to do, both for security and for preservation reasons. There were all kinds of things we couldn't do. In the script, there is blood on the floor but we couldn't do that, and obviously we couldn't take paintings off the walls."
Star Pulse, 21.04.06

Brown Wins Another Round

Amidst reports that Dan Brown is about to sued by a Russian who claims the idea of The Da Vinci Code originated with him, a U.S. Appeals Court has upheld an earlier ruling against a domestic litigant, saying that Brown played by the usual literary rules.

Wow. What a pain it is to write a bestseller!

Reuters, 21.04.06

Debunking, and Debunking

Today's side-by-side comparison puts two debunkers on different sides of the same coin face.

First, author Sharan Newman tries to keep things light:
The Da Vinci Code has sparked outcry from Christians around the world for its controversial claims. Describing herself as non-religious, she said: 'I really don't look at it from a religious point of view because religion is faith, and faith is what you have when there's no proof. I think that certainly, as a writer, I wish the Vatican would condemn a book of mine, because it does wonders for sales.'

Second, UK Christian writer Mal Fletcher goes for the hard-edged approach (and also misses the fact that Dan Brown is indeed a Christian):
Mr. Brown, as far as I know, has never professed any sort of Christian faith, so he can't be accused of betrayal in the proper sense of the word. Yet he has betrayed truth, by insisting that Jesus did not die as the Bible suggests, but went on living and eventually marrying Mary Magdalene.
The Electric New Paper and Cross Rhythms, 20.04.06

The Duduk Code

I'm not exactly sure what a "duduk" is, but we'll apparently be hearing the sound one of them makes in the upcoming Code soundtrack—and Armenians are apparently pretty happy about that! For more, click below...

PanArmenian Network, 19.04.06


Catholic Views at the Dialogue

Early Catholic buzz about The Da Vinci Dialogue criticized the effort because none of the "experts" named in the press release were Roman Catholic authorities. Well, the early criticism may have paid dividends—or it may have just been uninformed.

The latest two essays posted at the Dialogue are by John L. Allen, Jr., a Catholic journalist who specializes in news about the Roman Catholic Church, and Monsignor Francis J. Maniscalco, who has been director of communications of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since 1995. The Monsignor deals in broad terms about the potrayal of Catholic teaching in Dan Brown's book, while Allen writes a much more interesting and informative piece on Opus Dei. Allen's weekly column about Vatican affairs, called “The Word from Rome,” appears in the National Catholic Reporter.

The Da Vinci Dialogue

Test Audiences? "Bad Hair!"

Been waiting a long time to hear about reactions from test audiences... And what do we get?
Viewers admitted to researchers they found his lank locks a major turn-off. A studio insider told The Sun newspaper: "Much of the talk is about the hair. But it's too late to fix it."

Star Pulse, 18.04.06

Opus Dei Opens Up

ABC News interviews an Opus Dei spokeswoman, who seems quite genial and levelheaded—for whatever that's worth.

It does seem as if Opus Dei has been getting more positive exposure than negative from the whole thing... But the ABC article does include some details from one of those ex-OD members. It's worth a read.

Oh... Those headlines you may be seeing about Opus Dei "demanding" a disclaimer on the film? Wrong. They're asking for one. That's quite a different thing. Shame on those headline writers.

UPDATE: ABC has added another article about Opus Dei members.

ABC News, 18.04.06 / 20.04.06

It's Game Time

TeamXbox has got some screenshots of the upcoming game. If you're an X-Boxer, check 'em out!

TeamXbox, 17.04.06

Google Hosts Online Code Quest

Wow. The opportunity to play an online game for a whole month! If you're interested, check out the press release from Columbia Pictures, the studio producing the upcoming film. The puzzle is located at www.google.com/davincicode.

Home Office, 17.04.06

TDVC, Uh, Unites Christians

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has also now weighed in against Dan Brown's book and Ron Howard's movie.

All this accomplishes, of course, is to put Ted Baehr and Williams on the same side of an issue. And that's doing something.

CNN, 17.04.06

Two Takes on Olson's DV Hoax

Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media is pretty high on Carl Olson's book The Da Vinci Hoax, which uses secluar historians to "debunk" Dan Brown's book. Sounds like a kind of interesting and well-motivated idea.

Perhaps, that is, until you read Steve Kellmeyer's opinion at Renew America. I think Kellmeyer's piece is the best (short) work on The Da Vinci Code that I have read—and he pretty much slices and dices Ignatius Press right along with Olson's book.

Accuracy in Media, 17.04.06 and Renew America, 18.04.06

Da Vinci Code and Polls

Or, "What's New In Misleading Headlines."

This one's been making the circuit this week: "'Da Vinci Code' affects Christians in North America--poll."

No, it doesn't. Read the article. The idea that Dan Brown's book plays a role in American beliefs about the resurrection, etc., is just speculation.

But try telling that to the headline writer!

INQ7.net, 17.04.06


Good Stuff from Da Vinci Dialogue

It's been a good week over at The Da Vinci Dialogue. Here's a roundup of the hightlights:

  • Dr. Mark D. Roberts, Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church and adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, offers "Was Jesus Really Human?" The highlight is his comments regarding the Nag Hammadi texts: "I haven't read every word of the Gnostic writings in the Nag Hammadi Library, but I have read at least two-thirds of them. And I can assure you that you're not going to find a human Jesus there." He includes a link to online copies of the texts. Very helpful!
  • Patrick Henry Reardon, Pastor of All Saints’ Orthodox Church in Chicago and Senior Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, put together "What Really Happened at the Council of Nicaea?" The article clarifies that the central issue of the council was a decision of the Arian heresy—a relatively new teaching that Jesus was created by God the Father. Alan Schreck's more recent article covers much of the same territory, and is not quite as well-written.
  • Darrell L. Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, provides a good examination of the transmission of oral traditions in "How did the Church have a codified set of beliefs before there was a New Testament?"
The Da Vinci Dialogue

Big Billboard Comes Down

An enormous billboard for the upcoming movie stayed up for only one week. Now it must come down because of zoning violations and resulting complaints.

Conspiracy theories, anyone?

New York Times, 15.04.06

The Vatican Response on Good Friday

"The pope's personal preacher railed on Friday against Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and the recently published Gospel of Judas, saying they amounted to a fresh betrayal of Christ. In a Good Friday homily in St Peter's Basilica, Capuchin father Raniero Cantalamessa told Benedict XVI and several top Vatican officials that the media was exploiting the Christian tradition to make millions of dollars."

ANSA.it, 14.04.06

Baigent No Answer Man

Boston.com is carrying an excellent article by AP Religion Writer Richard N. Ostling, a piece which covers the conspiracy theory angle on the Code. The article concludes with a couple of quotes from Michael Baigent, including the following:
I'm in the business of raising questions. I'm not in the business of providing answers. The moment you provide answers, you have a new power structure, so for me it's a journey of exploration. ... It's necessary that we question [the Church] constantly.
boston.com, 12.04.06

Christians on Mary Magdelene

Pat McCarthy, associate editor of the NZ Catholic (New Zealand’s national Catholic newspaper) has written an excellent summary of the Christian teaching regarding Mary Magdelene. Normally, I don't post links to these types of columns because they tend to be retreads of what's already been covered. But this one's a good and worthy exception. Very informative and balanced in its presentation. Catholic Online picked a good reprint.

Catholic Online, 12.04.06

No-View Review of the Movie

Fred Stesney is at it as usual. Here's a link to his review of Ron Howard's film, despite the fact (of course) that Stesney hasn't seen the film. He's just seen the previews. But Stesney is actually pretty good as judging books by their covers...

No View Reviews, 11.04.06