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Da Vinci Code offers chance to discuss ‘just who is this Jesus’

During the days of Moses, the princes of Moab hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, but every time Balaam tried, God caused the prophet to bless them instead. So it is with The Da Vinci Code, a “fact-based” novel that takes dead aim at Christianity, depicting it as a “violent” religion, the Bible as a collection of lies and Jesus as a good teacher, but nothing else.

The novel purports to tell the story of the church,especially the  Catholic Church, covering up the real story of Jesus, whomauthor Dan Brown claims was really married to Mary Magdalene and had children.

The novel has sold more than 40 million copies and iscertain to gain in popularity with the May 19 release of the movie, starringTom Hanks.

As a journalist, what I find most troubling is the noveldeclares a series of “facts” based on the work of Pierre Plantard, athrice-convicted felon and anti-Semitic charlatan who once proclaimed that Jewsstarted World War II.

Let’s be honest. Why should we believe anyone who claims tohave ancient documents that show Jesus’ family tree when that same person alsoclaims to be a descendant in that tree?

In other words, we should be willing to buy into thisnovel’s “facts” as soon as we all start believing in the Loch Ness Monster, theAbominable Snowman and aliens from Mars.

The Christian community has responded to the novel withdozens of books, including Cracking theDa Vinci Code and others. Countless Internet sites respond to Brown’sclaims and criticisms of Christianity and the Catholic Church.

Brown has defended his novel and recently said thatChristianity had already survived the words of Galileo and Darwin: “SurelyChristianity can survive a novelist from New Hampshire.”

There’s little doubt Brown intended to portray Christianityas a fraud. Indeed, one of the early clues in his treasure-hunt thriller is “sodark the con of man” (which also happens to be the Web address for the newmovie).

Yet for all of Brown’s conspiratorial professions about the“fraud” of Christianity, he has actually bought into one of the world’s mostdubious hoaxes in recent decades — believing the claims of a man who lateradmitted under oath he had made the whole thing up.

While the debate rages between Brown and the Christiancommunity, what fewer people seem to be talking about is that The Da Vinci Code offers a uniqueopportunity to discuss this question with others: Just who is this Jesus?

With his novel, Brown certainly intended to curseChristianity, and our response to him should be filled with compassion, for ourTeacher taught us to “love our enemies.” Our response to others should be toshare the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Decades after the prophet failed to curse God’s children,Moses recounted the event in the Book of Deuteronomy: “The LORD your God wouldnot listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because theLORD your God loves you.”

Doesn’t He still love us? Won’t He do the same for us today?Shouldn’t this be our prayer?

Jerry Mitchell, a member of the Skyway Hills church,Pearl, Miss., is an award-winning journalist recently named a Pulitzer Prizefinalist.

May 8, 2006

Filed under: Staff Reports Views

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