Thursday, April 9, 2009

Debunking Fiction

I work in politics, where the saying goes: you can never underestimate the intelligence of the voter (the public). Obviously, all of the Da Vinci Code debunkers agree, otherwise, they wouldn’t be trying to debunk or disprove FICTION.

If you Google “Debunk Da Vinci Code” you will get over 49,000 hits. There’s a lot of debunking going on out there and books on the subject are becoming bestsellers in their own right.

But, why? Is the public really that gullible? Do the majority of readers out there think that this fantasy book is true? Do they also expect to find a wolf in their grandmother’s bed? I don’t think so.

The debunkers should get their head out of the Bible and spend a little bit more time in the dictionary. Fiction is defined at as an imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality but has been invented; a literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact; [in law] something untrue that is intentionally represented as true by the narrator. Simply put, it is imaginative literature that may or may not employ some facts.

Hmmm. That sounds just like what Dan Brown wrote in his stellar cliffhanger, The Da Vinci Code.

I read The Da Vinci Code last year and was entranced with the page-turning thriller. I thought Mr. Brown was one of the best new fiction writers we have encountered this generation, that his employment of actual places interlaced with some historical myth was not only a recipe for exciting reading, but could make Dan a candidate for a Nobel Prize for his new treatment of fiction.

But then I remembered Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, another page-turning fictional best-seller that also interlaced a fictional story with actual places set in a historical period. And she didn’t win. And I don’t remember reading Debunking Gone With the Wind.

I do, however, believe the theologians are crapping manuscripts because this book does what no other book has ever done in the history of religion. This book raises theological “what if” questions, it illuminates extra-biblical texts, highlights the power motivations of the church, and worst of all, in light of the discovery that the church has been hiding all of this from the public—the congregants—it makes the masses question authority.

And the one thing the church [similar to politicians] does not want, is for the flock to start asking questions. Politicians and churches survive because the public believes in them. Unconditionally.

I once heard that the goal of every institution was to perpetuate itself. The modern church seeks to sustain itself by repetitively feeding laypeople selective passages from the Bible then interpreting them in light of their denominational slant to produce compliant behavior. To control the behavior of people is the definition of power. Look it up:

As a thinker and (often) reluctant Protestant Church member with annoying questions, I was bored to be fed a canned sermon with no room for discussion of ulterior interpretations. I was disappointed not to find anyone willing to discuss the controversial verses and passages and ideas of the Bible in light of apocryphal texts. I have searched for someone to explore the possibilities of the Bible that hasn’t been brainwashed in seminary to subscribe to a hard and fast interpretation that supports their institution’s basic tenets to no avail. Because there aren’t any. All theologians have been steeped in their own college of thought.

It took a fiction writer to wake up a snoring John Q. Public to the possibility that there are unanswered questions that might be worth asking and uncirculated manuscripts that might be worth exploring. Traditionally trained pastors are not prepared to deal with all the interest. And they are afraid of the erosion of their power. Very afraid.

I am glad the population has stirred enough to start demanding answers to difficult questions. I am grateful to Dan Brown for writing such a scintillating book that first captured attention then conducted readers through such an exciting adventure while exposing them to extra-biblical possibilities.

But folks, The Da Vinci Code is still fiction.

That said, I feel a sudden urge to debunk Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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