OK, OK, so the Da Vinci Code movie was not very good. In fact, the opening half hour or more was downright pitiful, Hanks and Tautou never connected (Hanks should be ashamed of himself for that kind of performance from a seasoned actor), Ron Howard simply and unethusiastically walked us through the motions, and if it weren't for an alarmingly good car crash (when Sophie's family is killed in a flashback) or a surprise dive across the screen for Silas when he reaches for Langdon, it would if have been 100% predictable.
As my friend Bob said while leaving the theatre, "What's harder? Buying into all that dribble or actually believing Jesus was who he said he was? Good grief!" All this being said, the theatre was full of riveted fans.
The Asian Wall Street Journal had these statistics yesterday: "Despite calls for boycotts from some religious groups, 'The Da Vinci Code' delivered a powerful punch around the globe, selling $147 million of tickets overseas. The combined $224 million total ranks as Hollywood's second biggest global debut, behind 'Star Wars: Episode III'...which took in $253 million." As usual with these boycotts, the church probably did more to encourage people to go by calling for them to stay home!
Some people are clearly buying into Brown and Howard's (the movie added to the mess) baffling ideas of history and bogus theology because it gives them a way to express their gripes with the church (and don't try to excuse yourself if you happen to be a Protestant, thinking this only applies to Catholics). I was gobbling down a sandwich at Mix earlier this week when two ladies to my right (one Chinese and the other a Westerner) got to talking about The Code. I swear I was not eavesdropping (they were well within earshot)!
Westerner: It really is quite popular.
Chinese: Yeah, I read the book and I will see the movie, which is not supposed to be very good. When I was a kid we went to Catholic school and all I remember is one day sitting in a theology and philosophy class and we asked the teacher a series of hard questions. You know, meaning of life type stuff and all she said was 'just believe.' Just believe. And we were all like, but how can that be. And that was all she could say.
Westerner: I know. It was similar with me. That is all people can say.
This is a harsh reality and a very honest perception that a great deal of people the world over have about the gospel, theology, and the church. People are seeking truth of some form, but the "just believe" response isn't cutting it. That and the suggestion that Christians will lose their faith if they see this film! Take this letter to the editor from yesterday's South China Morning Post:
"One needs to be wary of statements such as the following from [the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association] vice-chairman, Anthony Liu Bainian, 'I think there is definitely a need [to warn people about the film] because we need to protect our followers' religious faith and not let outside influences interfere with it.'
"This statement concisely embodies why I am suspicuous of any establishment's attempt at moulding my mind with some supposedly God-sent dogma. The content of The Da Vinci Code may be total nonsense, but that is beside the point. The fact that the Catholic establishment is paranoid about a film that purportedly digresses from biblical 'fact' is testament to its inherent intolerance for contrary interpretations. - Estella Hung"
Think about Estella. Her gripe is not with Catholicism's theology per se and she is not agreeing with every little piece of Dan Brown's "theology." What she does take issue with is her church's assumption that the flock needs to be protected and cannot interact with the ideas The Code raises without somehow compromising their faith. The dialogue at Mix and this editorial need to be taken seriously by all churches everywhere. As I have written before, we need to get real, get our cowering selves out from behind the pews and into the coffee shops, theatres, and newspapers where this being bantered about.