I was recently browsing Dan Brown’s web site to gather information in preparation for the one thousand theater protests against The Da Vinci Code movie, planned by the American TFP. Since I hope to organize several protests, I felt obliged to get to know the real Dan Brown. I wanted to hear, from his own mouth, why he wrote The Da Vinci Code and whether he believes the information contained in it.1
As I was clicking around, I came across a section containing TV and radio interviews that utterly shocked me. While the articles I had read, left it rather dubious whether or not Dan Brown considered his book historically correct, here he clearly claimed that the theories set forth in The Da Vinci Code are accurate. Whereas former articles suggested that he was Christian and somewhat ambivalent to the Catholic Church, here he demonstrated a clearly anti-Catholic bias.2
As I listened to these interviews, I was filled with the desire to spread the information I was gathering to the hundreds of protest organizers across the country, so I transcribed the more useful quotes in this article.1 Thus, I hope it will help these organizers tackle some of the more difficult questions they may encounter.3
History or Fiction?
One argument protest organizers are certain to come across states that The Da Vinci Code is fiction and therefore harmless. Common responses to this argument include showing that even a novel can be harmful or explaining that fiction does not give one the right to slander or blaspheme.4
However, such a line of reasoning presupposes that Dan Brown’s book was intended as fiction. This is a presupposition that he, himself, refutes.5
In the book, Dan Brown leaves the historicity of The Da Vinci Code ambiguous. Although the book is termed a “novel” on the cover, the first page informs readers that: “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”2
However, Dan Brown is not nearly so restrained in later interviews. When appearing on “The Today Show,” host Matt Lauer asked him, “How much of this is based on reality in terms of things that actually occurred?” Dan Brown responded: “Absolutely all of it. Obviously, there are – Robert Langdon is fictional, but all of the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact.”3
Similarly, in an interview with “Good Morning America” when asked: “if you were writing it as a nonfiction book, how would it have been different?” Dan Brown responded: “I don’t think it would have. I began the research for The Da Vinci Code as a skeptic. I entirely expected, as I researched the book, to disprove this theory, and after numerous trips to Europe and two years of research, I really became a believer.”6
In the same interview, Dan Brown strove to substantiate his theory about Our Lord and St. Mary Magdalene being married. He claimed: “The people who ask me how much is true need to realize that this theory about Mary Magdalene has been around for centuries. It’s not my theory. This has been presented, really over the last 2000 years, and it has persisted.”4
In another interview labeled “Chronicle,” Dan Brown claims that he wanted his book to be more than just entertaining, but educational as well: “I wanted to write a book that while it entertained at the same time, you close that last page and go ‘Wow, do you know how much I just learned? That’s fascinating.’ That is really what I set out to do.”7
In that interview he reiterates his belief in the book’s historic value: “When I started researching Da Vinci Code, I really was skeptical and I expected on some level to disprove all this history that is unearthed in the book and after three trips to Paris and a lot of interviews, I became a believer…”5
Finally, there is a Time magazine article republished on Dan Brown’s web site calling The Da Vinci Code a “historical” thriller, “purporting to expose a centuries-old Vatican conspiracy to conceal the marriage and offspring of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.”6
It is therefore clear that Dan Brown considers the religious heresies expounded in The Da Vinci Code to be the Gospel truth and not just fiction.
I have also heard Dan Brown described as Christian. However, the extent to which he truly believes in Christ, or any absolute truth, is called into question by a lecture he gave to the New Hampshire Writers Project. He said:
We were born into a culture. We worship the gods of our fathers. I humbly submit that if all of us in this room had been born in Tibet, probably a lot of us would be Buddhists. I think the chances are pretty good and I also think that we would hold on to all that Buddhist philosophy with all the passion that some of us might hold on to our Christian ideals.
He reaffirmed this viewpoint later in the lecture, saying: “Again, we worship the gods of our fathers. It is truly that simple.”7
Some believe that Dan Brown is ambivalent to Catholicism. However, twice in this lecture he made statements, critical of the Church. The first one lashed out against the Catholic belief in the infallibility of Church doctrine: “The world is a big place and now more than ever, there is enormous danger in believing we are infallible. That our version of the truth is absolute.”
Ironically, Dan Brown is not so relativistic in his own opinions. His opinion of Catholic doctrine on women priests is rather absolute. Later in this same lecture, he stated in a pontifical tone:
Prior to 2000 years ago, we lived in world of gods and goddesses. Today we live in a world solely of gods. Women in most cultures have been stripped of their spiritual power and our male-dominated philosophies of absolutism have a long history of violence and bloodshed, which continues to this day…the fact remains, in the major religions of the world, women remain second-class citizens. Why can’t there be women priests? Why is this even an issue?
The Real Dan Brown
After hearing the real Dan Brown in his own words, I saw clearly something that the media are not telling us. Dan Brown is not an innocent fiction writer with an overactive imagination. He is a man with an agenda. He is committed to harm the Church and promote his Gnostic and neo-pagan religious beliefs. He wants to persuade others to accept his false view of history.
That is why, as faithful Catholics, we must reject The Da Vinci Code. We must confront the growing tide of blasphemy and send a strong message that Catholics will not stand by while the Faith is dragged through the mud. We must make it clear that we will resist this attack on the Faith with the absolute certainty that the Church, our immortal Mother, will weather this storm unsullied.
Perhaps Dan Brown knows this as well. During his lecture to the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, he finished by cynically quoting a British priest who said: “Christian theology has survived the writings of Galileo and the writings of Darwin, surely it will survive the writings of some novelist from New Hampshire.”
At least I can say that on this matter, Dan Brown and I see eye to eye.
- The interviews themselves can be viewed at http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_code/breakingnews.html.
- Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, Doubleday, New York, 2003.