DaVinci Code sparks religious debate in community

Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code has created a worldwide debate about the merits of its claims about Christianity. The DaVinci Code has become one of the nation’s most widely read novels, spending almost a year at the top of The New York Times best-seller list. With over 25 million readers worldwide, Dan Brown has become a household name. The book has also led to a renewal of interest in many aspects of the novel. The popularity of Leonardo DaVinci’s work has soared, historical fiction has hit a record high in sales, and the book has sparked a heated debate about Christian history. The DaVinci Code is a fictional novel, but in his introductory note, Brown writes, “all descriptions of documents and secret rituals are accurate.” It is this introductory note, combined with the fact that the book claims the Vatican was involved in a conspiracy to hide the secret marriage and offspring of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene that has caused a worldwide debate so far-reaching that it even extends to the hallways of Ames High. “It’s ridiculous. It’s a big joke,” junior Zach Brenner said. “[Brown] made it a fictional story, and then he says it is factual. If Jesus conceived a baby through Mary Magdalene and started a royal bloodline, then anyone in this [media center] could be his descendant.” Some religious experts in the community also discredit the book’s claims. “Was Jesus married? The DaVinci Code asserts that he was married to Mary Magdalene,” Father Terry Rassmussen from St. Cecilia Church said. “The Gospels do not describe Jesus as married so this is a falsehood. Pastor Larry Austin from First Evangelical Free Church said he sees the reasons why some Christians have negatively responded to the book. “The DaVinci Code makes assertations about Christian history that aren’t true,” he said. “They see this as an assault on historical Christianity.” With The DaVinci Code the movie coming to theaters May 19, many are worried that viewers will not know enough about the Christian faith to refute the ideas proposed in the film, as well as the book. “Some people don’t know the difference between fact and fiction, and that’s where people are getting upset,” Austin said. Those who have read the book seem to be in agreement that the novel is intriguing and hard to put down. “It was very entertaining,” Rassmussen said. “I liked it.” But there are many others who have criticized Brown’s novel. Some students at Ames High are sticking up for Brown during this time of controversy. “I do not believe that Brown meant to upset anyone,” sophomore Will Rundle said. “He isn’t trying to change Christian history, he just wants people to think about it and contemplate their faith.” Amid all the debate over his novel, Dan Brown himself has not remained silent. He recently released a statement in response to the controversy surrounding the novel. “Many church officials are celebrating The DaVinci Code because it has sparked renewed interest in important topics of faith and Christian history,” Brown said. “It is important to remember that a reader does not have to agree with every word in the novel to use the book as a positive catalyst for introspection and exploration of our faith.” Whether they support the book or oppose it, students and religious leaders agree The DaVinci Code has opened up a conversation about Christianity and religion, one that will only be amplified by the release of the movie based on the novel.