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‘The Da Vinci Code Adventure: On the Trail of Fact, Legend, Faith & Film’

The book’s strength is easily its approach to the novel and controversy. Gunn and company have moved beyond saying “Here’s where the novel is laughable,” to “Here’s where the novel can still surprise you.”

Frankly, both films were disappointments. But the popularity of The Da Vinci Code cannot be denied, even if some of its “facts” can.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Scores of books about Brown’s contentious novel exist, and another tome has just been born: The Da Vinci Code Adventure: On the Trail of Fact, Legend, Faith & Film. From Hollywood Jesus Books, the 255-page volume is written by Mike Gunn, along with Greg and Jenn Wright. Gunn, co-founder of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, contributes seven chapters, and husband-and-wife duo (and HJ editors) Greg and Jenn Wright write four apiece.
 
Each chapter summarizes a portion of the novel, then elaborates on any given theme by calling on personal stories, references to other films, Christian Scriptures, and various fields of critical inquiry. Chapter examples: “The Power of Symbols,” “A Campaign of Propaganda,” “Welcome and Keep Out” and “The Sane Ones Are Nuts.”
 
Each chapter concludes with generally good and relevant questions to stimulate further thought, as well as resources for further reading. Many of these resources are Web-based, so they’re easy to get your hands on. However, the repeated inclusion of Wikipedia—an open-edit “encyclopedia”—as a source is somewhat questionable, especially given the fact that Brown’s novel is hammered for the quality of its sources.
 
The authors reference several dozen films that deal with religion—though almost no novel or movie deals with it quite like The Da Vinci Code … Best among these references and discussions is Greg Wright’s too-brief mention of Oliver Stone’s “JFK” and Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine.” The link, here, is conspiracy.
 
As Dan Brown writes in the novel, “Everyone loves a conspiracy.” If I were to decode the novel (whatever that means), that idea would be the “truth” uncovered, decoded or, frankly, proven yet again by book sales and movie tickets.
 
The book’s strength is easily its approach to the novel and controversy. Gunn and company have moved beyond saying “Here’s where the novel is laughable,” to “Here’s where the novel can still surprise you.”
 
That’s not to say the authors let Brown off the hook and never offer criticism. Consider Greg Wright’s comment: “To be brutally honest, the trail of clues in The Da Vinci Code is really no more sophisticated than that of [Indiana Jones and] The Last Crusade—and it’s not meant to be.” While I’m unsure I agree with that statement, it does illustrate the fairness with which Gunn and the Wrights handle Brown and his novel.
 
One of the best chapters is Greg Wright’s “Clues in His Art,” in which Wright says, “Despite professing the Christian faith, Brown might really be a closet Gnostic.” Wright’s investigations and speculations that lead him to such a claim certainly provoke the reader.
 
All in all, the book itself is provoking—for those who engage the novel beyond its more outlandish storylines. Too many personal anecdotes probably crept into the book, and some of the wink-wink writing is unnecessary. Nevertheless, Code freaks can get a fresh fix with new insights in Adventure.
 
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
 
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