With the movie adaptation days away from unspooling on several thousand screens, numerous Web sites—many of them rather complex—are available for individuals and groups still grappling with perhaps the most controversial and talked-about novel of this young century.
Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou star in 'The Da Vinci Code,' which opens nationwide Friday. (Sony)
The ad went on to say that if you spent $60 to purchase the security software, you would receive two tickets to the movie from Fandango (an online movie ticketing service).
That's just one example of how everyone and his brother is trying to tie in to the anticipated movie adaptation of Dan Brown's 2003 novel. The Da Vinci Code was a slick read about a Harvard symbologist who finds himself hot on the trail of the Holy Grail—which turns out to be not a literal cup, but instead a collection of explosive secrets the Church wants to keep hidden.
Tom Hanks plays symbologist Robert Langdon in the film, which opens May 19 and is directed by Ron Howard ("Apollo 13," "A Beautiful Mind"). Ron Howard, of course, played Opie on "The Andy Griffith Show," but in case you haven't heard, "Code" is a long way from Mayberry.
The "secrets" Langdon uncovers in the novel boldly challenge church history, doctrine and theology, leaving some Christians questioning their faith and others defending it against Brown's alleged agenda and mistakes.
Dozens of books and documentaries have tried to debunk the novel's claims since its appearance in 2003. The family-friendly Sky Angel satellite TV service is airing at least seven Da Vinci specials this month alone. And search "Da Vinci Code" at amazon.com only if you dare.
Now, with the movie adaptation days away from unspooling on several thousand screens, numerous Web sites—many of them rather complex—are available for individuals and groups still grappling with perhaps the most controversial and talked-about novel of this young century.
Below is a sampling of Da Vinci Code-related Web sites, all of them free.
This site is sponsored by Sony Pictures (releasing the film) and implemented by Grace Hill Media, a PR firm specializing in helping studios market products to religious America. The studio, however, exercised no editorial control over the site, which includes columns by numerous experts in church history and theology.
Launched by Westminster Theological Seminary, the site opts for a question-and-answer approach, with its main questions being: Is Jesus God? Is the Bible True? Was Jesus Married? It also examines "Lost Books of the Bible," the concept of the "sacred feminine" that plays a crucial role in the novel, and Holy Grail lore. It also has a section of resources for youth, pastors and group leaders.
Beliefnet offers a very slick multimedia site called "Faith, Doubt, and the Search for Truth." It addresses questions similar to those mentioned by Westminster Theological Seminary, but also features a six-part video series called "Demystifying Da Vinci." The series is hosted by Robin Griffith-Jones, master of London's Temple Church (which plays a role in Brown's story).
"While The Da Vinci Code is a seductive fiction being presented as fact, it's also opening a door of opportunity," says the site from Focus on the Family. It offers articles and resources, and takes aim at Brown by quoting 2 Peter 2:21, which warns of false teachers who "secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them."
This site from Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network wastes no time opposing the information in the novel. The opening page stacks what the novel says against what history (or the Bible) says. It offers links to discussion sites and recommends books and videos.
This site from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lays out Catholic beliefs vis-à-vis media representations of those beliefs (e.g. The Da Vinci Code). It features responses to the usual set of questions raised by the novel (for example, Was Jesus Married?), but also includes some fresher angles (for example, What do you say to a Da Vinci Code believer?)
This site calls itself a Da Vinci Outreach and is a coalition of various Catholic organizations. It promotes a book called The Da Vinci Deception and urges people to be intellectually equipped to oppose the film, which "is sure to do immense damage to the faith of millions." It provides free resources for helping "spread the truth."
Campus Crusade for Christ is behind this site, which boasts lots of articles from many of the same authors who have turned Da Vinci debunking into a cottage industry. The site isn't as flashy as others, but it boasts plenty of content.
This is really an article more than a site, but it is housed at the online presence for Opus Dei, a prelature of the Catholic Church. Opus Dei is featured prominently in Brown's novel—and hardly in a flattering way. "We also want to point out that The Da Vinci Code's depiction of Opus Dei is inaccurate, both in the overall impression and in many details," states the article, "and it would be irresponsible to form any opinion of Opus Dei based on The Da Vinci Code."
Other relevant sites:
www.sonypictures.com/movies/thedavincicode (the movie's official Web site)
www.danbrown.com (author Dan Brown's official site, wherein he discusses his own beliefs)
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.