The truth about the Da Vinci Code

Here we go again. This time it's the Archbishop of Canterbury, who really should know better, complaining about Dan Brown's novel, while DB laughs all the way to the bank (and good luck to him I say. Only wish it were me!)
Let me spell it out.
The Da Vinci Code is a novel. Fiction. Entertainment. Made up stuff.
So far as I can see, it doesn't pretend to be anything else.
Unlike all those books which consist of wild speculation masquerading as truth which lurk in sections of bookshops labelled "New Age".
But where did this inability to distinguish between fact and fiction spring from? I'll tell you where. It comes from exactly the same impulse that makes people apply for jobs in Weatherfield's Knicker Factory, or send condolence cards to relatives of deceased soap characters.
When ordinary people do this sort of thing, we snigger at them. When senior clerics do it, they make the national news.
I enjoyed the Da Vinci Code. As a piece of far fetched fiction. Sure, the slight suspicion that there might just be some vague truth at the bottom of it crossed my mind. And it did reinforce my long held belief that Mary Magdalen has had a bad press all these years. When you want to discredit a woman, you just label her as a prostitute and hey presto. All of which was interesting. But not earth shattering.
This isn't a book that stays in your mind for more than five minutes together, although it is a damn good read. But I don't really believe in it, any more than I believe that there are talking moles and water rats boating merrily along the burn that runs at the bottom of my garden, or that when I next go for a walk in the woods I will meet a bunch of elves, singing as they go, or that somewhere out there is a time travelling doctor, with powers far beyond those of ordinary mortals.
I think some of this confusion is down to reality TV. We are so often entertained by real people doing bizarre things, that we are beginning to confuse suspension of disbelief with belief in just about anything.
Of course some fiction is life changing in that it is - as novelist Bernard McLaverty calls it- "made up truth." We enjoy the story, and learn something momentous about the human condition in the process. But so far as I can see, the Da Vinci Code never pretended to be like that. It is fast, slick, honest to God entertainment. We read it to be entertained. End of story.

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