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Fiction or Fiction

I'm amused by all the fuss that Christians are making over the premiere of "The Da Vinci Code." I heard a church official say that everyone should remember that this movie, and the book on which it is based, is fiction, and that at many points it strays from the facts.

I wondered to myself, "What facts?" The Christian story is a MYTH, even though the church for centuries has tried to convince its members and the general public that that myth is factual history.

Someone recently asked me, in response to my reference to the myth of Christianity, "What part of the Christian story is mythological?" I answered that there may well have been a first century prophet who was killed by the authorities, but everything else is myth -- the virgin birth, the idea of a man being God, the walking on water, the raising of Lazarus, the resurrection, the ascension, etc.

The church has a vested interest in keeping from its members the knowledge that fifteen or twenty ancient religious traditions predating Christianity were based around the life of a mystic teacher who came from God, was born under mysterious circumstances, preached a divine message, was killed and came back to life. It's a primitive myth with ageless roots, and it represents the fundamental knowledge in the human soul that life is eternal.

But if someone from the Middle East appeared today and told us a story about a new prophet who came from God, who was born of a virgin, who had been killed by the government authorities, and who miraculously rose from death, we would laugh him to scorn and assume he was deluded. Yet, for centuries we have treated the Christian myth as literal fact, and have ignored our own intuitive sense that the story no longer fits our modern knowledge of the world. It falls into the same categories as the Emperor's New Clothes and the Easter Bunny.

As myth, the story makes a great deal of sense. It is a perfect metaphor for God and his relationship to humanity. But the church totally misses the point when it wastes time and energy demanding that we believe the story as literal history. And the negative reaction to this movie on the part of Christian conservatives is evidence of their deep fear that some day someone will come along with the smoking gun which will once and for all expose their ancient belief system as historical nonsense.

So when someone tries to tell you that the movie is portraying events which are fictional and contrary to the truth, ask them, "What truth?" There is as much evidence supporting the factual nature of this film as there is proving that Jesus actually rose from the dead. What we have here is the clash of two fictions. So we have to approach the matter with some degree of ironic humor.

Posted 5-16-06

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2006