Something interesting is happening in our culture regarding thinking about Christianity, and The Da Vinci Code and the recently published Gospel of Judas are both signs of this, as well as forces that are driving this cultural event.
The Da Vinci code is such a poor book, in many respects, that some reflection is necessary to understand why it has sold approximately 46 million copies to date. The characters are thin, the plot heavy handed at times, and, despite Brown's protestations to the contrary, his "facts" are routinely not facts at all. It's an entertaining enough read, I suppose, but 46 million copies?
I suppose part of the interest is due to the American love of conspiracy theories. The JFK assassination is the most prominent example of this in our society, but conspiracy theories abound with virtually every major event in our society.
I don't think that's all, however. It has become so common for people in the US now to call themselves "seekers" or "spiritual but not religious." While I share the suspicions that some have about such declarations, in many cases they are heartfelt and meaningful. Many are seeking. The interest in The Da Vinci Code may be partly driven by this. "What if what we've been told is all wrong? What if the truth has been hidden from us? Will some new truth set us free?"
Well, seekers won't find the truth in Brown's book, but this may be an opportunity to get people to look for deeper answers and not simply to accept received wisdom. By asking questions about "The Church," they may well ask questions, and find answers, about their own faith. Time will tell.
The Gospel of Judas has a similar appeal, I think. Many at my church were talking expectantly about the prospects of watching the National Geographic program on the book, its discovery and restoration, and its contents. Again, I think people are asking the same sorts of questions as a result of this work as they are regarding The Da Vinci Code.
I suspect that works like the Gospel of Judas (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospeljudas.html), the (largely) Gnostic works found at Nag Hammadi, and perhaps other non-canonical works and perspectives will be an important part of the reflections on this blog. Time will tell. Until then, I hope I and many others will challenge ourselves to examine the meaning of our faith and its application of the world due to the publication of works like these. Even a mediocre to poor work like Brown's can lead to personal growth.