I'm not sure why I did it, but I caved: I read "The DaVinci Code". Must have read too many links to it on Drudge Report.
I still haven't seen the movie, or read the book my sister picked up about what Dan Brown got right and what he made up, so everything I post here is from that perspective. Maybe it will change.
The book wasn't too bad. It was a pretty quick read (I did it in about five days or so, I think), and even though it went into a lot of depth on complex conspiracies and symbolic explanations, it never goes so far off course that the reader gets bored. I never did, anyway, and since this is my review, and not "the reader's", what do I care about what "the reader" thinks anyway?
All the controversy seems to be about the religious stuff, so let's go there. Reading this book from an LDS perspective is pretty interesting, because a lot of the stuff that is super-offensive to "traditional"(?) Christians isn't so far out to my associates. As a religion that spends so much time emphasizing the eternal nature of the family, not to mention the place of Christ within that family, it's not such a heretic stretch to think that the Savior might have one of His own. In a way, it's almost silly not to consider it.
Additionally, one of the notions of LDS doctrine that sets us apart is the idea that the original church Christ set up was undermined by wickedness and conspiratorial forces, not unlike those described in "DaVinci Code". I imagine most returned missionaries, when they came across the bits that talked about Christianity being merged with pagan polytheism, just kind of nodded and said, "yep".
And I think that's what's both compelling and representative about "DaVinci Code": basically that Dan Brown has some good ideas, but that his connections and conclusions are just the result of playing around with only half the story. For some reason, in the first half of the book, you get the idea that the good guys are the pagans and the bad guys are the Christians, like that the true religion is fertility worship or something. This idea seemed the most strained when the Langdon character is trying to make Sophie appreciate the cult ceremony she saw her grandfather participating in. It just doesn't sell, to me or to her.
But then Brown backs off and becomes apologetic towards the traditional Christian folks, making them look like well-intended but misguided pawns towards some secular party's insiduous ends. In the end Brown seems to be saying that everyone just got sold out by some bad guys that weren't bad because they were connected to a church, but because they were just bad, and that religions may be constructions of weak folks that need meaning in life, but most of them are still OK because they mean well.
If you read the whole thing through a more complete LDS lens, it makes sense. Brown's book, and most atheist-related philosophy, even if they stop short of saying religious people are either fanatics or well-intentioned spiritual weaklings, still don't answer the main question with their theories, which is, what is the point? Why are so many people so determined to live in a world where there is no God? Is it just that they don't like the idea of anyone else telling them what they should or shouldn't do? I'm also holding my breath here, because word on the horizon is that Brown's next novel is going to go after the whole Mormon-Mason thing.
I realize this opens up a whole can of worms, but I'm guessing that the three people that read this won't delve too deeply, so I'll just wrap things up here. The best way to end might be to quote Elder Hugh B. Brown, who said, "men don't believe in God because they've proved him; rather they try endlessly to prove him because they can't help believing in him."