- Bible reliabilty
- Jesus' divinity
- Mary Magdalene
Annoyingly I had to buy another copy of the novel because I had left my previous copy in a holiday apartment somewhere in the world.
More on the issues raised by the film over the weeks, but for now, this. My friend Mark Stibbe, now Rev'd Dr and very gifted scholar, academic and popular communicator has produced a DVD of his lecture on the book, which he was giving regularly in late 2004 early 2005, to much acclaim.
In this he examines some of the premises Dan Brown makes. Again, more on this in the sermon series. The thing I noticed, and don't think I have seen put quite so bluntly before is this. Mark says there are three attitudes to truth we can identify, since the Gospels were written.
Pre-modernist attitude - truth is absolute
Modernist attitude - truth is relative
Post-modernist attitude - truth is created
In other words attitude to truth changes, although perhaps it changes so slowly that it is hard to notice from the perspective of but one lifetime.
This rings true. Pre-modernists made you refute or burn if you denied the perceived 'absolute' truth, especially in areas of theology or natural philosophy (which was what science was called before the nineteenth century).
The modernist attitude, much discussed, was that truth was all relative. This has been largely discredited. You can't say 'I am absolutely convinced all truth is relative.' It's a non sequitur. You cannot, as Nick Pollard has put it, stand in the middle of the road and say, 'I refuse to take this oncoming bus into my sphere of truth and ultimate reality.' Well you can, but not for long.
So what of this post-modernist attitude - we create truth? Certainly our Prime Minister does it. With him, I have heard it said, the future is always certain; it is only the past that changes. I don't think he is capable of living with the concept of a lie. The closest we get is that everyone thought it was the truth at the time so it was, effectively, true for us.
So our cultural make-up is to construct truth. We make a version of the world we can know and live with. And that means we love the idea that something which people have thought to be true for ages is a conspiracy. We love the idea that we have uncovered the truth. The truth is out there. This is my truth; tell me yours.
It means that a movie maker feels able to say 'based on a true story' in almost all circumstances. Stibbe tells us that when the Coen Brothers made that claim for Fargo it started a treasure rush for the alleged buried cash. This led to at least one fatality. There was no cash. It wasn't that sort of truth. Somehow all fiction is based on truth or we wouldn't recognise the scenarios.
Stand-up comedians have, for years, told us stories that were 'true'. Not because they were but because they were exaggerated truth, they 'could have happened' or simply to get attention.
Dan Brown says his story is fiction but the facts are true. 'All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in ths novel are accurate.'
Let's see if we can construct some common threads of truth out of all this then. Should be fun.
And as he reached the end of the post he suddenly realised the truth. And it terrified him more than anything had ever terrified him his whole life.