I remember back a decade or so ago when the book The DaVinci Code was at the top of the bestseller list and a large number of my (Catholic) friends were decrying the book as at best bad theology and chastising me for reading the book. I don’t remember the Vatican’s stance on the movie, but I think it was opposed to the book.
I told my friends at the time, that by reading it I was not only entertained (it really was a good read), but also equipped to educate. If you haven’t read it, I suppose a spoiler alert is unnecessary… the book portrays the historical Jesus and Mary Magdalene were actually married and that there descendants still live. There are a variety of major deviations that these descendants take from traditional Christian practice and the compellingly written coverup by church leaders is the definition of fiction. In the midst of the controversy I had two different types of opportunities. First, I was encouraged, recognizing several errors immediately, to review some church history on some of the more obscure references. It turns out that truth is as compelling as fiction. Second, the subject was brought up by dozens of dechurched or unchurched folks and I had the opportunity to educate them.
Now, I can’t claim to have converted any of those I attempted to educate, but my interaction with the book did have a lasting impact on me. The aforementioned historical research and conversations strengthened my faith. And I believe that my willingness to engage those unbelieving folks as a rational, educated believer left several of them with a comfort in discussing real issues of faith with me in the years since. I remind myself of that as the release of the new mega-movie Noah has hit the big screen.
I’ve heard again many people complaining about the sacrilegious film (I assume in most cases without viewing it). I haven’t seen the movie myself, but I hope to (I think Russell Crowe and Emma Thompson are pretty good actors), and I am looking forward to rereading Genesis and engaging in conversation about God’s saving Grace this Lenten season.
Pope Francis was approached by Crowe to screen the film with the production team and declined. My understanding is that he didn’t want the spectacle, and it seems completely within his character to not want to participate in or encourage the western capitalism that Hollywood is a part of. That said, whether you see the film or not, I hope that the faithful will look upon this movie’s release as an opportunity to discuss the faith in a loving way; without derision or condescension or condemnation. It is an opportunity to market.
Evangelism = Marketing