Monday, October 22, 2007

mclaren on 'di vinci code'

Ok, I'm not exactly bleeding-edge here. This interview was roughly a year and a half ago, and seems to have even been done before the movie was released. But although some things may have moved on, maybe not so much, either. Anyway, here are my comments about it, for what they are worth.

I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown's book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church. Why would so many people be disappointed to find that Brown's version of Jesus has been largely discredited as fanciful and inaccurate, leaving only the church's conventional version? Is it possible that, even though Brown's fictional version misleads in many ways, it at least serves to open up the possibility that the church's conventional version of Jesus may not do him justice?

So, what does it say? Let's say that there are some who are misrepresenting Jesus--for example, the televangelist Jesus who wants everyone healthy and wealthy. But can that explain why 'Di Vinci' has been so popular?

McLaren, in his fashion, is all too ready to blame the church for all things he thinks are wrong with the world. Read the above, and you'll see some PC reasons, with the idea I suppose that Jesus would be for those PC things

Why would some people be drawn to a fictional Jesus? Maybe because such a Jesus would be a Jesus made in their own image. Maybe because it would be a Jesus that they could control.

It would be the same as imagining meeting someone, and actually meeting them. Let's say, for example, that a man sees a woman from the distance, and is attracted to her. In his mind, he images what she must be like, how there conversations may go, how she laughs and talks and what things she likes and doesn't like. He does, in essence, make a version of her that has a basis much more in his own self then in any reality of the real woman.

Let's say that he does eventually meet her. The real woman is different from the one he imagined. She is a real person, with real ideas and opinions which he has no control over. She is much more complex and difficult then he could imagine. Perhaps he may even like the imagined her over the real her, maybe with good reason--the real her may be vain and snide and not a nice person--or maybe for bad reasons--she may not think him as good a guy as the imagined one does.

We simply cannot ignore the words Jesus spoke about how the message about Him would be received, that He was hated and not received, and that those who preached him would be hated because of Him. We are told that those who live godly will suffere persecutions. We are told that with Jesus light has come into the world, and that men loved the darkness and not the light, because what they did was evil.

Too many Christians have suffered and died for Christ for someone like McLaren to use political correctness to try to explain why people don't like Jesus.

McLaren: For all the flaws of Brown's book, I think what he's doing is suggesting that the dominant religious institutions have created their own caricature of Jesus. And I think people have a sense that that's true. It's my honest feeling that anyone trying to share their faith in America today has to realize that the Religious Right has polluted the air. The name "Jesus" and the word "Christianity" are associated with something judgmental, hostile, hypocritical, angry, negative, defensive, anti-homosexual, etc. Many of our churches, even though they feel they represent the truth, actually are upholding something that's distorted and false.

I suppose we should never mind that many of those stereotypes have more to do with media depiction and distortion then on actuality. Judgmental and hostile? No, but if all one does is read the press, one could get that impression. Hypocritical? That's a copout. Again, the press makes much of hypocracy in conservatives and Christians, but essentially ignores it when liberals are--think of the Louisiana congressman found with money in his freezer, but who far from being asked to step down has been promoted. Think of Ted Kenndy--what true conservative could have such a history without it being brought up every five minutes by the liberal media.

In fact, here a perfect example of what I mean. The governor of Tennessee, a liberal Dem, uses a derogatory term for Chinese workers from many years ago in a letter to the newspaper. It happened a few days ago, and so far, I have not heard any broohaha about this. I'll wait, though not with bated breath, for the media and fellow libs to get in a dander about this, call for investigations, demand that the governor step down, and the usual shenanigans they demand whenever a conservative is even accused of such thing (please note, not even proven, only accused).

Angry, negative, and defensive? No more then any other political movement. The most distasreful rhetoric I have heard, the most vile insults, have come from liberals. Defensive? Only because there are things worth defending, like the life of the unborn, and morality.

Anti-homosexual? I think McLaren is showing some serious PCness here. We are dealing with what is clear biblical morality, that homosexual activity is clearly sinful. McLaren may think that some of the rhetoric may be too strong or too judgmental or too condemning, maybe he'd be right on some of it and maybe he'd be wrong, but as a biblical Christian I would hope that he would be at least anti-homosexual in the sense he thinks it is sinful and those who practice it are going against God's commands to not do those things. He may want to approach it from a "kinder, gentler" position then others, but he should be careful of those whose position is more strongly stated then his.

McLaren: The book is fiction and it's filled with a lot of fiction about a lot of things that a lot of people have already debunked. But frankly, I don't think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels. And in a certain way, what the Left Behind novels do, the way they twist scripture toward a certain theological and political end, I think Brown is twisting scripture, just to other political ends. But at the end of the day, the difference is I don't think Brown really cares that much about theology. He just wanted to write a page-turner and he was very successful at that.

I think this comment of his is simply distasteful. Comparing 'Di Vinci Code' to 'Left Behind' can be nothing but a sign of a lack of balance on his part, and to even hint that 'Left Behind' may have caused more damage then 'Di Vinci Code' is sick.

I'm not saying McLaren needs to become a dispensationalist, though I would recommend it, but for him to try to be so understanding of Brown while then making such a slam on Lahaye, Lahaye being a fellow Christian whose works have lead many to Christ while Brown is not a Christian and whose works have been a source of deception, is not right. Surely McLaren can disagree about end times matters without making such comments.

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