MOVIE CONTROVERSY -- Dan Brown talks about the controversy surrounding the movie.
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AUDIO -- Dan Brown talks about
writing The Da Vinci Code and the controversy surrounding
VIDEO -- Dan Brown talks about
THE MOVIE: Information on the upcoming motion picture of the novel.
HOW MUCH OF THIS NOVEL IS TRUE?
The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of
fiction. While the book's characters and their actions are obviously
not real, the artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals
depicted in this novel all exist (for example, Leonardo Da Vinci's
paintings, the Gnostic Gospels, Hieros Gamos, etc.). These real elements
are interpreted and debated by fictional characters. While it is my
belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may
have merit, each individual reader must explore these characters'
viewpoints and come to his or her own interpretations. My hope in
writing this novel was that the story would serve as a catalyst and
a springboard for people to discuss the important topics of faith,
religion, and history.
BUT DOESN'T THE NOVEL'S "FACT" PAGE CLAIM THAT EVERY SINGLE WORD IN THIS NOVEL IS HISTORICAL FACT?
If you read the "FACT" page, you will see it clearly states that the documents, rituals, organization, artwork, and architecture in the novel all exist.
The "FACT" page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the ancient theories discussed by fictional characters. Interpreting those ideas is left to the reader.
IS THIS BOOK ANTI-CHRISTIAN?
No. This book is not anti-anything. It's a novel. I wrote this story in an effort to explore certain aspects of Christian history that interest me.
The vast majority of devout Christians understand this fact and consider The Da Vinci Code an entertaining story that promotes spiritual discussion and debate.
Even so, a small but vocal group of individuals has proclaimed the story dangerous, heretical, and anti-Christian. While I regret having offended those individuals,
I should mention that priests, nuns, and clergy contact me all the time to thank me for writing the novel. Many church officials are celebrating The Da Vinci Code because it
has sparked renewed interest in important topics of faith and Christian history. It is important to remember that a reader does not
have to agree with every word in the novel to use the book as a positive catalyst for introspection and exploration of our faith.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CLERICAL SCHOLARS ATTEMPTING TO "DISPROVE" THE DA VINCI CODE?
The dialogue is wonderful. These authors and I obviously disagree, but the debate that is being generated is a positive powerful force. The more vigorously we debate these topics, the better our understanding of our own spirituality. Controversy and dialogue are healthy for religion as a whole. Religion has only one true enemy--apathy--and passionate debate is a superb antidote.
PARTS OF THE DA VINCI CODE DESCRIBE THE ACTIVITIES OF THE RELIGIOUS GROUP OPUS DEI.
HOW DOES OPUS DEI FEEL ABOUT YOUR NOVEL?
I worked very hard to create a fair and balanced depiction of Opus Dei. Even so, there may be those who are offended by the portrayal. While Opus Dei is a very positive force in the lives of many people, for others, affiliation with Opus Dei has been a profoundly negative experience. Their portrayal in the novel is based on numerous books written about Opus Dei as well as on my own personal interviews with current and former members.
SOME OF THE HISTORY IN THIS NOVEL CONTRADICTS WHAT I LEARNED IN SCHOOL. WHAT SHOULD I BELIEVE?
Since the beginning of recorded time, history has been written by the "winners" (those societies and belief systems that conquered and survived). Despite an obvious bias in this accounting method, we still measure the "historical accuracy" of a given concept by examining how well it concurs with our existing historical record. Many historians now believe (as do I) that in gauging the historical accuracy of a given concept, we should first ask ourselves a far deeper question: How historically accurate is history itself?
Interestingly, if you ask three people what it means to be Christian, you will get
three different answers. Some feel being baptized is sufficient. Others
feel you must accept the Bible as absolute historical fact. Still
others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ as
their personal savior are doomed to hell. Faith is a continuum, and
we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify
ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the
point where we entirely miss the obvious--that is, that we are all
trying to decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following
our own paths of enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many
religions. The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the
spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress.
THE TOPIC OF THIS NOVEL MIGHT BE CONSIDERED CONTROVERSIAL. DO
YOU FEAR REPERCUSSIONS?
I can't imagine why. The ideas in this novel have been around
for centuries; they are not my own. Admittedly, this may be
the first time these ideas have been written about within the context of a
popular thriller, but the information is anything but new. My
hope for The Da Vinci Code was, in addition to entertaining people,
that it might serve as an open door for readers to begin their own explorations and rekindle their interest in topics of faith.
HOW DO ALBINOS FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER SILAS?
Some readers with albinism have been troubled by this character. I am very sensitive to their concerns.
It is important to remember that Silas's skin color has nothing to do with his violent nature--he is driven to
violence by others' cruelty... not by anything inherent in his physiology. The vast majority of critics and readers
(even some with albinism) find Silas to be the novel's most sympathetic character. I truly believe the novel's portrayal
of Silas is a compassionate exploration of how difficult albinism can be--especially for young people--and how
cruelly societies can ostracize those of us who look different.
HAS ANYONE IN ORGANIZED RELIGION COME OUT IN SUPPORT OF YOUR NOVEL?
Yes, many people in organized religion have come out in support of this novel, and, of course, many have come out in opposition as well. The opposition generally comes from the strictest Christian thinkers who feel the idea of a "married Jesus" serves to undermine His divinity. While I don't agree with this interpretation, this is immaterial because the dialogue itself is a deeply empowering and positive force for everyone involved. Suddenly, enormous numbers of people are passionately debating important philosophical topics, and regardless of the personal conclusions that each of us draws, the debate can only help to strengthen our understanding of our own faith. Much of the positive response I get from within organized religion comes from nuns (who write to thank me for pointing out that they have sacrificed their entire lives to the Church and are still considered "unfit" to serve behind the altar). I have also heard from hundreds of enthusiastic priests. While many of them disagree with some of the ideas in the novel, they are thrilled that their parishioners are eager to discuss religion. Father John Sewell of St. John's Episcopal Church in Memphis stated it particularly eloquently in the press recently, saying: "This [novel] is not a threat. This is an opportunity. We are called to creatively engage the culture and this is what I want to do. I think Dan Brown has done me a favor. He's letting me talk about things that matter."
ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THE BOOK'S SUCCESS?
Stunned. I worked very hard on this novel, and I certainly expected people would enjoy it, but I never imagined so many people would be enjoying it this much.
I wrote this book essentially as a group of fictional characters exploring ideas that I found personally intriguing. These same themes obviously resonate with a great many people.
THIS NOVEL IS VERY EMPOWERING TO WOMEN. CAN YOU COMMENT?
Two thousand years ago, we lived in a world of Gods and Goddesses.
Today, we live in a world solely of Gods. Women in most cultures have
been stripped of their spiritual power. The novel touches on questions
of how and why this shift occurred…and on what lessons we might learn
from it regarding our future.
THE COVER OF YOUR BOOK MENTIONS "THE GREATEST CONSPIRACY
OF THE PAST 2000 YEARS." WHAT IS THIS CONSPIRACY?
Revealing that secret would rob readers of all the fun, but I will
say that it relates to one of the most famous histories of all time…a
legend familiar to all of us. Rumors of this conspiracy have been
whispered for centuries in countless languages, including the languages
of art, music, and literature. Some of the most dramatic evidence
can be found in the paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci, which seem to
overflow with mystifying symbolism, anomalies, and codes. Art historians
agree that Da Vinci's paintings contain hidden levels of meaning that
go well beneath the surface of the paint. Many scholars believe his
work intentionally provides clues to a powerful secret…a secret that
remains protected to this day by a clandestine brotherhood of which
Da Vinci was a member.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR THE DA VINCI CODE?
This particular story kept knocking on my door until I answered. I
first learned of the mysteries hidden in Da Vinci's paintings while
I was studying art history at the University of Seville in Spain. Years later,
while researching Angels & Demons and the Vatican Secret Archives,
I encountered the Da Vinci enigma yet again. I arranged a trip to
the Louvre Museum where I was fortunate enough to view the originals
of some of Da Vinci's most famous works as well as discuss them with
an art historian who helped me better understand the mystery behind
their surprising anomalies. From then on, I was captivated. I spent
a year doing research before writing The Da Vinci Code.
HOW DID YOU GET ALL THE INSIDE INFORMATION FOR THIS BOOK?
Most of the information is not as "inside" as it seems. The secret
described in the novel has been chronicled for centuries, so there
are thousands of sources to draw from. In addition, I was surprised
how eager historians were to share their expertise with me. One academic
told me her enthusiasm for The Da Vinci Code was based in part on
her hope that "this ancient mystery would be unveiled to a wider audience."
YOU SEEM TO HAVE A FASCINATION WITH SECRET SOCIETIES? CAN YOU
My interest in secret societies is the product of many experiences,
some I can discuss, others I cannot. Certainly my research of organizations
like NSA, the Vatican, NRO, and Opus Dei continues to fuel my intrigue.
At a more fundamental level, though, my interest sparks from growing
up in New England, surrounded by the clandestine clubs of Ivy League
universities, the Masonic lodges of our Founding Fathers, and the
hidden hallways of early government power. New England has a long
tradition of elite private clubs, fraternities, and secrecy. On that
theme, the next Robert Langdon novel (already in progress) is set
deep within the oldest fraternity in history…the enigmatic brotherhood
of the Masons.
WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A CONSPIRACY THEORIST?
Hardly. In fact, I'm quite the opposite--more of a skeptic.
I see no truth whatsoever in stories of extraterrestrial visitors,
crop circles, the Bermuda Triangle, or many of the other "mysteries"
that permeate pop culture. However, the secret behind The Da Vinci
Code was too well documented and significant for me to dismiss.
CAN YOU SYNOPSIZE THE PLOT FOR US?
Sure. A renowned Harvard symbologist is summoned to the Louvre Museum
to examine a series of cryptic symbols relating to Da Vinci's artwork.
In decrypting the code, he uncovers the key to one of the greatest
mysteries of all time…and he becomes a hunted man.
I AM A MEMBER OF A BOOK GROUP. IS THERE A READER'S GUIDE AVAILABLE?
Yes. Here is the Reader's Guide.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND OTHER BOOKS ON THIS TOPIC?
Certainly. Although many of the texts I used while researching the
novel are not commercially available, here is a partial bibliography
of available titles on this topic.
WHERE CAN I FIND PHOTOS OF THE ART IN YOUR NOVEL?
Visit a museum, look in an artbook, or simply check
out the Da Vinci Code photo gallery.
THE WEB-QUEST CHALLENGE
ABC News Special -- Jesus, Mary, and Da Vinci