Posted on May 20, 2006
“NRO’s” Michael Novak doesn’t like it, so much:
All that matters, Tom Hanks tells the only living descendant of Christ, is what you believe. Not truth, not reality, but whatever you believe. That’s what matters. You make up reality as you go. The professor Hanks plays makes plain that he believes that Jesus is only a man—a man and that’s all. A great moral teacher, perhaps, but only a man.
That, of course, is the one thing that the Jesus himself does not allow us to believe. If Jesus is only a man, he is no great moral teacher. He is on the contrary a fraud, a pretender, a horrible spendthrift with his own life and the lives of his apostles—all twelve of whom met a martyrdom like his, some of them crucified, all of them most brutally killed without the utterance of a single recantation. If He was not the Son of God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, he was either a mountebank or a lunatic, and deserves our contempt, not our praise. His every moral teaching would be vitiated by its radical emptiness and fraudulence.
One of the very meanings of being secular today, of course, is to believe that Jesus was exactly all these things—a lunatic or a fraud and, more important than anything else, no more than a man. So The Da Vinci Code will not exactly be stating any new thesis that secular people don’t already accept. What it may succeed in doing, however, is to make dramatically manifest the silliness, madness, and love of illusion in what being secular means, at least to these film makers. It is for this reason, perhaps, that so many secular critics have found this movie repellent. Although it seeks to mock Christians and Jews, it actually makes a purely secular view seem absolutely batty.
In short, there is enough in this film to offend everybody.
Which is putting it a bit strongly perhaps, but from Novak’s perspective anyway, only following the trail to its conclusion.
You two behave. You know exactly who I’m talking to.