The arrival of the new Harry Potter book certainly seems to have gotten a lot of folks all heated up, leaving aside the record-breaking millions who have bought it. But these protesting people who are largely Christian, churchgoing parents (so it seems from the heated e-mails to WND), remain totally silent when it comes to two recent best-selling novels that set traditional Christian belief on its ear.
Granted the nation's people have the withal – what, with 9-11 and red-level terrorists alerts – to feel in need of spiritual comfort wherever they might find it, but does that extend to buying millions of a novel in which Mary Magdalene is the lawful wedded spouse of Jesus and his foremost disciple and another in which Heaven is a nebulous pretty place and neither God nor Jesus are ever mentioned?
"Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebald has been on the bestseller list for 50 weeks, mainly in the No. 1 slot. The plot is simple: A 14-year girl is raped and brutally murdered. She narrates how she grows up in a sort of Purgatory where she never has to study and watches how her family copes on earth. Heaven is this fun place where she is greeted by the family dog. God, His Son, St. Peter, the archangels? Forget it. They're nowhere to be found.
Spiritual comfort? Zip. Odds are, though, you'll be seeing "Lovely Bones" at your neighborhood movie house sometime next year, the movie rights having being sold while the book was still in galleys. And foreign rights have been sold to 18 countries – spreading the word to the faithful, you might say.
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As for Jesus and Mary Magdalene being the couple of the year, author Dan Brown's 499-page novel, "The Da Vinci Code," hit the top place on the bestseller list almost as soon as it was in the bookstores and has remained there for 13 weeks where no doubt it will remain for some time unless other newspapers don't follow the lead of the New York Times Book Review, listing the Harry Potter books on a separate grouping of children's fiction.
The New York Times recently ran a full-page ad with wildly enthusiastic quotes in bold-face type for "The Da Vinci Code." The Times' own critic led the page: "Wow. … Not since the advent of Harry Potter has an author so flagrantly delighted in leading readers on a breathless chase." Other critics across the land flung around terms like: "epic," "fascinating," "pulse-quickening," and "dazzling."
Dan Brown sets out to make our Savior, Jesus Christ, the first feminist, borrowing heavily from the Gnostic Gospels that were roundly condemned around A.D.180 by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons before he was sainted. The Church then declared the four Gospels of the New Testament as the only basis for the new faith of Christianity. But Brown cares naught for Christian sensibilities that might get ruffled and proceeds to work Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper" into his tale, claiming one of the disciples nearest to Jesus – if you look really carefully – is actually a woman: Mary Magdalene. The fact is that what with time and retouching down through the centuries you're lucky if you can make out any revealing detail at all in the celebrated fresco.
All of which goes to show how deeply PC attitudes have cut into our culture. It's of course no surprise the two books got published – publishing being one of the areas of our cultural life most permeated by politically correct thinking (although the recent creation of WND Books and conservatively inclined divisions at both Crown and Penguin-Putnam gives hope of some movement in the other direction).
But how about the good Christian readers out there so eager to condemn clearly fanciful tales where good after all does triumph finally over evil? Do they take with equanimity as Christians a thesis condemned as heretical two millennia ago? Do they find a Heaven without God consoling? You do have to wonder.
The question comes down to this: Not being censorious, not saying the books shouldn't be published, but shouldn't people just be aware of what they're getting into when they buy a bestseller these days?