So, my mom handed me the DaVinci Code Audio Book almost a year ago and told me I needed to listen to it because it was going to be really big and I'd need to be familiar with it and the challenges it presented. I finally started listening to it a couple of weeks ago because, up until she turned out to be right, I thought she was being silly. I'm about halfway through the book (the owner of the bank just tried to take the keystone from them at gunpoint...if you've read it). It's fairly engaging, though predictable in places (I make the same complaint about John Grisham, and I love his stuff). The historical claims are being refuted by pretty much everyone...including Matt Lauer of the Today Show, oddly enough. The movie is being panned by secular European critics, and has respected theologians saying, "Come on, it's not THAT bad." I'll leave the debunking to the scores of theologians who have written thorough books for that purpose...and to Matt Lauer. The whole thing does raise a few interesting questions for me though. Isn't it interesting that something dealing with Jesus can raise this much buzz? I find it facinating that so many people seem to have been actually clamoring for some "new information" about Jesus. I think the whole thing could point to both a symptom and a diagnosis of a problem. Is it possible that we've neutered and cleaned up Jesus to the point that the image we are presenting of him is no longer even interesting? What would happen if we intentionally took a look at the Jesus we are presenting and compared him with the Jesus of the Bible. If you think there is no difference, then you shouldn't feel threatened by this situation, though I certainly have trouble finding any record of white, republican first century Jews (or Democratic ones either, just to be fair). What if we presented Jesus as the system challenging, world changing revolutionary that he really was instead of simply the nice guy who can help you clear up your sin problem? If Jesus can still generate this kind of buzz, wouldn't it be great if the church could do it as well as an author? Shouldn't they be able to do it better? (and, as a side note, couldn't we do it in ways other than debunking said author's book...as appropriate as that may be?) Two excellent resources that I can recommend if you want to re-examine Jesus are Brian McLaren's The Secret Message of Jesus and Steve Chalke's
The Lost Message of Jesus.
While I was on vacation, I read Mark Driscoll's Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church. Driscoll is an interesting guy. He's engaging, funny, insightful, rude at times, unfair at times, and bold enough to say what no one else has the spine to say at times. His book is written in a semi-autobiographical fashion and deals with taking his church from a handful of people to over 4,000. He is unflinching and, at times unflatteringly honest in his portrayal. I disagree with his Reformed theology, which pops up a couple of times. I don't like the section where he criticizes McLaren and Pagitt, though he does it fairly and "as a friend". I don't mind that he critiques their work and beliefs per se...it just didn't seem to fit in the book. Still, I recommend this book to any and all church leaders. Particularly helpful are his comments about the attitudes that have to be overcome as a church passes a size barrier; the comments on what kind of people will come into your church and what you should do with them; his description of how a church goes through certain stages that can lead back to creativity if handled one way and organizational death if handled another way; and his gut level honesty about himself and his attitudes through his church's evolution. Do yourself a favor and check it out.