It’s been a while since I checked on the value of this blog. Back in October it was worthless, and it remained that way for a while. Now it’s apparently worth close to thirty grand. If my ideas are really worth that much…well, we won’t go there.
UPDATE: Tyler Williams is now revelling in the fact that he’s no longer worthless either — and that he has surpassed me by leaps and bounds. How dare he?
As my friend Matt pointed out, these blog values are apparently based not on site visits, but on the number of sites which link to your blog. See the bottom of this page: $564.64/site seems to be the figure used. Then go to this page, type in your blog URL, and click on “search”. You’ll get a return of “X number of sites linking to [your blog]”. If you multiply that number by $564.64, lo and behold, that’s your blog worth.
But that doesn’t wash entirely, because there have always been links to this blog, even back in the days when I was worthless. Well, in any case, the underlying assumption is rather amusing: that media companies would actually pay $564.64 per site that links to you.
Jim Davila gives The Da Vinci Code a fairly good review. He’s easier to please than most critics (on which see here), and far easier to please than someone like me. (I know I’ll hate this film with a passion when I finally get around to seeing it on DVD.)
Two points of interest in Jim’s review. First:
“The movie not only corrected some errors by omission (e.g., that the Dead Sea Scrolls were Christian documents), it also seemed to go out of its way to correct a few (by no means all!!) of the historical errors in the book. Langdon challenges Teabing’s reference to the Priory of Sion and says that it’s been discredited. (Teabing, of course, says ha ha that’s what they want you to think.) And when Teabing spouts the nonsense about the idea of a divine Jesus only arising in Constantine’s time, Langdon vigorously and correctly asserts that it had been around for a long time before that, and Teabing does not disagree. All in all, that awful bogus infodump in the middle of the book is made more bearable in the movie, mainly because it’s shorter.”
So the deluge of rebuttals to Brown’s “historical facts” has evidently made an impression on people.
Jim also notes that “the up side [to The Da Vinci Code’s popularity] is that millions of people are now enthusiastically debating historical and theological issues that they were not even aware of a few years ago.” As much as it galls and chafes me to admit it, Dan Brown has done the world a service by fueling a massive interest in Christian origins. Scholarly books by Ed Sanders, Dale Allison, Bart Ehrman, etc. have been getting more circulation at my library — even if not as much as Baigent’s Holy Blood, Holy Grail — ever since Brown’s novel became a blockbuster.
The evangelical Mike Gunn puts the matter this way (I finished reading his new book):
Dan Brown gives us a gift much like the gift that Arius gave the Church in the fourth century. Arius opposed the truth with an alternate story that made the Church stand up and take notice, that made the Church clear the dross and cobwebs from its beliefs and crystallize the truths that it knew to be true. (The Da Vinci Code Adventure, p 234)
I’d put it in more secular terms, but yes: Brown has forced certain issues out in the open by engaging the interest of everyone. The down side is that a sadly high number of people will follow cranks like Baigent anyway.
I’m currently reading a book which examines The Da Vinci Code not just by exposing its bogus errors (too many have done that already), but by engaging it in the wider context of Christian-faith mysteries depicted in novel and film. It’s called The Da Vinci Code Adventure: On the Trail of Fact, Legend, Faith and Film , written mostly by Mike Gunn, but with contributions from Greg and Jenn Wright from Hollywood Jesus. The book breathes an evangelical air, but lightly enough so that anyone can enjoy reading it.
At one point Gunn contrasts Da Vinci with my favorite Jesus film, Jesus of Montreal, both of which are unorthodox and aimed at guardians of Christian doctrine.
While Jesus of Montreal, like The Da Vinci Code, offers an alternate story, I never really got the feeling I was being duped. Jesus of Montreal made me think and contemplate the potential truths of the alternate story while maintaining the integrity of the original… I never found myself wanting to argue theology while I was watching Jesus of Montreal. I could actually even resonate with Arcand’s redemptive story, even though it is no doubt one that the institutional church would prefer to edit; but like good art, it allows for tension, begging you to think. Dan Brown’s characters, though, often appear as preachy as Jimmy Swaggart on the “Old Time Gospel Hour”, leaving as much to my imagination as a game of hide-and-seek with a three year old. (In case you haven’t done that lately, they pretty much hide right in front of you.) (p 13)
I couldn’t have said it better.
On the whole the book offers a remarkably positive criticism The Da Vinci Code by inviting people to do what Dan Brown wants them to do: follow his adventure, and see where it leads; and see how it compares to other novels/films which delve into the mysteries of the Christian faith. That’s a healthy approach, and opposite to that of insecure Christian leaders who prefer boycotts. All the same, I’m waiting until the DVD comes out to make fun of Howard’s film. The Da Vinci Code is an adventure I can put aside for a day when I have absolutely nothing better to do.
Michael Turton has decided to retire The Sword. I will miss his presence in the blogosphere very much. He was one of three bloggers who inspired me to start The Busybody, and though I rarely agree with him on the subject of Christian origins, I’m wiser about aspects of his mythicist position than I was over a year ago. I wish Michael the best of luck in his endeavors.
“The ancient circum-Mediterraneans had to deal with the stereotypical judgments that were thrown at them. Their strategy was not a doubt about or rejection of stereotypical judgment… They were forced to massage the negative judgments into a positive image that they would want to project.” (John Pilch, RBL review of J. Albert Harrill’s Slaves in the New Testament)
That, Pilch tells us, was the ongoing cultural preoccupation in a world of stereotypes: turning invective to one’s advantage. Paul is an example of such machismo; he was good at pressing shameful liabilities into honorable service. At Corinth he was accused of weakness — of having a weak presence (II Cor 10:10) — and instead of denying it, he boasted about it (11:30), implying that through his weakness the macho virtues of endurance, strength of resolve, and courage were demonstrated in the long run (11:23b-27).
This phenomenon relates, as Pilch notes, to the anti-introspective character of the Mediterraneans: since no one but God could read Paul’s heart (not even Paul himself), the apostle would have simply accepted what his opponents said about him — but then twist it to his advantage by incorporating the shame into a positive image overall. Which he did quite well.
It started with Michael Turton’s review of Tabor’s Jesus Dynasty. Jim West dismissed the review (without linking to it or pointing out who wrote it), which in turn prompted Turton’s open letter to Jim West. Then James Crossley jumped into the fray. Read all of these posts, but especially the last two which dig into the politics of New Testament studies. I think Michael makes a fair point that mythicists need to be acknowledged more in the guild (though I take Jesus’ existence for granted), but I agree with James that we shouldn’t get carried away with the idea that radical views of Christian origins are somehow politically liberating. Radical views often do us nothing but disservice (Baigent is an obvious example).
UPDATE: (1) Michael has removed his posts. (2) In comments below, I explain why I credit mythicist positions over most minimalist ones (though I’m neither).
The Da Vinci Code currently has a whopping 0% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve never seen a 0% rating before, and it couldn’t have happened to a better film. The rating will probably increase (at least some) as more reviews are added, but for now, have a good laugh.
LAST UPDATE (5/26): It now has a 22% approval rating (out of 184 reviews), which is still woefully rotten. The initial 0% image can be seen on my StumbleUpon blog, preserved for the sake of posterity and amusement. I guess I have a sick mind.