The Da Vinci Code and Pop Culture

Just now there is great version of "Route 66" coming over the Starbucks speakers. Sounds like guitar great Pat Metheny and Oscar Peterson. But I'm guessing.

I have two friends that would be able to tell me if I was right. They could inform me, not only who the band members are, but the previous groups they each played in, dates of their recordings and most any other "relevant trivia's". They are music-encyclopedias and Pop Culture aficionados. However both are sharp observers and as such have been able to keep themselves from getting sucked into the pop-cult fray–I think–but then don't we all think we are above the things we critique? (They'll forgive me if they read this.)

I also have a pastor friend who is an astute student of Pop Culture. His skill at penetrating, poking fun, and also seeing some of the redemptive aspects of pop culture won him a cross-Canada contest and he now does movie reviews for CBC's DNTO. He takes the thing about being in the world but not of it seriously. He'll also be the first to admit that he struggles with walking this line. Don't we all?

He'll tell you that the less redemptive quality of Pop Culture is the emphasis of quantity over quality, speed over longevity, the fleeting and temporal over the patient and durable, and the attractive and beautiful over beauty. Also, Pop Culture celebrates their definition of Success with gusto–of course with a token allowance for failure-as-route-to success. I'm thinking there will soon be an award show for the best award show. What all this adds up to is that Pop Culture's overarching obsession has to do with not-lacking, or if you prefer, with lacking lack.

This is why, while Jesus has always been incomprehensible, in the eyes of Pop Culture this incomprehensibility has been stretched to an extreme.

And so this is my round about way of coming to comment on the already over-commented-on Da Vinci Code. (Is this not a sign of falling prey to the fray?) The Edmonton Journal (Saturday, Religion) cited a stat that 22 percent of Albertans believe The Da Vinci Code's reinterpretation of Jesus' life. And apparently it's popularity–and as a result this statistic–has not yet crested.

The Jesus of "The Da Vinci Code" fits with Pop Culture. I believe this is the seductive quality of the supposedly contriversial ideas behind the novel. We can understand a Jesus who gets in over his head religiously and politically and so conspires with the reigning powers, helping him to skip town and go on to live out a relatively normal life. But we can't make heads or tails of a person that chooses voluntary poverty, chooses misunderstanding, chooses to become our victim, chooses everything that smacks of abject lack and failure. We don't have the cognitive machinery to conceive of anyone signing up for a life like this. We do however have the machinery to accept and even perpetuate a rollicking conspiracy.

1 Comment

  1. Ah, the famous Route 66 — the place to get my “kicks.” Too bad, this pleasurable highway often causes my underthings to bunch. The routine goes something like this: as I contemplate a more faithful walk – voluntary poverty, abstinence from anger and no more hanging from guy wires after Oilers games, my thoughts of piety are derailed by the latest high-priced, hi fi accessory. Oh vain man that I am – an audiophile doomed to an eternity of silence and Lawrence Welk reruns? Or is there hope still available, even for such a one as this? I’m thinking there is. Martin Luther, who liked a good pub song as much as the next heretic, put it this way – “If grace abounds, where sin abounds, let us abound in sin, that grace may all the more abound.” And Marty’s declaration sounds even better when punctuated by a high quality sub-woofer and a Jimmy Page lick. Meanwhile, in the trivia department: perhaps your Starbucks artist was Nat King Cole, who covered the Bobby Troup original. (I cheated, I googled.)

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