I'm sure you will have noticed a little bit of publicity about a little movie based on a little book called the Da Vinci something or other. Reading a conversation about the subject in the Blogosphere recently made me think: Maybe I should read it, find out what it says that's got so many people so wound up. Of course, I've heard a lot about it, and opinions vary hugely; writers, English teachers - people I trust to know about this sort of thing - say it's not very well written. A number of people - many of them Christians - have said it's a good read, provided you don't forget it's just a story. Another group of Christians seems to be getting very uptight about the very existence of the book and the film, many, I suspect, without having bothered with basic research such as, oh, reading the book, for instance. And the TV people? Well, the documentaries treating 'the conspiracy theory' as something with a solid foundation in reality have just been feeding the insane paranoia that says this is a true story...
I haven't read the book. Don't plan to, or to see the film. Not because I object on some moral or religious grounds, I just can't be bothered. I therefore have no opinion on the content of the book. So why am I adding to the already huge volume of hype surrounding it?
Well, fiction is about playing 'What if...?'. This is most obviously the case, perhaps, in science fiction, particularly that sub-genre known as Alternate History:
It doesn't have to be about war and conquest, of course, but they are obvious turning points in history and ripe to be altered. I could just as easily ask what if the Beatles had never split up, or never formed in the first place?
What if the Cold War had escalated?
What if Germany had won the Second World War? Or the First?
What if the British Empire existed today? What about the Roman Empire?
And whichever way you approach it, there can be few events in human history more pivotal than the life of Christ. So why not ask 'What if'?
The Wossname Code may not be an alternate history as such, but is there any reason these questions should not be raised in sf? Could a Christian writer tackle these questions in a sympathetic manner? And more importantly, would Christian readers take him seriously, or would they be hunting him down with a bag full of large, pointy bricks?
What if Christ escaped crucifixion?
What if he had never been born?
What if he had raised a family? What if he did have a blood relative alive today?