The Da Vinci Code: A Woman's Story?
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Tue May 23, 2006 at 03:29:36 PM EST
Although The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction, it has touched a raw nerve: the suppression of women within institutional religion.  While my Christian faith is the soul and foundation of who I am, it is also true that the history of Christianity reveals centuries of silencing women that continues today. This incongruity magnified to a national level, I believe, is the reason for the astonishing popularity of The Da Vinci Code.
Although The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction, it has touched a raw nerve: the suppression of women within institutional religion.  While my Christian faith is the soul and foundation of who I am, it is also true that the history of Christianity reveals centuries of silencing women that continues today. This incongruity magnified to a national level, I believe, is the reason for the astonishing popularity of The Da Vinci Code.

My colleague the Rev. Susan Thistlethwaite, President of Chicago Theological Seminary, points out that The Da Vinci Code resurrected the authority of one of the woman long suppressed in Christian history, Mary Magdalene. Echoing one of Brown's major themes, Thistlethwaite says that "There is simply no biblical evidence that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute - even though the church has taught that she was."

Rather, the Bible does say that Magdalene was a witness of the resurrection. According to Thistlethwaite, this should have given her "apostolic authority" of the same magnitude as the rest of the male apostles of Jesus.

Today, several centuries later, women are still struggling to be heard. My friend, Rev. Emma Jordan-Simpson, who now serves as a pastor at a local Baptist church in Brooklyn, reminded me recently of a moment of breakthrough for her.  When she was a student pastor, several fellow male students engaged her in a scriptural battle about the authority of women to preach.

"As I sat listening to their arguments about why it is ridiculous for a woman to serve as minister, I saw it: these guys were arguing about something God had settled long ago. I too am made in the image of God," Rev. Jordan-Simpson recalled.

The crimes of any religious institution, against women or otherwise, do not negate the values of love and justice at their core. Human institutions will always be flawed reflections of the values they hope to embody. However, as the national dialogue The Da Vinci Code has spawned rages on, I hope that we utilize this opportunity to confront the inequities our religious homes have perpetuated. Far too many women find themselves spiritually deprived because they feel unwelcome or unequal in their own houses of worship.

This film provides our country with an opportunity for national dialogue centered around questions we don't often like to discuss. What is it about the relationship of women and the organized religion today that makes a mere fictional novel so popular and so controversial?

I've created an online space for women from around the country to join in this conversation together, to tell their stories of struggle and triumph in their faith communities. is dedicated to raising women's voices, to elevating the discourse of scriptural sparring over a fictional novel to a new level to discuss the real lives of women today.

To read what women around the world are saying, and to tell your story, join us at
Helen LaKelly Hunt is the author of Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance and the founder of

We've created a small 'club,' if you will, for women who are both spiritual and progressive: .

by Maat on Mon May 29, 2006 at 05:38:05 PM EST

The thing I found weirdest about the Da Vinci Code is that there is so little human femininity, both on-screen (Audrey Tautou is the only female who speaks more than one or two lines) and behind the scenes. A whole bunch of men are going to make a whole bunch of money from it. My wife and I felt played for fools once we realized this.

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by anke99 on Sun Dec 30, 2018 at 05:34:02 AM EST

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by Anusak on Sun Dec 22, 2019 at 02:54:39 AM EST

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