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Jun

I meant to publish this a long time ago, and just found this in my drafts. So please don’t think that I have too much free time on mission team. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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I’ve always been interested in persuasion, and I’m sure that colors my thinking. It’s hard for me to imagine someone crafting communication without having an agenda behind it. Sometimes that agenda is very simple and straightforward. For example: “I want a chocolate chip cookie.”

But what about authors of stories? Are they just trying to tell a good story, or are they making a point? I’m sure it’s possible for us to assume too much in either direction. Critics, I think, often read points in where they aren’t. But readers often ignore points that are practically leaping from the page.

For example (and the reason why I’m writing this post): Dan Brown’s books (Da Vinci Code, etc.). I’ve heard people say before that Dan Brown has an agenda. Now, here’s an NYTimes article about Brown’s agenda. The article says that Brown isn’t just selling books; “he’s selling a theology.”

Theology involves our beliefs about God and truth. Your theology is a pretty big deal. Now, if you want to adopt Dan Brown’s theology, that’s your business. But if you’re going to do it, wouldn’t you like to do it knowingly and voluntarily? But that’s not what happens with fiction. You start the book, and it’s a great story. So you enter into the story in your imagination. For the story to work, you have to think like Brown thinks. Then you finish the book, and you’ve just spent hours seeing the world through Brown’s eyes. It’s hard to shake the habit. You start thinking like Brown, maybe just a little bit, but you’ve changed. You just wanted to read a nice story, but that nice story affected your theology.

I haven’t read any of Brown’s books, but honestly, this post isn’t about persuading you to read or not read his books. I’m just suggesting that you know what you’re getting into. Dan Brown has a persuasive message, and lots of other authors do too. Don’t forget that, even when you want to read a good story. Ignore the author’s philosophy, and you might get more than you bargained for.