Why is this book so popular?

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Dan Brown's book, "The Da Vinci Code" is No. 2 this week on the New York Times bestseller list, which shouldn't surprise anyone. It's been on the list since it was released in March 2003, and in that time, it has never gone to paperback because it is selling so well in hard cover.

According to Brown's Web site, the book has sold 17 million copies and is slated to be made into a movie starring Tom Hanks in 2006. Dan Brown has been interviewed about his book on "The Today Show," "Good Morning America" and NPR.

° "Beyond the Da Vinci Code:" History Channel video and discussion with retired CMC philosophy professor Bob Baker ° 7 p.m. Wednesday ° CMC's Bogue Hall, Room 300 ° Free ° 870-4432

All that raises the question: Why is this book so popular?

On Wednesday, retired Colorado Mountain College philosophy professor Bob Baker will attempt to answer that question and walk people through the facts and fiction of "The Da Vinci Code."

The evening will begin with a screening of the History Channel's documentary, "Beyond the Da Vinci Code." Baker will follow with a discussion of the video. The evening is sponsored by the Alpine Enrichment Program.

In December, Sister Faith Hansen led a similar discussion of "The Da Vinci Code" at CMC. Almost 100 people attended, and the discussion was a lively one, Alpine Enrichment Program organizer Janie Swartz said. "There was so much discussion, I thought it would be interesting to bring Bob Baker in to provide another point of view."

Baker thinks that the public's immense interest in the mystery novel indicates society's state of mind.

"I think social historians will look back and say this book (was a very important event)," Baker said. "It shows that people are on a quest for spirituality that bypasses organized religion."

The problem, however, is that people are so hungry for spiritual guidance that they are willing to accept the contents of a fictional novel as fact.

Baker thinks that much of the information in "The Da Vinci Code" was pulled from a book published in 1982 titled "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," co-written and researched by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, but that much of the information in the book is also gross, unprovable exaggeration.

"He made up all this stuff about Da Vinci and the secret codes in his paintings," Baker said. "I want to discuss how far the facts take us and what can we infer from them."

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