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Stephen Colbert writes a Dan Brown novel

Religion and BeliefTom HanksEaston (Easton, Pennsylvania)The Colbert Report (tv program)Comedy Central (tv network)

Bestselling author Dan Brown appeared on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" on Tuesday night to promote his new thriller "Inferno," which is out this week.

The novel, which once again features symbologist Robert Langdon (or, as host Stephen Colbert put it, "Tom Hanks"), draws inspiration from Dante's "Inferno," which Brown said was "a thriller of its day." But, according to Colbert, that just means most people will know how it ends:

"Spoiler alert!" he quipped. "You climb up a ladder and get to purgatory."

Colbert said he'd met Brown in 2006, when they were both part of Time magazine's 100's Most Influential People list. With 80 million copies of "The Da Vinci Code" in print, Brown is, as Colbert put it, "the second-most popular author next to God."

At several points, the interview became a rather spirited -- if, as is common with Colbert, one-sided -- debate about religion. Colbert, who is Roman Catholic, accused Brown of being a heretic, and of "gunning" for his church with books like "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," which, according to Colbert, "say that the church is an evil organization that crushes knowledge."

Brown, when he could get a word in edgewise, maintained that he had nothing against Catholicism. "The Da Vinci Code" simply posed the question, "What does it mean for Christianity if Christ were not literally the son of God?" he said.

But Colbert pressed him with atypical seriousness. "It means everything is false!" the host asserted. "The church is the resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead, my friend.  End of story. Or rather beginning. Checkmate." He paused. "I think I just wrote a Dan Brown novel."

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