Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Enough already, with this silly book and movie
Man, have I gotten sick and tired of hearing about The Da Vinci Code.
I know the movie is coming out, but for crying out loud, this book was written years ago. In the meantime, there has been a whole cottage industry built around various Da Vinci Code boosters and Da Vinci Code rebutters. Will it ever end? Why is the Church finally deciding that it needs to come out and start talking about it now? Do they figure more people go to the movies than read? They may be right.
Gnosticism seems to be in vogue these days. Margaret Starbird, Elaine Pagels, The Gospel of Judas... I finally forced myself to read the book about a year ago because it had gotten to the point where you couldn’t talk about it with anyone without hearing the question “Well, have you actually read it yet?” Supposedly, you’d be so bowled over by the evidence in this book that you had no credibility speaking about Church history unless you had actually taken the time to read it.
My impression: It was certainly written in a style that was designed to keep you moving. Every chapter was written with a little hook near the end, so that you were supposed to hang on to get to the next chapter in order to get to that “punch”. I was constantly thinking to myself, “Brown has written this book with a clear view to having it converted to a screenplay". It reads more like a movie storyboard script than a novel.
Dan Brown spent a lot of time speaking about Osiris, perfect proportions, and various pagan myths and symbols, and I was never clear on why this all had anything to do with Jesus. Some of it was really strange and illogical. Take Sunday as “Sun-day” for example. It may be “Sun-day” in English. It certainly wasn’t called “Sun-day” in Greek or Latin. As for all the pagan symbols incorporated into Christianity, this should come as no surprise or scandal to anyone. Christianity has always “baptized” what was good and useful in the cultures it encountered. Nowadays it is called “enculturation”, and no one is particularly scandalized by it. Besides, you can go on forever playing that pagan-influence game. If you really want to, you can go all the way back with Judaism and debate whether or not it was all infected up with Zoroasterism, Canaanite beliefs, and Babylonian epics.
Speaking of Judaism, Brown leaves it out almost completely. Reading this book, you’d hardly know that Jesus was a Jew. There’s no mention of St. Paul whatsoever, and for all the talk of the lost sense of the sacred feminine, why doesn't he mention the Cult of the Virgin Mary? What does he call that? The whole Jesus-Mary Magdalene marriage story sounds pretty clearly to me like it originated with one particular French family that wanted to legitimize its claim to royal heritage over that of rival claimants by trying to prove a line of descent back to Jesus. That, of course, leads to the big question for Brown. If Jesus was merely "royal", and not "divine", why should any of us care who Mary Magdalene was carrying in her womb?
Regarding Opus Dei… Brown seems to consider Opus Dei an ultra-right-wing Catholic organization. Is that so? Has Brown ever heard of the SSPX? They make Opus Dei look like Call To Action. They might have made better villains for him.
Not a very good thriller in my opinion, and not scholarship at all. If there was a relationship that Jesus had that was underplayed in the New Testament at all, it wasn’t the relationship between Jesus and SAINT Mary Magdalene. It was the relationship between Jesus and St. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, the “brother of the Lord”.