June 12, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

As I mentioned the other day, I finally pushed myself through the book. It's hard for me to see how anyone is threatened by it. It's nothing more than a fairly linear (and tedious) detective story that happens to be set within a fabricated set of mysteries surrounding the history of Christianity. It's a simple book; the kind of thing people read at the beach. As A. O. Scott said, it would probably take longer to see the movie than read the book.

Nevertheless, it seems to be fashionable to say something about it, so here goes:

1. To say that the "sacred feminine" is a hushed secret within Christianity is not quite accurate. For one thing, it's no secret. The Da Vinci Code acts at one point like the allegorical interpretation of Church architecture as feminine anatomy is some kind of secret. Mystical writers have long seen Church buildings as the womb of Mary, out of which we believers emerge as the newly born Body of Christ. Even someone as strict as St. Francis called Mary the virgo ecclesia facta, or "virgin made church."

Furthermore, the suppression of the feminine face of God is hardly the fault of Christianity. Historians of theism tend to see this suppression as occurring around the time of the first agricultural revolution, when people first settled down and came into more control of animal and plant fertility. Holding onto land became more important than the fickle fertility cycles of nature, and thus feminine fertility gods gave way to masculine war gods. All this is, of course, long before Christianity. Diarmuid O'Murchu has written about this, though I forget in which book.

2. The portrayal of Opus Dei has been annoying for them and a joy for their detractors. But the main Opus Dei character in the Da Vinci Code is described as a monk, and there is no such category of membership in Opus Dei. On the other hand, wild rumors and accusations are part of the price an organization has to pay for being so secretive.

3. The Da Vinci Code suggests that Jesus of Nazareth was married to Mary of Magdala, that they had children, and their descendants came to be the Merovingian dynasty in what became modern France. First of all, there is no way of knowing any of this. Historically speaking, both characters are hard to pin down biographically. Even if it is true, that their descendants became the kings of France seems far fetched. It's the same kind of creative salvation history that likes to variously identify the ten lost tribes of Israel with the British, the Jamaicans or the Native Americans.

Even more, to allege that Jesus was married and had children does not interfere with any dogmatic Christological claim as far as I can see. The only thing such a claim does is dismiss the imitatio Christi strand of the Christian celibacy tradition. But that's only one aspect of the tradition on celibacy.

4. It's hard to see how the Da Vinci Code didn't make a good movie. The book reads like a movie, constantly cutting between one scene and another. Maybe the casting was all wrong. Tom Hanks doesn't seem geeky enough to be Robert Langdon. Paul Bettany doesn't seem tough enough to be Silas. Ian McKellan is too stately to play the short, fat, half-crippled Leigh Teabing. On the other hand, Audrey Tautou is just as I imagined Sophie.

3 comments:

Jeff said...

Friar,

That's a very good review, and remarkably consistent with what I've read from every other Catholic who's taken the time on their own to learn about Church history, and has been browbeaten by other people into working their way though this tedious book, just so they can be heard in a discussion.

The whole Da Vinci thing is getting tiresome and old, and it discredits more interesting ideas in biblical scholarship just by mis-association. Will it ever end?

Paula said...

Thanks Friar.
The movie is a bore, I saw it.I had some reasons to read during it: the "scientific" part looks as "precious" as some hair-splitting presentations from our department of Life Sciences.

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Friar and all,

Most have totally missed the point that the Hebrew and Gnostic texts and others are making. First, they refer to symbolic males and females, hence the philosophical masculine and feminine nature and character. All the Gnostic texts are philosophical and symbolic treatises, not literal narratives. When you try to interpret any of these ancient texts (including the Bible) as literal, you will always come to the wrong conclusions.

Mary and Sophia are parallel symbolic allegories and personifications of the feminine nature of wisdom and the Seven Spirits of God, which are the feminine character. This is the point that all of these texts and hidden codes are alluding to. The creator is properly viewed as philosophically feminine in nature and character (truth, wisdom, compassion, freewill, etc.), not as masculine, which includes greed, materialism, force, and coercion.

Likewise, the symbolism of Mary as a prostitute flows from discussions of wisdom becoming the harlot, hence ancient wisdom and philosophy being recast as religion over the ages. As in the symbology of the Apocalypse, women are wisdom-philosophy focused organizations and harlots symbolize religions that have chosen money and power over wisdom and compassion, hence the three faiths of Abraham. Mary's daughter's name Sarah is actually referring to Sirach and symbolizing the Gnostic movement that grew out of the Yahad/Essene movement after Rome scattered them from Judea (to Egypt and elsewhere).

You will not initially agree with everything I reveal, but please be a little patient with my long-winded presentation of what I have waited a very long time to be able to say. I promise to amaze and enlighten.

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door (again), listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing is blindness...

Read verse twelve of the Gospel of Thomas to understand who I am...

Contrary to those who strive to assert that the DaVinci Code created the term, symbology is an ancient philosophical technology and I am a real life symbologist. Likewise, the upper-level members of secret societies such as Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Illumanti, and the Vatican are symbologists. Keeping their "craft" secretive and misunderstood is a purposeful ploy designed to hide the truth about ancient wisdom and the symbology used to model, encapsulate, and encode it. The title "mason" is itself a symbolic allusion to those who work with the "Philosophers' Stone" which is the symbolic name given to an ancient body of symbology, hence "mason" refers to workers of symbolic "stone."

Read Proverbs 9:1 below to better understand this situation.

Wisdom has built Her house. She has carved out Her seven pillars.

Notice that "wisdom" is referred to as "Her" and "She", as in Sophia and Miriam (the Magdala), and that "She" has "hewn" "Her" "seven pillars" (of stone)? Read my Home Page to see what those seven pillars of "stone" have always referred to, contrary to what religions and mysticism have said for millennia. Do a search through Proverbs for wisdom, she, and her in a searchable Bible and compare these to the Dead Sea Scroll (4Q184) (Seductress) on page 195 of Geza Vermes "The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English." There are similar allusions in other books and texts. You can see the transformation of the feminine wisdom/compassion (Sophia, Miriam, Kuan Yin, etc.) into the Seductress/Harlot of this Dead Sea Scroll and the Apocalypse (Revelation).

Not only do I talk the talk, I walk the walk...
Here is Wisdom!!

Revelations from the Apocalypse

Peace...