The Da Vinci Code (Paperback)
Pub Date: March 2006
MORTIFICATION OF THE FICTION
Early in life, I was taught the dictum, “Don’t believe everything you read.” After reading The DaVinci Code three times now, I am appalled at the way a work of fiction has become such an iconoclastic point of contention around the planet. As the book appears in paperback this week and is about to be screened around the world by Sony Pictures in May, there has been a resurgence of interest in a story that should have remained just a really good and quick read—made for a rainy Saturday afternoon and a good pot of coffee—but has been turned into one of the new icons of spiritual re-education.
The most shocking thing about this is that Dan Brown can laugh all the way to the bank and probably has… repeatedly! In taking bits and pieces of ideas he has gleaned from his hobby of pursuing conspiracy theories found on the Internet and in the books of other unsubstantiated “historians,” he has perpetrated the biggest hoax on the reading public in a long time. He is one very smart cookie, is Dan Brown. He knows that the average reader will swallow whatever he says because he begins with two stated “Facts.” As soon as that word is read, the mindset is altered. Suddenly, there is a rat in every corner and it is easier to believe that a conspiracy of silence exists and that Christianity is purely a manipulation of male chauvinists, than to try to prove that it does not.
Someone might Google in key words or phrases like, Opus Dei, Priory of Sion, Sir Leigh Teabing, mortification of the flesh, silice, Fibonacci Sequence, or hidden meanings in DaVinci artworks, and they will find an astounding amount of information. This will satisfy most to the point that they believe what Brown proposes must be true and that he has really done an outstanding job of research; but they won’t read enough to see that the sources are repetitive, inconclusive, and do very little to satisfy the thirst for more information—because there is no more. What has happened in The DaVinci Code is that Dan Brown began writing a mystery but got so carried away with his own obsession with the conspiracy theories which tantalize him, that he tried to turn fiction into historical fact. It doesn’t work because none of these theories can be documented. All of the people involved in promoting the conspiracies found in Brown’s book quote from each other in the books they have written. Eventually, if you do enough research, you find that the person or persons who originated the ideas in the first place are long dead and have left no tangible proof—like a parchment, a scroll, a letter, etc.—of what they claim. All we are left to sift through are circular arguments among a small group of people who like to think they are scholars, but are perpetuating their own “facts” based purely on hearsay. Robert Langdon sums up the theme of the entire novel —“Everyone loves a conspiracy.”
For instance, worship of the feminine and worship of nature existed long before the birth of Christianity. Mankind has always fallen prey to the temptation of worshipping the seen rather than the unseen, that which is the created thing instead of the Creator. Long before Constantine came onto the historical stage, Hebrew worship banned and obliterated the worship of gods, goddesses, and nature because they were commanded to do so by Yahweh, the One True God. Christianity before Constantine had female leaders such as Mary Magdalene, who was a disciple of Jesus and the first to see him in his resurrected body; Lydia, who was tutored by the apostle Paul and probably founded the first Christian church in Philippi; the daughters of Philip, who were prophetesses; and Dorcas (or Tabitha), who was such an important disciple in Joppa that God miraculously raised her from the dead through Peter. The Bible clearly supports equal standing between men and women. It is mankind that has allowed the perversion and misapplication of God’s word because of man’s desire to become all-powerful and godlike.
Much that is shameful throughout history has been justified in the name of God and Christianity, but that has no correlation with God’s will as stated in the Bible. The important thing to note is that there are over 20,000 pieces of existing documentation that justify the existence of what is in the Bible. To date, the people who debate the truth of the theories found in The DaVinci Code have not been able to produce one. Every religion—even denominations within Christianity—have traditions that have no basis in scripture but have superceded God’s word and given direction and justification to doctrine and practice. Some are so old that no one really knows how or why they came about anymore.
Aside from the spiritual, Dan Brown has some talent for turning a phrase and plotting out a story but, at least in this novel, his characters are so one-dimensional and (honestly?) stupid that I felt like I was visualizing people who walk around hitting themselves in the head and saying, “Duh…” all the time. Sophie ought to have the Women’s Movement screaming in outrage. Brown presents her as a highly trained and expert cryptographer, yet she fumbles around repeatedly, never seems to remember anything until something Robert Langdon says or does triggers some old memory, and then solves something even before she has all the information she needs. At one point she asks Langdon, “Sangrael… does it have anything to do with blood?” Come on, Sophie! You know three languages!! She is far too constantly confused to be the policewoman and cryptologist that Brown writes her out to be.
By the same token, Langdon has spent his life becoming one of the foremost symbology experts in the world but it takes him pages to see that what he is looking at is a recreation of Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man” when I knew what Sauniere had done as soon as Brown described the crime scene.
Yes, I think we’ve all been led a merry chase by Mr. Brown. Unsatisfied with a mere 15 minutes of fame, he has chosen to take on the most controversial of subjects, challenging the foundations of religion and faith (primarily Christianity) and thus assuring a long walk in the spotlight. So far he has managed three years. On his website, he claims to be a Christian, but my theory is that the whole book is the apologetic treatise of a lapsed Catholic who has been seriously damaged and disappointed by his church. I understand that the Masons are next. Let the fun begin!