Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On discussing the DaVinci Code as a non-expert

PB said a few days ago:

Probably many times, especially with those who come musing about their reactions to some religiously-themed item from pop culture, such as The DaVinci Code. Instead of just listening to their thoughts about the possibility of a married Jesus, I jump immediately to correct their credulous ignorance, greeting their enthusiasm with Important Information and establishing myself, not as a sister seeker, but as an Authority On the Subject.

I have an advantage on this one.

I'm not an expert.

As the non-holder of a theology degree, I can assure you that discussions about the DaVinci Code among the non-theologically educated I've had included the following points.


1. The book was a fun read.
2. the movie was a little slow.
3. Who cares if Jesus was married? Most people are married?
4. Shouldn't somebody have sex with Sophie really soon? What if she gets struck by lightening and there are no more Jesus relatives?
5. I hear the book was factually pretty crappy, but I don't know the details.
6. Weren't the Dead Sea Scrolls Jewish? How could they have talked about Jesus?
7. Maybe they talked about the messiah in general.
8. That's not what Teabing said.
9. I wonder what it would have been like if Jesus was born a girl.
10. Probably no one would have listened to her.
11. So is the Catholic Church pissed because of the Jesus marrying thing or because the movie makes them look evil?
12. I think it's mostly the evil part.
13. So did Sophie heal what's-his-name's headache? Does she have Jesus powers?
14. I didn't finish it.

So there y'all go.


CC

6 comments:

Clyde Grubbs said...

Who is an expert on historical fiction?

This is a genre that is always controversial, because as fiction it challenges the historians to feel they need make corrections.

The difference is that this is historical fiction about a central religious event and all clerics suddenly act like historians defending the official story which we all know was a also a fiction based on a historial event, but we don't know all we think we know about those events.
s

Doug Muder said...

My take on DVC is that it's basically an idea that surfaced in the pseudo-history "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", and bounced around the fringes of pop culture for years -- the comic book series "Preacher" did a hilarious version of it, in which the effort to preserve the bloodline had resulted in the usual problems of inbreeding.

As for factuality, it's not great, but not as bad as the Catholic Church would have you believe. Most of the false things in DVC are at least similar to defensible theories.

And (though I haven't seen the movie) I don't think the book makes them look that bad. The Opus Dei Leader bad guy is being duped by the really bad guy, and all the Opus Dei people you see have gone rogue -- there's no indication that the Pope would approve any of this.

So the Catholic Church is getting the same treatment that governments often get in action movies: There are positions in the Church that, if held by a rogue agent, could do a lot of damage. Hardly anti-Catholic propaganda.

LinguistFriend said...

Unfortunately I could not bring myself to actually read the "Da Vinci Code". I tried, and at least I got the general themes. However, the resulting collisions
between enthusiastic novel-readers/moviegoers and others who have different opinions and information can be productive in the long run. They make people aware of questions about early Christian history, even if the authors are not qualified to answer them. Occasionally, scholars such as Bart Ehrman will take the opportunity to write a good little book ("Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code") which can for instance set people right on the facts relevant to the DVC background, and introduce the non-specialist readers to relevant recent research results (the four rs). Thus such fiction can be productive and raise the general level of popular discourse and awareness about early Christian history. That is a positive outcome in a number of respects.
There can be a locally negative result if members of the clergy react in a defensive posture. They have to be organizers, writers, fund-raisers, psychotherapists, social workers, etc., and cannot reasonably be expected (or claim) to be current either on all recent historical work or even remember everything they have studied. But such moments of discussion when a parishioner's enthusiasm and curiosity have been aroused by popular literature or a movie can be a fine time to point out a good book ("Let's see what the "Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church" says"), or suggest a more detailed treatment such as L.Michael White's amazingly good "From Jesus to Christianity" as a subject for small group study. Such discussions are an opportunity, and should not be allowed to become a wedge between the interested parishioner and the
clergy.
LinguistFriend

kim said...

The part that bothers me is that if Jesus did have descendants -- why would they be special? Is it hereditary? Why? Are we monarchists all of a sudden, that we think dynasty is so important? If the offspring of Jesus had his "special powers", wouldn't they have been hard to hide all these years, and why would they have remained hidden through all that's happened? If there were no hereditary "special powers", then what's so special about being related? Was Jesus' specialness in his genes?
Anyway, it was a fun read, but lacked logic to a striking degree.

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello all,
Here's some detailed insight into the backstory and subplot of the DaVinci Code and related books and texts.

Most have totally missed the point that the 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.

You may 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.

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 "Masons" are workers of "stone."

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

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.

Here is the key to understanding what the Vatican and Papacy truly fear...

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be Aware! Scoffing causes blindness...

Here's a real hot potato! Eat it up, digest it, and then feed it's bones to the hungry...

There's much more to the story of the Vatican's recent machinations than meets the eye. It's not the DaVinci Code or Gospel of Judas per se, but the fact that people have now been motivated to seek out the unequivocal truth about an age of deception, exactly when they expect me to appear. These recent controversies are spurring people to reevaluate the Vatican/Papacy and the religions that Rome spawned, at the worst possible time for them.

Remember, "I come as a thief..." ?

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

The DaVinci Code novel and movie are no more inaccurate as literal versions of history than the New Testament. The primary sub-plot involved purposeful symbology being used to encode hidden meanings, exactly like the Bible and related texts. In other words, none of these stories represent the literal truth. This is the common and pivotal fact of all such narratives about ancient Hebrew and Christian history. Debating whether the DaVinci Code, Gnostic texts, or the Bible are accurate history is a purposeful ploy designed to hide the truth by directing your inquiry away from the heart of the matter.

There is a foolproof way to verify the truth and expose centuries-old religious deceptions. It also proves why we can no longer let the Vatican tell us what to think about ancient history or much else. It is the common thread connecting why the ancient Hebrews, Yahad/Essene, Jews, Gnostics, Cathars, Templars, Dead Sea Scrolls, DaVinci Code, and others have been targets of Rome’s ire and evil machinations. The Vatican and its secret society cohorts don’t want you to understand that the ancient Hebrew symbology in all of these texts purposely encodes and exposes the truth about them. Furthermore, the structure of ancient wisdom symbology verifiably encodes the rules to decode messages built with it. This is what they most fear you will discover.

If the Bible represented the literal truth or even accurate history, there would be no need for faith in the assertions of deceptive and duplicitous clergy and their ilk. It is undeniable the New Testament is awash with ancient Hebrew symbolism and allegory. The same is evidenced in the Old Testament, Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic texts, biblical apocrypha, Quran, DaVinci Code, and other related sources. All ancient religious, mystical, and wisdom texts have been shrouded in mystery for millennia for one primary reason: The ability to understand their widely evidenced symbology was lost in antiquity. How do we finally solve these ages-old mysteries? To recast an often-used political adage: It’s [the] symbology, stupid!

It is beyond amazing that the Vatican still tries to insist the Gospels are the literal truth. Every miracle purported for Jesus has multiple direct symbolic parallels in the Old Testament, Apocalypse, Dead Sea Scrolls, and other symbolic narratives and traditions. Recasting the symbolism of earlier Hebrew texts as literal events in the New Testament is one of the central deceptions associated with Christianity. This is part of the secret knowledge held by the ancient Gnostics, Templars, Cathars, and others, which is presented with dramatic effect in the DaVinci Code. None of these narratives or stories were ever intended as the literal truth. This fact is the key to unraveling many ages-old mysteries and exposing the truth about the Vatican's long-term deceptions.

Moreover, the following Washington Post article (The Book of Bart) describes how many changes and embellishments were made to New Testament texts over the centuries, unequivocally demonstrating they are not original, infallible, or truthful. When you combine proof that the New Testament Gospels are not wholly literal with proof that these texts were heavily reworked in the early years of Christianity, you are left with only one possible conclusion. The Vatican has long lied to everyone about the central tenets and history of Christianity. This revelation also proves they are not the Creator’s representatives but Her long-time opponents. The recent hoopla over the Gospel of Judas and DaVinci Code demonstrates they are still desperately trying to deceive the world and obfuscate their true nature and activities.

It's no wonder the Vatican fears the truth more than anything else. As further proof of these assertions, seek to understand the symbolic significance of my name (Seven Star Hand) and you will have proof beyond disproof that Jews, Christians, and Muslims have long been duped by the great deceivers I warned humanity about over the millennia. What then is the purpose of "faith" but to keep good people from seeking to understand the truth?

Now comes justice, hot on its heels... (symbolism...)

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

Revelations from the Apocalypse

Peace...

PG said...

Doug,

My boyfriend is pissed off at both the Da Vinci Code and Dogma, not because they annoy religious people, but because the combination means Kevin Smith never will get greenlighted to do Preacher.

The main conversation I have about the novels Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons is that a) the facts/fictions it presented were interesting; b) the writing was seriously wretched. And I say this as an open reader of romance novels.