My friend Steve from Detroit sent me a copy of The DaVinci Code. It was an enjoyable read, and I can see what all the buzz is about.
It’s not that the book is an especially gripping detective story. Cabinet of Curiousities by Preston and Childs is much tauter. I’m also not convinced by the characters. Dan Brown seems to have gone to some effort to flesh them out, but often resorts to having the narrator TELL us about the characters, instead of letting them SHOW us who they are.
That’s okay. I still didn’t want to put it down. It was well paced, and I DID want to see how it ended. The story it tells about the history of Christianity is both interesting and largely true… and that’s where the buzz comes in.
Not many Christians fully appreciate how divergent modern Christianity is from the original Church founded by Christ. Mormons do (we believe that it was SO divergent that God had to appear to a prophet in our day and restore that Church), but Dan Brown’s take on things is decidedly different than the doctrine of the Apostasy commonly accepted by Mormons. In the book his characters reveal to us that Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, and that the Roman Emperor Constantine and later the Catholic Church worked hard to expunge any record of that. There are also the examples of the adoption of pagan holidays into the Catholic calendar, and the vilification of women in general.
That last bit is by far the most interesting. Brown postulates that Christ intended that Mary lead the Church after His death, and that the “Holy Grail” is actually the tomb of Mary Magdalene and the accompanying ancient literature supporting the claim for a matriarchal order. The divinity of Christ is refuted outright, and modern, patriarchal religions (especially Catholicism) are cast as having been established through a series of well-meaning mistakes built on a set of ancient, carefully crafted lies and misdirections.
I’m not going to fault Brown’s research. He’s gotten a lot of things right, and he’s wrapped a good story around it. I’m glad I read the book.
The book does beg the question, though… what of modern Christianity?
Religion is a personal thing for me. I belong to a faith that is more organized, orthodox, and heirarchical than pretty much any other Christian faith save the Catholics (and only because they’ve had more time to steep in bureaucracy
I’d be interested to know Brown’s take on actual revelation from God. Having experienced it, I know it happens. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe it HAS to happen in order for some truths to be uncovered or understood.
Ultimately, The DaVinci Code is good fiction, made believable by really, really thorough research. I found some fascinating truths in the book, but I’m not about to sign up for Brown’s lecture circuit.