I've read two books in 2 days, one at home and one at work..
The thing is.. Both those book had a main character named "Langdon".
In David Baldacci's "A Christmas Train", you have the pulitzer-awarded reporter Tom Langdon doing a trip across USA on train. It's actually a really good book, and very different from everything else David Baldacci has written before. Baldacci wrote his "masterpiece", Absolute Power. It's about someone finding out a secret of political magnitude, and then have to try to stay away from the "agencies". It's well written, and have a really good construction of the story, with changing main characters etc. The thing is.. Baldacci has written about 10 more books with exactly the same basic story. Someone finds out something which has serious political consequences, and has to run for their life being chased by more or less official "Agencies". NSA, CIA, FBI etc..
That way, it was really interesting to pick up a book (At the Library-stand at work), and find that very different story, and a charming, if a touch sentimental at times, one too :)
The other book was Dan Brown's "Da Vinci's Code", a book that all and everyone has read, it seems, with the main character named Robert Langdon. And in a sense, the book reads a lot like one of David Baldacci's "sloppier" and hack-novels. Some people know a secret, "Shady" organisations are chasing them, but they can't go to the police and get help (The story of about 10 Baldacci books).
Now I'm really mixed when it comes to "Da Vinci's Code". It's an ok book that is nice to spend a bus ride or a night reading, and it's hard to put down, at the same time it has tons of flaws. The story is very simple and traditional, and not exactly well written in all aspects. It's "smart" in a sense, the way it's written. The first chapters are tough to get through thanks to Dan Brown spending a lot of time describing stuff. To sort of give the idea that he knows about this stuff (Even if those having the least interest in those things know it's standard knowledge, and not as insightful as he tries to make it sound. The idea, obviously, is to give an idea that he really has a knowledge about things, and that way when you read the rest of the book you will take the "facts" he presents as knowlededged facts. A way of making the readers "believe" in the story, and to believe it's true. The main problem is the fact that he only uses "familiar" stuff. Things that all people have heard about. The art etc you'll find in "The Idiot's guide to Art History". A way of making the readers feel "in" on the story. "Hey.. I know about that. Interesting, I didn't knew it meant that" etc. The problem is that he really has to bend history and facts in order to make the popular art fit within the story. Nope.. Da Vinci never ever used the name "Mona Lisa" on that painting, since "The Mona Lisa" is a modern description of it. That way, it's real hard for Da Vinci to have meant that it would have implied the Ancient gods Anon and Isis. "The Mona Lisa" might have tons of mysteries, or non at all, but the important thing for the book is the fact that it's one of the most known paintings in the world.
Dan Brown is very quick to point out that it's "only fiction" as soon as someone wants to debate the truth of it, at the same time as he does one heck of a lot to make people question traditional history as written by the Christian church, and wanting people to read "Da Vinci's Code" as alternative facts that is documented by others. In one part of the book, Langdon talks to his publishers about a controversial book and state that all of it is backed up in other books and by respected historians. The very same Dan Brown does about "Da Vinci's Code".
Now, everyone having read this journal for some time, know that religion and religious history and philosophy is among my pet interests. Nowhere close to being an expert in that field. It's just something I think is fun and interesting, but obviously I've picked up stuff along the way. That way, it might be unfair to read the book, since nothing in it is new. Especially not the theory about "Royal Blood", and "Prieuré du Notre Dame du Sion" (Which was "founded" in 1957, even if they themself say they date back to about 1070, even if they can't back that up in a direct way). Now I don't dismiss that theory, but it's not one that I encourage neither. The interesting thing is that they use a lot of historical "facts" where I believe in the same explanation as they do, of it, but maybe in another context.
A lot of people here know I'm in love with "virtual jigsaw puzzles", in the sense that I see most stuff as pieces of that puzzle. Being it creating a story, where various scenes are one piece, or solving mysteries etc. The thing is.. if you have a lot of pieces, but no solution, you're able to make those pieces to fit into an image you believe in, or, at times, the image you want. One of the thing I criticise the Bush administration-propaganda for, is having an image they want and then fitting events that fit that image rather than leave it open. As an example, I think they wanted a war in Iraq and used the intelligence to find the pieces that fit into the image they wanted, dismissing other important pieces. It's the same with history. A lot of history is using traditional explanation on pieces that might not be true.
Now, I generally agree with Dan Brown on a lot of things. "History is written by the winners" as well as the "False" Holy Bible.
One should remember that all science between the 6th century until the middle of the 19th century, in Europe, was done by Christian scholars. Nobody else needed to apply. Christianity stood for medecine, astronomy, physics and history etc. That way, everything was filtered through their faith. They had a view, a belief, and merely fitted the pieces to fit within that view. They didn't look for alternative explanations. The exception was artists, even if a lot of art was bought and ordered by Christians, since they needed iconography, which is the reason why there's such a lot of religious paintings around. That way, as Dan Brown state, a lot of the real history, could be found in paintings, sculptures, music etc. The main problem being that to be an artist, you really was a scholar and a noble man. Peasants etc, didn't need to apply, or would ever think about taking up painting as a career.
My interest in religion is mostly out of interest in Philosophy, thinking that there must be some kind of "universal" truth, and that it could be found through philosophy preserved (religion, which often is Philosophies that include faith). Now, obviously, Christianity is interesting from that view. I'm a great fan of Jesus, and religious scholars, but not the Christian Church which have extremely litte to do with the original Philosophy. 1,800 years of political plotting, egoism and various agendas have made that result. Few religions have been so shaped and re-shaped over time as Christianity has been, which I think is really sad, because the original philosophy (created or not) is far more interesting than what the Christian church wants to be). What Jesus teached (or what others created Jesus to have said.) I don't say Jesus ever lived. I don't care. Jesus might be a product of wise men promoting a certain philosophy, some 100 years after Jesus supposedly lived. I sort of believe in the Monty Python's Life of Brian explanation, in a sense. Jesus was a real person, but without connections to a god. A historical person that was good to use as a "model" when promoting that philosophy.
Jesus of Nazareth was a royal by birth, and lived as a royal. As such, he could claim his right and upset the order of the Romans and the Jewish High Priests, and most likely he had those ambitions in some way. Jesus was an ultra-conservative and faithful jew, and as such obviously didn't like the fact that Jews sold themself out to the Romans. At stake was also his royal right. The Jewish coutry he was a king of" The so-called "Rebellious" Jesus theory, which in my view seems to be the most real one, since there's such a lot pointing in that direction, both historically as well as backed up in the Bible. The only theory that sort of holds together and really make sense. With that as a starting point, you're obviously able to apply a lot of additional theories.
Do I believe, as "Da Vinci's Code" state, that Jesus was married? Yes. Most likely. The holy bible sort of hint at that, but a lot of other sources tells about the strong position of women as equals of men, which is a traditional Jewish belief. According to the Gospel of Thomas (which is a symbolic name meaning Twin, and given that name because he was seen as the twin of Jesus and equal), there were both men and women among the apostles etc. That way, it would have been extremely natural for him having married someone, most likely Mary that turns up in the Bible over and over again, because she was close to Jesus). One has to remember that Jesus is said to be in his thirties, and most likely he was married early in his 20's, or even as a teen. One shouldn't forget that people only lived to be about 30 - 40 years old in that time).
Jewish traditions, who share one heck of a lot with Buddhism etc (My real interest. Connecting relgions to find some sort of common truth that dates back to ancient times) is far more interesting than Christianity shouldn't be mistaken for what's in the Old Testament, since that's a Christian version of the Jewish faith. All Ancient religions (everything older than Christianity, since Christianity like to present itself as the norm), including Jewish beliefs, all celebrate women, or really.. the balance between men and women, which obviously is something I believe strongly in. If there's some kind of philosophy or religion I believe in, it's that of harmony and balance. If there's a God, it's most likely it created Lilith and Adam, since the principle of life demands that balance to exist. As those into Tao state; If God exists doesn't matter the slightest, because if a God do exist, it still has to subordinate itself to the universal laws and principles of life, and for life to exist and work, it demands some kind of balance or harmony. Something that's a central part of all religions except Christianity. The Celts, Vikings and North American Indians all believed in the balance of nature. Buddhists believe in Yin and Yang, or the positive and negative values of all elements around us.
The example I like to use is that of a wheel of a wagon you travel through life in. If you upset the balance in the wheel, it can only go so far before it breaks. A state of Koyaanisqatsi. (Life out of balance/chaos/disorder), which is the moment between revolutions of the wheel of life. When one state of life moves to the next.
I know a lot of people on my list are feeling really bad at the moment, moving from one state in their life to something else.. and they experience "Koyaanisqatsi", when everything they know is out of order, and there's chaos, before they find their footing and are able to go into the next state of life. Koyaanisqatsi is the time when you sort of have to throw all that you've experienced and learned in the previous states of life, into the air, and then put the pieces together into a new order that gives you the footing to go on
Balance works from the smallest to the biggest. One's personal life, to life in general. One needs harmony to be happy, and for humans to survive on Earth, there needs to be a balance between humans and "nature" (Which in my view is heavily upset, and on the way of breaking, the way we pollute and destroy the earth. Taking way more than we should from Earth, without giving much back).
It's sad that Christianity has upset the order of the most elementary in humans. The male and the female. The flip-side of the same, as a sort of distorted mirror-image. (Theories with strong hints to back it up, promote the fact that the leading apostle in forming the Christian church was homosexual, and as such hated woman. He also was very self-centered and didn't like to not be center of attention, and was instrumental in making sure the "right" gospels survived (Politics, in other words), and doing his best to try to destroy the Gospel of Thomas (which was an apostle that stood closer to Jesus than he did, as a Twin) etc. Paulus, the first pope, was a fanatic Christian, that saw women as a distraction from pure thoughts (very similar to what Islam is criticised for). One shouldn't forget that ancient Christianity and Islam, both based in Jewish tradtions, are extremely similar to each other, and have the same ceremonies and tradtions at heart. Islam has been able to keep it that way, Christianity has allowed people to shape it to fit them better, in order to gain popularity (Yes, continue celebrating very much the way you have done, but do it in celebration of Jesus Christ instead, which is why such a lot of heathen symbols and tradtions have survived in the way we celebrate Christmas, Easter etc.. (At Christmas, we celebrate symbols that comes from about 5 different ancient religions. A mix that's the result of the world having been made smaller, and people with various tradtions having mixed and adapted each others traditions).
I'm really happy that "Da Vinci's Code" promote that so heavily, and I sure hope people take that to their hearts, even if the book in itself leaves a lot to wish for.