Book Review

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

So many have asked what I thought of the best-selling The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (and someone was even kind enough to send it to me), that I am happy to present my somewhat educated opinion about the story.

People ask, "Is it true?" or "How much of it is true?" The answer is in the book, on page 444:

"It is the mystery and wonderment that serve our souls, not the Grail itself. The beauty of the Grail lies in her ethereal nature." Marie Chauvel gazed up at Rosslyn now. "For some, the Grail is a chalice that will bring them everlasting life. For others, it is the quest for lost documents and secret history. And for most, I suspect the Holy Grail is simply a grand idea … a glorious unattainable treasure that somehow, even in today’s world of chaos, inspires us."

And on page 447:

"Langdon watched her expectantly. `You understand this?’"

"`As you have witnessed on the chapel floor, Mr. Langdon [where he understood a symbol embedded in the floor] there are many ways to see simple things.’"

And because different people understand differently, and many act on their understanding, there are many levels of "truth" to this (or probably any) story.

The ultimate "truth" or essence of this story is symbolic.

Is there a secret group dedicated to protecting an ancient secret? No doubt, and probably several. I met a French woman who claimed to be a major participant in such a group, who claimed to have privileged knowledge relating to the Grail story. She was not crazy; she was (and as far as I know still is) beautiful, brilliant, wise, and the head of a very feminine church, with many lovely, intelligent, sane members.

There have been rumors from time immemorial about secret societies, and there was a time (or several eras) in history when it was necessary to carry on secretly in order to preserve certain truths. A wise old man once told me that when institutions are strong, the need for secrecy is less—it’s when power policies do not have a firm grip that anything threatening must be hidden; today there is a very firm grip on the populace, most people you know "believe" and act on a very rigid set of opposites that they have been taught, and seldom question their "knowledge." Hence, the need for such incredible secrecy as described in the book is no longer… (I was told this came about--"permission" to disclose secrets--during the last century.)

As Marie said in the above quote from the book, "There are many ways to see simple things." Some people, maybe the majority, are materialists—they have to be able to see, feel, hear, measure anything for it to be "real." (Think of the almost church-like* institution of Science today—for the most part, though even that is changing among some.) So they put value on a material Grail, on specific individuals, on ritual. This is fine, it is just not the ultimate level of understanding (or even a very high level), but is very, very widespread, "the lay of the land."

Using symbols is an excellent teaching tool, as well as a way to hide things from the uninitiated. A symbol can be "true" in that it is an analogy to something more real, and it can be a cloak beneath which to hide something. And a surprising amount of real information is right in front of everyone's nose and few see it...

So yes, I think such groups probably do exist—though one can be certain, they would not have the names that are bandied about in best-selling novels, so don’t waste any time seeking out clues from the book to plan a trek.

A message of the book was the symbolism of "masculine" and "feminine" as concepts, not necessarily as "male" and "female"—though the foundation of the secret society was indeed based on individuals, whose gender mattered. In the specific language used at Sanity Island to present technical information, the words "initiative" and "resistance" would be used to express similar ideas to those said to be represented by the Grail. With a little effort, and a little pondering, one can come to see this.

So, as a lot of you have asked, what do I think of the book? I think it was a great adventure story—I stayed up all night reading it; I think it has some valuable material within; I think it is a fable; and I think that there are errors in it, too, but that could have been purposeful: That it is "unattainable" is not true. That the Holy Grail would "never be revealed" is also incorrect—it has been revealed, and in fact, can be found "buried" within the pages of Sanity Island!

*"Almost church-like" in its arcane language, special status (and titles) and reverence accorded to officials, to ritual, for instance in "publish-or-perish" and more.


P.S. I can’t wait to see the movie!!


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