Thursday, May 18, 2006

Teflon premises & misrepresentations

  • Published May 18, 2006

    Fans of “The DaVinci Code” like the intrigue in the book because it’s so far fetched, it’s ridiculous. They’ll call me hysterical because I was so offended by it. As a practicing Catholic, I found the historical references poorly researched and the premises slippery and preposterous. It was hard not to take offence. Yes, I know it was purportedly a work of fiction, but the author’s book afforded him a pulpit for his protagonist to lecture the reader for approximately 80 pages, spewing out spurious deceits about real people, places and events. He really dislikes Catholics, hasn’t a clue about Leonardo’s Last Supper, Saint Mary Magdalene or Emperor Constantine and the Council at Niceae. I think if you buy his “facts”, you’re forgetting that it’s truly pulp fiction.

    His writing was ineffectual. I found it read more like a screenplay than a novel. I love reading mysteries and thrillers. This book read like a personal attack from its preface to its soft core ending. I suspect Dan Brown is a “New Age” author, not a “Christian”.

If Dan Brown had authentic belief in the tenants of Christianity, he wouldn’t take the God he worships and relegate him to a mere mortal with lots of secrets that a “ flamboyant homosexual” artisan, referred to as “DaVinci” was forced to hide in his art because of evil secret societies and the big bad Catholic Church.

What an insult to Master Leonardo. There was hardly a proper address of his name in the book. You would never call an artisan by the town he lived in (Vinci). Even my kids’ art history books are properly written. Brown fails here as well. That’s like saying El Dorado Hills has a biweekly column in the Mt. Democrat newspaper. Where was his editor?

Even the “art history” was poorly researched. He places the “Last Supper” painting in a church, when in fact; it’s not in a church at all. He calls it a fresco and it’s not, technically. It’s tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic. It is painted on the concrete wall of an old refectory of the convent on the grounds of the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie (Our Lady of Grace) in Milan, Italy. The Apostle John, positively identified by Leonardo and subsequent historians, was never the subject of dispute as to his position in the wall mural. The fact that Brown suggests Leonardo’s intent was to place Mary Magdalene at the Last Supper should be an affront for believers. There is no clear line of fact versus fiction and he crosses it so many times, it seems quite intentional, if not sloppy.

What if Dan Brown had written a conspiracy thriller attacking basic core Muslim beliefs? Do you think for one minute Muslims would settle for it and have to suck it up to “it’s just fiction”? There is no way they could accept that. Neither should right thinking Christians.

Is Dan Brown a Gnostic? Even if he doesn’t acknowledge it, his belief system as presented on his website certainly suggests that he is. His fascination with the Gnostics and presenting them in such a positive light would suggest that both he and his wife are fallen away Christians, not reformed Christians.

If he had not qualified his book as based upon fact, those of us who took offence at his Teflon premises and misrepresentations would not have hollered so loudly. Yet, he weaves enough of his “facts” to cause doubt and confusion for those who believe what he has written as empirical historical evidence, which even secular historians have already disproved.

The most egregious historical claims of the book, based on dubious sources in Chapter 55 are outlined as thus: Try not to laugh.

  • Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had kids
  • Jesus was considered just a mortal prophet by his followers
  • Emperor Constantine in effect created Christian orthodoxy for political reasons in AD325
  • The REAL truth about Jesus was fortunately preserved in the documents of Qumran and Nag Hammadi.
  • The Church has sought to suppress this true portrait throughout history by means of persecution and slander.

Huh? If that doesn’t rock your boat, then I don’t know what does.

Saint Mary Magdalene was elevated to sainthood by the Church. She has a Feast Day in the liturgical calendar on July 22. She is one of my favorite saints. She was a woman of prayer, service and devotion. The historical facts of her life are so marred by this book; it would have caused her great offense as a Christian to be depicted in a higher light than the man she called “Teacher” and “Lord”. She was from the town of Magdala, thus, her name. If she was married to Jesus, she would have been known as Mary, wife of Jesus.

The Church’s devotion to Christ’s own Mother would exclude it from being criticized as being insensitive to women or “The Sacred Feminine” as Brown writes ad nauseum throughout the book. Christ is King to Christians, and making St. Mary Magdalene a Goddess over him, is at best, a pagan hypothesis and should be rejected, even if it is, in fact, a work of fiction, yet readers are swallowing this up as monumental and historical. It’s a rerun of Holy Blood Holy Grail. It’s a wonder the lawsuit of plagiarism against Dan Brown wasn’t sufficient; it seemed to be a re-write.

The Council of Nicaea was not called to ‘give’ Christ his ‘Divinity’; it was called in answer to the heresy of Arius, who was teaching at that time, against the Divinity of Christ. The early Church fathers in the first century had already wrote extensively about the Divinity of Christ, a belief all Christians espoused long before the Council. Councils are called to answer heresies and resolve disputes or define a Church teaching, already handed down by Christ. They are not called to create new doctrine. St. Peter called a Council at Jerusalem in 50 AD to resolve a dispute. Reading about the councils was obviously something that Dan Brown has never properly researched. He hangs out the Catholic lay order of Opus Dei as bad because they have a tall building in New York City. Opus Dei does not have monks, is not a monastic order, nor does it require its lay members to take vows, wear robes, sleep on straw mats, spend all their time in prayer and corporal mortification, or in any other way live like The Da Vinci Code’s depiction of its monk character.

Yeah, Ok, I hated this book. Enough already.

Tammy Maher is a resident of El Dorado Hills and a bi-weekly columnist for the Mountain Democrat. You can reach her by email at


Anonymous said...

It's a book, and thank God we live in a county where we can write what we want. The fact that the author's beliefs differ from your own, notwithstanding. It appears that some of your commentators believe that Mr. Brown should not have the opportunity to write because it conflicts with their belief systems. Chill

Tammy Maher said...

I'm cool. Dan Brown can write until his fingers fall off and in a free country, it's great to be able to bag on him when he tells a lie or forty.

Thanks for the comment.