I have just completed reading Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, the international bestseller that has been in the New York Times No. 1 list for the past months. Copies abound in National Bookstore, so on the prodding of the wife, we bought a copy for seven hundred bucks. And shall I say -- I will never look at Leonardo Da Vinci's the "Last Supper" painting in the same way again.
No -- this book is not in the league of Umberto Eco, not even Tom Wolfe. Yes, my initial reaction after finishing the last chapter is the same reaction I had after I finished John Grisham's "The Firm" -- no more of this pulp. The film version will make the book superfluous. Might as well just wait for it.
The book is in the mold of the classic cat and mouse chase. But the chase is framed by a search for a religious relic with hints, clues and riddles to spice it up. It's a worn out cliche. Not a bad way to spend the waiting hours in the toilet, but still not good enough to disenfranchise billable hours.
Of course, I have to credit Dan Brown for bringing to my attention the biggest joke that Leonardo Da Vinci has managed to pull on all unknowing Catholics who consider his "Last Supper" painting or replicas thereof as standard piece on their dining rooms. Da Vinci has made a fool of us all.
Notably, in spite of the sparsity of any insight to the human condition in the main story, there is one question hovering on the side of this book that leaves me baffled. Would it matter if Christ were married? To be more specific, would it matter if Christ were married to Mary Magdalene? And Mary Magdalene bore Christ's children whose descendants are now believed to be in France?
Jees, I have to admit I am struggling with the question. The book's proposition -- the history of the church as popularly known is the history according to the winners -- is valid. It's the corollary, the history according to the losers or the alternative history of the Church, which is very difficult to accept. If Mary Magdalene was the true "beloved", what would that make of all the religious literature that was fed to us that forever labels her as the biblical prostitute? And will Christ be not God if Christ were married?
I don't have an answer. Funny, how pulp fiction has evolved. Now, I have to review my college notes on philosophy and theology to make sure I maintain my bearings.