Please do not post any spoilers!
Update: Half-way through… Oooo – it’s good! It makes me think of Michael Chrichton with mysticism instead of technobabble or X-Files with religion instead of aliens (actually that’s pretty close to what Millenium was, right?). The technical craft of why the novel works is so evident – the same reason why I love 24 – to take all these tired plot tricks and mechanics and throw them willy-nilly is just thrilling.
Finished: I liked this book a lot. Da Vinci Code has lots of clever codes and twists and turns that make it a satisfying read – I can see why it’s one of those ‘summer at the beach read’ type of books. Underlying the novel is a foundation inspired tons of alternative Christian mysticism – some of which my sister had told me about when she got her Masters in Religion. I forget that some people don’t realize how the major themes of Christianity are really nothing new – the plot devices (like the plot devices of the book) are tried and true. Virgin births, crucified messiahs, carnivorous communions… it’s all been done before. My favorite example of this is how Saint Brigid in the Catholic canon of saints is actually a derivative of a Celtic goddess of the same name.
I was familiar with the vague notions of divorcing the feminine out of religion when the Roman empire converted to Christianity but didn’t know the exact details of what happened. I understood what the Council of Nicea was about but not why it was an effective political tool. I know about the apocryphal books of the Bible and the narratives of Mary Magdalene, Jesus and Mother Mary (my favorite highlight is when the rabbi examines Mary’s virginity in the temple and her womb burns his hands off).
The book is like Crichton – it reads like a screenplay. Which I like. It’s very talk-y and action-y. In the end the book has a nice ending that sums up a good 440 pages of reversals and blackmails, making it all worthwhile.
The crux of the plot does rely on a true believer. From one point of view I don’t doubt the Catholic Church’s influence over the past 20 centuries. I do doubt it’s power today. I think it is a human reaction to chaos that we like to think there is a secret organization somewhere that is watching it all move and the machinations will add up to either rapture, apocalypse or alien colonization. I do think that we should be more worried about the WTO and the IMF more than any supposed The Catholics (Jews, Gays, Blacks, Muslims, women) society taking over.
I still contend the best parts of the Church are the music and the architecture and art. The symbolism and legacy of filtering pre-Christian symbols and rituals into an amalgamation that conquered peoples would believe is fascinating.
Anyways – go buy it at a used bookstore and enjoy it. Here’s what other bloggers thought of the book.