Friday, May 19, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

[DISCLAIMER:] This is going to be a very LONG entry. The subject matter will be deep. This is NOT light reading folks. Consider yourself warned.

I am set to go see the movie "The Da Vinci Code" this weekend. I have already read the book, and I am looking forward to the movie. I don't buy into the protests, or the critics who have panned the movie already. I tend to like the movies they hate... and hate the ones they like. I almost NEVER see the ones that get Oscar nominations for "Best Picture".
FIRST OFF, I want to say this:
If your faith in God is going to be rocked by a movie, then you didn't have much faith in the first place.
The only reason the Church is so concerned, is because an open discussion on this topic can only lead to a lessening of their power over the masses.

The Church has ALWAYS reacted harshly when someone challenges their authority. Martin Luther was dubbed the "anti-christ" by the Pope because he challenged the Church's authority. Anything that runs contrary to Orthodoxy is branded as wrong, or "evil". Usually it iis met with violence.
When Copernicus said that the Earth Revolves around the sun (and not that the Earth was the center of the universe) he was branded a heretic. He waited until he was dying to publish his beliefs because he wanted to escape the certain punishment of the Church.
The Cathars didn't follow the Orthodoxy of the Catholic Church. They were branded heretics, and slaughtered.
The Templar Knights were also accused of being heretics. They were also slaughtered on what became the foundation of the "Friday the 13th" superstition. It was really a way for the Church (and the King of France) to grab their fortune & property.
It doesn't surprise me that the Christian community is outraged by this movie. The book was attacked when it came out. There was an obvious smear campaign against Dan Brown and his novel.
There are historical facts mentioned in the book/movie. You can't dispute this. I'll list some of them:
The religious group Opus Dei does exist. They practice corporal punishment. (self-mortification)
Leonardo Da Vinci painted several paintings referenced in the book/movie. He was a free thinker who didn't always follow the party line dictated by the Church.
The Priory of Sion was an order that was also persecuted by the Church.
Rosslyn Chapel exists, and it has very interesting architecture.
There was more than just four Gospels that we see in the Christian Bible.

The book/movie is not FACT. It's a work of FICTION. There are factual aspects to the book/movie, but it's not meant to be the final word on the topic. I say it's a perfect place to open the discussion. If the Church is so certain that their point of view is correct, then what do they have to worry about? Why not talk about the topics brought up by "The Da Vinci Code"?
Personally, I don't buy the Church's point of view that Jesus was never married. BUT, I don't accept everything Dan Brown offers in his book/movie either. I'm somewhere in the middle.
I absolutely believe that Jesus was married. To me, this doesn't change his status as the Son of God one bit. Why should it? It makes more sense that he was married. He was a rabbi, and it was expected of rabbis to be married. An unmarried rabbi would get zero respect. And it was the norm for Jewish men of that age to be married. To NOT be married would be abnormal - and it would be mentioned. To be married wouldn't be out of the ordinary, and would go unmentioned.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was fully man AND fully God. He lived life just as we do. He was tempted as we are. There is nothing to say he couldn't have been married. He drank wine, this is certain. He did so at the Last Supper, and he probably did so at the wedding where he turned the water into wine. If he did things like drink wine, why not assume that he would do other "human" things?
In the incident of Mary Magdalene about to be stoned for allegedly committing adultery, I have this to offer:
Why do we not hear about the man involved? Why is it a crime punishable by death for the woman, but not the man? Maybe it wasn't a case of adultery at all. What if Jesus was the man she allegedly committed adultery with? That could explain why he took the position he did. It was easy to say "Let the person who has no sin throw the first stone" because people knew that everyone commits sin. It's POSSIBLE that they saw Mary leaving the company of Jesus and they ASSUMED she was committing adultery.
History is written by the winners, we all know this.
Ask someone from the South (at the time of the Civil War) about their opinion on the war. You would have a very different point of view than that of the North. The Native Americans at the time of the Pilgrims would have a different point of view than the Pilgrims.
If you want a more realistic telling of our country, read the book "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. It will tell you that the "We the people..." of the Declaration of Independence didn't include African-Americans, women, Native Americans, or "regular" people. The "people" referred to white men who owned property - only. The Revolution wasn't as popular as we are led to believe. It was the idea of a few ultra-rich families who joined forces. It was basically forced upon the rest of the population.
The Church had an interest in keeping women from power. The Jewish religon was male dominated, and these were the people who became the first Christians. They wanted to keep the status quo. The early Christian Church had women involved, but the men found a way to cut them out of the power.
Much of the "New Testament" is the letters of Paul. He was notorious as being misogynist. It's odd that a man who never met Jesus while he was alive is the one who set many of the "rules" of Christian living. He spent much of his early life persecuting (killing even) Christians, and then he converts.
Why do we accept with blind faith that Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, and deny that Mohammed was taken up to Heaven, or that an angel came to Joseph Smith? (founder of the Mormon religon) Many critics of the "Gnostic" gospels say they can't be counted on as being accurate because they came long after Jesus had been crucified. If Paul wasn't part of Jesus' "inner circle" of disciples, why do we take his word as fact? Why is he more credible than the "Gospel of Phillip" or the "Gospel of Thomas"?
Don't we read that Jesus praised Thomas for wanting proof that it was REALLY the risen Jesus that was appearing before the Apostles? Why wouldn't we take the word of the "doubting" Thomas if he wrote a gospel?
Most experts say that the four gospels weren't really written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. They were allegedly given credit for what was the story of Jesus handed down as oral testimony until someone finally wrote them down.
The idea of "only" four gospels came about by the Bishop Ireneus of Lyons in about the year 180 A.D. Here was his logic:
There are four points of the compass (N, S, E, W) and four winds... so there are only four gospels.
It just so happens, he chose the four that would make it easy for the Church to keep power. The "Gnostic" gospels took power away from the Church because they say that each person has the spirit of the Divine within them. The Church wanted power over the people, and the "Gnostic" gospels told another viewpoint.
In the "Gospel of Thomas" Jesus says: "Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift the stone and you will find me." He always talked about how the "Kingdom of God" being all around us, and within us. This was part of the reason the Jews in power wanted him crucified. Jesus was talking revolution, of taking power from those who were unworthy. He was a threat to their power, and he had to be eliminated. It's ironic that this freedom that he preached of was silenced by those who came into power after he deaprted.
Jesus spoke of a personal relationship with God, not having people getting in the way of that connection. That message was lost, and the Church doesn't want people thinking that way now. No wonder they oppose alternative viewpoints like those in "The Da Vinci Code".
Like I have said, I don't buy into the whole story told by Dan Brown - but I see a grain of truth in there somewhere.
I believe that Jesus was married, most likely to Mary Magdalene. I don't know about the children part, but it's definitely possible. I could go on and on about the connection between Jesus & Mary (just in the four "accepted gospels) but I'll save that for some other time. I believe that the Church knew this was true, so they came up with the label of "prostitute" for her - to lessen her importance in the early Christian movement. It was a mistake that she was identified this way, but the later correction hasn't taken hold. People remember the accusation more than the truth that was later revealed.
This is the bottom line - for me at least:
If Jesus was married, it doesn't make him any less Divine. Personally, I feel that a married Jesus makes him more accessable to us. He seems more real this way. My faith won't be hurt if it was found out as a fact that Jesus was married, and had children.
To me, an unmarried, and allegedly celebate, Jesus seems contrary to what God's plan was. Jesus took on human form to understand us better, and to then take on our sin so that we could be redeemed. The union of man & woman in sexual intercourse is a taste of Heaven here on Earth. That's why God doesn't want us to engage in sex outside of marriage. It's special, sacred even.
Dan Brown's book/movie should open up a discussion of our relationship with God. If the Church resists, it's only because they fear a married Jesus. It would mean they would have to re-evaluate their opinion of sex. And they just don't want to do that. And they DEFINITELY don't want to give up any of their authority. What would they be if people had a direct & personal relationship with God? They become unnecessary, and they don't want to give up their power, or place in our lives.
Spirituality is Divine... man ruins that by making "rules" to go along with it. Religion is a belief - spirituality is an idea. You can change an idea... it's too hard to change a belief. People die over beliefs. Look at how many people have died throughout the course of history because of religious beliefs.
I say, go watch "The Da Vinci Code" and take from it what you will. Maybe you will get a better understanding of God. Maybe it will be just an entertaining 2 hours and 50 minutes. Maybe it will change your life... maybe not. But the ideas proposed by "The Da Vinci Code" shouldn't be feared - unless the Church has something to hide.