Friday, March 04, 2005

Challenging the Church

When Dan Brown wrote The DaVinci Code he revived many arguments and theories surrounding the church and its traditional teachings. I hail from a strong Protestant upbringing, following the teachings of Luther as closely as possible in today's world. Naturally the questions he raised interested me. During a quick foray into the local library, I found a book entitled Secrets of the Code: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind the DaVinci Code by Dan Burstein. Mr. Burstein takes the stand of

...I feel I owe my readers at least an executive summary of the case I think the materials in this book present in aggregate. My personal conclusion is that the novel is a fascinating, well-crafted work of fiction that is finormed throughout by interesting bits of little-known facts and stimulating, but highly speculative though provocations. It is most valuagle when read as a book of ideas and metaphors - a notebook, Leonardo style, that helps the reader think through his or her own philosophy, cosmology, religious beliefs, or critiques
Personally, my opinion is still forming as I have not yet completed the book, but only a portion of the first section. The hypothesis of many scholars on the far left side of the spectrum is that Mary Magdelen was intended to be the leader of the church, that Christ wanted to restore the feminine leader to the church he was leaving behind. Some even take one step further and say that Jesus and Mary Magadelene were married (gasp!). The arguments, though logical, contradict everything that is ever taught about the life of Jesus. It is too far of a step for me to follow that. But I can the early formers of the church being very upset. Naturally, they would have felt, Peter should be the leader. I can see a conspiracy developing to crush this teaching, just as a decision had to be made as to which texts were official. Just avoid the ones that don't support it. The Catholic Church has often modified its teachings to suit the tone of the time. Priests weren't always required to be celibate, you know. I can see how the legends and stories of the regions could support the ideas presented, and developed by these scholars. But I see most of this with my writer's eye. I like Mr. Brown's novel. I enjoyed the suspense and intrigue. I appreciate the debates and discussions that have developed surrounding his novel and its controversy. If it is being discussed and debated, it forces people to evaluate their own belief system. To look at themselves and what their churches teach, or, perhaps, why they don't attend a church. I enjoy entertaining the possibilities as presented, playing the "What if" game. When I look at the pieces as a whole, the pieces that I have seen thus far, I have to side with the ones that do not contradict, the ones that support can be found through what I consider the true Bible, in spite of the recently discovered texts. I have to take a leap of faith and simply trust what my mind cannot comprehend. To have faith in what Jesus taught. But then too, when I look at all of the pieces, I begin to wonder why it matters. The purpose of the Bible is to teach people how to get to heaven. Everything else that comes from it is superfluous.

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