I sent this email to a good friend:
I'm posting this reply to my blog coz I thought I made it long enough and its a good way to mark myself in time (re: when I bought the illustraded edition of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code)... My friends posts that there are just too many questions out there that challenge the faith and she doubts if they can be answered. Dan Brown has been such a phenomenon in the Philippine reading public that I thought it best to share this thought I have --- owning to the unique background I had with my 16 units of Theology, and being school with the Jesuits and yet reading Gnostic Christinity details which is the main holdage of info that Dan Brown drew upon his fiction.
Read on 'cause here's my take on the issue:
My First Email: When The Celestine Prophecy and the tenth insight was such a phenomenon in early 1997 because it encourage new age thinking and mysticism... (even as its devoid of any literary substance it was onthe NY bestseller list for 98 weeks!) It also ellicited reaction from the conservative religious side who are closed minded about their faith. Dan Brown's fiction --- remember --- it's historical fiction --- similar to the manner Michener etc. writes... in fact Dan Brown wasn't the first to write this way --- i think he was just at the right time since the new age phenomenon reached its peak and spirituality was at the center of media talk re: Gibson's the passion, etc... PLUS the mythos that was lacking in our generation (as joseph campbell laments to be missing in contemporary soceity --- had a ressurgence) that is to say zeitgeist
is that yearning for more detail about spirituality that the church
has kept unexplained.
For instance, much as the concept of mystery has been explained in Canon Law, not every catholic knows what it means, or why the heck they go to communion? Not everyone appreciates the sacraments and rituals and other Church things because most are too metaphysical to be discussed in catechism... thats where the church has faults --- not every Catholic or perhaps christians for that mattter know about it. .. I needed 16 units of theology to finally understand many question I had about the church --- and still I have questions ! This makes my spiritual journey most wonderful thus, because I am not lost, instead I am finding truth slowly revealed in many ways. I had that education so I am able to ask the right uestions perhaps, or know where to find some anwers and yet I still have questions...
What more those who are not as interested in religiosities like these? This is what I suggest to Filipinos reading Dan Brown for now:
Gnosticism is an interesting subject. Search this in the internet if you want to go deeper into the rabbit hole: check "Nag Hammadi Library", THE GNOSTIC SOCIETY LIBRARY ..... I encourage brave readers to check it out and try understand it objectively. If you can be interested in Theology then its best to read up on them! See, the Church is not as backward as it is, it is just slow but it is reaching out...
More things will be found soon and Science and History as a tool of the Church is quite new and ONLY more recently used by the church so expect more things about the church --- it took them 400 years to accept evolution - but now The Pope has his resident astrophysicist, historians and advisers among others... interestingly, the catholic Church by the way is prepared in any case life outside of the earth is found --- it will not affect canon law, instead the metaphysical messiah takes precedence, and the concept of a savior, re: Jesus, or by any other name will be welcomed.
Now thats why I like Joseph Campbell so much and old school speculative fiction and philosophy :) --- and the church has to change because by canon law it has to... re: Ecclesia Semper Reformanda (the church must always change) I like how dan brown excites readers into questioning --- it helps in spreading info, you see?
Catholics for one by Canon Law, should take Dan Brown positively, the Opus Dei of course will say something else but as far as my theology is concerned, I think there is no conflict here... Salvation by law, is outside the Church, and the Church, slow as it is, doesn't deny its faults. What makes controversy is when the line between truth and fiction is blurred and thats where Dan Brown is good.
Anyways sorry I had so much to say about this... but hey... its a cool subject.
On the 'too many questions issue" here is what I have to say:
I actually think most questions can be answered - we just have to ask the right people, see if we do not even attempt to ask or we just gossip around the same people with the same questions we won't learn anything. Unfortunately for the Catholic Church that is the problem in their organization - catechism is not much as a priority in as much as it is in Christian Churches. In fact, I think the far worse a problem is that the clergy is not as good as it should be - not all priests even know or can answer or explain quite well the usual theological questions --- much less give the sermon or homily justice by giving the correct exegesis of a given Sunday gospel... try to ask a priest to explain the concept of sacramentality and why tradition is put in high regard by the Catholics and I'm sure you'll hear different answers.
I should confess that when I go to any Church for mass and I dont like the way the priest addresses the people by his homily - if I feel he is not as capable as explaining the corret exegesis of the gospel --- then its worthless listening to him. It's a cofession I made to Jesuits and they are saddened by my revelation... see I was used to listeing to jesuits being able to explain the theological
siginificance of gospels... and all --- when I hear politics in the
pulpit and relating the same to say, financial concerns of the Parish? I find that distasteful...
I like books that challenge my Faith because I can ask more questions and try to find answers for them (Donations of old books will be welcomed - just email me!) - in effect enriching my own spiritual growth, not merely to justify any doubts I have about the Church. It's the existential angst being filled in with a drug for me --- unlike other people who with their idelogical disorientation is using as validation for their doubts abut their faith. (Don't get me wrong coz I also read The Celestine Prophecy ... Hehehe!)
There the line is drawn, That is the difference between some readers of Dan Brown and perhaps serious Catholic readers like me. I seriously think Da Vinci Code is a good companion reading for indoctrination and theology and it's a good appetizer for the man asking about his faith. However, reading it without reading further about say historicities of the gospels, theologies and exegesis, and philosphy of man and institution (re: sartre) would be not as an enriching experience.
The assumption is as long as the church remains a human institution,
it will exhibit human faults. This is the same with the Muslim
Community and other religions.
Before I get any detractors, please find below a list of people that
have influenced my Philosophy so that my views are expressly framed
along the right lines: (this is a mix of agnostic, philosophers,
mystics, sci-fi writers, atheists, and doctors of the church.) ====
Emmanuel Levinas, Immanuel Kant, Jean Paul Sartre, Joseph Campbell,
Soren Kierkegaard, Saint Thomas and Saint Augustine, Gabriel Marcel,
Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, James Redfield, and
readings on Gnostic Christianity + lots of infusion from the
Jesuits... good thing I wasn't UA&P re: opus dei -- although a friend of mine shares the same sentiment --- that even opus dei-schooled people should like it and appreciate how Dan Brown makes a great literary device of manipulating truth of ritual versus truth of fact... anyways......thats it for now.
posted by Jdavies @ 11/23/2004,
Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.
About This Blog
This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.
Request access to my Linked-in Profile