Saturday, May 20, 2006

pondering a Da Vinci spirituality

I went to The Da Vinci Code movie yesterday. The espresso congregation are using it as the topic of spiritual conversation. And I’m preaching on it this Sunday. I’ll write a movie review at a later date, but in the meantime here are some questions I am pondering:

1. If Brown hoped that this would rekindle interest in “topics of faith”, then how attractive to you is the vision of spirituality offered by Brown?

2. Was it not the Gnostics who celebrated the spirit as much more important that the body. Doesn’t that lead to a body-bad, self-flagellation at odds with the body-affirming, creation loving way of Jesus?

3. Doesn’t all the symbolism smack of some deeper level elitism. A spiritual search involving a Harvard professor, the curator of a famous museum, a police cryptographer and an enormously wealthy English doesnÂ’t exactly sound to me like a very accessible spirituality.

4. a) I am struggling to understand why Mary Magdalene is so important. If it’s because she’s married to Jesus, then her identity is sourced in marriage. But isn’t that a bit demeaning to woman, that they only become famous because of who they are married to? Doesn’t that undercut the “sacred feminine” so central to the book?

b) And if Jesus is just a human who died as Teabing suggests, then Mary is just the wife of another human. So why search for her grave 2000 years later?

5. In the movie, Robert Langdon recounts a story of experiencing Jesus present with him as a child. If Jesus has died, then how can this presence be? Or does this leave the door ajar to a risen Jesus?

Posted by steve at 05:30 PM

6 Comments

  1. i seriously doubt brown is offering rekindled interest in ‘topics of faith’ because if you read and believed the book, despite being about jesus and religion, it’s not spiritual, it’s saying the femine is sacred but not implying any deep spiritual meaning to it.

    “But isn’t that a bit demeaning to woman, that they only become famous because of who they are married to? Doesn’t that undercut the “sacred feminine” so central to the book?” not so much, because the feminine is sacred to the individual not the whole of society. plus we’re not talking about any couple, despite it not being true, anyone married to jesus isn’t going to take centre stage..

    i think more than anything, dan brown was trying to ‘shock’ people and possibly try to make them think, not offer spirtuality. christians can offer over-exaggerate the general concept of spirituality in the secular world. my experience, is most don’t care, and don’t try to seek out at least some form of spirituality if it’s not organised religion

    Comment by andrew brown — May 20, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

  2. i seriously doubt brown is offering rekindled interest in ‘topics of faith’ because if you read and believed the book, despite being about jesus and religion, it’s not spiritual, it’s saying the femine is sacred but not implying any deep spiritual meaning to it.

    “But isn’t that a bit demeaning to woman, that they only become famous because of who they are married to? Doesn’t that undercut the “sacred feminine” so central to the book?” not so much, because the feminine is sacred to the individual not the whole of society. plus we’re not talking about any couple, despite it not being true, anyone married to jesus isn’t going to take centre stage..

    i think more than anything, dan brown was trying to ‘shock’ people and possibly try to make them think, not offer spirtuality. christians can offer over-exaggerate the general concept of spirituality in the secular world. my experience, is most don’t care, and don’t try to seek out at least some form of spirituality if it’s not organised religion

    Comment by andrew brown — May 20, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

  3. Regarding your point (2), you need to differentiate between the Gnosticism of ancient history and Neo-Gnostic romanticism. The two are not synonymous. There is a deep irony here in that people are seeking a more human/humane Jesus via the Gnostic gospels, it suggests the church has overplayed its hand with forensic sermons on the atonement to the point of stripping Jesus of his humanity in the eyes of many within the public.

    Regarding your point (4), well this is all tied up with the Goddess Worship Revival.

    Comment by Matt Stone — May 23, 2006 @ 12:24 am

  4. OK, here goes.

    1. Very attractive, but only in the context of how it was portrayed in the movie. Naturally there are many other facets that would have to be grappled with in today’s world.

    2. True, the Gnostics, or at least some of them, viewed the spiritual aspect of life most important. However, this does not mean A=B, or followers would automatically become self-flagellators.

    3. Again, I can’t see your train of logic. In a story, and this is a story, the characters must be believable. Billy-Bob from the backwoods of Tennessee isn’t going to be able to follow the complicated train of symbols, nor probably even afford to travel to France and England.

    4 a. Hardly, in my opinion. Contextually, it is actually quite earth-shattering. Two thousand years ago in Israel women had little if any position in society. Running the household and birthing babies was about it. This view brings into Jewish thought the elevation of women and their importance. Even in the traditional Gospels Jesus elevated women by his close association and confidence.

    4 b. To prove exactly what Teabing hoped for, the removal of centuries of repression and violence he saw in the established church. We mustn’t forget that in most religions the founders were not “God” but human. This isn’t a new idea, yet doesn’t seem to limit the possibility of a religion flourishing.

    5. Look back and 4 b. Virgin births, saviors dying and resurrected, all are part and parcel to the world’s religions. We (Christians) can be pretty arrogant to think that only OUR religion came up with this story. Hardly. Rather, our religion took all these archetypal myths and molded them in a new Levant/Occidental story.

    Good questions to ponder though. Thanks.

    Comment by Brian — May 23, 2006 @ 4:57 am

  5. Andrew, in terms of your doubt re Dan Brown, I was simply quoting his words “My hope for the Da Vinci Code was, in addition to entertaining people, that it might serve as an open door for readers to begin their own explorations and rekindle their interest in topics of faith.” So I am simply taking Dan at his word.

    peace, Steve

    Comment by steve — May 23, 2006 @ 10:16 am

  6. On Mary Magdalene she is central to thesis propounded in the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail book by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln. They in turn make inferences based on the Gospel of Mary and Gospel of Philip where Jesus appears to favour Mary over his male disciples. The thesis of Baigent et al and then Brown is the holy grail is Mary and her bloodline.

    This conveniently sidesteps saying 114 of the gospel of thomas where Jesus says Mary must become male to enter the kingdom.

    The sacred feminine thread has emerged in neo-paganism and wicca with the emphasis on female priests in covens and on the triple aspects of the goddess (maiden, mother and crone). The feminine thread has also percolated through New Age spirituality and with focus on sacred gaia (ancient greek goddess of the earth as icon/metaphor for interconnected oneness of life on earth and ecological spiritual concerns).

    You can peruse my blog for my film review and also for my separate blog-entry on three critical issues: Leonardo’s painting, the Priory of Sion hoax and the gnostic gospels.

    Cheers
    Philip

    Comment by philjohnson — May 27, 2006 @ 9:18 pm

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