I'd say. It almost makes you think there is a conspiracy to make conspiracy theories appealing in order to keep people from dealing with reality, studying legitimate scholarship, and coming to grips with complex, serious issues. AP reporter Richard Ostling has written a piece about fixations with conspiracy theories. He notes:
Riding in the wake of "Da Vinci" has meant success for books about the Knights Templar, ancient goddess worship, Holy Grail hunts, Vatican intrigue, religious texts that early Christians spurned and the never-ending speculations about the "real" Jesus.
The titles on various best-seller lists lately include "Labyrinth," "The Last Templar," "The Templar Legacy," "The Third Secret" and Brown's earlier novel, "Angels & Demons." ...
Brown's novel has scholarly characters who purport to present historical facts while Baigent's writings are marketed as nonfiction. But the two rivals agree about religion. Both write that evil churchmen plotted to conceal the truth about Jesus and distort the origins of Christianity, especially the secret that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and was patriarch to a royal bloodline.
Baigent's added twist in his new book has Jesus faking his death on the cross with the collusion of Pontius Pilate, after which he becomes a guru living with the Mrs. in Egypt.
Sigh. Yawn. Yeah, yeah. Well, at least Baigent admits that his "theory" has no factual support, saying:
"I'm in the business of raising questions. I'm not in the business of providing answers. The moment you provide answers, you have a new power structure, so for me it's a journey of exploration," he said. An ex-Catholic, he's suspicious of all belief systems and organized religions. "It's necessary that we question them constantly."
Uh, but aren't you, Mr. Baigent, providing an "anwer" when you claim that Jesus didn't die on the Cross, hitched a ride to a resort on the Nile, etc.? This is just another tired riff on the "Question authority!" slogan, which always begs the question: "Who gave you the authority to tell me to question authority?" In fact, the moment you provide answers, you prove that you are capable of observation, thought, logic, reason, and imagination. But if you keep prattling on about "being in the business of raising questions" — without ever finding answers — I can only assume you are in a state of arrested toddlerhood.
Anyhow, the talk of conspiracy theories and the Coded Craziness reminded me of a piece I wrote nearly two years ago (May 4, 2004) for National Review Online, in which I compared TDVC with the Left Behind books:
In the Left Behind books (which I have written about before on NRO), an apocalyptic mythology about the future has been created based on interpretations of the Bible, using a unique and recent form of theology called premillennial dispensationalism. In The Da Vinci Code, a radical feminist mythology about the past is created via an interpretation of selected Gnostic writings that relies on esoteric, neo-pagan premises. In the Left Behind series, humanity is utterly depraved and history spirals downward into chaos and inevitable collapse; salvation can only come through a personal act of faith and complete renunciation of "the world." In The Da Vinci Code, humanity suffers from a lack of the "sacred feminine" and the world tilts ominously towards a male-dominated future; freedom from this imbalanced state requires the healing touch of the "goddess."
Both novels cite a common enemy: the institutions of man, especially the Catholic Church. This is far more overt in The Da Vinci Code, which contains a cacophonous recitation of how evil, violent, misogynist, murderous, backward, and corrupt the Catholic Church allegedly is. (No mention of Protestantism is ever made in Brown's novel, but "the Vatican" is omnipresent.) The authors of the Left Behind books agree with that assessment, as an examination of non-fiction works such as Are We Living In the End Times? demonstrates, but they are more muted in saying so in the Left Behind novels. There is no doubt, however, that LaHaye and Jenkins include the Catholic Church in a list of man-made institutions (e.g., the U.N., the European Union, Hollywood, etc.) contrary to the will and work of God. The bottom line is that faith is individualistic — "Me and Jesus" or "Me and the Goddess" — and that any spiritual or religious community larger than an intimate home church or a cozy secret society is to be viewed with great suspicion.
But, hey, I'm just asking questions. And as far as you don't know, I may or may not be part of The Conspiracy. Sure, it doesn't exist, but doesn't that prove that it might exist? Got you thinking now, don't I? Remember: question authority. Just don't ask why...