Monday, January 02, 2006

Regarding The Da Vinci Code.....>:)

[Admittedly, this is a very "religious" topic, but it does have a lot
of bearing on modern politics--well, on politics and civilization and
history overall...not to mention the state of modern popular
fiction...]

Whatever other controversies there are over whether it's accurate or
cobbled-together or what, I think there's one very good reason that
the central premise of The Da Vinci Code -- the "sang real" or "royal
blood" interpretation of the Holy Grail -- makes no sense atall in
terms of Christianity, and that's that it expressly undermines
everything progressive and 'enlightened' about the principles that
Jesus taught.

I'm not going to take on the question of whether he really existed in
history or not -- from the colloquial tone and idiosyncratic events
in the Gospels, not to mention their multiple iterations, it seems
clear to me that he did, and it's common knowledge to scholars that
the story was gathered and edited after the fact. If you don't
believe that, then whatever -- he was a minor Jewish rabble-rouser in
his time so far as the Roman authorities knew, so one could hardly
demand him to have a larger footprint in their histories.

Anyone who has read the Gospels at any length will notice that Jesus
specifically rejected any idea that the claims of blood and family
were stronger than those of individual faith itself, and that many
times he said that anyone who placed father or mother or spouse or
children higher than him was "not worthy" of him, even refusing to
recognise his own mother and (adoptive) siblings once when preaching,
saying he had none. When a woman in a crowd called out, "Blessed is
the womb that bore you and the breasts that gave you suck," he
replied, "Rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep
it." I.e., blood relations get no special favours or grace on that
count alone.
Certainly, the Old Testament is full of lineages and chosen heirs and
such, but that's the prior history, not part of the original
Christian message -- and everything of the divine right of kings,
right down to Queen Elizabeth II, is founded off the Old Testament
tradition and scriptural justifications, not the New, despite this
being an accepted concept of "Christendom" for most of its history.

I'm not even going to address the issue of whether Jesus had sex with
Mary Magdalene....or any other of his disciples, for that matter, as
I think that his personal silences speak louder than later-official
words on quite a few matters of 'moral values'....but I think that
one thing that he himself would definitely not have done, given any
divine foresight, is have any issue of his own lineage, because
they would automatically (given human nature to cling to any visible
status) be regarded as superior to others and be looked to for
leadership, in a way that had nothing to do with their own personal
virtues and would undermine the entire concept of equal/paradoxical
rank in the Kingdom of Heaven, where "the first shall be last and the
last shall be first," and "he who would be master must be the servant
of all."

In the case of Islam, Mohammad's children and their marriages and
descendants complicated the matter of religious authority and its
succession immensely because of different factions both claiming
priority by virtue of a blood-relationship with the Prophet -- this
being the origin of the Sunni vs. Shi'ite strife that underlies much
Middle Eastern conflict.
In Roman Catholicism, the institution of the papacy has certainly had
much disputation and was even split between Rome and Avignon at one
time...but the consequences of that have been much diminished by
time, seeing as the feuding popes in question had no heirs/resulting
bloodlines to keep fighting over the rightful succession after one
had gained a lasting ascendancy over the other.

Apart from the inevitable claims of nepotism when one does recognise
family members as having a higher moral/religious authority (let
alone a more-divine-than-thou essential nature), it seems more
prone to subsequent corruption and/or stagnation of one's original
message (whatever it is) to let one's offspring be assumed as moral
heirs rather than choosing persons of proven understanding and
discretion. Therefore, anyone who does have a higher path of truth
to share would be wisest to never have children atall, lest they be
recognised and taken for something which they were not.

Whatever strategic errors Jesus made in his ministry (with cohorts of
the kissing kind, for example...), it is utterly against the grain of
his teachings to think that he would have himself established any
bloodline that might have served to dilute and co-opt the
significance of what he was trying to do. Moreover, even just on the
symbolic level, having the secret lie in a "royal blood" rather than
a sacred cup essentially rejects the concept of communion for that of
a categorical rank and distinction -- which highlights even more that
it is not something Jesus would have wanted nor perhaps even
permitted.....yes, and I can just see him arguing with Magdalene over
this, assuming a physical relationship there....

In the popular alternative reading of things where Jesus never died
atall but emigrated off to France instead...(and why France *anyhow*,
except by retro-adoption by the royal line there?)...well, perhaps in
a safe obscurity they might've had kids. I don't think that that
happened, though, considering how much of the significance of
Christianity rests on the whole death/resurrection idea. So maybe
there was a pregnancy and he didn't know about it before the
crucifixion....though, given the recorded events afterwards, that
hardly seems too likely....the thing is, with any grain of divine
common sense, he wouldn't have wanted there to be any known
descendants.

So, whether there were indeed any lineal descendants of Jesus of
Nazareth or not, the great secret of Christianity's cosmic
significance does not and should not lie there, in so easily gotten
and easily tarnished a thing as blood-relationship. The only
familial relationships that Jesus ever extolled in his ministry were
those of fellowship in the spirit...everything else so commonly
praised -- even his own ancestry as recounted in the 'Begat-itudes'
(little in-joke there)-- would be merely termed an accident of birth,
not a status of the spirit itself.

So--there's my little bit of Biblical exegesis on that matter, which
certainly comes down against reading too much into that novel as a
revelatory theory. I said more or less from the start of reading it
myself that it was only "second-level insight" (turning things upside-
down, where rivers are not rivers and mountains are not mountains),
even though it's fairly clear to most students of religious history
that the emergent Christian religion edited out a lot of the more
revolutionary and egalitarian aspects of the original movement in
order to present themselves in the most acceptable light as an
institution -- this including the re-subordination of women as in
traditional Jewish culture, and turning that all into canon law.
Second-level insight is easy to find, and not that difficult to
write -- any basic student of conspiracy theories knows how to play
the what-if game, if only to set up a field of alternatives to
the "official" story.

More specifically so than that, though, it is essentially untrue to
the preserved essentials of Jesus' message (all the red-letter
material in some Bibles) that its significance should be potboiled
down to a union of male and female energies (and centered on the
merely biological level, to boot) when it's fairly easily discernable
that he was getting at the transcendence of that duality, both
socially and intrapersonally.

Anyhow. You certainly don't have to believe any of this, but I think
it makes a lot more sense on a practical and a theological level than
literally believing what you read in The Da Vinci Code. On a wild
guess that most of the people who have made it a bestseller are not
given to reading primary-source material in either religion or
history, I offer this as a scripture-based clarification that
perpetuating himself genetically is never what that personage called
Jesus had in mind as any great sacred mystery for people to ooh and
aah about two millennia later.

Though, there's certainly gotta be some book out there already
speculating on cloning Jesus from his blood out of a relic....perhaps
even building a Biblical-era amusement park around it....though,
elementary chaos theory and the laws of fiction dictate that a
cloned Jesus will inevitably run amok and turn into an Antichrist....

*snickers*

Yeah, that'll make a great movie.....

__________________________________________________________________
P.S. -- Pass this on if you like, but please do make sure that I get
the blame for it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well written with a lot of valid points. As for your unwillingness to posit whether Jesus had sex, based on the red letters, he supports that prohibition of adultery. So much of Jesus's message is sacrifice and isn't it a tremendous sacrifice to deny yourself the natural pleasure of human sexuality?

However, in a piece of scripture I think has been taken out of context by many over the years, Jesus speaks about divorce and says "some men will not marry because they are born that way, others because man has made them that way, and others because they have done so for the Kingdom of Heaven." He is the third, forsaking his sexuality for his Kingdom.

The way it is taken out of context is a side note to your original post. In some protestant bibles, most noteably the corrupted-by-poetry King James version, the "born that way" has been perverted to Eunichs. Have you ever heard of a person born a Eunich? It's rare and I'm very doubtful Jesus was speaking of the few born without genitals. The Catholic take on this is that Christ was speaking of impotence. Again, I think this is a little too specific.

My feeling is that Christ in this spot outlines marriage as the union of man and woman, then that sex is reserved for marriage. He then says some will not marry because they are born that way, which I take to mean homosexuals.

While this still wouldn't sit well with most in the gay community, Jesus seems to say here that homosexuality is biological, but that to follow him gays must carry their cross, forsaking their sexuality as He did.

It may not be what the gay community would want to hear, but the truth, to me, is that God doens't hate gays, as some like to scream. He just gave them a big test, for which I assure you, he has given them the strenghth to pass.

Aureantes said...

Hmmmm.....interesting passage, and I do have much to say on that, enough to give it its own entry. Thanks for bringing that up, as I have not had the opportunity to read an idiomatically-correct version of the New Testament -- personally, I tend to favour the sound of the KJV, and other translations I have seen lose the poetry in the attempt to be "modern".

Anonymous said...

But the King James trades accuracy for poetry.

Aureantes said...

So I'm still searching for that happy medium where 'beauty is truth, truth beauty'...and if I had sufficient linguistic knowledge I'd do that work myself, as I'm quite fond of doing translations. Balance is a rather important thing in my philosophy, and I am unwilling to sacrifice anything of potential evocation or accuracy that does not needs to be sacrificed.