Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Da Vinci and Mary Magdalene

It seems somewhat ironic that I received the Bock book in the mail from Laura just days after watching a History channel special on the same subject, but I should begin at the beginning.

I haven't shared with a lot of people, primarily because they didn't ask, that reading Dan Brown's book instigated my first crisis of faith. I feel kind of exposed writing about it here, yet I have no compunction about sharing my story with anyone who is interested, so I will attempt to shed my self-consciousness and write openly. Many fundamentalists, as is their habit, warned churchgoers against reading The DaVinci Code when it was first published to widespread acclaim. I didn't initially have much interest, but jc brought it home from the library, so I read it.

Admittedly, I've always been a sucker for historical fiction, trying to separate the true from the invented. In this case, I was already primed for doubt. I wouldn't want anyone to misconstrue my story to mean that a fictional story caused the disintegration of my faith: quite the contrary. The very fact that I could entertain Dan Brown's fabulous hypothesis indicates that I must have already been engulfed in doubts that I had, until then, failed to recognize.

Coming face to face with my doubt sent me into a tailspin of emotional distress. My faith had been constructed on a framework whose basic tenet was the divinity of Jesus Christ. I can look back and acknowledge that a wife and child need not have negated Jesus' godhood, but at the time the two seemed necessarily mutually exclusive. Nor does frank examination of the evidence available seem to provide proof of either to me. Both the History channel special and the Bock book expose reasons why Dan Brown's claims are full of holes. I am even led to wonder whether Brown bears some malice toward the Catholic church, which prompted some of his fantastic notions.

You may want to ask: if The DaVinci Code doesn't get the credit for my change in beliefs, what does? I was raised in the protective bubble of Biblical fundamentalism. I attended Christian school and Christian college, worked at Christian summer camps, and even taught at a Christian school. I had little exposure to secular science or philosophy until my late twenties. I was taught literal, six-day creationism, and school science texts routinely debunked radiocarbon dating, and cited misconstrued fossil findings as evidence against evolution. Fundamentalists hold that obscure Bible passages and accounts such as creation are all equally true. The truth of the whole is integrally linked to the truth of individual parts. When I began to learn what science has discovered about the origins of the earth, and the history of mankind, I had to reject a 6,000 year old earth and the Adam-and-Eve story of man's origins.

It took several years for my concerns to accumulate to the point, that I rejected the Bible as truth outright. It has been about a year now since I felt that it was important to share my change in beliefs with my family. As I continue to read and learn, I do not regret the path I have chosen. I have more questions than ever, and yet I have no burning need to have the answers. I relish speculating on the questions. I describe myself as agnostic or freethinker, and I have no doubt that many would dismiss my views as secular humanist, a term that my upbringing uses to sneer at those who believe, as I now do, that how I treat people that I can see is more important than what I believe about a god who may or may not exist.

I've come a long way since reading The DaVinci Code, but I don't regret a single step.


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