The Brown Phenomena

I may be one of the first in Havant to own a copy of ‘The Lost Symbol’, but I don’t have it in my hands yet and won’t for another 24 hours at least, so this isn’t a review. I bought it online as soon as it appeared on the Amazon website in the dark hours after midnight.

I’m more interested in why Dan Brown has become so successful when so many people denounce his books as badly written and even as outright heresy.

In an article in the Mail on Sunday, Brown says he was already writing ‘The Lost Symbol’ as ‘The Da Vinci Code’ was released and was unprepared for the success and the controversy. He also said that having been raised Episcopalian and very religious as a child, he then began to question the more fundamentalist ideas about creation.

I came to ‘The Da Vinci Code’ already a committed pagan so the idea of the sacred feminine was nothing new. I had read ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ some years before and hunted through boxes of books to find and re-read it. My Dad was a  Mason and it held a fascination for me and also an irritation that it was closed to women and even anti-feminine.

‘The Da Vinci Code’ also appealed to the conspiracy theorist in me – I was deeply into ‘X-Files’ at the time. It was a book I couldn’t put down till I’d finished it, but I also realised that it was going to be hated and reviled by some Christians.

I subsequently also read ‘Angels and Demons’ which I found to be a weaker and less believable plot and not so well-written. I enjoyed ‘Digital Fortress’ far more because I understood from an IT standpoint that such a plot was scarily plausible.

Christian organisations around the world have condemned Dan Brown and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and a few have tried to ban it – well book-burning never was a good idea and inevitably increases sales elsewhere. Reportedly, the South Korean church tried and failed to launch a legal challenge against the film being shown in the country.

What really annoyed me is that many of the critics appeared not to have actually READ the book or seen the film at all, only reviews and summaries. I hope would-be critics will at least take the time to read ‘The Lost Symbol’ in full before they speak out.

Brown has been very clever; the personal doubts and theories that he had about religion and the Bible might have been put into a non-fictional book and his thoughts and ideas may quite possibly sunk without trace. Or, the result would have been too close to ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ to survive the lawsuits for plagiarism.

By ascribing the ideas and theories to the fictional character of Robert Langdon, he has gained himself a far wider audience and the legal challenge from Baigent and Leigh brought even more publicity for himself and the book.

I’ll be sitting and watching for the postman to deliver me my copy of ‘The Lost Symbol’ tomorrow and have abandoned any other plans for the day. Weather forecast says rain, so sitting indoors with a book will be just fine.

Do I believe that there is a Vatican conspiracy to conceal ancient writings that might destroy Christianity?  Well I don’t totally rule it out…

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