Damsels in Distress, Murder Most Foul, and The Da Vinci Code

Although I, like other readers, thoroughly enjoyed reading The Da Vinci Code, for me, the most fascinating and interesting thing about The Da Vinci Code is the phenomenal response to it — which shows that The Da Vinci Code is much more than just a fast-paced page turner. What is it about this novel that millions of readers find so compelling? What is it about this novel that the church finds so threatening and so dangerous that it has no less a personage than Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone up in arms, warning Catholics a little belatedly — not to read it and that shill for the church, Pat Buchanan, suggesting on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country that a fatwah should be issued against author Dan Brown?

I think the secret to the phenomenal success of The Da Vinci Code is that Dan Brown, in telling a tale about a fictional crime, has stumbled onto a true crime — a murder most foul involving damsels in distress — a murder in which we have all been complicit, and a murder which is ongoing. It is also a murder which many of us no longer wants to be a party to, and Brown’s book is having the effect of bringing the crime to consciousness, thus enabling us to just say no to its continuation.

The crime to which I am referring took place long before the legendary birth of Jesus, but it originated the JudeoChristian tradition of patriarchal monotheism. For when patriarchal monotheism arose somewhere around 3000 years ago, it arose against a background of matrifocal religions which understood the sacred as residing in the Feminine, whether manifested as Mother Earth or Woman. This archetypal feminine was often symbolized as a Goddess; and it was She, as she was worshipped in her many forms throughout the Ancient Near East, that God the Father had to topple in order to take up his position — front and center in Western consciousness — as creator of creation, source of life, and seat of ultimate value.

Religions are very much like political parties. Each wants to persuade you that their way is the right way — and conversely that the opponent’s way is the wrong way. For the more adherents a religion or a political party has, the greater its power. And to gain adherents and power, religions, like political movements, use the strategy of attacking the integrity of and devaluing all competitors. What this meant at the rise of patriarchal monotheism was that the followers of God the Father had to do a bang up job of discrediting the competing pagan religions — the followers of the Goddess — which meant nothing more and nothing less than a full scale war on the Feminine, which included both woman and earth. (Can we be surprised that Western culture, formed as it is out of the tradition of God the Father, is pursuing policies which destroy the earth and lead to the murder, abuse, and enslavement of women — especially through attempts to control our reproductive lives? ) The result was the annihilation — the murder — of the Feminine as the locus of value and life; and a value shift in Western human consciousness to the masculine end of the spectrum.

Whether or not there ever was a historical Jesus, whether or not Jesus ever married Mary Magdalene, and whether or not the church has suppressed information which would have shown that Jesus loved and married Mary (demonstrating that a woman was both beloved and held in high respect by a Christian deity — an idea that Christianity understands as blasphemous), it is a foundational truth of Christianity that it (as well as the other Abrahamic religions) has systematically suppressed all ideas which would recognize the sacred as residing in the Feminine — whether Woman or Nature — and has systematically debased the value of the Feminine, while inflating the value of the Masculine to unrealistic proportions through the symbol of the transcendent God the Father and all his earthly male representatives. The end result is that the teachings of the Church have grievously damaged Woman and Nature — and humanity itself.

Although The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction, it points to the foundational truth that Christianity murdered the Feminine as a symbol of value in Western culture, creating down through the centuries generation upon generation of damsels in distress — i.e., all women — who have committed no crime but to be born female, and who, as a result, have been treated like slaves or chattel by fathers and husbands, casually raped and murdered, frequently beaten and abused, forbidden to own property or vote — and who, even today, are struggling to maintain power over their own reproductive organs. This is the true murder that The Da Vinci Code points to, and this is the true original sin of the Judeo Christian tradition.

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