Article by Peter Jones
Nov 5, 2009
Sometimes classified as "a worthless historian," Dan Brown is nevertheless an uncanny observer of the spiritual times in which we live. His basic message is consistent: our culture is discovering that the "Ancient Mysteries" will be victorious over the outdated, censorious and power-grabbing Church. The Da Vinci Code undermined the faith of nominal believers by:
In his latest book, The Lost Symbol, Brown rehabilitates the religious search for secret knowledge. The book begins with the gruesome scene of an amputated hand, placed provocatively in the US Capitol's Rotunda. The fingers point to the ceiling, on which are portrayed the secrets that will unlock the Ancient Mysteries. Brown cleverly weaves into his story the Masonic contributions to the founding of the Republic. The capitol city is supposedly laid out according to mystical pagan symbolism. The Rotunda was given the form of the Roman pagan Temple of Vesta. The painting in the ceiling of the dome, called The Apotheosis (divinization) of George Washington depicts the general "becoming God," which is the great goal of the pagan mysteries.
Brown traces the progress of the Mysteries from the Mystery Schools in early Egypt, to the Alchemists of the Renaissance, to the 17th century Royal Society of London, to the Masons of the New World. All this, opines Brown, "hardly fits with the Christian underpinnings of this country." Promoting a "mystical Christianity" of the future, his conclusion is: "The Ancient Mysteries and the Bible are the same."
Whether he has read America's past correctly, Brown certainly understands America's present. The recognized fortress of Christianity in the modern world, America has recently become the incubator of a toxic, pagan religion bent on silencing biblical Christianity. Ex-Newsweek journalist Tony Schwartz, having researched early New Age spirituality, concludes that we now have "a new American wisdom tradition" that will save the earth. America to the rescue once more-this time, a pagan America.
Paganism has existed around the world in primitive cultures where animism has been practiced for millennia. But paganism also has a virulent, consistent and intelligent form in cultures once dominated by a Christian worldview. In America, such ideology has been developed by intellectuals and powerful civic leaders, creating a fully-developed system that intends to influence our global future. You can now do graduate work in "metaphysical spirituality" at any number of universities.
The student rebellion of the Sixties' radicals deconstructed the old order and established the worldview of those now in power. In 1997 June Singer (a Jungian Gnostic) exhorted fellow pagans to build their own cosmology based on the "joining of the opposites" and on their own choice of gods. She sought a coherent, religiously pagan account of existence. That "work" is near completion. The late Thomas Berry called for a new pattern of human presence on the planet-"our great work." His influential book, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future (1991) defines "the work" as the rediscovery of "the spirituality of the ancient peoples." (Think Evo Morales in Bolivia).
Committed ecofeminist goddess worshipers also hope to build a new feminist, Nature-worshiping "cosmology." "Progressive" Christians are welcome. After experiencing the ravages of secular humanism, intellectual pagans believe that we need to put the world back together with an all-inclusive "new cosmology," or, in the words of a Unitarian Universalist minister, a new "cosmotheology" for "the new universe."
Biblical Christians need to give a cogent answer to this New Spirituality. The pagan cosmotheology is actually a homocosmology- the celebration of sameness, what I call "One-ism." Spiritual One-ism denies the Creator and makes creation divine. The biblical worldview is a heterocosmology, which celebrates difference. This is Two-ism-God and the creation are different, though reconciled through the Cross of Jesus. As the French say: Vive la différence!
Our Christian witness will be greatly helped if we understand the stark contrast between a worldview that tries to "join the opposites" and one that rejoices in the fact that God the Creator has established differences in his creation. If God is a part of the world, we have no one to worship and no one who loves us with an everlasting love.
Though we can't step into the pages of Dan Brown's novels to inform his characters that there is true hope, because of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can step into the lives of those around us to introduce them to the God who is "there," yet who came down to love and save us. The bloodied hand of Jesus points not to a divinized president (ancient or modern), but to the God who reigns in heaven.
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