When Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code became an international bestseller thirteen years ago I was fairly determined not to read it. It sounded as though it was another lurid page-turner, this one with a time-worn premise that Jesus married and had children. This has been kicked around for centuries but Brown gave a different twist to the plot with Mary Magdalene not only as Jesus' spouse but showing up in Leonardo DaVinci's painting of the Last Supper. The "code" is that Mary is the Holy Grail rather than the cup which Jesus used to celebrate Passover and institute the Eucharist.
A year or so after it was published a parishioner gave me a copy of the novel and I did read it. I was exasperated from start to finish yet I kept on reading. C'mon, why would the police summon Harvard professor Robert Langdon, who is in town on business, to a murder scene in the Louvre? Would any Roman Catholic society commit murder to cover up "proof" of Jesus' marital status when speculation has surfaced repeatedly in the past? And who stops while fleeing from pursuers to give long-winded explanations of all the "symbology" of the story?! Hey, the man has sold 200 million books, so what do I know?
Brown does seem to have a fascination with Christianity and religion which persists in his novels. His latest is Origin, which was released yesterday. Here is the synopsis provided by the New York Times:
As the story begins, Edmond Kirsch — “billionaire computer scientist, futurist, inventor and entrepreneur” — is preparing to present a new discovery to an eager crowd (and to the world, via the internet) at the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain. He has promised that this announcement, the details of which are enticingly withheld until the very end of the book, will upend people’s view of religion by proving irrefutably that life can be created using the laws of science, thus excising God from the equation. (The theory is real, borrowed from the M.I.T. physicist Jeremy England.)
In an interview for the Times Brown identifies that his father, still living, instilled him with a love of science, math, and intellectual puzzles. His mother, recently deceased, was religious but became fed up with church politics. He credits her for his sense of wonder and mystery.