Saturday, May 16, 2009

Of Angels Demons and Private Drinking Clubs

I liked the movie The DaVinci Code because it presented a fresh face on history. People these days do not seem to know what history is or was. Certainly in our cookie cutter institutions of education K-16, tests are all that seem important and not a holistic approach to education and knowledge.

Dan Brown in his book The DaVinci Code managed to put everything unrelated in western history for the past millennium including the contents of his dog’s pooper scooper bag into a connect the dots mirage of bullshit called history.

This secular trashing of the RC Church as some sort of megalithic source of all conspiracy and injustice for the past thousand years was far from being totally accurate. Albeit the Church of Rome has had a finger or two in the pie of European corruption and injustice over many a century but give me a break, give Rome a break too.

The crux of the conspiracy in the DaVinci Code centered around whether the sex life of Jesus via Mary Magdalene was real or imagined. This we will never know short of eternity. Proof does not exist. Speculation is not history.

What the DaVinci code did both as a poorly written book and an interesting suspense movie was to create a rebirth of the knowledge of the past with examples like the Crusades, the Knights Templar and the Cathars.

While it is easier to make stuff up like Dan Brown the further you go back in history with less documentation and documentable oral history, this carrot stew of Dan Brown and Ron Howard, Angels and Demons, now in the theatres takes the cake.

I have not seen the movie or read the book. The movie might prove interesting in terms of a suspense drama, music and City of Rome landscape dotted with many Renaissance and Roman buildings still standing.

What has turned me off to the whole matter is this talk about some obscure secret organization called the Illuminati who have waited centuries for revenge on the Vatican and perhaps the institution of Christ’s Church, Roman style.

Whoever or whatever the Illuminati once was, it probably was one of hundreds of secret brotherhoods that sprang up in the seventeenth century and as a reaction to political and religious warfare that resulted from the Protestant Reformation and the Church of Rome’s refusal to communicate or negotiate or recognize and change corrupt church practices.

It’s the middle of the seventeenth century, the powers that be agreed by treaty, Peace of Westphalia 1648, to recognize state sovereignty over religion and for overlapping countries with overlapping religions to grant limited religious freedom. It was the start of modern day Europe after almost continuous warfare for one hundred and thirty years.

In places like Germany, which was a hodge podge of countries and state religions, it was no doubt very awkward for intelligent people such as students in University towns to openly express political and or scientific points of view. It was in this atmosphere that brotherhoods, fraternities and secret intellectual organizations sprang up. In a tavern with like minded people you could discuss politics and science and not be subject to too much scrutiny.

The basis of these private drinking clubs at Universities and in the larger cities of Europe was a fertile ground where the Masons were founded in London in 1717. This coming together of Englishmen was in fear of the new German born king on the throne. They decided to band together in more or less secret alliance to discuss religion, science and politics.

Rosicrucians of that period were another secret order of the day and it began in a university atmosphere where the cutting edge scientific breakthroughs of Mining, Chemistry, Hydraulics, Engineering and Mathematics could be discussed without fear of Inquisition or local church leaders telling you that you can’t discuss this or that etc.

The religion of Swedenborgism is a Christian based belief system that looked at the bible in terms of a fresh mind and in light of all these recent scientific breakthroughs that would have been considered Alchemy less than a century before.

Getting back to the Masons, who are maligned as part of some global conspiracy thing, it started in London just as a young Ben Franklin was wandering around penniless and working as a printer – a backpacker stuck in Europe. He no doubt got a hold of freshly printed Masonic rituals or knew people in the organization. Little wonder he was a charter member of the First American Mason’s lodge in Pennsylvania in 1732. This private drinking club organization spread to the other twelve countries, I mean colonies, along the east coast of North America. These days such things are called social and or business networking.

So when Dan Brown’s pooper scooper bag is empty and they start talking about Illuminati, Anti-Matter and the Vatican in the same breath, it is just not a believable mixture of stuff for me.

I just saw a promo on cable promoting this new exciting movie Angels and Demons. You’ve got Ron Howard using the word “zeitgeist” and Tom Hanks using “gestalt”-
which is totally over my head. When I hear words like that I think of a Woody Allen movie and I think “Boring!”

I’ll wait to watch it on HBO in three months, same place where I waited to watch the DaVinci Code. Enough said.

1 comment:

Dave said...

It's fiction..but very well written/film fiction for non-historian types. Anything that promotes at least a passing interest in Biblical events and the book itself is good as inquiring minds will actually open the Bible and read..maybe? It's entertainment and a good thriller also. There are worse things out there you could throw your money away on. I'll wait for the dvd.