Thoughts on: Holy Blood, Holy Grail
Finding religion? Some find it in the perfect rumbling/tuned V-8. Others the clearest shot at a buck following at least seven doe. What about that perfect female in a bikini that you just gotta have? And then there’s the American’t Pauline evangelical that has been inscribed (indoctrinated) in us all and it itches just like that beach chick. Oh well. As the saying goes. The journey is the reward. Or something like that.
Ever since leaving the nest I was somewhat obsessed with The Jesus. This had to do with not so much growing up in a strict religious household, but growing up in a country obsessed with religion. So even though I knew early on that it was all a smoke screen for something economic, I still liked the whole idear of The Jesus. There was something about Jesus H. Christ that just clicked with me. You see, being the product of the broken American dream, as a child I thought The Jesus was a pretty cool dude because we had something in common. Wasn’t he also a child of misconstrued parenthood? I mean. Come on. Even I could figure out by the time I was twelve that that whole virgin birth thing just couldn’t be real – no matter how passionately Father Scobalsky tried to explain it or how painful Sister Galic tried to embed it (the belief) on the top of my right hand with her ruler.
The perspective offered me of religion and The Jesus was through two lenses. I was baptised protestant but raised, via second marriage of my mother, Catholic. I have to admit, I like the Catholic side. But I’m also – and this is most likely from my mother’s German side – a bit masochistic. Although they can be easy-going, I found Protestants to be more tyrannical, albeit less painful as the Catholics which, at times, equaled back-of-hand-whipping with plastic rulers, wooden spoons and aerodynamically designed paddles. (Yes. I attended exactly four Sunday school sessions before I was thirteen. And that was the end of that.)
As I got older religion became nothing more than selling snake oil. As usual, American’ts took something and branded it, (re)packaged it, (re)distributed it and then ran it through the gauntlet of hot-air statistics, quarterly revenue devices and televised commercials. For a while there I was so put off by the Pauline Evangelicals that I ran out of their way. Literally. If I saw one coming down the street – for they are easy to spot with that stupid grin on their face and short sleeve dress shirts with ties – I would cross to the other side. But they spread like wild-fire. Relief came only in the form of sin and expatriation. The sin? I took to fornicatin’ w/ bimbo evangelical daughters. Expatriation? I moved to Eurowasteland where religion was where it belonged: in people and in(side) churches. Of course, there were the few by-standers distributing booklets at train stations but I never once heard an evangelical in-your-face request about whether or not Jesus was in my heart after I moved to Eurowasteland. Oh, kinda on a side note: the fornicatin’ in Eurowasteland was/is easier, too.
For the first few years of my expatriation in Eurowasteland I spent Xmas alone. In this loneliness I found god (note the small case, please). I did so by picking up my melancholy and an old bible that was at the bottom of one of my stacks of books. It was a great time because I was able to focus on reading it. What also helped reading such a book was the post fornicatin’ with chicks for-hire – even though they cost extra during Xmas holiday season. Of course I had dabbled in the bible before but the early 90s is the period in my life that I finally put all my effort into completely reading it. And what an interesting read it was. Although I must add this about it: Don’t read it from beginning to end. It’s an obnoxious effort. Pick parts out and read them randomly. But use a some form of note taking to mark what you have read. In other words. Read the bible chaotically but be systematic about absorbing it. I should also add that the Koran, Lao Tse, and Asterix and Obelix comics are also great reads during the boredom of Xmas.
But the questions followed me. And I never found any answers to these question in the bible.
- What was Christ like as a child?
- What kind of mischief was he up to as a teenager?
- How much money or worth did those three kings actually give him when he was born?
- What happened to his “father” Joseph?
- What is a crucifixion and how does it actually kill you?
- Who are all the Mary’s mentioned in the bible?
- Is there an explanation for the so-called miracles, e.g. walking on water, turning water to wine, rivers turning to blood, etc.?
- Was there also a last dessert? Etc., etc.
Like so many others born into the humdrum of middle class I have been waddling through life wanting some meaning beyond what I could purchase, religious or not. I continued asking questions between the hectic of modern work-stress and keeping my head above the lie that is trickle down economics. Then, some time after that very odd day in September in 2001, all of the questions I had been asking regarding religion started to intertwine and brew. For example. What do Muslims mean when they refer to a fight against Zion?
While on a trip to my beloved united mistakes I went into a bookstore in St. Petersburg, FL. to find something to read. In front of me was a pile of the last series of hardbacks of Dan Brown’s infamous pop novel. Of course I had heard about it. At that time it had sold something like three hundred and a quarter billion copies. But having read about it and having promised myself life was too short for pop novels, I thought maybe I should give this one a shot. So. I grabbed one of the copies and started reading right there in front of the pile. I knew for a book to sell so many copies it could only be written at a third-grade level. Killing twenty pages in a few minutes would be a no brainer. Ok, then. Chapter one. Woo me.
I got through twenty pages when an elderly British born man working part-time at the store came by to offer me a handkerchief.
“You ok, sonny-boy,” he asked.
“This is awful,” I said, holding up Brown’s book.
“Indeed. But it is naught worth the tears. May I suggest you read this.”
The old man pointed to a much smaller pile of books nearby that I later realized were strategically placed for those who could see through the show-time and well formatted pile of krapp published by Dan Brown. The old gentleman handed me what he called the source of Brown’s story. It was a thick paperback, umpteen thousands of pages, titled Holy Blood, Holy Grail. He told me to take it with a grain of salt but at the least it was a more interesting read. He then added that the stuff Brown wrote about has been done many, many times before. So I wiped my eyes dry from tears of boredom, paid for the recommended book, read it in three days and have been cursing Dan Brown ever since.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail knocked my socks off. It didn’t do so because of its entertainment value or because of its conspiracy-theory par excellence. I really fell for this book because the authors, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, asked and tried to answer many of the question I had been asking most of my life about The Jesus. The essence of this book is very simple: the truth is out there and you just have to put some effort into finding it. With that in mind, is HBHG truth? I do not know. In publishing circles it’s called “A Pseudo-History”. That should say enough. But I don’t care. In all of my years I’ve concluded three things must come from books:
- Good writing. (Except for my own!)
- Teach me something.
- Entertainment value should NOT exceed 1 and 2.
Subsequently HBHG led to many other books that widened my horizons. E.g.
- The Messianic Legacy (the sequel by same authors)
- The Woman with the Alabaster Jar (Margaret Starbird)
- The Gospel According to the Son (Norman Mailer)
- Foucaults Pendulum (Umberto Eco.)
- The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz (Author unknown)
- The Gnostic Gospels (Elaine Pagels)
Dan Brown begins his abundantly sold and very profitable novel (that should somehow be categorized as a “Psuedo-Novel”) by stating that what he is writing is based on fact? But he is a liar. Dan Brown’s novel is, in reality, based on plagiarism. At least the authors of HBHG are avid in admitting that what they have written could be complete nonsense – but at least they did all the research for their work. And one can only give the authors respect because HBHG really does contain a lot of stuff that I’m sure makes a few historians cringe. Yet throughout the book there is effort in clarifying their position and how they came to it. What HBHG is not is a book that attempts to intertwine you in a silly interpretation of a somewhat larger and more historical story albeit fit for three year old brains.
Good luck finding truth in the world yet to come.