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September 04, 2003



Sometimes I really do think most people will swallow anything. It's "completely fictitious," yet 100 percent confidence is expressed in the impeccability of the research.

Makes perfect sense.

Sandra Miesel

"Impeccable research" is how they sold the book. Well, when the author decrys the brunings of the Templars at Rome when they happened in Paris and claims 5 million witches were burned by the Church when the number was 30-50,000 and many were burned by the State, well, he didn't dig too deeply, did he?
I think I did more research to rebutt Brown than he did to write his atrocious novel. For instance, he only quotes bits of Gnostic Scriptures that he found in is two principal sources, HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL and THE TEMPLAR REVELATION. I went to my copy of the NAG HAMMADI CODICES and found the anti-feminist quote in the Gospel of Thomas. The editor can afford to say tthings like that because the book was a mega-bestseller


"a novel that has a scoundrel priest as a protagonist"

Ah, yes. The whiskey priest in Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory".



Why is this pernicious error, and Harry Potter a harmless whimsy--given their respective audiences?

Sandra Miesel

It an dangerous book because people, even Catholic readers, are believing these historical errors to be true. Brown churns out reams of false information cunningly packaged as the fruit of "impeccable research" and the misinformation is sticking. It's sticking with my neighbor and her book club. It's sticking with your neighbors and ominously, with teenagers. It's doubled sales for esoteric books on related subjects--all to the serious detriment of Christianity. And just wait till the movie comes out.

Children who read HARRY only play at riding broomsticks.


It should be very interesting when Da Vinci Code--The Movie comes out. I'll bet many of the same people who have been yelling at Mel Gibson for the errors and inflammatory content in his "Passion" will be falling over themselves to salute the "impeccability" of the Da Vinci Code.

Bet me.

Mike Benz

This debate has some of the same characteristics as the debate about Oliver Stone's "Kennedy". Amy is quite right here, as were the folks who expressed concern about that movie.


I agree that this book is causing problems. It was first brought to my attention by a very smart nephew, a junior in college with the benefit of Jesuit high school training in critical thinking. When I point out all the things that are bogus, he laughs and says it's just a novel. But he did recommend it to a number of relatives so we could discuss its theories. He is treating it seriously.

Maybe this could be suggested as a subject for that new PBS program that searches out the truth of suppositions and legends and rumors?

Domenico Bettinelli Jr.

Did anyone else notice the errors in the NY Daily News article? Of course, John the Baptist wasn't depicted in the Last Supper scene, because he was dead. But perhaps they were looking for John the Evangelist.

Apart from that, I am in complete agreement with Amy and Sandra. Brown's book is another piece of dreck dredged up for the gullible or uninformed. Anyone remember the movie Stigmata a few years ago? And now there's another movie coming out this month, "The Order". I'm sure the Church comes out smelling like roses in that one, too.

So when Jews complain about Mel's movie (which are really complaints about the Gospel) we are to take it seriously. But when Catholics complain about the Church being savaged in the media, we're to sit quietly and take it. Hmmm.

Mike Petrik

I'd like to think that PBS would treat the subject thoroughly and fairly, but I'm afraid that you have more faith in its competency and objectivity than I do.
Please let me know if you get any takers. I want in on the action.

Julie W in AR

RE: Harry potter
Harry Potter's a better read for one thing....

Plus JK Roweling does not claim that any of what she writes is true. Her editor is not citing all the "research" that went into the books. Roweling admits (gasp) that she made it all up all day on a long train ride. None of it is real.

Too bad, I like to be able to say "Accio Phone" (or remote for that matter) and have the bloody thing fly to my hand. I'm always losing it.


Anybody who is interested in this kind of stuff and wants to explore more might want to look into a novel by the Brit (actually Irish, I believe) poet, novelist, and scholar of myth, Robert Graves, entitled "King Jesus". I have not read "DaVinci", but Mary Magdalene plays what sounds like a similar role in Graves' novel, which was written many years ago. His thesis concerning Jesus was quite serious to him. Graves co-wrote, with a man named Joshua Podro, a non-fiction tome, full of typical Gravesian research (cf. "The Greek Myths", "The White Goddess" etc.), entitled "The Nazarene Gospel Restored". The latter is very difficult to find. I think that the novel is available, however, and it is good fun for the open-minded reader who wants to step out of box for a spell and have a look around at a different biographical context for Jesus.

Tom Kelty

Remember the greatest scandal of all was the Crucifixion. We have little appreciation of how common and shameful it was. Why wouldn't the early church have put some other spin on this core truth? The enemies of Rome were crucified by the thousands on the edge of the main roads and left there to rot and be eaten by dogs. This reality was so horrendous that the Sign of the Cross as a Christian symbol was not adopted until the 4th century. Some argued that the empty tomb would have been a more powerful symbol, but the Cross won out with a push from the era of Constantine and the eventual Romanization of the church. If Brown wants to debunk the Catholic Church, let him start in the beginning and at the core to explain why A loving creator chose this manner of redeeming His children. He is not a scholar or even a good story-teller. He is a clever and lazy insinuator who slyly uses scandal on his terms to pander to and seduce the innocent.

John Farrell

Looks like Opus Dei has a great future in Hollywood. Brown is not the first to make villains out of the order's members. A recent mystery by the late Irish writer, Bartholomew Gill (who apparently fell and killed himself while trying to climb into the second floor window of his house—how thick can you get?), called Death of an Irish Sinner, also features a killer Opus Dei babe and conniving priest in the order.

Gill has the priest living in a residence with women. Yeah right. Anyone even remotely familiar with The Work would laugh their head off at the

What's next--an Opus Dei villain in the new
James Bond movie?


thank you Tom. Of course, how could I have neglected to mention the Great Scandal of the Gospel - the Messiah, the founding figure of this group, executed in the manner reserved for the vilest criminals?

If you're going to cover stuff up, that's the place to start.


I agree it is dangerous because Catholic readers are believing this "historical" stuff. I just sent the Crisis review to a life long Catholic aunt of my husbands. She is in her late 70's, goes to daily mass, and bought the stuff hook line and sinker as did her friends. In our store (we don't carry the book)we get people asking about it all the time so we hand out Amy's review and now we have the Crisis one as well to give to the customers who are "confused". Why is it that everyone, including some Catholic's wants to think the worst of the Church?

Sandra Miesel

Ms McGee the journalist confused what I said about St. John in the LAST SUPPER looking like a later Leonardo portrait of Srt. John the Baptist.
My hairdresser tells me that towo of his clients (both PhDs) are big fans of this book and believe every word. He's going to show them copies of my article.

ita o'byrne

Well everyone has already beat me to the punch on the points I had on Brown's lousy book so I'll just stick to a couple of thoughts:

1)John Farrell said:"What's next--an Opus Dei villain in the new James Bond movie?"

John, I've posted elsewhere on Amy's comment section on Sandra's article that Opus Dei should sue Brown and Columbia (who wants to make the movie) for defamation. Brown has shown no evidence he knows anything about Opus Dei (monks? they don't HAVE monks) which would make his statements on his website that he interviewed past and present members a joke and a lie. Brown is probably counting on Catholic orders being humble and quiet and taking the high road - I hope they don't - OD has several well-heeled and educated members (which Brown would know if he did any research) and can afford to sue.

2) Amy already covered the most unbelievable of Brown's editor's quotes but the one I found the worst was "Brown's editor, Jason Kaufman, says: "It's always been in the interest of certain organizations to portray themselves in a better light." when asked about about the charges of anti-catholicism. So basically what this flack is saying is that church just wants to look good so they're trying to silence Brown. Kinda of like the new "the RCC now has no right to say anything because of the sexual abuse scandal" line we hear from columnists and politicians these days. Basically he says ignore the Catholic Church's complaints - they have ulterior motives for complaining (the fact that Brown is lying is beside the point).

I find it telling that Brown is not talking about the book (except on his website and to friendly reporters) or its statements of "FACT" (on which a big part of the book credibility lies). He can certainly take Columbia's money for the movie though. I don't think he wants to (or dares) be questioned on his non-existant "research".

His other book was also based on the Vatican and featured the "secrets" of the Vatican Library and he says he did "research" on that too. Yet he also says (on his website) the closest he's even been to the inner workings of the RCC is a papal blessing at a general audience - the same kind of blessing my Uncle got on his trip to Rome. Does that mean Uncle Harry can be considered an "authority" on the Vatican too?
How much you want to bet that Brown's next book will also feature the "evil" RCC in some way - after all why stop the money train? People are obviously eating this tripe up.


The irony is that Opus Dei could probably summon an army of lawyers from among its lay membership to sue for defamation, but it will never happen. Taking such an action would be completely contrary to the nature and charism of the movement.

My husband belongs to OD and I have been known to rib him from time to time about joining an order of killer albino monks. He (and most of the other OD folks I know) bear these recent "literary characterizations" of OD people with a sense of humor (so far, anyway!)

Tom Kelty

If Dan Brown wanted to make some seious money Why didn't he serialize this trash and run it in the National Enquirer? Just think about those 2 page chapters and their potential as cliff hangers. Maybe he tried it and was rejected. He is a true child of his times, massaging the facts and barely avoiding plagiarism, knowing that his readers will not take the trouble to verify any part of his lurid concoctions. I can see the headlines on the front of the Enquirer. I bet the Enquirer did reject it!!

Will Duquette

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."

So why all the long faces?


The other reason Opus Dei would be wise not to sue is the inevitable spin: "See? The Evil Vatican Powers (tm) are trying to silence me! I must be on to something!"

Wonder if Brown's next project will be a searing look at another feminist heroine crushed by the EVP -- Maria Monk!

Sandra Miesel

Sight unseen, I'd wager that Brown's previous book depended heavily on THE SECRET ARCHIVES OF THE VATICAN by Maria Luisa Ambrosini (an interesting book with a few niggly historical errors).She at least had permission to do her research on site as I'm sure he would not have.
Brown's next book will be an expose of the Masons, which suggests London as the locale. But given the long antipathy between the Craft and the Church there could still be an anti-Catholic angle.
The hit on Opus Dei was not only lurid and unfair, it even included the address of an anti-OD website!


I haven't read the book itself, but from the articles I've read about it, it seems designed to appeal to all those people waiting for the next "Left Behind" book. Or perhaps Brown is channelling Marion Zimmer Bradley.


"The point is that this particular line of argumentation, both in terms of historical claims and art history claims is bogus, and not even historians unsympathetic to institutional Christianity buy them. So what does that tell you?"

That I should be really worried since a huge number of Americans think this passes for historical research about art history and our church. This ignorance is frightening.

"Why is this pernicious error, and Harry Potter a harmless whimsy--given their respective audiences?"

Because THE KIDS know it's ALL MADE UP!!

"This debate has some of the same characteristics as the debate about Oliver Stone's "Kennedy". Amy is quite right here, as were the folks who expressed concern about that movie."

I would say it is exactly the same and I am having a bad flashback remembering ridiculous conversations about "Kennedy" with people who,after listening to all the historical inaccuracies and outright fabrications--lies--would say something like, "Well, but it makes you think."

It is so depressing.



I saw lots of copies of the book at Costco this week. Books seem to get there en masse when they are over the hill.


Bravo, Will! Well said.


Bravo, Will! Well said.


First, in the actual book, dan doesn't claim to be a leading expert in the field of catholicism. there are plenty of books out there that debunk every religion out there, and this one isn't here to take away from true believers. he's just adding a different side to the story. I don't see anyone on here complianing about his research on the Priory of Sion. Is that because maybe he's not THAT wrong about everything.

David Duke is a malignant narcissist.

David Duke is a malignant narcissist.

He invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and the trappings of power further exacerbate this. Real life authority and David Duke’s predilection to surround him with obsequious sycophants support David Duke’s grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience.

David Duke's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".

Duke fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, and mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.
Duke is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people - or humanity at large - should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, Duke became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman". But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.

In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" - or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to, as "nature" is not natural at all.

Duke invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial - though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols - not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism - and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" - against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon David Duke like (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

Minorities or "others" - often arbitrarily selected - constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin ... They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenseless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm - together with Stalin - as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

Duke prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime - Duke having died, been deposed, or voted out of office - it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of David Duke. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform David Duke like narrative. Thus, David Duke who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite - is highly unlikely to use violence at first. The pacific mask crumbles when David Duke has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, and the prime sources of his narcissistic supply - have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, David Duke strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. "The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)", "they don't really know what they are doing", "following a rude awakening, they will revert to form", etc. When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail, David Duke becomes injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized - is now discarded with contempt and hatred. This primitive defense mechanism is called "splitting". To David Duke, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. Duke is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc. The "small people", the "rank and file", and the "loyal soldiers" of David Duke - his flock, his nation, and his employees - they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated - is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of David Duke. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.


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Juan Ignacio

Qué tal Amy, esporádico lector desde Argentina sugiere quites el anterior comentario (suggets you remove the previous comment of a "funny" guy)

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