(Con’t from post below . . .)
A lawyer friend recently reminded me of the instruction legal eagles routinely give juries about a witness’s truthfulness: “A witness who is willfully false in one material part of his or her testimony is to be distrusted in others. You may reject the whole testimony of a witness who has willfully testified falsely as to a material point.”
At a “material point,” the novel claims—and the characters accept—the existence of an organization called the Priory of Sion, a secret society supposedly founded in 1099. But this organization was invented in 1953 by Pierre Plantard, a man who had been imprisoned for fraud. Later, in court and under oath, Plantard admitted he’d made up the story about Jesus having children with Mary Magdalene.
On his website, Brown states that “if you read the ‘FACT’ page [of the novel], you will see it clearly states that the documents, rituals, organization, artwork, and architecture in the novel all exist. The ‘FACT’ page makes no statement whatsoever about any of the ancient theories discussed by fictional characters. Interpreting those ideas is left to the reader.”
But every novel has a subtext . . . the author’s beliefs inevitably seep through the story. Mr. Brown’s message—or at least one of them—seems to be trust nothing you’ve ever learned. In fact, on his website he proposes that when his book contradicts recorded history, we should ask, “How historically accurate is history itself?”
The novel claims that history was written by the “winners,” but the early Christians, many of whom were eye-witnesses to Jesus’ ministry and paid for the privilege with their lives, were not on the winning side. When the gospels were recorded in the first century, these men were society’s outcasts, yet their testimony rings with truth and continues to resonate in hearts and lives.
On his website, Brown says, “Religion has only one true enemy—apathy—and passionate debate is a superb antidote.”
I’m all for passionate debate, but in spiritual matters I have to believe deception is a far more insidious enemy than apathy. An apathetic man may refuse to vacate a carbon monoxide-filled garage because he doesn’t care if he lives or dies; a deceived man will stand in that deadly space and convince others that the unseen danger doesn’t exist.
That’s why I’m hooked on being a novelist–because along with the joy of creation comes the responsibility of upholding truth.
P.S. I’m heading out for Colorado today–no, I’m not skiing, I’m teaching with Nancy Rue at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference. I’ll try to check in, but as I recall, internet connection up in the mountains is iffy . . .
P.S.S. The pet rock has become a gurgling waterfall!