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Metaphysics and society: From Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code

 

One stereotyped way of looking at Christianity is by identifying it with Catholicism and viewing the social hierarchy of Catholicism as socially oppressive. This could be seen as the typical evaluation of Western modern society of religion and, more specifically, Christianity, as conservative and reactionary. Dan Brown fully participates in this outlook. The following table includes [1] Dan Brown's description of the Catholic Church and those groups which oppose the Catholic Church (lighter grey), and [2] an explanation of what these descriptions presuppose in terms of the metaphysical dimension (darker grey).

 

  The Catholic Church
is opposed by
heretics
pagans

[1]

Q

U

O

T

E

The Vatican tries to hide the fact "that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda [...] to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base" (ch. 55).
The heretics oppose the Vatican's "misinformation [...] The word heretic derives from the Latin word haereticus [, which] means 'choice'. Those who 'chose' the original history of Christ were the world's first heretics" (ch. 55). "the term pagan [...] actually reached back to the Latin paganus, meaning country-dwellers. ‘Pagans’ were literally the unindoctrinated country-folk who clung to the old, rural religions of Nature worship. In fact, so strong was the Church’s fear of those who lived in the rural villes that the once innocuous word for ‘villager’ - villain - came to mean a wicked soul" (ch. 6).

[2]

EX

PL

AN

AT

IO

N

Words like "politics" and "power" (in bold) emphasise the ascription of the Catholic Church to the SOCIAL rather than the metaphysical dimension.
A word like "choice" (in bold) emphasises the ascription of the heretics to the INDIVIDUAL dimension, as that dimension is defined by freedom, and 'choice' makes reference to freedom.
Words associated to [1] the country as opposed to the city - "country-dweller", "country-folk", "rural" - [2] both purity and lack of cultivation - unindoctrinated" - [3] origins and primitive conditions - old, and of course, [4] the word "Nature" (all in bold) emphasise the ascription of the pagans to the NATURAL dimension.

 

We can here see that Catholicism is presented as social, whereas the dissenting groups are associated to the individual dimension (heretics) and the natural dimension (pagans). It is important to remember two things: [1] normally, the understanding of metaphysics as social is evaluated in negative terms, while the understanding of metaphysics as natural or individual is seen in positive terms, although exceptions do exist. [2] These are stereotypes, and have often little in common with reality (especially in the case of Dan Brown).

daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann