Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

One of the most controversial novels today is the Da Vinci Code. People criticize it for being "fiction based on fiction", that it is very decieving to the layman reader who doesn't know much about christian history. It is also being sued for breaking copywrite laws. However I am with the majority when I say, this was a book.

The book starts off with the murder of Jacques Sauniere and three other gatekeepers of the holy grail. His granddaughter, teamed with harvard professor Robert Langdon, is on a quest of biblical proportions to find the holy grail. We find out that the grail is not a chalice as everyone suspects, but rather the tomb of Mary Magdelene, the alleged wife of Jesus
Christ who gave birth to Jesus' child, continuing the bloodline of Christ. This is one of the places where the critics get upset.

For evidence of the marriage of Mary Magdelene and Jesus, Brown uses the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Mary Magdelene, where it says Mary Magdelene was a "companion" to Jesus. Brown suggests that the word companion meant spouse in those days. But the Gospel of Philip was written in Coptic, where the word companion doesn't mean spouse but just companion. The only arguement I can make is, maybee the word in the actual scrolls was a word in coptic that could mean companion or spouse. Companion is a broader term, so whoever translated it could have just used that word.

Another claim that upsets people is prior to AD 300 something, Jesus was a normal man. He was a great man, but just a man. Some argue that he was called theos (meaning God), and in several texts he was called Lord. But people say "lord" to high status people all the time. How many times have you seen a servent refer to his master or king as "my lord"? Many times.

A simple mistake in the Da Vinci code is that he says the dead sea scrols were found in the 1950s. The real date is 1947. But using this arguement for anything is Staw Man, a logical fallacy.

Others say it is poorly written. I don't know about that, I'm not an english major, and quite frankly, I don't like literature class. But if the book had my heart was pounding faster after every chapter, was on the NY Times best seller list for 37 straight weeks, and inspired a movie, I would say otherwise.

The book however did falsely portray the Opus Dei. It showed them as power hungry sect. I would like to clear the fact that there are no Monks in Opus Dei. (No I'm not catholic) But look on the bright side, it put them on the map. Honestly, had you ever heard of Opus Dei before you read the book? I for one hadn't.

Now the Dan Brown is being sued by the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail on the grounds that Brown made "extensive use of their research", rearranged the letters in the authors name for one of the characters, and made on of the descriptions of the characters similar to one of the authors. This is one of the stupidest court cases I've ever heard. If anything the Da Vinci Code will increase interest in the subject and more people will read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. I've talked to a copywrite lawyer about this issue, and he told me that there is a universal rule in copywriting, ideas can't be copywrited. So techincally someone write a book exactly like the Da Vinci Code in their own words and it would not violate copywrite laws. Star Trek tried to sue Star Wars for similar reasons and that case went no where.

There are many other errors in the Da Vinci Code, which you can read about on wikipedia. But after all, this book is just a fiction thriller. Its meant to give the reader an "edge of the seat" experience, and leave the reader thinking "hey, can this really happen?", and that is exactly what it did. I loved this book. It was alittle slow in the beginning, but half way through it picked up and I literally couldn't put the book down, I finished the last 200 pages in one sitting. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galexy

Every book has a climax where the hero brilliantly prevails. In Hitchikers Guide to the Galexy by Douglas Adams, everything is flipped upsidedown. The most random twists happen, most of the time generating a small smirk on your face and a few times making you laugh.

However this book reaches cult status with many readers, as evident by all of its nicknames, HHG, HGG, HHGG, HHGTTG, H2G2, HG2G, The Hitchhikers Guide, Hitchikers', and just Guide.

The story begins with the main character, Arthur Dent, whos house is about to be demolished. Apparently he had time to protest, but no one told him about it. Ironically the same thing happens with the whole planet. The earth is about to be demolished and he manages to escape. The whole story goes on with his adventure.

In one part of the story, it talks about how scientists created a computer program just to answer the golden question: What is the meaning of life? *Spoiler* The computer gave the answer: 42. As all of our science teachers have said, a number without a unit is meaningless.

It definitely didn't live up to my comedic standards. I've seen far funnier TV shows and movies. However there was a joke or witty comment in almost every other sentence. It was an easy read because of that. It was good, not great. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick enjoyable read.