Review of Dan Brown’s *The Lost Symbol*

One wants to begin the review by stating the moral of the story—and in many ways that highlights the problem. Stories may have morals in them—indeed, should not great literature inspire one to great deeds? Stories, however, should not preach the moral. We note the skilled author as the one who relies on subtlety and trusts to the arrangement of his narrative to get his or her point across. Obviously, this is not Dan Brown.

This is not to say that Brown is totally inept. Admittedly, he can write a page-turner. I was impressed with a number of his plot twists. Stylistically, though, the book leaves much to be desired. Many of the chapters are scarcely a page long. This is allowable in pop-fiction, but as writers like Orson Scott Card have noted, it should be done only sparingly.

While Brown’s knowledge of Christianity barely fills a thimble (and seems to be distilled from American pop culture), he knows enough about other subjects to make the book interesting. Without giving away too much of the plot, the hero Robert Langdon goes to Washington D.C. to investigate the disappearance of his friend, only to find a sinister plot awaits him.

I do not know if Dan Brown is a Freemason. If not, he certainly missed a good opportunity. The Masons are not only the heroes of the book, but they appear—in Brown’s narrative—to be the saviors of humanity. Aside from mentioning the aspects of Freemasonry where it admits to worshiping Lucifer, Brown gets much of the Masonic narrative correct. Brown is correct to note that America (at least politically) did not have a Christian founding. Brown not only points this out, but he shows how openly Masonic and Deist America’s purported Christian founders were. (Interestingly, Brown notes the similarities between ancient magic and modern science—and that most Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists were alchemists and magicians of some sort.)

However, Brown’s reading of the Bible is almost painful to the reader. The Bible—like all sacred texts—belongs to the community which formed it. When Dan Brown’s “Oprah-ish” reading of the Bible conflicts with the Church’s reading, then Dan Brown’s must be rejected (the same standard applies for the Koran et al). Brown’s “Christianity” is simply ancient gnosticism repackaged under Masonic garb. While a bad reading, in many ways it is a helpful reading: Brown shows us an aspect of the New World Order’s “endgame” on religion. We see a religion advocated that “accepts all faiths as pointing to the betterment and enlightenment of man.” We see the all the world’s mystical truths are out there in front of us, but only a few enlightened souls can reach them. This is the heresy that St Irenaeus battled so valiantly.

Besides being a bad author, Brown is in many ways literally a prophet of Antichrist. One other thought: the theme in the book is apotheosis, man’s becoming god. Brown acts like he has discovered a new dimension to Christianity. This is old hat. The Church has always taught theosis. Sure, the Americanized Church that Brown is familiar with hasn’t, but Brown should have done his research better.

The answer to Dan Brown is St Irenaeus of Lyons.

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