Books and Faith

Day 5 of Walking and Blogging. >10,000 steps per day and >1 word in the blog per day.

I really didn’t think I’d make it today. I was grumpy a lot of the day. (So was my daughter, for that matter, and I’m not sure if they’re connected or not.) I was a little too out of it and bleh this morning to walk much. I did spend some time revising the manuscript of my book, so that wasn’t a complete waste. Then we all spent the whole afternoon at my parents’ house with my sister’s family on their last day before they leave. There was no real hope for walking there — between trying to be at least a little social, and the fact that the temperature outside was just too hot, I was kind of stuck being a lump. I started thinking how this would be the day I would blog about how I didn’t make it. This would be my first step failure.

But it wasn’t! Once I got home, I got the motivation to walk around the basement while finishing Origin by Dan Brown, and then starting A Modest Genius by Hanne Strager. After an hour or so of that, I actually made it. Hooray for me! Quite a surprise. This blog is indeed motivation for me.

Someone asked me to share my opinion of Origin once I finished it. I really liked it. I’ve read three other Dan Brown books, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and The Lost Symbol. This one struck me as very similar to the others — an unceasing romp through ludicrously researched architecture and symbolism. Compelling and intriguing writing that slowly, effortlessly peels off layers of mysteries until a very satisfying and surprisingly tight ending. I really enjoy his writing. I don’t want to give any kind of review of Origin beyond that, for a few reasons: I don’t know how to review books, and I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything for anybody.

Instead, I’ll go off on a tangent. I remember when The Da Vinci Code came out. It was such a scandal, because it suggested that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have been married! For shame! I didn’t get the problem, because that wasn’t news to me. Dan Brown didn’t invent the theory — he was using the already existing theory as a plot device for his story. But I recall that a number of members of my church asked me what I thought of it. I remember telling them that I really liked the story, that I thought he was a good writer. The follow-up was always, “But what do you think about Jesus being married?” I would usually answer with a question: “Is it important to you that Jesus wasn’t married?” I know The Da Vinci Code is fiction, and I believe the theory that Mary Magdalene was “the Holy Grail,” the mother of Jesus’ bloodline, is also fiction. But I think it’s worth considering just why we feel it’s so important that Jesus was unmarried. How did that become a shibboleth of our faith?

I’ve always been like this with my taste in media. Because I’m a pastor, people expect me to like books like Heaven is Real, the story of that 3-year-old boy who supposedly went to heaven during surgery, and blew his parents’ minds with what he talked about. Blech. I couldn’t stand that book. I read it just because everybody was talking about how good it was, and I disagreed with them all. I find “Christian inspirational stories” like that to be saccharine and meaningless. Give me a copy of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Jesus’ Childhood Pal. I loved it. Heresy? Sure. But it’s damned funny. Give me a copy of The Da Vinci Code. Heresy? Sure. But it’s a fun read. If I’m going to read something about my own faith, I’m looking for it to challenge me or entertain me, not reinforce my own beliefs through sappy stories about kids.

I am trying so hard right now not to start tearing apart “Heaven is Real.” I…must…resist…talking about how insane it is that a pastor is shocked, absolutely shocked, that his young child knows things about Jesus. He can’t fathom where this child could have learned it — it must be from heaven! And this pastor is shocked, absolutely shocked, that his young child knows about a miscarriage his wife had; after all, they never told him that, THEY ONLY TOLD HIS SISTER. How could he POSSIBLY have EVER learned about it except from Jesus himself in heaven? There’s no other way. HIS SISTER COULDN’T POSSIBLY HAVE TOLD HIM, FOR INSTANCE. I must resist saying these things out loud.

ANYWAY, point is: I really like Dan Brown’s books. I look forward to the next one.

6 thoughts on “Books and Faith

  1. Thank you. And I have the same opinion of the “Christian” books that you do. Also feel the same about the “Christian” movies.

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  2. I just read Origin the other month. It would be kind of cool to have my own Winston. I like Dan Brown’s books too. I read the books then watch the movies. He always makes me think and ask questions.
    I hope Jesus had a chance to fall in love and marry. I hope he had a wonderful childhood. He gave so much for us and died at such a young life. Guess I’m just a romantic at heart and like creating stories, wishing I could write them one day.
    Glad you got over your grumpiness and made your steps!

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    1. Winston is like Siri on steroids! Who knows what Jesus’ childhood was like? You might enjoy “Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus’ Childhood Friend.” It’s been a while since I read it, but I remember thinking it was a bit Monty Python-esque, yet also somehow endearing.

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  3. Happy to hear you are still moving along on your goal of 10,000 steps a day. I have the same goal but don’t make it everyday.
    About Christian books. I must admit that I have a negative attitude about them when I’m not familiar with the author or publisher. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised that there is a well written story that captures the mystery of faith, without the oozing of trracle.

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