As someone who had spent his life exploring the hidden interconnectivity of disparate symbols and ideologies, Langdon viewed the world as a web of profoundly intertwined histories and events. The connections may be invisible, he often preached to his symbology classes at Harvard, but they are always there, buried just beneath the surface (Ch. 3, p. 16). >Robert Langdon’s outlook on the world aptly serves as a thesis for the novel, which is a sometimes factual, often fanciful exploration of how images and ideas from the “disparate” worlds of art, religion, history and politics are “profoundly intertwined.”
It seemed Eve’s bite from the apple of knowledge was a debt women were doomed to pay for eternity (Ch. 7, p. 46).
>Sister Sandrine’s late-night, rueful reflection on Opus Dei’s alleged mistreatment of women also aptly summarizes much of The Da Vinci Code’s criticism of traditional Christianity: that it abuses the myth of the fall from Eden (see Genesis 3) to subordinate and subjugate women. The reclamation of femininity’s proper place in spiritual life is, of course, one of the novel’s dominant themes.
“Princess,” [Saunière] smiled. “Life is filled with secrets. You can’t learn them all at once” (Ch. 21, p. 109).
>Saunière’s words to Sophie when they viewed the Mona Lisa together, when Sophie was a child, could be taken as a motto for the novel as a whole: to read The Da Vinci Code is to read a multi-layered arrangement of symbols and secrets, the full import of which cannot be understood until the conclusion.
The propaganda and bloodshed had worked. Today’s world was living proof. Women, once celebrated as an essential half of spiritual enlightenment, had been banished from the temples of the world… The days of the goddess were over. The pendulum had swung. Mother Earth had become a man’s world, and the gods of destruction and war were taking their toll. The male ego had spent two millennia running unchecked by its female counterpart (Ch. 28, pp. 134-135).
>Langon’s thoughts offer a concise summary of the Priory of Sion’s charges against traditional Christianity and, by extension, all religious and moral systems that deny the importance of the female principle in human psychology and spirituality. The net effect of such abuses is what has motivated the Priory to keep goddess worship alive in secrets and symbols for thousands of years.
“It was all about power,” Teabing continued. “Christ as Messiah was critical to the functioning of the Church and state. Many scholars claim that the early Church literally stole Jesus from His original followers, hijacking His human message, shrouding it in an impenetrable cloak of divinity, and using it to expand their own power” (Ch. 55, p. 253)
>Sir Leigh Teabing’s summary of how the human Jesus of Nazareth became the divine Jesus Christ proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church develops the novel’s thematic concern with power. It reinforces the conflicts in the book as a conflict between those who seek and love the truth and those who seek and love only their own status.
“Yes, the clergy in Rome are blessed with potent faith, and because of this, their beliefs can weather any storm, including documents that contradict everything they hold dear. But what about the rest of the world? What about those who are not blessed with absolute certainty? What about those who look at the cruelty in the world and say, where is God today? Those who look at Church scandals and ask, who are these men who claim to speak the truth about Christ and yet lie to cover up the sexual abuse of children by their own priests?… What happens to those people, Robert, if persuasive scientific evidence comes out that the Church’s version of the Christ story is inaccurate, and that the greatest story ever told is in, in fact, the greatest story ever sold” (Ch. 62, p. 288)
>Teabing explains the Church’s motivations in concealing the truth about the Holy Grail—namely, that it is, not a literal chalice, but a female descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the heir to a royal bloodline that has survived into modern times. His theory reinforces the novel’s argument that organized religion is motivated more by a desire to consolidate power than an desire to propagate truth.
“Intercourse was the revered union of the two halves of the human spirit—male and female—through which the male could find spiritual wholeness and communion with God. What you saw was not about sex, it was about spirituality. The Heiros Gamos ritual is not a perversion. It’s a deeply sacrosanct ceremony” (Ch. 74, p. 335).
>Langdon’s explanation of the ritual in which Sophie saw her grandfather engaged is the climax of the novel’s argument that only through the union of the masculine and the feminine can the human spirit find wholeness, even divinity. As described by Langdon, the Heiros Gamos, or “sacred marriage,” is the pure union of the mutually complementary aspects of the human psyche. It represents a truly holistic life.
“Sophie, every faith in the world is based on fabrication. That is the definition of faith—acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove. Every religion describes God through metaphor, allegory, and exaggeration… Those who truly understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical” (Ch. 82, pp. 369-370)
>Langdon’s explanation of the nature of faith is intended to reassure Sophie that the Sangreal documents, with their potentially explosive testimony regarding the true relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, is no threat to real faith. The spiritually mature believers of all religions will continue to find constructive ways to orient their lives toward holistic spirituality even should the founding myths of their religions be demonstrated empirically false. This quote thus further develops the novel’s thematic division between those who seek and love truth and those who do not.
Legend had always portrayed the Grail as a cruel mistress, dancing in the shadows just out of sight, whispering in your ear, luring you one more step and then evaporating into the mist (Ch. 101, p. 451).
>A lyrical passage that evokes the spirit of the novel as a whole. Brown skillfully leads his readers onward throughout the book, offering glimpses of his truth while concealing more of it until the time is right. These words offer a great insight into the appeal of all conspiracy theories, the one at the heart of The Da Vinci Code included.
“It is the mystery and wonderment that serve our souls, not the Grail itself” (Ch. 105, p. 479)
>Marie’s words to Langdon regarding the Priory’s decision never to reveal the location of the Sangreal provides an appropriate coda to the book: like the religious myths and symbols that Langdon has held point to the Grail, the Grail itself emerges as a symbol of something greater: not to be taken literally, but to be drawn upon as a source of wisdom, wholeness and ongoing inspiration.