Monday, October 11, 2010

Da Vinci Code and Christian Flesh

Being in Rome visitting churches I am struck not only by the veneration of the dead but by the persistence of flesh.  In one church there is a body of a saint and in another the head.  The early popes traded in these bits of dead martyrs.  And Dan Brown in Da Vinci Code made a world best selling book that became a movie starring Tom Hanks.  Without fear of being a spoiler this late in the game, the great 'secret' in the book is that Jesus and Mary had a child. The DNA of Jesus was somehow holy. 
In the Bible Jesus is the son of God.  God became flesh.  Mary became pregnant without intercourse, divinely impregnated through God. She is not raped by a Roman Centurion and does not have a love child of Joseph.  Her hymen is intact apparently at birth and there is even controversy over whether she has any more sons, such as Jesus' brother, James.  Women, especially single and often bitter women, would have her never touched by man and Joseph and kindly brotherly sort that marries her but never expects her to do the dirty especially after God has been there before him.  There was even much talk through the centuries of Mary miraculously getting her hymen back.  Frankly I don't know.
There's this other part call the 'Transfiguration'.  The bottom line is that God became 'flesh'.  Jesus was 100% man and 100% God.  He wasn't a half and half which was common in the Greek and Roman religions already, man goats and such.  How this works is beyond our human mind to comprehend.  The matter of faith is that it's a 'leap'.  It's an acceptance of the 'impossible' in a limitted set of matters.  The sacred can be all about us and still ruled by scientific laws which are a different way of saying spiritual laws but there are those miraculous matters which are still outside this world as we understand it. 
The progress of man scientifically is to make him essentially 'god like' in a very human way.  He gains powers upon powers and unwraps the mysteries of the universe for the sake of doing good or evil. 
The dichotomy between mind and matter is not a spiritual dichotomy.  All of creation is God, 100% God and yet our human understanding is materialistic and experiences life as 100% human. 
The question arose for me as I contemplated the tomb of St. Paul, all that is earthly decomposes with time. Even the mummies so well preserved would in enough time disappear or return to base elements.  Considering there were wars only a half century ago and there is little evidence today in these old world countries I'm struck by the work the archeologists must do to find something a couple of thousand years ago. Supposing we're a hundred thousand years in the future. Is St. Paul, now decomposed sufficiently to make his grave merely a 'site', ie he's returned wholly to dust, is this still to be venerated and holy.
Well, the matter of time is a thing that St. Augustine wrote about and Scientific American essential agreed with.  Spiritually there is only truly 'now'. Yesterday is memory and tomorrow is a dream. Collective agreement on the past and present and future is what the group mind does.  One step a head of the crowd you're a genius, two steps a head of the crowd you're a martyr.  Our perspective on reality is maintained according to what the group can stand and those who deviate from this are a threat and defined as either insane or antisocial. 
The Nazi position was to create a superhuman through genetic modification by removing the mentally ill, the Slavs, Ukranians, Poles, Jews, and homosexuals from the gene pool. This idea of genetic manipulation was an American invention.  There is no such thing in the Catholic world.  Transformation of the human to the divine is what is wanted in the spiritual realm. 
Biologically the human brain is that which is not animal so the prefrontal cortex is for developping beyond the limits of fish and fowl and mammal.  The Nazis were all for making betters wolves and predators per se. Hitler had a theology of somewhat neo pagan ideology but definitely not Wicca per se, or any of the new age religions. His was a war god man thing.  Nietze spoke to this idea.  But fundamentally Man as God in contrast to the Christian Catholic idea of God as Man.
Inherrent in Christianity is the idea that our true nature, which is Christ like seeks to evolve.  It's not predatorial like a great animal but forgiving and forfeiting of this life. It's unselfish and altruistic.
Jesus died for our sins. If I were to become 'god like' in the Christian sense I would 'sacrifice' my life for my brothers and sisters.  In Christianity this world is a dream and the world after death is the real world.
That's what makes these graves a bit difficult.  The Bible says that we will in Heaven have our bodies.  I didn't think they'd be the one I'm in now.  Already I've thought that if I'd known I was going to have to live in it this long I'd not have played sports so hard or done so much work as a youth because now I ache everyday from old injuries and from the labour I've done with my body.  Imagine if the awakening in Christian terms comes and all who are dead rise up and have their own body. St. Paul and St. Peter would have to go find their heads in St. John Lateran church where they're kept in silver urns.  It sounds like a horrible state of affairs.  I'm all wrinkled and aching and supposed to be dancing and playing harps and happy with Christianity.  If the Second Coming takes too long I could decompose and maybe have my right side go faster than my left. The Heaven Christians long for would be goulish and zombie like. No wonder those movies sell so well and frankly I'd like to be one of guys with the 12 guage shot gun, thank you very much.  I don't want decomposing Christians hugging me.
That's because I'm thinking in 'solid' terms. I'm thinking in the limitations of my unscientific mind. Most of what I am is 'space'. The distance between electrons and neutrons is football fields and such longer than I can imagine. So even if we erroneously think of these light particles as particles there far more space between them.  They're in constant motion. My body is more an "idea" than I'd care to think about.  I am indeed God's idea.  God is the prime move, the first in creation and I am a creature of his creation.  I am in God's mind and made of God's mind stuff.  At the level of physics it's all miraculous.  Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Srogen Box all tell us very clearly that we are thinking creation and together our thought is affecting creation and that our thoughts ultimate originate from God.
But what of free will. The infinite choices in the universe are infinitely God.  I can make an individual choice and that individual choice will have a multidudinous cacaphony of possibilities flowing out from it. The one thing Science has taught us is that the possibilities of the human brain and DNA are virtually infinite. The synapses are all multiply connected and there's 50 plus neurotransmitters working in a soup of activity making each brain a world in itself, a regular city of activity. No wonder we can dream and Hamlet can say 'to dream or not to dream, that is the question.'
The imagination of the child is what adulthood discourages so that we can fit in the bigger imagination of the rulers and their ideas about what should be.  It's called being an adult and worker.  If you want to imagine get a job in Hollywood but don't do it in the post office.  Einstein didn't keep his job there for long. 
But is there any real good in keep dead people around other than for tourist dollar generation. The actual churches have cemeteries inside and outside. 
At the level of feeling I'm moved at the urn of my mother's ashes.  Being a baptist she was probably concerned about the catholics offing her head after she was dead.  Best get burn so that the worst that can happen is that your ashes get flung to all the parts of the earth.  Today with the Russians building a hotel in space maybe taking some of the ashes up there would piss her off.  She was worldly in a cozy homey way and after death thinking her sons had split her ashes and one had gone into outerspace would have her rolling in an gravity free grave. The feeling of being beside the grave of Pope John Paul was moving. I think the feeling is veneration. I wouldn't have it beside Michael Jackson's grave but know musicians who would.
There is great denial of death in the world.  The church reminds us of the limits of this life.  We grow old and die.  People have children to perpetuate themselves.  They reproduce. The Queen's family have been passing wealth and power along to their children for generations.  The Tower of London where many a gruelling act occured testified to the fact of legacy and the efforts the world rulers went to keept it all in the family.  The church might off a saints head after death but the world rulers are happy enough to off competitors heads before they're even dead.  Indeed they will torture them as well and think up all manner of inhuman, cat like games to play with their dying. Even Socrates was allowed to take poison. 
So if this body I'm in is a dream of atoms in an idea of a force field grid in a sacred hologram and when I die the 'program' maintains a trace of my having been, it remains whether I'm in the game or not.  The Christian idea and part of the reason for the veneration of saints and popes is that indeed the soul remains connected to the body till the day of reckoning when Christians rise up together in 'new bodies'.  Thank god for the 'new body'.  I expect mine will have genitals too. I'm rather fond of genitals so I'll get those.  I'm not sure if I'll have a mouth and anus because while I like eating the whole searching for toilets for defecation and pissing as a tourist seems less efficient and divine than plant life. I'd like to take my energy direct from the sun and forego sitting on less than sanitary toilets in foreign countries. 
That said, I'd welcome a new body. 
Tom Hanks in Da Vinci Code finds the divine sequence in a DNA and that Divine sequence gets passed on through generations.  The actual DNA gene studies suggest that we all have all the DNA but that certain areas are blocked and others are highlighted.  It's more complicated than we once thought. We once thought that if we were missing a bit then we'd not have an eye per se but it turns out that the DNA like the Synapses are multi referenced and repeat so that really the 'code' is all there but it's not read for whatever reason.  Indeed the whole human genome is in a bit of buccal smear.  We are a hologram in that sense. 
So Dan Brown appeals to the zombie in us with his idea of a holy couple producing holy children.  It's poor science in a sense and poor religion but great art. Dan Brown is one of my favourite authors and I'm looking forward to another book since his one on the Freemasons of Washington.  I really can't imagine what it will be but then that's the genius of Dan Brown. All his books are brilliant and highly intriguing.
The veneration of the dead is a different thing to the Chinese.  They don't halve 'salvation' as an endpoint. The pagan might venerate the parents because they're happy with the good genes that allow the couple today to make good babies and lots of money.  The buddhist though venerates Buddha for the teaching or for what.
Intellectuals find it easier to pride themselves on their veneration of 'books' and ideas whereas some people experience life not in a limitted mental state but 'whollistically' and to them being in the presence of an 'urn' of a saint might be more moving than reading his words saying 'love'. 
I find all the dead bodies a 'stumbling point' for my religious faith but then I think about it and it's no different really than the great Orthodox - Catholic Debate about Mosaic and Painting. The Orthodox said that you couldn't make likenesses and that this was sacriledge.  Something about 'capturing' or 'stealing some soul'.  This group wouldn't be wholy anti Facebook and would be running about St. Peter's square smashing cameras right and left.  The Roman Catholic group didn't have a problem with "images".  I remember being taught as a protestant that the Catholics were an 'idolatrous' group because they had all these statues and pictures of saints and they worshipped the pictures.  Picture learning is a right brain activity where as reading biblical words and ideas is a left brain learning.  The left brain denounced the right brain and we all move through the human idea, the anthropomorphizing to the God light beyond.  The TRINITY is beyond human understanding. If it was small enough to be understood, the saying goes, it would not be big enough to do the job. God is that big. God does it all. Omniscient. Omnipotent. Omnipresent. 
I'm here in Rome on Pilgrimage.  The catholics are as odd as the Da Vinci Code is odd in another direction. 
Anxiety is a measure of my distance from God and a measure of my humanity. I pray everywhere for courage.  I'm quaking in fear before God.  I have that gene complex that is so very animalistic and it is fear of the unknown. And yet God is both known and unknown.  I bow and shield my eyes and cover my genitals and close my ears and wrestle with what I still hear and see and ultimately what I say.  I am in awe of God but I am equally attached to this world. I wake each morning back in an older body with less capacity more pain and even more sadness somedays. 
It is raining today. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great Starbucks read! Thankyou!