The Grail Code 

Archive for the 'Dan Brown' Category

It must be Dan Brown time again…

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

…which means once again that it’s time for our little book to hover around the periphery of the current news. It’s terribly, terribly exciting! I grant that the book has been out for a while, but the proof that The Grail Code is always timely comes with this press release from Loyola, which is reproduced below.

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Light Shed on Christian Truths Behind Holy Grail Fictions

Since the early Middle Ages, storytellers have continually reworked and renewed the powerful Grail myth, but behind this resonant symbol lies a profound Christian meaning that remains vital despite countless incarnations. And this meaning, according to The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence is found in humankind’s eternal desire to experience the Real Presence of Christ.

(Vocus/PRWEB ) March 24, 2009 — Curiosity and controversy surrounding the Holy Grail reached a fever pitch after Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Since the early Middle Ages, storytellers have continually reworked and renewed the powerful Grail myth, but behind this resonant symbol lies a profound Christian meaning that remains vital despite countless incarnations. And this meaning, according to The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence (Loyola Press, $15.95, paperback), is found in humankind’s eternal desire to experience the Real Presence of Christ.

The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence
The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence

As authors Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey explain, what drives all the Holy Grail stories is the yearning to know Christ, and the promise of communion with the divine. This spiritual thirst has kept the Grail fixed in the Christian imagination for centuries.

Rather than offer a critique of the “sacred feminine” ideas found in The Da Vinci Code and other works, Aquilina and Bailey chart the evolution of the Holy Grail as a complex literary theme rooted in Biblical history, born at the moment that Jesus raises his cup to the disciples at the Last Supper. The story continues through the Dark Ages, when the memory of Christianity’s most sacred relic mingles with Celtic lore telling of charmed cups and cauldrons offering uncanny power. The various strands meet in the aristocratic courts of medieval Europe, where court writers such as Chrétien de Troyes conjure the Holy Grail that modern audiences would recognize, the one at the center of King Arthur’s legendary reign. Arthur’s world becomes an elaborate Christian allegory, in which the Knights of the Round Table quest for the Grail, learning through their struggles that, no mere piece of treasure, the Grail promises the grace of God, a blessing for the faithful rather than a prize for the bold.

Combining the theologian’s instructive voice with the ardor and pacing of a master storyteller, The Grail Code appeals to readers who wish to better understand the perennial spiritual meaning behind the Grail myth and the reasons why we are driven, in literature and in life, to reach for the divine. The Grail Code also offers Catholics an invaluable guide that empowers them to engage the popular culture—without falling prey to “Grail nonsense.” For this purpose, the authors have included an afterword addressing the more fanciful Grail fictions currently in circulation, as well as recommendations on where readers can continue their exploration of the Grail.

Mike Aquilina is author of a dozen books on Christian history, doctrine, and devotion. He is vice-president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and has been co-host of five popular television series.

Christopher Bailey has worked as a writer, editor, translator, and researcher for more than 15 years. His articles have appeared in Touchstone, Columbia, New Covenant, The New Catholic Encyclopedia (Second Edition), and elsewhere. Schooled in the great-books tradition, he has spent many years in close study and translation of the Arthurian texts.

The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence
By Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey
Loyola Press
ISBN: 978-0-8294-2159-0, Paperback $15.95

New Dan Brown movie needs a better script

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

The BBC reports that the writers’ strike has delayed the production of Angels and Demons, the “prequel” to The Da Vinci Code. It’s based on a book Dan Brown wrote before he wrote The Da Vinci Code, using the same hero and the same plot. Apparently “the script needs more work,” which is a bit of a puzzle for a number of reasons. First, couldn’t they just use the same script they used for The Da Vinci Code? I didn’t read Angels and Demons, but my wife (who read it for her book club at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop) tells me that a few global search-and-replace runs would take care of all the minor differences. Second, why does a script that needs more work bother them now if it didn’t when they made The Da Vinci Code? Third, doesn’t delaying until the script can be polished pose a slight danger that the fascination with all things Dan Brown could fizzle before the movie is released? Fourth, when you announce to the world that the script for a Dan Brown story isn’t quite good enough, aren’t you just inviting long paragraphs of dripping sarcasm from the grumposphere? Fifth, if you’re adapting “a novel so bad that it gives novels a bad name” (as Salman Rushdie said about The Da Vinci Code), isn’t a bad script what you actually want? And sixth, if you’re a writer struggling to make a living from your writing, can you avoid lapsing into unseemly grouchiness when you see the Dan Brown empire poised to make another few hundred million dollars? Apparently not.

Anyone remember Dan Brown?

Friday, November 9th, 2007

This afternoon I was in a Barnes & Noble bookstore and happened to notice a copy of Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. It was remaindered at $5.98, then marked 50% off that price, then plunked on the “LAST CHANCE” table.

All of which reminds me that no one is talking about Dan Brown anymore, which is a pity because he’s such an easy target. I have not read any of his other novels; my wife read Angels and Demons for her book club, which she thought was pretty much the same book as The Da Vinci Code except with a different MacGuffin. Other people have told me the same thing about his other books. Perhaps he was the sort of writer who only had one book in him, but he kept writing it until it caught on. I admire persistence. According to the Wikipedia’s article, his future projects include two books that also sound like the same book with a different MacGuffin—one about a secret society that’s kept a vast conspiracy going for centuries and the other about, um, a secret society that’s kept a vast conspiracy going for centuries. The fans won’t be disappointed.

What makes me proud to be an American is that none of the members of these age-old conspiracies, all of which have members at the highest levels of government, have been allowed to kill Dan Brown, or even to imprison him on charges of blasphemy. “Should you kill people because you don’t like their books?” Salman Rushdie (a real novelist) once asked rhetorically. His answer was that you shouldn’t. “Even Dan Brown must live,” he said. “Preferably not write, but live.”

Meanwhile, Dan Brown’s descent into irrelevant remainderhood reminds me how glad I am that Mike and I didn’t write a book about The Da Vinci Code. If you haven’t read The Grail Code yet, now is an excellent time—now that you can actually enjoy the history of the Grail legends without worrying about what Dan Brown said about them.

(C) 2006 Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey