The portable Dan Brown

Posted: Jun 01, 2006 9:05 AM

I used to think The Koran was the best book to read in the airport, simply because carrying it guarantees you’ll never get searched by airport security. Later, I decided that The Book of Mormon was better because it guarantees the person sitting next to you will never start a conversation during the flight. Now, I’ve decided – once and for all, I think – that The Da Vinci Code has both of them topped.

Toting Dan Brown’s book is far better than toting the aforementioned works of fiction because it helps to identify my least favorite segment of American society – the conspiracy theorists. The following excerpts from real conversations – conversations people actually initiated with me after seeing my copy of The Da Vinci Code - explain why I now carry it to work, to restaurants, and just about everywhere except for church:

Conversation 1

Quacky conspiracy theorist (Q): So, you’re just now reading The Code? What took you so long? How do you like it?

Adams (A): Well, I’m trying to enjoy it like a Grisham novel but, unfortunately, people are taking it way too seriously.

Q: Oh, do you mean the religious right?

A: No, I’m talking about the whacky conspiracy nuts who actually think the book is evidence of patriarchal oppression. Those nuts really annoy me.

Q: Well, you have to agree that it’s curious that the Bible was written by males, don’t you?

A: That’s a great point, I’ve never really thought of that.

Q: Really?

A: Yes, really. I’ll remember that the next time I read a report from the Women’s Resource Center or the Women’s Studies department.

Q: What does that have to do with it?

A: Obviously, since all the authors of those reports are women, they must be involved in a conspiracy to oppress men. I think I just discovered a new concept; matriarchal oppression. Thanks for the inspiration.

Conversation 2

Q: Oh, I just love that book. Have you read about the Council of Nicea and how they conspired to keep out the Gnostic Gospels? It was all so political the way they choose the Books of the Bible, don’t you agree?

A: No.

Q: Well, why not?

A: I’ve read the Bible seven times, the New Testament ten times, and all of the so-called Gnostic Gospels.

Q: And what have you concluded?

A: The New Testament books were selected long before 325 A.D. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were either written by eyewitnesses or on the basis of eyewitness evidence. The Gnostic Gospels were not. In addition to being incoherent fragments, they were written many, many decades later.

I just try to treat the life of Jesus as a murder mystery, which is easy to do since he was, in fact, murdered. If you want to solve the mystery, you have to know everything you can about the victim. To do so, you should prefer eyewitness testimony over all other forms of evidence. There was no better type of evidence back then. And, of course, only a fool would give preference to the accounts that were written later. That is a backwards way of thinking. I mean that literally.

Q: Then why does The Da Vinci Code suggest that members of the Council of Nicea conspired to exclude certain books for sexist reasons, if it isn’t true?

A: Because The Da Vinci Code is fiction.

Q: How do you know?

A: Because I picked it up at Barnes and Noble in the section marked “fiction.”

Conversation 3

Q: Won’t you admit that there was a conspiracy to label Mary Magdalene as a whore in order to deny her true place at the top of the Christian hierarchy?

A: No.

Q: Aren’t you open-minded enough to even consider that Pope Gregory’s public labeling of her as a whore was an intentional act undertaken in concert with the members of the Council of Nicea?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Well, Pope Gregory made the statement in 591 A.D. If he were Pope during the time of that council, too, that means he called Mary a whore in the 266th year of his pope-hood. You conspiracy theorists are either profoundly ignorant of history or just plain crazy enough to believe in time travel. I don’t know which is worse.

Conversation 4 

Q: Why do you keep demanding that I produce evidence to support my theories? Do you have evidence to support everything you believe in?

A: I don’t know. Test me.

Q: You believe Jesus was a real person who walked the earth, don’t you?

A: Yes.

Q: But they haven’t found Jesus’ bones have they?

A: No.

Q: Is that consistent with the Bible?

A: As a matter of fact, yes. It is consistent with the story of his resurrection.

Conversation 5 

Q: Did you hear that they have uncovered evidence that Adam had another wife before Eve?

A: No. But, please, tell me more.

Q: She was not subservient to Adam so he divorced her and married Eve. Since Eve was more submissive they put her in the Bible.

A: Well, that’s certainly impressive research. When you got your Master’s Degree at Duke, I assume there was a “Dr. They” who uncovered all of this information. Or maybe there was a They Institute of Historical Research.

Q: Why do you have to be so crass and cynical?

A: I’m only joking. But when people talk about what “they” have discovered or research that “they” have done, I find that “they” generally don’t know what the hell “they” are talking about.

Conversation 6

Q: Are you really serious when you say that there would have to have been too many people involved in a conspiracy to keep Mary Magdalene’s marriage to Jesus a secret?

A: I am.

Q: Well, what about the fumes coming from airplanes?

A: I don’t know what you are talking about.

Q: Well, they have found that the government has been using commercial airplanes like the one we are on now to spray the earth with chemicals to counteract the effects of global warming. The government makes them do it. You can tell because the fumes look different from the earth than they did before global warming.

A: Ma’am, that is rich. I’m going to write about it in my column next week. I hope you don’t mind if I quote you. I promise not to reveal your name in the column. I don’t want to hurt your career as a practicing psychiatrist.

Good day. I have another flight to catch. Could you please hand me my book?