23But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:23-26
Ok, I've been holding off on commenting on The Da Vinci Code until I felt that I could clearly express my thoughts. Well here goes.
First, the book is in bookstores in the section labeled FICTION
fiction. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
...The act of inventing such a creation or pretense. 2. A lie. 3a. A literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact....
When I was in college I learned that Christianity was a patriarchal religion. This was not intended as complement by those who spit out the word "patriarchal" as if they had just tasted spoiled fish. Patriarchy, the word refers to a society in which men have ultimate authority and women are largely subordinate, was considered to be one of the world's great evils. The rule of men over women, we were told, had stripped women of their dignity, freedom, and individuality. The Christian church, perhaps more than any other human institution, promoted and perpetuated patriarchy, and was therefore misguided at best, and permeated with evil at worst.
That Christianity has been patriarchal for most of its history is mostly true, whether you like it or not. The popes, after all, have been exclusively male. (Well, okay, there's a story about Pope Joan, but it doesn't have much basis in fact.) The word "pope" actually comes from the Greek word pappas, which was a child's word for "papa." In the Eastern Orthodox Church the highest leaders are called, appropriately enough, patriarchs, and their regions of authority are called patriarchates. You can't get much more patriarchal than this!
What has been true of the highest levels of the institutional church has also been true of most individual parishes, which have been headed by male priests, ministers, bishops, and elders. Though women have been active in these patriarchal churches, they have usually not exercised broad leadership, with their official authority limited to ministries with women and children. (Unofficially, women have often had much more power than it might seem, but this is another story for another day.)
Although there's a lively debate among Christians today about the extent to which patriarchy is essential to Christianity, and though most churches, no matter which side they take in this debate, have sought to empower women in various ways, the "patriarchal" label still gets applied with disdain by many critics both within and outside of the church. So, when a novel comes along that appears to raise the status of Mary Magdalene, and in so doing empowers womankind in general, this novel has intrinsic appeal among those who dislike Christian patriarchy. Moreover, when this novel advocates "the sacred feminine" and criticizes the church for its sexism, it resonates with our contemporary Zeitgeist. Thus, fans of The Da Vinci Code herald it as pro-Mary and pro-woman. The empowerment of women is to be found in Mary-Magdalene-inspired worship of the sacred feminine, not in the patriarchal shackles of Christian orthodoxy.
Here are some of things that Dan Brown, speaking through Sir Leigh Teabing, has to say about women and Christianity:
"The Grail is literally the ancient symbol for womanhood, and the Holy Grail represents the sacred feminine and the goddess, which of course has now been lost, virtually eliminated by the Church. The power of the female and her ability to produce life was once very sacred, but it posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male Church, and so the sacred feminine was demonized and called unclean. . . ." (p. 238)