Sunday, November 30, 2008

Constantine, Christianity, and "That Dude's Movie Code"

I've been reading Mysteries of the Middle Ages And the Beginning of the Modern World by Thomas Cahill. I picked it up because I very much enjoyed his book How the Irish Saved Civilization. I picked this book up because I've frequently thought of the Middle Ages as a backward era lacking in education and intelligence. Despite the legends of knights and castles, it's not one of my favorite time periods to read about or to teach. 

My students, however, disagree. They love it. This is the one time period where they are enraptured by everything. So, I try to oblige. Hopefully this book will help open my eyes to some of the more interesting topics that I've skipped in my dislike. 

So far I've found the book interesting, though I still have not progressed past the Roman Empire. Official tolerance of Christianity was brought by the emperor Constantine. I did read an interesting footnote that I couldn't pass up without a mention: 
The depiction of Christianity in the popular thriller The Da Vinci Code as a fraud perpetrated by Constantine not only is preposterous to any reader with a modicum of historical knowledge but rests on melodramatically anti-Christian assumptions. The book's further premise that the Catholic Church sends out Opus Dei hit men to murder anyone who has stumbled on the truth is a straight-forward anti-Catholic libel. And its notion that Jesus fathered progeny by Mary Magdalene is a fantasy lacking the least historical support.

Wow, Mr. Cahill! Showing our bias, are we? Not that I disagree with him, but I haven't come across such vehement rhetoric in a history book before. Someone didn't like Dan Brown's bestseller, which I find refreshing. I haven't read it myself, but I've had enough of people insisting that it's real, with one acquaintance swearing that it opened their eyes to the truth behind the Catholic Church. 

Like I didn't have enough questions to answer about my faith in Baptist Land, Dan Brown had to go and open up the floodgates. That and the questions during my Renaissance unit if that's Mary Magdalene in the painting by "that dude with the movie code." This has made any urgency I felt to read the blasted thing go out the window. 

I did, however, watch the National Geographic special. I am so glad that I kept my subscription. 


judy said...

sounds interesting. i guess try as one might not to have a bias, anyone with an opinion has one. maybe the words would be interchangeable in this context.

you mentioned students...what do you teach?

Christine said...

I teach high school social studies.... :)