Conspiracy theories tend to be fantastic stories whose explanations of reality range from laughable to just plain ludicrous. Yet something about them draws us to them and makes us want to believe them. Or maybe it’s something about us; maybe the fact that we feel drawn to them has less to do with the conspiracy theories and more to do with our hearts. Maybe we’re drawn to them because something inside us resonates with the idea that a deeper reality abides beneath the surface of what we think to be true. Deep down we know that things aren’t what they seem and we long for truth to be revealed. All the great stories that we are inexplicably drawn to remind us things are not what they seem. The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and The Matrix. Things are not always what they seem. There is a deeper truth.
It was because of this very hunger for deeper, hidden truth that Datt Moubet couldn’t put Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code down. He had just spent the greater part of two whole days reading the book from cover to cover, mesmerized by the mystery and suspense of each action-packed chapter. He laid his head back on the sofa and let out a long sigh. That was a good book!
Datt imagined the unfolding of the plot as he stared at the living room ceiling. He could picture the crime scene at the Louvre where curator Jacques Sauniere had spent the last moments of his life trying to leave a message so his important secret wouldn’t die with him and someone he could trust would be able to find it. Datt began to replay the entire storyline in his head.
Robert Langdon gets called into the Louvre in the middle of the night and has to try to figure out why this naked dead man had written some weird poem in blood before he died. He meets cryptographer Sophie Neveu and finds out his life might be in danger. Sophie reveals that she is the deceased Sauniere’s granddaughter and explains to Robert that he is the number-one suspect for her grandfather’s murder. Robert and Sophie begin deciphering a trail of encrypted messages left by Sophie’s grandfather, find a key behind a painting, and escape the building.
While avoiding being noticed by the police, Robert and Sophie manage to figure out that the symbol on the key represents the Priory of Sion which is a group supposedly founded by the Knights Templar to protect the Holy Grail. They take the key to a Swiss bank and use it to get a cryptex out of a safety deposit box. But the police show up so they escape to the home of Leigh Teabing who is an expert on the Priory of Sion and all things related to the Holy Grail.
Teabing explains how the Grail is not really a chalice; it is a person, namely, Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was secretly married to Jesus Christ and they had children together. Their marriage and the resulting lineage are all documented in the Holy Grail. Whatever is written on the paper inside of the cryptex that Robert and Sophie got from the Swiss bank, it has something to do with the Holy Grail and may actually tell them exactly where it is.
Eventually, after a lot of action and surprising turns of events, including the discovery that Teabing is actually the bad guy, Robert and Sophie decipher the cryptex as well as the cryptex inside of the cryptex which leads them to a place where they think the Holy Grail lies hidden—but instead they meet Sophie’s long-lost brother and grandmother and find out that Sophie is a direct descendant of Mary and Jesus. Finally, the book ends with Robert discovering where the Grail is actually hidden.
After several minutes had passed, probably at least a half hour, Datt realized he was staring blankly at the back cover of his recently digested book. He wanted more. The Da Vinci Code had whetted his appetite for deeper truth and hidden meaning and the conclusion of the book provided little satisfaction. As he stared at the back cover of the book, his mind began to play with the words on the page.
“The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is an exciting tale packed full of mystery, suspense, drama, and action woven together with intellectually stimulating iconography, linguistics, and encryption.—The Parson Press.”
“Mystery—Suspense—Drama—Action—Iconography—Linguistics—Encryption,” Datt mused.
M S D A I L E
MSDAILE. Seven letters. Seven! The perfect number! The number of God! Dan Brown must be trying to send us a message from God! Quick . . . unscramble the code . . .
M A D L I E S
Incredible! Dan Brown has encrypted a message in his writing almost in the same way he suggested Leonardo DaVinci did in his paintings. He’s saying that the key ingredient of his book is mad lies! Look again at his book. You can see it on the cover of his book! The point of the V in “DaVinci” is pointed directly at the “O” in “Code.” Clearly Brown intended the ‘V’ in the word DaVinci to represent the chalice, the sacred feminine, and all the controversial “secret” information that is at the crux of his plot, and it’s pointing directly at an “O.” But it’s not a slightly oblong “O” like you would find in your most common fonts, it is a perfect circle. A hole. Dan brown has left us a subtle clue in the artwork on the cover of his book! There is a hole in his portrayal of historical facts. In fact, judging by the way the “V” sits perfectly centered over the “O,” it looks as if the “V” is actually the tip of a space shuttle heading into a hole. A black hole. Darkness. Void of Truth. MAD LIES.
Ingenious! Dan Brown has devised a way of keeping the truth about his book alive while continuing to deceive the multitudes (and make a fortune from them). Perhaps he has also set up his own group of Knights Templar to protect his secret . . . Wait! Isn’t there a Bobby Knight who coaches basketball at a college named Temple? And isn’t Bobby Knight noted for his rated “R” language? Knight Temple “R.” Knight Templar!
Oh wait . . . Bobby Knight coaches Texas Tech not Temple . . . hmmm. Texas Tech . . . Red Raiders . . . Raiders of the Lost Ark . . . Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . . . the Holy Grail! I knew there was a connection!
Datt Moubet whimsically whipped out his Nebraska Cornhusker basketball schedule. Texas Tech has to play in Lincoln sometime . . . Texas Tech . . . Texas Tech . . . Texas Tech . . . there it is! Tonight!!!! Datt knew what he had to do. I’ve always wanted to go to a Nebraska basketball game anyway, he reasoned. Now I have an excuse.
The clock on the car stereo of Datt Moubet’s red 1994 Pontiac Grand Am read 5:45 as Datt approached downtown Lincoln, NE. The traffic was surprisingly sparse, especially for a game night. In fact, the more Datt thought about it, the more the town of Lincoln seemed eerily quiet, and he increasingly felt as though he were in some sort of quasi-realistic dream. As he began to imagine what it would be like if he actually were in a dream, he began to feel his bones aching for the comfort his plush queen-sized bed. Oh yeah… heh. I forgot to go to bed last night didn’t I? I guess I got a little excited about the book . . . in fact, I’d be sleeping right now wouldn’t I . . . and then it hit him. It was 5:45 am. The basketball game wouldn’t be starting for another 13 hours. No wonder this place seems dead, he thought. It is dead. Dead asleep.
Datt decided it would be best for him to try to get some rest before the game tonight so he got a room at the Holiday Inn (the one with free indoor putt-putt) for the day. As he approached the elevator, he began to wonder just how much of The Da Vinci Code was based on “mad lies.” The story was so real, so convincing. It made me want to believe. It made me hope that they would find the Holy Grail and that Sophie really was a direct descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. It not only captured my imagination, but it all seemed to fit together so well with what I know of history. How much of it was true? Where did the honest truth stop and the mad lies begin? Do I smell bacon?
The smell of freshly cooked bacon had once again managed to reacquaint Datt Moubet’s wandering mind with reality. The complimentary breakfast buffet was beckoning. You can’t turn down free bacon. Without breaking stride, Datt made a vee-cut any basketball coach would be proud of and scored himself 3rd in line for the buffet just as it was opening for customers. But his barely containable excitement wouldn’t last long. There was only one measly strip of badly burnt bacon when his turn came.
Datt was befuddled. As he went to sit down, he began to wonder if he really was dreaming. How could all that bacon disappear?! Just then he looked up to discover an inhumane amount of bacon piled atop the plate of the man who was in line before him. Datt, in his sleep-deprived state, reacted aloud, “Man, you’re a pig!”
“You are what you eat, “said the middle-aged man as he skewered several slabs of bacon with his fork and shoved them in his mouth. “Looks like you’re a little over-done,” he bantered, mouth full of greasy bacon. “You can have some of mine if you’re that upset.”
Datt was embarrassed. He hadn’t meant to show his anger, and he wasn’t comfortable sharing bacon with a complete stranger. He hesitated nervously, not sure what to say. The man noticed Datt’s hesitation and made eye contact with Moubet, cocking his eyebrows as if to say, “Are you going to say something?” It was at that moment that Datt recognized the man’s crooked glance. It’s him! It’s Bobby Knight! I’m talking to legendary coach Bobby Knight. Oh my! What are the odds the Texas Tech basketball team would stay at the same hotel as me? I didn’t expect this . . . what do I do? I have to talk to him about The Da Vinci Code, but how? Can I take him up on his offer to share his bacon which was most likely made in complete jest? He’s waiting for me to talk; I have to say something quick!
“So dark the con of man,” mumbled Datt.
“You’re speaking gibberish, son. Did you say something about Duck Hunt?”
Datt made direct eye contact and spoke in a serious tone “So dark the con of man.”
The coach froze, his jaw stopping mid-chew. His countenance suddenly grew serious. “Sit down.”
Datt Moubet sat down across from Coach Knight and told him all about finding Dan Brown’s secret message on the cover of his copy of The Da Vinci Code and Datt’s ill-conceived plan to go to Lincoln and find the legendary basketball coach. “I have so many questions. Is The Da Vinci Code really full of ‘mad lies’? It can’t all be made up, can it? Is some of it true?”
Knight leaned in towards Datt. “Kid, what I’m about to say here is going to be tough to swallow. Are you sure you can handle the truth?” Datt, too nervous to manage a verbal response, nodded. “Listen carefully then.” Knight glanced around the room to make sure no one was paying attention. “That’s got to be about THE MOST RIDICULOUS thing I’ve heard in my entire life. Next time you decide to stalk a celebrity because of some cock-eyed conspiracy theory, you better slap yourself in the face with the nearest large-metallic-object and take a cold shower before you decide to follow through with it.” Knight continued, “Now, having said that, I think I might actually be able to help you.”
“Absolutely! The Da Vinci Code was wrong in so many ways, it’s not even funny. For instance, the rumor that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were romantically involved is right up there with the rumor that the Easter Bunny ate Santa Claus.
“There are two verses in the Gospel of Mary describing Jesus’ love for Mary. In one verse it says, ‘Peter said to Mary, “Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of women.”’ Just a few verses later it says, ‘But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us (the disciples).’
“Assuming that the Gospel of Mary is reliable and historically accurate, you have to make a fairly substantial leap in logic to arrive at the notion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were romantically involved, let alone secretly married with children. The text merely states that Jesus loves Mary more than ‘the rest of women’ (whatever that is supposed to mean), and that He loves her more than His disciples. It says nothing about this love being romantic.
“The Gospel of Philip, however, does suggest a romantic relationship between Jesus and Mary. In this so-called gospel, it is recorded that Jesus ‘loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth.’ Although part of the text is missing or damaged and it isn’t explicitly clear who the ‘her’ that Jesus was kissing is, it can be reasonably concluded based on the context that ‘her’ is in fact referring to Mary.
“There is also this quote from the Gospel of Philip; ‘There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion.’ The key word here is companion. When Brown says that Mary Magdalene’s marriage to Jesus is ‘a matter of historical record,’ he is basing his claim on a shaky translation of this word. That word is usually translated as friend or companion, but Brown would suppose it to mean ‘wife.’
“The problem with the Gospel of Philip is its credibility. Other than the word ‘Gospel’ in its name, the Gospel of Philip doesn’t have much in common with the actual canonized Gospels in the Bible. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are called gospels (a label which means ‘good news’) because they record the good news of the Christ and His Kingdom. These gospels share a lot of the same events and information because they were each written with the goal of sharing the story of the life of Jesus so people would know the good news of who He was, what He did, and what He taught. The Gospel of Philip, in contrast to the Biblical gospels, is mostly a collection of incoherent teachings with only a few lines about what Jesus did or what He taught. Of these few lines, none of them coincide with the stories recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John whose authors all had access to eyewitnesses, and were eyewitnesses themselves.
“Not only was the Gospel of Philip not a gospel, it was not ‘of Philip.’ Philip, who spent about three years as a disciple of Jesus, would certainly know what kind of relationship Jesus had with Mary Magdalene. Unfortunately, Philip was not the author of this work. Other than the title of the book, there is no reason to think Philip had anything to do with writing it. In fact, when the book refers ‘the apostles who were before us,’ it implies that it was not authored by one of the original apostles.
Many Gnostic teachers claimed that the heavenly messenger had trusted his secret knowledge to a particular disciple, who alone was the true interpreter of the message. Thus, various Gnostic groups had a book that claimed to present the true teachings of Jesus. Such was, for instance, the Gospel of Saint Thomas . . . In response to this situation, the church at large sought to show that its doctrines were not based on the supposed witness of a single apostle or Gospel, but on the consensus of the entire apostolic tradition. The very fact that the various Gospels differed in matters of detail, but agreed on the basic issues at stake, made their agreement a more convincing argument . . . The Church offered the consensus of a number of Gospels—sometimes three, and sometimes four.”
“Wait a second. Did you say that the Gospels disagreed and that makes them more convincing?” asked Datt.
“No, I didn’t say they disagree. They agree with each other almost completely. They just don’t all record the same details for the same events. It’s like if you were to ask four of my basketball players to tell you about yesterday’s game. They will all tell you we had a pretty good game and we ended up winning, but they might not agree on exactly how the game unfolded. Some of them might not get all their facts straight. If you asked for the names of the other four players who were on the court when Johnson hit his three-pointer to give us the lead, they might not all give you the same names. And that’s a good thing.
“Yeah it is, because if they all told you the exact same story, that means they collaborated to get their stories straight. The four Gospels in the Bible show they are reliable sources of information. Each Gospel verifies and validates the others by recording the same core information, yet the details are different so we know they didn’t just copy each other,” said Knight.
“That’s another reason the Gnostic Gospels should not be trusted. The Gospel of Thomas, for instance, contains ‘114 sayings from Jesus, unconnected to any narrative. About half appear to be a direct echo of the New Testament. Others are utterly far-fetched.’ Just as I pointed out about the Gospel of Philip earlier, whoever wrote the Gospel of Thomas was basically just keeping the parts of Jesus’ teaching that he liked and making up the rest.
“Really?” Datt wondered. “That’s not the way Dan Brown portrayed it in The Da Vinci Code. He made it sound like things were pretty much the other way around and the books in the Bible were the ones being altered to accommodate the agenda of the people in charge.” Datt pulled out his copy of The Da Vinci Code and opened up to page 254.
“See,” said Datt, “Teabing was talking about how the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950’s and Coptic Scrolls in 1945. ‘The scrolls highlight glaring historical discrepancies and fabrications clearly confirming that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda—to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base’” (Brown 254–55).
“Ha. That’s funny! It couldn’t be further from the truth, though. The scrolls that were found contained the forged and flawed versions of the Gospel. Early Christian Pope Eusebius of Caesarea spoke of this in his writings when he said:
. . . we must not confuse these writings, published by heretics under the name of the apostles, as containing either Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthias, and several others besides these, or Acts of Andrew, John, and other apostles. To none of these has any churchman of any generation ever seen fit to refer in his writings. Again, nothing could be farther from apostolic usage than the type of phraseology employed, while the ideas and iplications of their contents are so irreconcilable with true orthodoxy that they stand revealed as forgeries of heretics.
. . . Have you heard of the Muratorian Fragment?”
“What’s that?” said Datt.
“The Muratorian Fragment is a piece of text written around the year 190 that was found by L.A. Muratori in the library of a Milan monastery. The beginning of the document is missing, but the part of the document that was found recognizes Luke and John as the third and fourth gospels. ‘It would take a rather perverse logic not to think that the lost beginning talked about Matthew and Mark, meaning that the four Gospels were recognized.’
“So you’re saying that the four Gospels were already accepted by the year 190?”
“Okay. So when Teabing says that they never settled on exactly which books should be accepted in the Bible, he was wrong?”
“Correct,” replied Knight.
“What about the whole Council of Nicaea thing? Teabing said that Constantine set up this meeting to change church policy so that Jesus would be considered a divine being. Until that moment in history Jesus was viewed as a man. Was that before or after the year 190?” Datt asked.
“The Council of Nicaea took place in the year 325. This was well after the divinity of Christ was established. In fact, Christianity itself is built around the core belief that Jesus is God, and there’s no reason to believe that they didn’t hold that to be true right from the beginning. One of the purposes of the Council of Nicaea was to reaffirm the doctrine that Jesus was God because of some heresies that were circulating, but it was not a new idea to them at all.”
“Okay, that makes sense,” said Datt, “but I’m still not totally convinced. I mean, it’s probably real far-fetched, but it does still sound possible to me that they went back and altered the Gospels to have them say that Jesus was God after the fact. Is there any evidence outside of the Gospels that this was already an established belief?
“Oh yeah. Actually there’s a lot. You have the prominent early Christian teachers like Iranaeus, Clement, Tertullian, and Origen, to name a few, who all wrote clearly and definitively of the divinity of Jesus. You can probably find their writings for free on the Internet since they are all Public Domain.
“Cool,” said Datt.
“What else? Oooh! I know!” Knight exclaimed. “Have you ever heard of the Apostles’ Creed?”
“Uhh . . . remind me?” said Datt.
“The Apostles’ Creed originated around the year 150 when it was known as the ‘symbol of the faith’. It was a statement of Christian faith that made clear distinctions in belief between the true Christian faith and various Gnostic and pagan belief systems. In reciting the Apostles’ Creed, Christians affirm their beliefs that separate them from other religions, including the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and was raised from the dead.
“Wow, the year 150? Dan Brown must not have done his homework.”
“Apparently not,” said Knight, “because if he did his homework, he would have known that even the opponents of Christianity were well aware of their belief that Jesus was the Son of God. In fact, that belief was one of their main beefs against Christianity. In the words of one critic of Christianity named Celsus: “What could be the purpose of such a visit to earth by God? To find out what is taking place among humans? Does He not know everything? Or is it perhaps that He knows but is incapable of doing anything about evil unless He does it in person?”
Datt was starting to get the picture. “Alright,” he said, “historically, it seems pretty far-fetched to say that all of this stuff was made up as a part of some grand conspiracy. If everything you’ve said is true, then why would Leonardo Da Vinci paint a female disciple to the right of Jesus in The Last Supper?
“Son, have you ever seen a photocopy of The Last Supper?” asked Knight.
“Yeah. I looked it up on the Internet yesterday. The one apostle definitely looked like a red-headed woman.”
“Can you picture the painting in your head right now?”
“Sure.” Datt closed his eyes and began to imagine The Last Supper. “Got it.”
“Okay, now tell me who else in this painting looks like a woman.”
“Well, I guess Jesus looks kind of . . .”
“Yeah, but . . .”
“If you ask me, Jesus looks about as girly as a sorority girl on prom night!” Knight laughed.
“So Leonardo Da Vinci thought Jesus was a . . .” Datt gulped.
“That Jesus was a Jessica?” Knight chortled. “No son. You’re missing the point. Leonardo Da Vinci always made his young men look androgynous.”
“And Roger what?” Datt asked quizzically.
“Androgynous. Meaning he didn’t intend Jesus or any of the disciples to be women. It was just his style to paint younger or better looking men with more feminine features.
“Then it’s definitely not Mary Magdalene in the painting?” asked Datt.
“Nope. Historians believe it is the apostle John.”
“Then what about all of that Priory of Sion secret society stuff?”
“That’s all a hoax,” said Knight. “The Priory of Sion was actually founded in 1956. All that stuff about it starting in the year 1099 and Da Vinci and the other famous Grand Masters was all a big lie. Some French con artist named Pierre Plantard made it all up. He also made up Priory documents that claimed he was the true King of France. Yeah, and I’m Queen Elizabeth!” Knight sneered sarcastically.
“How do you know all of this?” asked Datt.
“It was all exposed on the BBC.”
“And you happened to be watching?”
“I used to watch the BBC all the time,” Knight reminisced. “I was addicted to British humor. But I had to stop because my shrink said it was messing with my head.”
“Oh?” responded Datt.
“Yeah it got pretty bad,” said Knight. “One time I got real mad at a referee during a game, so every time he got close I started ‘ni-ing’ him.”
“You mean as in physically jabbing your knee into him?”
“No. I mean like, ‘NEEEE! NNNNNEEEEE! NEEEEE!’” he said in a shrill tone. “Referees make me nuts man! I don’t know what it is. I just lose control sometimes.”
“And so, rather than acting rationally, you became the Knight who says ‘Ni,’” said Datt.
“Yeah, until they threw me out of the game . . . then I really lost it and I started throwing chairs onto the court.” Knight strained his eyebrows and tightened his lips. He was becoming visibly angry. “Why can’t they just call it the same both ways?” he demanded.
Datt realized this was probably his cue to leave. He’d seen the effects of Coach Knight’s fits of rage on television before, and he was looking like he might be about to erupt again. Datt didn’t want to be around if that happened. Besides, he really needed to go somewhere quiet and think about all the information he had just received.
“Well thank you, coach. I just remembered that I left my luggage sitting out in the lobby. I better go before something happens to it. Thank you so much for your time. Good luck.” Datt stood up and started toward the lobby, but suddenly stopped and turned back. “I just have one more question, Coach. You said that the whole ‘MAD LIES’ theory was ridiculous. If none of that was true, how do you know so much about all of this?
“I needed to know the truth, son,” Knight answered. “Dan Brown and people who share his worldview want us to basically make up our own truth, whatever feels right to us, and accept it for ourselves. But the truth doesn’t work that way, son. If you want to know the truth, you have to do your homework. I read The Da Vinci Code, and I found myself wanting to believe it; but there was no way I was going to take Dan Brown’s word for it. I did the research on my own.
Back in his hotel room, Datt lay on his bed unable to sleep. He couldn’t stop thinking about everything Bobby Knight had said. He knew he was going to have to do some research to make sure Coach Knight wasn’t somehow making it all up. Although he was completely exhausted, Datt knew he would be unable to sleep unless he settled his mind somehow.
Datt rolled over and grabbed the Bible on his nightstand, hoping that he would be able to somehow temporarily satisfy his hunger for truth so he could get some sleep. He wasn’t aware of it, but the book he was about to open was going to provide him with so much more than a temporary fix. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown had awakened a desire deep inside of Datt to experience the revelation of hidden truth. The Bible satisfies these longings because it is the written revelation of God, the ultimate deep truth that all of our hearts long for.
Datt opened up his Bible and began to read: “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”
 Eldrige, John. Waking the Dead. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003. 26–27.
 The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene.
 The Gospel of Philip.
 The Gospel of Philip.
 Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. New York: Anchor, 2003. 264.
 The Gospel of Philip.
 Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity Vol. 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. New York: Harper Collins, 1984. 63.
 Burge, G. “Jesus Out of Focus.” Christianity Today 50(6): 24-9.
 Eusebius. Ecclesiastical History 3.25. Quoted from Barr, David L. New Testament Story: An Introduction. 3rd ed. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2002. 465.
 Barr, 464.
 Brown, 253.
 Gonzalez, 63.
 Origen. Against Celsus 4.3. Quoted from Gonzalez, 52.
 Williams, A., and N. Biddle. “Who Was Mary Magdalene?” People 65 (22): 89-90.
 Memmott, C. Mary Magdalene remains a mystery. USA Today. N.d.
 McDowell, Josh. The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers. Holiday: Green Key, 2006. 5.
 Olson, Carl E., and Sandra Meisel. The Da Vinci Hoax. San Francisco: Ignatious, 2004. 236–38.
 Olsen and Meisel, 239.
 John 8:12, The Bible.
Copyright 2010 Matt Doubet