1. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    The Lost Symbol

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by CharlieVer, Sep 16, 2009.

    Dan Brown's the Lost Symbol.

    It came out yesterday. I bought it yesterday.

    There are only a few books I've ever bought on the day they came out, the last one being Stephen King's IT, which I think was back in the 1980s.

    Anybody else buy the Lost Symbol?

    (I'm only a couple chapters in...)
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    They printed 3 chapters in our national newspaper, and I'm thinking of loaning it from work on the weekend, on the off chance that its not awful. :)
     
  3. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    No.

    I have ordered it from my local library though. I'm number 36 on the reserve list!
     
  4. SarahBrightmanfan
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    I have to wait until November for my B-day before I get it D=
    Because i've blown all my spending money on Cd's.
    I can't wait though! I hope it's as good as Angels and Demons :D
     
  5. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    SPOILER!!!

    I just finished reading it, and I must say the exhilerating pace and symbolic references make up another Dan Brown page turner, but its a far cry from the first 2 Robert Langdon installments. Maybe its the content, the underlying propogation of atheism isn't nearly as intriguing as the subject matter of the others.

    Another problem was that the first two acclimatized us to his singular writing style, and he's not tampered with his formula in this one. That didn't work so well, because now the reader knows what to look out for, and how to interpret the clues. The identity of the villain was a dead giveaway 200 pages in. I actually thought Brown was trying to mislead us with the obvious assumption that Ma'lakh is in fact Zachary, but I was sorely disappointed. Those parlour tricks may work the first time or maybe the second, but when at attempt number 3 you've got to adjust your approach.

    Highly entertaining though.
     
  6. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Spoilers! don't read this if you haven't read the book... you've been warned!

    This part of your post, I don't understand. It didn't seem to me to propagate atheism--indeed, the characters provided evidence of the soul's existence! Seems to me that Dan Brown did the opposite of propagating atheism.

    The biggest problem for me was the villain's identity was indeed, painfully obvious. I'm not sure I agree that the first two installments were better--because Angels & Demons bad ending, to me, spoiled the book. That was one of the rare cases that I actually thought the movie was better. (The Da Vinci Code was the opposite--book far better than movie--as is usually the case with books made into movies.)

    I still think his best book was Deception Point, but I'm not sure whether Da Vinci Code or the Lost Symbol was the second best. Probably Da Vinci Code, if only because the villain of Lost Symbol as painfully obvious, but I enjoyed both books immensely.

    The pace of his books, I really enjoy--and for any reader who likes fast paced thrillers, I recommend another author, Brad Meltzer.

    Charlie
     
  7. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    Charlie,

    I'm thinking of buying the book this weekend to read it. How are the first 30-40 pages? Does the action keep you interested?

    The reason I am asking is because I picked up Da Vinci Code, the first time I managed the first 45 pages and left it, the second time I picked it up I read the first 30 and gave up...I found it boring and uninteresting.
     
  8. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Well... I don't know how to answer since I had a completely different take on the Da Vinci Code. I thought it was a page-turner... I had problems putting it down once I picked it up.

    I felt the same way about the Lost Symbol.

    (The action... and the mystery as well. In the Da Vinci Code, I was intrigued by the symbols on the dead man's chest in the Louvre... and in the Lost Symbol, what Langdon found on the Rotunda floor... oh, I can say no more, it would be a spoiler!)

    Charlie
     
  9. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    !!!!!!!!!!!!Spoiler again!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Charlie, the religion that this book espouses borders on atheism more than it does on any other faith.

    God exists in all of us? We all have the potential to become Gods by unlocking the untapped potential of our minds? My interpretation was that humans are the gods and there is no supreme divine entity. He explicitly denounced the teachings of every holy book, saying that this is the common hidden message in each of them.

    That sounds like atheism to me. Religion is founded on being accountable to a higher power.
     
  10. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh and Deception point was by far my least favourite of his books. It's the only one I stopped reading. I thoroughly enjoy his cliffhanger chapter endings, but in this book he abused it. The suspense felt forced. There were many occasions when he didn't need to end the chapter, but he did so just so he could put in his theatrical cliffhanger, and there were too many superfluous little scenes added to create tension that for me destroyed the tension.
     
  11. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    God exists in all of us... sounds like many forms of Christianity to me.

    "The kingdom of God is within you" is a direct quote from the book of Luke.

    God created man "in his own image." Many Christian denominations focus on the brotherhood between Jesus and mankind... hymns say things like "God our Father, Christ our Brother," suggesting the divine nature of mankind.

    The disciples were said to have done miracles... Christ said that the things he could do, they could do... we can do.

    Atheism? Hardly... quite the opposite. In fact, it seems to get to the very core of the teaching of the omnipresence of God--if God is omnipresent, how can God not be within us?

    Many religions, actually, we are accountable, not to a condemning God, but to ourselves and each other. "What we reap, we sow," not because of the condemnation of some great father but because it's the way the world works... Karma and the like.

    This is an aside, having nothing to do with the book: Not all religions even focus on a deity at all. There is Buddhism, for example, many versions of which have no concept of a deity. Nor is "accountability" the focus of all religions.

    Within Christianity there are Universalist Christians (not to be confused with Unitarian Universalists, although some U.U.s are also Universalist Christians) who believe that all eternal future-afterlife "accountability" has been satisfied by Christ's sacrifice and all ultimately achieve salvation, and it is out of the love of God, not the fear of some ghastly future-punishment or "accountability," that we do good deeds and love one another.

    Though... nothing in Dan Brown's book says we're not accountable for our actions.

    Then there's Mormonism, which makes very similar claims about the divinity of mankind... I think atheists and Mormons alike, however, would be quite offended at the idea of suggesting that atheists are Mormons, or that Mormons are atheists.

    If you believe he's "denounced the teachings of every holy book," I suggest that you might want to study more of the holy books... including the Bible, which, as I pointed out, often points to the holy nature of human beings who were created in God's image, and that has been the interpretation of many
    Christian sects.

    I'd also suggest that you study atheism. Atheists scoff at ideas of the "God within all of us." They don't believe there is a "divine" nature, in us, or anywhere. Atheists view us more as, animals, who live and die and have vast imaginations that made up all the "divine" or "miraculous" claims. They reject the notion of soul, believing only in consciousness based on biological existence, which ends at death.

    There's nothing wrong, by the way, with atheism. I just can't think of a single way in which Dan Brown has promoted it. I've read Dawkin's "God Delusion," for example, not to mention "Letter to a Christian Nation" by Sam Harris. Based on my readings of those and my readings of Dan Brown, though I must point out that Dan Brown is fiction, I think that Harris and Dawkins would find the religious claims in Dan Brown's books--to be fiction, not to be that which they believe in.

    It seems odd, by the way, that Dan Brown would promote atheism, considering that Dan Brown is himself a self-proclaimed Christian.

    Here is my own personal belief, in regards to religion:

    I personally have great respect for the diversity of religious faiths in this world. I respect atheists, I respect Christians, I respect Muslims, I respect Jews, I respect Wiccans, Buddhists, et. al. to infinity. I personally don't believe in a God who condemns any group for their beliefs--indeed, if there was an all-powerful God, I believe that God could only possibly want the diversity of belief, because if God did not want it, it simply would not be. My own personal faith is this: I am a Christian and I am a very active Unitarian Universalist who believes in the divinity within all people, in our power to do good and in the power of God within us all, and I believed in that long before I ever read a Dan Brown book. I'm not an atheist, although I have many dear friends who are, and I respect them. I also have many dear friends who are orthodox and/or evangelical, and I respect them. For that matter, I also have friends who are Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan, and Muslim... my neighbor across the street is a Muslim and their family is some of the nicest people I know. The problem I have is when people are hateful towards one another... and I have that problem with people of any faith who are that way.

    I differ, by the way, with the claim made by Robert Langdon in the Lost Symbol (MINOR SPOILER) that religion has three necessary componants: "the ABCs – assure, believe, convert." The quote: “Religions assure salvation; religions believe in a precise theology; and religions convert nonbelievers.” There are many religions, including Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, even Judaism, that reject one or even all of those three premises. I read an article by a Jew that claims that they only do the second: believe. Unitarian Universalists don't even have a precise theology, as we are a covenantal and not a creedal religion.

    Charlie
     
  12. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    I borrowed it from someone instead of buying it. After reading the first sixteen chapters and quitting, I'm glad I didn't buy it. I just couldn't get into it, which is really disappointing. I was so excited. It just didn't grab me like Angels and Demons did.
     
  13. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Charlie, well you're certainly far better versed in this subject than I am. You've made a good point.

    I suppose what I meant was the religion which Langdon discovers in the end "feels" a bit like atheism. It isn't off course. That would contradict the very definition of the word. But to say that we humans are the end point. The top of the spiritual pyramid. The ones with the potential to achive godlike feats. If you peel away our proposed divinty, atheism amounts to the same thing.

    We humans are the endpoint. We're at the top of the pyramid. There's no higher power to be accountable to. We determine our own fate with no other influence.

    I realise now that perhaps Brown didn't dismiss the concept of God in the traditional sense. Maybe this new 'theory' is just an adjunct to what most religions already profess. In which case my interpretation is wrong.

    Still an excellent read though, that's your previous post, and the book itself.
     
  14. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Joker, I think that you have clear ideas about religion but it doesn't mean that this is the only concept of God for other people.

    In particular, it seems that Brown exploited the concept of Divinity gnostic christians, buddhists and deists have, which is immanent in Humanity, not trascendent. There's nothin particularly new in this vision.

    Anyway, if we wanted to find out if Brown is a freemason, we got our answer: he's not, every freemason would laugh at Langdom's statement: "I didn't join because I can openly discuss Freemasonry from outside."

    That's mildly hilarious, and explains why this book portrays Freemasonry as a religion: Langdom doesn't have a clue about the Royal Art but he thinks to have understood it all from outside.
     
  15. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Odd... the book quite clearly portrays Freemasonry as not being a religion.

    Langdon debunks its being a religion with his claim about the "ABC" principle of religion--a claim that many reject, including me, but it was still the argument used to debunk Freemasonry as a religion.

    Charlie
     
  16. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Freemasonry is not a religion, but the book gives (at least to me) the impression that it supporst deist position, which may be true for some freemasons like Voltaire or Fichte, but that it's not universally accepted.
     
  17. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    What part of the book suggested that freemasonery supports deism?

    As I pointed out, the book is quite clear that freemasonry does not support any specific religion or theological viewpoint... the "ABC" thing (which is itself inaccurate, but that's besides the point.) Actually, I don't recall much mention of deism at all except with reference to the views of some specific founding fathers, and certainly not with reference to freemasonery.
     
  18. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Actually, all the arguments discussed in this thread may be considered deistic, of course, it's not necessary to mention deism to expose a deistic concept.

    And anyway, that was just my impression. :)
     
  19. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Just a reminder for those reading:

    This conversation has SPOILERS!!!


    Respectfully, I have to disagree on two counts: one, that we've been discussing deism, and two, that the Lost Symbol the tie between these religious concepts and Freemasonery.

    Deism is the idea that a creator God set in motion the rules of the universe and then departed. This has nothing to do with God being within you, or anything we've discussed. Indeed, some versions of Christianity are closer to that, then is Deism.

    Secondly, the idea is that these ideas are not, what define Freemasonery, but rather, are the views of Peter and Katherine Solomon, and that these ideas are found at the core of many or all religions, not any one religion, and additionally, many centuries ago, a Freemason leader encoded a message, that ultimately ends up translating to "Praise God" into a pyramid, and that, at the base of the Washington monument, various Holy Books were buried by the Freemasons, the "Lost Word." One may get the impression that at the 33rd degree, the concept of the divine power of man is introduced, but this does not suggest that Freemasonry itself is a religion, nor that the concept is considered as anything but symbolic or that the 33rd degree Masons have any particular view of religion. I could imagine a 33rd degree Mason of any religion, including orthodox Christianity (or even an atheistic one) knowing what had been encoded in the pyramid, or hearing about the power of God within us, and still staying true to both his individual religion and 33rd degree Masonry.

    To suggest that the 17th century Freemason leaders buried some Holy Books or encoded a message in praise of God does not suggest that Freemasonry is or was a religion. Nearly everyone read the Bible back in the days when the Capital was being built--including deists, Unitarians, orthodox Christians... but supposedly, a variety of Holy Books were buried there, including but not limited to the Bible, the Koran, etc.

    The parts about the soul, or course, were based on Katherine Solomon's experiments, not on Freemasonry at all.
     
  20. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Actually, it did say in the book that while no specific religion was required, all members did have to believe in some higher power, making Deism a requirement (but not specifically Christianity, Muslim, etc).
     
  21. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    But Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. are not Deism. They're Theism.

    Deism is the belief in a creator God who is no longer active.
    Most Theistic religions believe in one or more active deities.

    Deists also generally reject "divinely inspired documents" like the Bible, Koran, etc. believing that God's nature is determined through reason and intellect, not through miracles or revelation. This is in contrast with most Theistic religions.

    (Deism is also Theism, but it's a category within Theism. Deists are Theists, but Theists aren't necessarily Deists.)

    I do not know whether, in reality, Atheism is compatible with Freemasonry, nor do I recall the Lost Symbol mentioning whether Atheism is compatible with Freemasonry. I came away under the belief that any viewpoint, including Atheism, is acceptable in Freemasonry.

    It may be like my understanding of Alcoholics Anonymous from friends who are members. They do have a thing about "higher power," and yet, they also say, take what you can use and leave what you can't.

    Charlie

    Edit:

    A little quick googling suggests to me that the Lost Symbol did suggest, accurately, that Freemasons must believe in a higher power. I didn't remember that from the book and didn't know that about Freemasons, although perhaps some Atheist Freemasons want to dispute that?

    According to Wikipedia (NOT the only source I read):

    "Regular Freemasonry requires that its candidates believe in a Supreme Being, but the interpretation of the term is subject to the conscience of the candidate."

    This seems in accord to Robert Langdon's statements in the Lost Symbol.
     
  22. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Respectfully, I've to disagree with your definition of Deism: deist philophers, like Voltaire, never believed that God created the Universe and withdrew somewhere minding his business, that was Epicurus' God in Ancient Greece.

    Deists are people who believe in god but they refuse any form of "organized religion or cult". For instance, I could be defined as a Deist.

    About the message, in Freemasonry ther is a legend about a scroll found in King Solomon's Temple, but of course, the message is different, and it doesn't involve the 33rd degree, which is a "rank" of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, a peculiar masonic order.
     
  23. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    From Wikipedia, here's what I'm referring to in this withdrawal of God from the universe:

    "Deists tend to, but do not necessarily, reject the notion of divine interventions in human affairs, such as by miracles and revelations."

    A God who is not active.

    Forgive me for my misapprehension that this is universally believed by Deists. This is what I was told, long ago, when I first heard the term and asked what a Deist is.

    I stand corrected on that point. Deists tend to but do not necessarily believe in an inactive God, and they believe that God is known through reason and intellect, not through divinely inspired books or miracles.

    Nevertheless, Deism is quite different from anything we've been discussing--which was my point to begin with.

    Whatever Deism may be, and whether or not I erred in the details of my understanding of Deism, what we've been discussing throughout this thread--the divine nature of man, etc... is most certainly not Deism. Nor must Freemasons be Deists, nor did the Lost Symbol ever suggest that Freemasons must be Deists. So my main point stands as correct.

    Charlie
     
  24. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    This is correct, Brown did his research well.


    I bolded the word "regular" because there also are irregular masonic organizations, of course, they don't consider themselves "irregulars". According to the tradition, the United Grand Lodge of England is the oldest masonic organization, therefore the only only entitled to define the rules of Freemasonry, called "landmarks".

    There's a landmark that states that the candidate to join must believe in a "higher power", that is not called God because it's called accordingly to the religion of the candidate, but in 1877 the Grand Orient of France, in name of the universal tolerance, removed this landmark, the result is that the UGLE declared the GOF irregular, therefore the GOF made agreements with other masonic organizations and created its own masonic system.
     
  25. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Well, I suppose we agree on that point...

    The rest of your post was interesting and informative.

    It's funny, most of what I've read from Freemasons themselves has been that they liked the book... or if they didn't like it, their reasoning had nothing to do with inaccuracies about Freemasons. It's more about style.

    Personally, I'd like to see Dan Brown use a simile or a metaphor every once in a while. That's one of my biggest problems with his books--he rarely uses these techniques which I love.

    Charlie
     

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