Robert Lomas, inspiration for Robert Langdon:
(Link compliments of The Daily Grail.)
There's also a couple of new and interesting posts from Greg Taylor's Lost Symbol site:
The Boing, Boing article (cited by Greg's post) definitely echos my own sentiment as expressed here:
"Greg, thanks for the excerpt. Other commentators have so far avoided the subject of "The Lost Word" and its centrality in the novel, but not you! Hope the major booksellers will include your updated and expanded Guide with their Dan Brown spread.
The architects of Freemasonry captured at least a flavor of the pagan Mystery Religions in their own rituals, but any knowledge shared with its members is certainly laughable by today's technological standards (as today's will be in another 300 hundred years). It is also debatable how much actual enlightenment any of the ancient cults offered their initiates. Certainly they induced the ecstatic "born again" experience long before it was bogarted by Christianity. But knowledge was never for the masses. What the common man needed was a grand delusion delivered to them under the guise of love. Why resort to coercion when a royal subject can be made to eagerly trust and obey the powers that be? Christianity was not by any means the first cult to pervert the innate human capacity for love and emotional release. Tapping this power had practically been reduced to a science by the time of Jesus!
Dan Brown plays up Gnostic ideas about truth and the divine, however the book's ending seems to be equating "The Lost Word" to the Christian Bible rather than suppressed Gnostic Scriptures. There is in fact a strong Gnostic undercurrent in the Bible itself (for those who have eyes to see it). But, the Christian Bible is in fact just as lost upon the vast majority of its readers as any other ancient text.
I call Christianity an anti-initiatory cult. The more devout the Christian is, the more ignorant they become. There is no reward, at least intellectually, for the Christian seeker. Christianity is self-described as a "Mystery", but not one that its adherents can ever hope to solve! You have to forsake the religion in order to probe the inner sanctums of its "divine architecture" and discover the illusion (i.e., pious scam).
The people responsible for Scripture were “architecture freaks”. In an age of limited technology, much importance and passion was applied to monumental building. Monumental writing also received much the same planning and artful fabrication. The structure of sacred writing like that of sacred buildings was multi-purpose. It could accommodate the holy and the mundane, and house both grave and comedic themes. Temples had outer courts, inner courts, and holy places. Likewise, in religious literature words, names, and sequences were chosen carefully in order to convey various levels of meaning to various audiences. To gain access to the higher levels, one had to have the appropriate privileges, which in the "Old World" invariably meant royal status.
Knowledge in the "New World" has not been attained by royal inheritance or by Gnostic self-absorption. Neither is much good for achieving progress! Yet, what is often lacking in the modern world of materialism are good, cheap, safe, legal forms of ancient escapism. Power to the protons, free the electrons, walk away from your atomic bonds. But get your sorry butt up and go to work tomorrow if you still need to!
... and bully-bully to Greg for making ME get off my "sorry butt" and register so I could post another comment!!
Seriously, I do applaud Greg for making the Dan Brown phenomenon even greater. And I don't see why Greg shouldn't profit in doing so.
The Lost Symbol is ostensibly a cheesy beach novel ill-published well after summer was spent. So why should we run the risk of over-analyzing it? Uh, um, it's got to be because the theme is so bloody well worth it. The importance of Freemasonry has nothing to do with male chauvinism or its Halloween Horror Nights rites or even protection of lucrative trade secrets, but its place in history as an underground movement promoting progress and resisting royal monopoly.
Has Dan Brown blown it by making something as mundane as the Bible the "hidden treasure" of his latest "suspense thriller"? Very likely. It was a huge gamble. Is the world ready to take off the initiate's hood and perceive the deeper message of the "Word of God"? I don't think so. Do poorly adapted free thinkers need another new secret society? Quite likely! Unfortunately there aren't any new continents for them to flee from tyranny and set up shop. Oh wait, how about Antarctica? Pray for global warming (or at least the survival of a free Internet)!
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.