The Da Vinci Code IRJE: The Fall of the Knights Templar

In “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, Robert Langdon gives his companion Sophie a not-so-brief history lesson about the Priority of Sion. In it, he talks about the Templar Knights and how they came to an end by the schemes of the Pope and the king of France of that time.

By the 1300’s, the Vatican sanction had helped the Knights amass so much power that Pope Clement V decided that something had to be done. Working in concert with France’s King Philippe IV, the Pope devised an ingeniously planned sting operation to quash the Templars and seize their treasure, thus taking control of the secrets held over the Vatican. (p. 134)

It is odd how such a powerful organization was taken down only because the Pope and the King of France were jealous of their power. History is full of these cases were people just destroy entire concepts and groups as to obtain more power. This entire situation even becomes ironic when you discover that the Templar Knights who so strongly held the Catholic values were disbanded by “Blasphemy”. Betrayed by the Church themselves, the Templar Knights came to an end, leaving behind any real authority they ever had, all in order for those who resided in positions of power to retain their thrones.

IRJE #3

In “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, Teabing gives Sophie a lengthy lesson on Leonardo Da Vinci’s opinions on the New Testament; which were not very positive. He then comes to explain how Jesus was named divine, and Sophie was truly shocked to figure out it wasn’t by consensus, but by a close vote.

“Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as “the Son of God” was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.”

“Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?”

“A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added. “Nonetheless, establishing Christ’s divinity was critical to the further unification of the Roman empire and to the new Vatican power base. By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity who existed beyond the scope of the human world, an entity whose power was unchallengeable. This not only precluded further pagan challenges to Christianity, but now the followers of Christ were able to redeem themselves only via the established sacred channel— the Roman Catholic Church.” (p. 197)

I found this piece of the book to clear up many doubts about the Catholic religion I dint even know I had. It makes sense if you think about, at some point in time, people had to decide if Jesus was actually divine or not, and it was likely that people wouldn’t quite agree on such a broad topic. The entire plot of the book revolves about the church hiding Jesus true mortality, so explaining to the reader how the church decided upon his divinity was something you should expect, yet, this piece of the lore certainly caught me be surprise; just like it did with Sophie.

IRJE #2

In “The Da Vinci Code”, by Dan Brown, Robert Langdon explains The meaning of Saunière’s written message: “So dark the con of man.” Langdon then reflects about how the message referred to how the Christian Churches use of propaganda was able to convert the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity.

Nobody could deny the enormous good the modern Church did in today’s troubled world, and yet the Church had a deceitful and violent history. Their brutal crusade to “reeducate” the pagan and feminine-worshipping religions spanned three centuries, employing methods as inspired as they were horrific. (p. 104)

It is very interesting to think as to whether the Modern Church is to blame for the sins committed centuries ago. I found this topic very intriguing when reading the book, specially since this debate has hundreds of different views as to what their sins are and how they should be punished. Though it doesn’t seem like Dan Brown is specifically trying to demoralize the church in “The Da Vinci Code”, it does lessen your view of the church after the books completion.

Personal Writing #3: Influence or Control

I question has come to plague my awoken nights, refusing the passage of any sort of sleep. What truly are we, rulers of our own bodies, or prisoners to our flesh. Any child could answer this question without the batting of an eye. Their answer would likely be that we control our bodies, not the contrary. But as we mature, this answer becomes more clouded with doubt. If we are truly in control, why is it that we feel pain. If we are in control, couldn’t I simply deny the passage of pain. Even better, couldn’t I make myself sad, or happy, or mad. Sure, I can force myself to cry, to smile, or to frown, but I can’t control which emotions to feel. If confronted with that, I child could answer by stating we are only in partial control. Though this answer is valid, putting thought into in might just discredit its intent. If we are only in partial control, then what is it the controls the rest. Do we tell our body what to do, or do we simply influence its actions. Many people have experienced a time in which they were paralyzed by fear. They wanted to complete an action, but their bodies would simply not move. Would this imply that we are but a voice that influences the actions of our bodies, and if we are to believe that, then is it really control that we have over them. These types of questions are what most fascinate me about the study of philosophy, and make me hope and can maybe enter a career in which I can further explore them.

Personal Writing #2: A World in Which the Water Reached the Sky

I woke up to the sound of angry waves that that hit my vessel. I hastily got dressed into my orange sailing suit, it was still wet. When I got up to the main deck, I saw Jason and Kyle, I heard a small comment about how Kyle was still shaking with three jackets on, that had gotten a small giggle out of me, alarming them of my presence.

“Look who decided to join us, you sure slept your quota” said Jason, with his classic smirk. I hated that smirk, but at the same time I admired him for being able to have it.

“Are we in LA yet?” I sighed, trying to shift his focus “Sasha said we would be there by morning.”

“We just got here a few hours ago” Said Kyle finishing his soup before standing up to prepare mine “Sasha and Nico left early in the morning to search for survivors, they told us to stay and take care of you because of what happened in San Francisco yesterday.”

As I heard that, I made my way to the side of the ship, only to see the shadow of the Wilshire Grand Center completely submerged in water, in the distance I saw Nico and Sasha heading our direction on our rescue-boat, but I saw no survivors with them.

“So not even the city of stars could escape the rising of the sea.” I whispered making sure no one would hear me, my voice as heavy as the ship.

Personal Writing: A Pyramid of Greed

It was an absurd idea from the beginning, to build six mastabas, one on top of the other, getting smaller as the structure grew; it was insanity. The orders were crazy, and the workload was certain to break us, but the Pharaoh didn’t care, as they never have. It didn’t matter; I had to work in order to eat. The Egyptians weren’t the type to give you food for lazing around. I remember I used to live with no worry whatsoever about feeding me and my family, but the gods are ruthless, and the floods have no mercy. When my farm was destroyed by the floods, I had no choice but to work for the pharaoh in order to feed my children and my dear wife. I was nothing but a muscle, a tool to carry bricks, to build a tomb that would house the bones of just one man.

It was early in the morning; my wife was asleep, and my kids were searching for something to entertain themselves. They were highly active at this time of the day; I wondered where they got that from—maybe from their dearly departed grandfather, I thought. When I was young, I too wished to be like him—a brave warrior who would protect our lands against those who challenged our divine right to occupy this land. Asim, my eldest son, aspired to be a warrior and serve directly to the pharaoh. Ur, on the other hand, wished to serve the gods as a man of religion. It was my duty as a father to make sure they would live to carry out their dreams. That is why I gathered my courage and walked to the Pyramid Site.

Far from the river, the land was dry, the wind harsh, and the heat scorching. When I arrived at the construction site, I was greeted by Omari, the only one in this cursed place I could call a comrade. He wore white robes with the sigil of our gods, wooden sandals, and brown trousers made of silk.

“Hello there, my brother. Have you rested well? If you lack any water, I would be more than happy to offer you some of mine.” He spoke with a calming tone, his soothing voice alleviating the weight on my shoulders.

“I am alright, Omari. You must save that water for yourself. “Today promises to be a long and exhausting day.” I responded with a stoic expression. “The pharaoh demands the fourth mastaba be finished by the end of season, so Sadiki is sure to increase our chores.”

We chatted for a few minutes before Sadiki interrupted our conversation. Prior to making impossible demands, he declared that all our efforts were to be doubled. Soon after that, we got to work transporting limestone, with a weight capable of crushing one’s soul. How much more time will this take, how much more can I take? I had no idea, but I continued anyway with the faces of my children in my head.

The weight of the rocks was no laughing matter; it took at least 30 men to carry them. The sad reality of it was that sooner or later, some of us would break. The sun had just reached its peak when Gyasi hit the floor. He was a noble man of high morals, but that did not translate into muscle strength. Since he couldn’t even make it to the end of the day before our work increased, it was no surprise that the increase in our work hurt his body so greatly that not even his noble soul could support this burden.

Gasps filled the group when his body fell to the floor, and I could see tears in Omari’s face. Gyasi was very much loved by the workers; his high spirits always made it seem like these dark times would one day pass. None of us could reach him. We had no idea if he was dead or exhausted. We did not have permission to let go of the rock as it would take too much time to pick it up once more. We ended up doing the only thing we could. We walked away and ignored his body, praying so that the gods would help, because we no longer could. This was the dark reality in which we lived. The pharaoh’s greed would bring upon the death of the common people. I could not believe that he was chosen by the gods, at least not our gods. In the end I collected my coin and returned to my home. In my way back, I could not help but think of Gyasi`s family, and of mine if I was the one who had suffered his fate. I purged those thoughts from my mind as I made my way to the market. I left with a pack of playing cards. I think its about time Asim learns to play cards with his old man.

Comparing “They Shall Not Grow Old” with “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Soldier’s Home.”

“They Shall not Grow Old” is an Documentary Film detailing the lives of British Soldiers in WWI. It is a masterfully directed film that grants its viewers a great sense of the day to day life of a average British Soldier before, during and after the Great War. If we contrast this movie with other works we have seen in our classes like “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Soldiers Home”, we can get ourselves a much greater view of what life really was like for Soldiers in WWI.

What sets this piece of literature apart from the other works we have seen, is how it gives the soldiers we have read about faces and voices. Imagery is a very powerful tool for telling stories, and by giving faces to the people we have read about, we can more deeply connect with them and their experiences. I still believe that “All Quiet in the Western Front” does a better job of making the reader connect with a soldiers struggle as it focuses in one particular story, but the Movie “We shall not grow old” certainly gives us a better understanding of the terrible things these soldiers experienced.

The Da Vinci Code IRJE #1

In the my independent reading book tilted The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, the protagonist Robert Langdon is analyzing a dead body alongside Captain Bezu Fache. They talk about how the body was positioned in a snow angel format with a pentagram drawn in the floor. Fache is quick to claim the symbol represents satanism, Robert is has a small dialogue in his mind about how pagan symbols have gained new meaning through the help of the church.

Nowadays, the term pagan had become almost synonymous with devil worship—a gross misconception. The word’s roots actually reached back to the Latin paganus, meaning countrydwellers. “Pagans” were literally unindoctrinated country-folk who clung to the old, rural religions of Nature worship. In fact, so strong was the Church’s fear of those who lived in the rural villes that the once innocuous word for “villager”—villain—came to mean a wicked soul. (p. 30)

This quote affected me greatly during my reading. For me it symbolized how much cultural damage the church has caused to many cultures around the world and I started to wonder how many symbols with such rich meaning came to be associated with evil. The Swastika than came to mind. A symbol that once symbolized fortune and prosperity came to become a symbol of anti-Semitism and dictatorship. I also came to wondered about the Residential Schools in Canada. I don’t know too much about the residential schools but I do know they were taught to abandon their culture. Maybe in this process, the church might have tried to “Satanize” the first nations symbols in order to maybe gain public support. This line of thought was truly terrible, but it gave me a feeling of clarity. It rather embrace a terrible truth than to live with ignorance.

All Quiet in the Western Front and Soldier´s Home Comparison

It is not hard to find resemblances between Paul and Krebs, it is so easy in fact that I don’t even believe its worth to have the aim of this paper focus on how they are similar. Rather, I would like to explore how different they are, and how WWI did not only take their innocence, but also their homes.

From the beginning of Paul’s story, he desperately wanted to hang on to his identity, to avoid losing his home after all of death he witnessed. We don’t know much about the time Krebs’ spent serving, we do know that he visited many major sites where large battles were fought; it isn’t crazy to assume that Krebs also saw just as many atrocities as Paul did. A striking difference between the two is that Krebs does not seam as affected by that as Paul did, so much in fact that while you read “Soldiers Home”, part of you thinks that Krebs wished he was still in the army. This is not to say that the war didn’t affect him, but after what he witnessed, its safe to assume he now thought the only place he could feel at home, was in the battlefield.

Home is a very ironic term used in both stories. Both Paul and Krebs no longer feel like the place they came from is home anymore. This is something in which both Paul and Krebs share a remarkable resemblance. They both don’t quite feel home anymore, they are both misunderstood by their families and both, if you take this in a more philosophical term, never got their home back. Some might say that Krebs got the happy ending Paul was denied, but in my opinion, Paul’s end was much better than the end Krebs got. Though Paul lost all his friends and a man he considered a brother, he didn’t have to live the rest of his live in a society that would never understand him. Krebs was stuck in a place that no longer felt like home, with people who didn’t understand him and with stories people no longer wished to hear.

My Personal Response to ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’

We all have one thing in this world that we like to assume cannot be taken away from us: our identity. Every person in the world is different. Our identity has great significance because of this, which also makes the idea of losing it horrifying. That is why I have nothing but praise for the novel All Quiet on the Western Front. A masterfully written book that does a fantastic job of illustrating how war can strip a person of their identity and reduce them to nothing more than the color of their uniform.

The setting of All Quiet on the Western Front takes us to the cold and harsh reality of German soldiers during WWI. It’s difficult to imagine a more bleak and miserable existence than that of a soldier fighting for the losing team on the front lines of a brutal early twentieth-century-style war. Most of the story occurs either in the front lines or in the camps that lie behind them. While experiencing the setting of this novel, it is easy for one to feel something akin to remorse or even fright. The author does not hold back any punches when it comes to demonstrating the brutal realities of war and how traumatizing they were to those who lived it. I greatly admire how the author illustrates these traumatizing events in such a dark setting while still making them so realistic and believable.

I could spend numerous hours discussing all the great points of this novel, but for me something that really stood out is how to it proposes the idea that one may lose much more than their life in a war, they can lose their friends, they can lose their purpose, but most of all, they can lose who they really are. Identity is a huge deal when it comes to interpreting this book. The phrase “who am I” pops up various times in the book, and Paul brings up questions and statements regarding his identity fairly often during the story. In one such time, while he was on leave, he regarded how much he had changed while in the war, and how foreign his own home seems.

“I imagined leave would be different from this. Indeed, it was different a year ago. It is I, of course, that have changed in the interval. There lies a gulf between that time and to-day. At that time, I still knew nothing about the war. We had only been in quiet sectors. But now I see that I have been crushed without knowing it. I find I do not belong here anymore. It is a foreign world.” (7.173)

All Quiet on the Western Front brings forth the true horrors of losing yourself to a flawed cause. It is my belief that the hidden meaning behind this novel was Paul’s struggle to hold on to his old identity, when, truly; he had lost it before the story even began.

About Me

Hey there, my name is Lucca.

I was born in Brazil and lived there for 9 years before moving to Canada, a place in which I’ve been for over 6 years now. What I do in my free time is way too diverse for a short reflection, but I mostly like to go around the internet and find ways to entertain myself, while also being somewhat productive. I also have ADHD, which makes me very prone to distractions.

I enjoy writing very much, and I have several expectations for English this year, specially referring to any philosophy involved work. Furthermore, I very much wish to refine even further my creative writing skills, specially in the science fiction area, as it is the one I find most difficult to write.