Apparently, Dan Brown is more afraid of Freemasons than he is of the Vatican.
This review, coming a couple of months into The Lost Symbol‘s run atop the New York Times bestseller list, will be short. Far better reviewers have already offered up more educated opinions of Brown’s latest novel than I can. But my personality disorder — the one that drove me to give up a ten-year career in steel sales for a talk radio job that paid less than half what I was making — compels me to force my opinion into the public arena.
To his credit, Brown has hit on a winning formula. As with his previous novels, protagonist Robert Langdon is called in to solve a cipher that must be unraveled to avert an Earth-shaking crisis. He is threatened by a psychopathic villain, this time a tattooed ceremonial magickian (in the Aleister Crowley sense) with a terminal case of ‘roid rage instead of an albino assassin monk, assisted by a beautiful and brilliant woman, and saves the status quo–which, as in The Da Vinci Code, sort of leaves the book without a real ending. The puzzle is just a big MacGuffin that provides a vehicle for Brown’s theology.
During the five years that Brown researched the craft for his novel, many Freemasons were concerned that The Lost Symbol would fuel the conspiracy theories about their order, portraying them — at best — as Luciferians.
Ironically, that’s exactly what Brown has done.
You see, in Brown’s eyes, Luciferians are the good guys. The big reveal of The Lost Symbol is the New Age teaching, first uttered in the garden by you-know-who, that “ye shall be as gods”. The lost word (which should have been the book’s title) is the Word — as in, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The thing is, according to Brown, we are that word. As a species, we’ve just forgotten that divinity lies within us. But, through proper application of our minds, we’ll soon make a transformational shift into a New Age of enlightenment, health, wealth, wisdom, and peace — apotheosis, elevation to godhood, as in the creepy painting of (Freemason) George Washington on the Capitol dome, which is featured in The Lost Symbol.
And that’s how the Institute of Noetic Sciences fits in. Langdon’s female partner for The Lost Symbol is Katherine Solomon (Solomon? Freemasons? Get it?), a leading researcher in the field of noetic science. IONS, a real organization co-founded by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, is essentially trying to develop a scientific way to facilitate contact with other dimensions — high-tech Ouija, more or less. Christians should know that God has pretty definite views about that. Humans opening portals to the supernatural realm are like toddlers with plugged-in power tools.
Freemasons seem generally pleased with their treatment in The Lost Symbol. The brotherhood is portrayed in a positive light; the Masons Langdon meets are successful, powerful, moral men who believe they’re serving humanity.
But Christian Freemasons who actually think about the message of The Lost Symbol should either be upset at being painted as, well, heretics, or — if Brown’s depiction of Freemasonry is accurate — they need to reconsider their membership.