Criticizing Dan Brown's religion-based best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code" has become a growth industry, so retired Rabbi Alan G. Weitzman took a different tack Tuesday in leading a discussion with a small group of bibliophiles at the new Spring Township Library.Weitzman, who teaches senior citizens at Alvernia College, shared his thoughts about Brown's predecessor novel, "Angels and Demons," which has become much more popular in the wake of "DaVinci."Weitzman pointed out that "Angels" and "DaVinci" have a lot in common besides the hero, Harvard professor Robert Langdon.
offered some insights into Brown's character.He's
the son of a math teacher and a musician, which may have inspired his
interest in both codes and the arts.His
English class was once interrupted by the FBI's
looking into Internet threats made by students.
The rabbi talked about Brown's arising at 4 a.m. to work (a reason I'll never be a Dan Brown; there may be others), and his
using an hourglass to schedule his
could have mentioned that Brown likes to hang upside down wearing gravity boots.Weitzman
concludes that Brown, although he
identifies himself as a Christian, is "not a happy camper within any branch of religion, especially authoritative religion."Weitzman
sees in "Angels," which centers on an antimatter discovery and terrorism at a papal election, an attempt to "explain science in such a way that it embraces religion."He
noted, for example, that the pope becomes a champion of artificial insemination.And the man whose murder starts the story is both a priest and a world-class physicist.This may be partly why Publisher's Weekly said the "premise strains credulity."
Brown's villain is presumably reacting to having almost died because his
parents were into faith-healing. (Several in the audience challenged Weitzman's opinion that he
might have been Catholic.)Weitzman
highlighted the motive of revenge, the staple of many a classic, and the apparent disdain for the media, which "will do anything for a story."He
said that in his
own experience in disaster response, "the media is not very sensitive."He
was most critical of the drawn-out finish to "Angels," saying "people don't know where to end."
sees a positive in Brown's work in that he
raises a lot of questions, providing an opportunity for readers to articulate those questions."Faith is not destroyed but strengthened by questions," Weitzman