Cramming for the Code

Pulling an all-nighter reading ?Da Vinci,? before seeing the movie.

Illustration: <a href="http://www.zachtrenholm.com/" target="new"><b>Zach Trenholm</b></a>


I always read the book before I see the movie. Right before. Sometimes I
am actually finishing the book as the movie starts, much to the dismay
of the people sitting around me, politely suggesting where they’d like
me to shove the penlight.

I hear it’s a good book, watered down Umberto Eco. Which,
coincidentally, is the way I prefer Eco. So, “El Codigo Da Vinci,” here
I come. I bought it in Spanish to keep it interesting. And, I figure,
better get in as much Spanish as possible before my mother tongue is
banned in a backlash against the “oprima el dos” rendition of the
national anthem. Although, in any language, I love blasphemy.

At the heart of the book, Jesus doesn’t die on the cross at all. He
lives and marries, taking none other than the prostitute Mary Magdalene
as his wife, who immediately puts an end to Saturday night poker games
with the disciples. Apparently, while the resplendently repentant M & M
was washing the Savior’s feet with her tears, drying them with her hair,
kissing them and anointing them lovingly with a balm from The Bethlehem
Body Shop, he was thinking, “This babe’s a keeper.”

And for a guy who was born in a stable, the whore thing–not a deal
breaker. Plus, I understand she was one hell of a tango dancer, with the
best back ochos in the Holy Land. I can relate, in that for once I feel I would do exactly what Jesus would do, under the circumstances.

You’d think that such a controversial premise and Tom Hanks heading up
the cast would be enough to hype a bestseller into blockbuster ticket
sales at the box-office. But just to make sure, the publishing company
pretty much sued itself over the intellectual property rights to its
diluted intellectual property. The legal battle–between two Random House
authors–was over whether or not the fictional book, which was turned
into the movie, was itself lifted too directly from a non-fiction book
based on pure speculation.

Anyway, the judge threw out the suit, saying both books sucked and that
he himself planned on buying a pirated DVD. And just as the court
proceedings fizzled on the grounds that the suit was nothing but a
shameless publicity ploy that could be superseded only by the
suspiciously timed discovery of a long suppressed Gnostic text that
would, like the Da Vinci phenomenon, call into question the history and
foundations of early Christianity, KA-CHING, somebody leaks the “Gospel
of Judas.”

Now, get this. If my second-hand papyrus sources are correct, in the
newly unveiled manuscript, Judas not only isn’t a traitor; he isn’t even
a bad guy. There’s no betrayal. The kiss in the garden is a charade. In
fact, Jesus straight up asks Judas to turn him over to the Romans to
carry out his divine plan, as a favor. They are in early Christian
cahoots, pulling the shroud over everybody’s eyes.

What if both the Da Vinci and Judas versions of events are correct?
Maybe Judas didn’t even hang himself, but actually went on to hang out
with Jesus–who was never crucified–and his wife. I mean, they all could
have headed to France together, with Jesus and Mary’s son, Baby Jesus
Jr., taking great joy in pulling on the beard of dear but shifty-eyed
Uncle Judas.

Yes, in the Da Vinci book, the couple not only has a baby, they spawn a
lineage to the modern day, the existence of which has been covered up
for 2,000 years. This is what Mona Lisa has been smiling about the whole
time. She has a secret. And yes, according to the “DV Code,” Jesus and
Mary relocate to France, begetting baguette-eating descendants, a notion
nauseating many conservative American Christians, who defiantly observe
communion insisting on Patriot Wafers.

To DV diehards, the appeal of the book, aside from a thankfully
Eco-light plot, seems to be that people read it and go, “Wow, the
background of it seems so real. How could somebody make this up?” Versus
their reaction to the Bible, which is, “No friggin’ way! I mean,
Immaculate Conception. Puh-leeezzz!”

But I think, mainly, we can’t get enough of our favorite characters in
new situations. I hope there are at least as many suppressed texts and
gospels and versions of biblical events as there were lost episodes of
“The Honeymooners.” “One of these days, Mary Magdalene, one of these
days… bang, zoom!”

I enjoy all versions, a King James’ as much as a Ron Howard’s. So I’ve
already bought the pirated DVDVD myself, from the lady in the subway who
sells them off a blanket. But I’ll wait till it premieres and see it in
the theater first, because nothing beats the communal experience of
being ripped off as a group.

Meanwhile, I have to get reading, and buy a new battery for
my penlight.