Novel faiths

The junk food of gnostic stories
At first glance, it might seem that The Da Vinci Code and the Left Behind series occupy opposite poles of the cultural spectrum. The former’s effort to reaffirm the “sacred feminine” with the claim that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife is the sort of reworking of tradition that presumably appeals to far-out liberals. The latter’s unfolding of the apocalypse according to a dispensationalist eschatology presumably appeals to far-right biblical fundamentalists who scour the news for signs that the rapture is coming.

Yet these two publishing phenomena share more than success in the marketplace. As Rodney Clapp suggests (see p. 22), both trade on a fundamentally gnostic premise: that most of the church has been duped and that the real Christian belief is a secret that will now be divulged to the privileged reader.


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