We interrupt our series regarding Maureen Dowd’s review of The Lost Symbol to report some late-breaking news.
The publication of Dan Brown’s novel, The Lost Symbol, provoked a wide range of reactions, judging from the comments left on the Dan Brown Facebook fan page. Many people who left comments were overjoyed, and really loved the book.
On the other hand, a significant fraction of commenters—I’ll call them ‘the star theorists’—were less than pleased. Several individuals had predicted for months that The Lost Symbol would address one or another theory regarding such topics as the line-up of Washington DC streets with certain stars, supposed charts with kabbalistic or other mystical significance encoded in the street layout of DC, the decoding of ancient mystical manuscripts associated with King Solomon, even the type of theories about ancient astronauts long linked to the name of Erich von Daniken.
But that’s not what they got.
Instead, readers of The Lost Symbol got an adventure story that was deeply steeped in the symbolism and values of Freemasonry. This bothered the star theorists no end, even though Brown had said for years that his book would involve Freemasonry.
And so the grumbling began. Some of these people said that the Masons must have ‘gotten’ to Brown somehow, to keep him from revealing the important star map secrets that are supposedly held by the Masons. Some used accusatory tones to claim that Dan Brown himself was a Mason, as though that were some kind of crime.
Well, now the mystery of Dan Brown’s choice is solved. As reported in a post on Christopher Hodapp’s excellent blog, “Freemasons for Dummies,” Dan Brown sent a letter that was read out at a gathering held in connection with the biennial session of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the Southern Jurisdiction, held earlier this week in Washington, DC. (Some of the meetings were held in the very Temple Room at the House of the Temple that plays such an important part in the beginning and at the dramatic climax of The Lost Symbol.) As I understand it, the background of the letter is that Dan Brown had been invited to address the biennial session in person, but with Dan Brown having a heavy travel schedule, a personal appearance was impossible; he sent the letter instead.
In his letter of October 6, 2009 (photo above), Dan Brown said the following, in part:
In the past few weeks, as you might imagine, I have been repeatedly asked what attracted me to the Masons so strongly as to make it a central point of my new book. My reply is always the same: “In a world where men do battle over whose definition of God is most accurate, I cannot adequately express the deep respect and admiration I feel toward an organization in which men of differing faiths are able to ‘break bread together’ in a bond of brotherhood, friendship, and camaraderie.”
Please accept my humble thanks for the noble example you set for humankind. It is my sincere hope that the Masonic community recognizes The Lost Symbol for what it truly is … an earnest attempt to reverentially explore the history and beauty of Masonic Philosophy.
This is the reason why Dan Brown made Freemasonry central to The Lost Symbol. He respects the fact that Freemasonry encourages tolerance of religious differences, that Masonry fosters fellowship and even friendship across the lines drawn by different religious affiliations. He expresses thanks for the “noble example” that he says Masonry sets “for humankind.” In a sense, by depicting this example, he is trying to improve the world.
So that’s the story, folks. Dan Brown is not engaged in some kind of rule-the-world conspiracy. I see no evidence that he deliberately suppressed evidence that would have supported or propagated the ideas of the star theorists. He had something more important in mind:
Encouraging peace in this world.
Thank you, Mr. Brown.
Basic questions about Freemasonry can be addressed to the author, either through a comment here, or through the “Freemasonry 101” blog.
I discuss the basics of Freemasonry in my book, Freemasonry: An Introduction, which will shortly be available again through Amazon; interested readers may ask to be notified of this availability through sending me an e-mail at email@example.com .
I shall have a great deal to say about Freemasonry as it is depicted by The Lost Symbol in two places:
• one of my two chapters in the forthcoming book edited by Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, Secrets of The Lost Symbol, which you can read about here;
• my own forthcoming book, Discovering The Lost Symbol: Magic, Masonry, Noetic Science, and the Idea that We Can Become Gods. (Publishers’ and agents’ inquiries are welcome!)
[The image of Dan Brown’s letter was obtained through a post, “Dan Brown and Why Freemasonry,” dated October 8, 2009, on the "Freemasons For Dummies" blog, which is authored by Christopher Hodapp.]
(Copyright 2009 Mark E. Koltko-Rivera. All Rights Reserved.)