Philip's Reviews > The Gnostic Mystery

The Gnostic Mystery by Randy Davila
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's review
Aug 02, 10

it was ok
bookshelves: first-reads
Read from July 30 to 31, 2010

The Gnostic Mystery attempts to recreate the suspense, and feed off the success of The Da Vinci Code. But whereas reading The DaVinci Code felt like reading a fast-paced (albeit at times poorly written) story, this felt like reading an easy-plot™ thoroughly poorly written piece of propaganda.

*edit – I’m actually ok with reading propaganda – for the record.*

Now, I know “propaganda” is a loaded word – and some have applied it to The DaVinci Code as well, but here’s the difference: when I read D.V.C. I felt like I was reading a story. I didn’t feel like it was attempting to sell me ideas as much as using them as a vehicle to get the story across. The Gnostic Mystery, however, was the other way around; it tries to sell ideas and has a stock plot and stock characters thrown in as secondary features.

Maybe you’re saying they’re both propaganda, it’s just that The Da Vinci Code is just better crafted/ more effective. That may well be the case.

Another reason I felt like it was just propaganda was that 485 people put their name in to win a copy through the goodreads giveaways program, and everybody got one. Davila’s not making the big bucks on that one, but it’s guaranteed readership. Maybe he was just being nice, and if that’s the case, I’m sorry I mistook your motives.

Now, I don’t want to knock Gnosticism too hard because maybe their views are right and mine are wrong. And of all the church doctrines I’ve questioned, I’ve probably questioned canonicity the most. But the logical fallacies, propagandic nature, and poor writing were so bad in this book that sometimes it seemed like Davila was making his own argument the straw man. You can’t throw that much straw around and not have your own argument catch fire. It was so much that I broke out T. Edward Damer’s Attacking Faulty Reasoning to see how many logical fallacies I could find. The task quickly became too overwhelming.

For instance:
Fallacy of the mean: “Literalist” Christians take the Bible too literally, skeptics claim Christ didn’t exist at all. Gnostics take the middle ground – therefore they’re right.

Confusion of the necessary with the sufficient conclusion: Constantine put the date of Christ’s birth over an existing holiday – therefore Christianity is false.

Confusing cause and effect: Eusebius wanted to discredit the Gnostics so he wrote a negative history about them. (vs. Eusebius wrote a history, which was later used to discredit the Gnostics.)

Contrary to fact hypothesis: If the Gnostics hadn’t kept what they know a secret, they’d be the main branch of Christianity; If Constantine hadn’t endorsed the “Literalist” church, the “truth” would be more prevalent; If I would have found a dollar, I would have bought an ice cream cone.

I could go on and on. Guilt by association; domino fallacy; equivocation; irrelevant or questionable authority (the worst in a fictional book – we’re swayed by Chloe, a University of Jerusalem prof. that doesn’t exist); ignoring counter-evidence; exploitation of strong feelings; post hoc; improper accent...

That’s not to say Davila doesn’t make some good points. He does. It’s just that I’ve heard them all before, and they’re not that good.

***Spoiler alert***
***Although I doubt it will actually “spoil” that much for you, as it’s fairly predictable.***
So, a wealthy, intelligent stock-broker goes to Jerusalem to visit his pious Catholic friend who (unbeknownst to him) has become enlightened and sworn off Christianity/all belief systems. He buys a Gnostic scroll – which turns out to be authentic, sees how dumb he’s been for believing such a crock, forsakes his lying Christian heritage and he too becomes enlightened and follows the Gnostic path. Now if all the other ignorant idiots out there could just follow his example. (Like that jerk of a closed-minded “literalist” Pastor we see in the book. That guy was a jerk. He was probably a Baptist. (That’s some sound arguing there though. They won’t change their minds, therefore they’re wrong.)

Moreover, Davila uses logical fallacies as a sort of literary device. He over-emphasizes them in the character of the stock-broker, the unenlightened traditional Christian. You can see that Mr. Stock-broker is employing wishful thinking because he wants his belief system to be true. Alas, it’s not. He’s been lied to this whole time. But no tears, he’s found Gnosticism – the truth.

Hopefully the goodreads-giveaways-gods will forgive the fact that this review is so late and that I didn’t really like the book. Maybe they’ll let me start winning again. ?

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Reading Progress

07/30/2010 page 122

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