Being a mediator at heart, I jumped in and said a couple of things about the book that directed the rhino charge elsewhere and saved Joe from further embarrassment.
Having read a couple of the books referenced in the Da Vinci Code and not having a foot in either camp, I sent Joe a link to an FAQ, that authoritatively and accurately debunks Dan Brown's assertion that "all descriptions of [..]documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate" and are based specifically on the fact that "in 1975 Paris' Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments, known as Les Dossiers Secrets" which reveal the story of the Priory of Sion. (See The Da Vinci Code Faq.)
As I said, I have read a couple of the books that are referenced in the Da Vinci Code and I must say they make fascinating reading and I can understand how they could have influenced Brown to write his book. They are filled with fascinating speculations and intriguing deductions but they are not filled with much in the way of facts.
I re-read the Da Vinci Code FAQ and was struck by the idea that, in all probability, millions of people now believe that the Priory of Sion exists and that Christ was married-with-kids. And all based on the attempts of an impoverished French would-be aristocrat to ascend to the thrown of France followed by the machinations of a TV producer attempting to improve his ratings by embellishing an already outrageous story.
It's a frightening commentary on how gullible people are. Just because a fiction writer says at the start of his book that something is true doesn't mean it is, but apparently millions of people are willing to just accept it without question.
So what has all this got to do with Scientology? Well, if you are foolish enough to start hunting around the Internet for web-sites about Scientology you will find many that say extremely alarming, damaging and downright nasty things about Scientology and the Church of Scientology and, like Dan Brown in his opening note to the Da Vinci Code, they will assert that what they are saying are "facts".
Of course I can simply tell you, "It's a pack of lies" and then you can say, "So how can I tell if your blog isn't just a pack of lies also?" And the answer is that, without further research, you can't.
So, here is what I suggest:
- If you are not interested in further research then please don't believe any of it. Don't believe the detractors and don't believe me. Just stay completely neutral on the subject. Allow Scientologists the same rights as anyone else when it comes to what they believe and what religion they wish to practice (See: Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
- If you are willing to do some further research then buy a basic book on the subject (such as Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health or Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought), read it and then use the practical methods the book gives you to improve your life or the lives of others. At that point you will be able to evaluate for yourself if the subject is valid or not.
- Another thing you can do is go to a Church of Scientology (Scientology Church Locator) for a free introductory lecture or a low priced introductory service. That way you get to see what the subject is, use the practical methods of the subject to see if they work and meet real-life Scientologists so you can observe people who use the subject daily in their lives. Then you can make up your own mind based on personal, first-hand experience.