Monday, March 13, 2006

[Note: In this same entry, you will see first "Faith Works," and just below that, the Booster column "Notes From My Knapsack."]

Faith Works 3-18-06
Jeff Gill

Holy Blood, Holy Plagiarism?

Counting down to "The DaVinci Code" movie in May, there’s an intriguing lawsuit working through the British courts.
The authors of the long in print "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" claim that their book was the basis and inspiration of Dan Brown’s novel, still in hardcover and selling ridiculously well for a slapdash mishmosh of historical error and improbable plotting.
Having read a number of Michael Baigent’s books, I’ll agree that Brown has mined thoroughly the veins of fool’s gold tracing millenias of secret societies hiding the obvious from the uninterested. If you write non-fiction, and a fictional treatment uses your work as basis for a novel which sells more copies of your book long after it would be a remainder table bookend, it seems downright ungrateful to sue because you didn’t get to sell millions more.
(An aside: I thrilled to read the book "Nautilus 90 North" as a kid, the true story of the first US nuclear submarine going under the Arctic ice cap to the North Pole itself; I was startled years later to read "Ice Station Zebra," which lifts nearly verbatim sections throughout to advance the plot of an adventure mystery, and later became a film. But no one sued; they were glad someone read their book and got them a wider audience. And put Rock Hudson and Ernest Borgnine into their movie!)
To sue on these grounds, among other things, implies that your book is well represented by the fictional version. I’m not sure I’d want to point this out.
As we’ve noted here before, there are plot puzzles and factual problems throughout "The DaVinci Code," a book that brags before page one that it is thoroughly based on "Fact." Among others: Jesus wasn’t considered divine until that wacky Emperor Constantine, but Mary Magdalene, his wife (whoops, just gave away a major plot point for the three of you who haven’t read it), is a Goddess. Huh? And the bloodline of Jesus, who wasn’t really divine, right?, is the most important secret in human history, which is why we need to work details about this into all kinds of art and architecture, in order to hide that fact.
Don’t even start on the albino monk thing.
So if you’re reading this, that means that the amazingly all powerful secret societies (that really exist! FACT!) haven’t stopped me from revealing their plot, but Baigent and Leigh may have won a settlement against the bazillions Dan Brown and his publishers have made off of a book that reveals that without women, no future generations can be born.
Okay, then.
Without risking legal action, let me reveal the summary of a secret hidden right out in the open. Call it "The Bethlehem Code."
The House of David, or "Beit Dawid," is foretold to descend through a simple place outside of the Holy City where the most basic of needs is met, a bakery town called the "House of Bread," or "Beit Lehem."
A child born in this place of simple, but necessary work, is called "the Bread of Life" when he is grown, and is broken like a loaf at the dinner table, scattered and gone even before he could be appreciated in life.
Then some claimed that, on the path to an inn near Emmaus, this dead man spoke to them, and they only fully realized his identity "in the breaking of the bread."
And the followers of this child of the House of David is still made known to them through simple elements, bread broken and shared. This act is done is public, but few see clearly the message hidden under the ages of symbolism and mystery. Call it "The Bethlehem Code."

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; contact him through

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Notes From My Knapsack 3-19-06
Jeff Gill

Take a Hike, Save a Planet

Carbon footprints are the hook for a series of ads by an energy business (no, no we aren’t oil companies anymore, really!). The joke is that no one knows quite what they are, and I’m waiting to see if the folks formerly known as British Petrol will answer their question.
Being the impatient sort I want to skip ahead and point out that just as a building’s footprint is the total area it covers including parking and other supportive structures that impact the area, your carbon footprint includes both immediate and somewhat more distant impacts.
We put carbon, a building block of life but a wee bit problematic roaming about on its own, out into the atmosphere every time we start the car or any other internal combustion engine. Products of the burning fuel, exhaust and even a bit of rubber rubbing off on the road, all become our share of the carbon we’re dispersing into the environment.
But when we flip a light switch, there’s some of our share of the hydrocarbons generated down on the Ohio in the coal burning power plant at Cheshire, a town it was cheaper to buy and evacuate a few years ago than protect from emissions. The TV left on all night, the other three glowing slots in the toaster when we put in our single pastry, the bean grinder next to the coffee pot are all adding a smidge to our "carbon footprint."
Add in the products we get "cheaply" from developing world manufacturing where emissions controls are non-existent, and carbon dioxide is the least of environmental burdens they throw off, then you get a true bigfoot mark for each of us on the beaches of the cosmos.
Some years ago there were groups promoting a kind of "carbon diet," starting like most diets with the need to be aware of our carbon output in an average day, just like calorie counting. Then we would work for a rational reduction in simple steps.
A common pair of features in all of these approaches were a) energy reduction strategies, and b) major effort to reduce use of internal combustion. The amount of environmental impact of little engines, especially the two-stroke and recreational variety, is almost equal to the total hydrocarbon and oil release of all American private automobiles.
Snowmobiles, personal watercraft, ATVs, and lawn care put-puts tend to blow pure oil and gas out along with much less combusted fuels and an exhaust that makes your carbon footprint sasquatch-sized. Mowers, blowers, and trimmers are an ongoing problem for groundwater issues right now, as well as atmospheric concerns coming down the pike.
The numbers of those who believe that Mother Nature can infinitely absorb our toxins is shrinking daily, and is already down to a vocal minority working for the industry PR firms. But there is still a large amount of environmental fatalism, fed (in my opinion, and what’s a column for?) by too long a series of failed doom-crying crunchies.
So many see the hint of a problem, but don’t see how they can help, which is where you come in, dear readers. Actually, just checking the air pressure in your dratted tires can make a huge, huge difference in gas mileage over time, which reduces your carbon footprint significantly.
We aren’t going to be herding goats on our prarie-fied lawns for most of us, but we can get our mower overhauled. Just sharpening the blade and replacing the air filter makes a positive impact.
As for trimmers (don’t get me going on leaf blowers), here’s where rational "footprint" thinking comes in. If you trim not only your own, but a bunch of other lawns, then a gas whacker makes sense. A rechargeable battery trimmer is great for a smaller yard and personal use, even if it doesn’t give the same awesome power rush of "vroooommmm!!!!" But if you go "green" with electric and use up three or four in the same lifespan of a gas model, then you’re just wasting resources on the other end.
Footprint, profile, shadow, outline: the logic of all this is looking rationally at your energy use, and making reasonable calculations based on that data as best you can.
At a certain point, you do have to go with instinct and "fuzzy logic." I believe, based on scant data, that all our energy consumption, across the board, would go down if we just walked more. It doesn’t really matter to where or for what reason, I’m thinkin’
Running means more funky shoes and hot showers, and cars I think we all know need more time in the garage to recalibrate their computers; we can’t walk everywhere nowadays, but the walking we can add in is less time in front of computers and TVs, leaves the lights off in the house and makes us more aware of the world around us unmediated by The Weather Channel.
Walking may make us hungry, but it also makes us more aware of our bodies, not as an opponent but as a vehicle that needs maintenance and upkeep. We see where we fit into the world, on a human scale. Somehow, I believe, walking will lead us to better energy choices all around.
And if I’m wrong, you still got a nice walk out of the deal.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he checks email between walks and hikes at