Local Opinion Editorials


Wow, for the first time in my life I happen to live in a locale that figures quite prominently in a major best selling novel and blockbuster movie. Istanbul, Turkey is not exactly Waynedale, God bless it. This is the city of kings and empires. Constantine sat upon his throne in this city, when it was known as Constantinople, and declared Christianity the religion of the Byzantine Empire. In AD 537 Emperor Justinian commissioned the building of the massive church called Saint Sofia that still stands…we see it every Sunday when we drive across the Bosphorus on the way to an international church service. Just to the south of Istanbul stands the town of Nicea on Lake Nicea. We visited it couple of years back. My family ate kebabs and looked out the window at the ancient weathered brick walls of the church where the church fathers composed the Nicean Creed. Back in Istanbul I regularly go shopping in Kadikoy, formally Chalcedon, the site of another major meeting where church leaders wrote out what they believed was true about the Christian faith.

Asia Minor isn’t only about Christian history. A while back I toured a museum here where I saw a statue of Artemis, the fertility goddess of the ancient Greeks. It’s hard to forget seeing Artemis because she has an excess number of…how can I say this in polite company…breasts. Honestly I can’t remember how many extra because I didn’t count. The Greeks worshipped her fanatically; you never know where the next Artemis statue will be unearthed.

One interesting thing you notice when you tour Saint Sofia are all the mosaics, dating back to the time that Dan Brown claims the church started making a political effort to oppress women and the alleged marriage of Jesus. But the mosaics convey a different story. Of course there is Mary, the mother of Jesus, who gets a lot of “screen play.” But there are other women illustrated in the mosaics as well, like the Empress Irene, and the Empress Zoe.  Only her third husband even made it into the mosaic. Women weren’t exactly oppressed, maybe celebrated would be a better description.

But what with the early church facing competition from the worship of the multi-breasted Artemis wildly popular across Asia Minor, replete with all its temple sexual rites and rituals, should we be surprised that they took extra care to avoid the appearance of licentiousness?  It’s ironic that Dan Brown’s “revelation” of Christianity sounds very like the accusations about the church the Communists used to make in Russia and persecutors of the church in the Middle East still make. They like to speculate that the faithful gather in small groups, turn off the lights, undress, and engage in immorality. If you are going to sling mud, might as well be juicy, right?

The problem is that the mud doesn’t stick. The Mediterranean has seen more than its share of over-sexed religions. Christianity apparently was so successful because it offered something different from the outset, a radically new community of Jews, non-Jews, men, women, slaves, even barbarians experiencing equality and dignity. This new community took hold and grew like wildfire in contrast to the sexually indulgent Greek and Roman religions at least partly because it held up a new morality, one based on genuine love and respect of one’s neighbor, whether male or female, rich or poor. I’ve found that the evidence available in such a historically rich place gives a lot more credibility to Christianity and a lot less to fanciful notions like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

The Waynedale News Staff
Latest posts by The Waynedale News Staff (see all)

Ron Coody

Our in-house staff works with community members and our local writers to find, write and edit the latest and most interesting news-worthy stories. We are your free community newspaper, boasting positive, family friendly and unique news. > Read More Information About Us > More Articles Written By Our Staff