Da Vinci Code expert among headliners at Philosophy Society reunion

He has written hundreds of pages of academic and scholarly writing. He is an accomplished musician, philosopher and theologian. But sometimes, when people think of Douglas Hallman, they think of The Da Vinci Code.

Douglas Hallman

Douglas Hallman

Hallman has given numerous talks and media interviews and eventually wrote a book about the Dan Brown novel, a fictional yarn about Mary Magdalene being the wife of Jesus and mother of his child. It wasn’t an association the Brock alumnus (MA ’94) sought out at first. The task of explaining the novel’s facts and fictions was more or less assigned to him when the Niagara Institute of Faith and Culture asked him to speak on the topic.

“It got big attendance because the novel had just been released. People from the whole area attended,” Hallman recalled. “By the time I had finished with all the invited talks, I had about 600 pages. I’m not sure I’d have read the book if I hadn’t been invited to speak on it.”

Hallman will discuss The Da Vinci Code again as one of the guest speakers of the Brock University Philosophy Society’s annual homecoming weekend event this week. More than a dozen speakers will appear over three days for the conference “The Peter, Paul and Mary With or Without Gnosticism.”

Hallman’s talk will be “Theology, Novels and New Age Thought.” He is traveling here from Moose Jaw, Sask., where he is a minister at Zion United Church.

He will discuss not only The Da Vinci Code, but the new age writings of authors such as Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss and Edgar Tolle, who touch on some of the same ideas as Gnosticism. The term “Gnostic” refers to the notion that salvation is achieved through divine knowledge. It centres on the Gnostic Gospels, a series of texts about the teachings of Jesus that were written from the 2nd to 4th century AD.

Many clergy have dismissed the Gospels, Hallman said. But the Gospels – and to a much smaller degree, The Da Vinci Code – touch on a notion of self knowledge and self awareness that is seeing a revival through new age authors like Chopra and Myss.

“They pick up what was lost when we threw the baby out with the bath water,” he said.

Hallman lived in Niagara from 2001 to 2006 and was a minister at St. Davids-Queenston United Church. He returns for Philosophy Society events at least once a year.

“I like the people,” he said. “I like learning and hearing from different people on the same topic, and I really like the philosophical battles that go on. We all have very different opinions, and it’s a marvelous exercise in hearing other views and defending your own.”

The conference is Sept. 16 to 18 in the Sankey Chamber. Other speakers will include Kevin McCabe, Calvin Hayes, Sylvia Baago, Tracy Saunders, Bal Krishna Naipaul and professor emeritus David Goicoechea. For a PDF of full line up, click here.

Biography of Douglas Hallman
Brock University Philosophy Society

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