A UFO Digest Book Review
by Gerard Carruthers
Rosslyn Chapel Revealed
by Michael T.R.B.Turnbull
Posted: 16:42 December 26, 2007
If nothing else the hysteria, both misguided belief and fear, attaching itself to The Da Vinci Code has brought one of Scotland's most special places to wide international prominence.
One trusts that the renewed influx of tourists, an annual increase in 2006 from 38,000 previously to 160,000, is helping the expensive upkeep of the architectural cornucopia that is Rosslyn Chapel. One hopes also that for its visitors some appreciation is engendered that marvellous spiritual expression is not the preserve of weird, subterranean, non-mainstream sensibilities, but is more often the hallmark of 'conventional' Christianity.
Michael Turnbull has produced a fascinating book that reinstates the religious history of Rosslyn, both church and area, through its various inflections, Catholic, Episcopalian and Presbyterian. He very succinctly summarises the credulity of those who insist on seeing Rosslyn as an alternative culture loadstar after previously detailing some 800 years plus of local history, and so that the reader is left wondering why there is any need for conspiracy theory in the face of Rosslyn's orthodox Christian exuberance and its cheek by jowl existence with everyday industrial and agricultural reality that is here charted so well.
What is perhaps most generally striking about Turnbull's book is that the aesthetic and spiritual plenitude of Rosslyn, as with the breath-taking natural beauty that surrounds it, is inhabited so easily by ordinary human beings rather than by mystical cognoscenti. The great manoeuvre of The Da Vinci Code (and the 'non-fiction' works in the same vein that preceded it) was to pretend to a kind of populism, letting hoi polloi see that organised Christianity was all a massive establishment hoodwink, while the book itself, with its cast of special illuminati, was actually an elitist-flavoured confidence trick. Also, as G.K. Chesterton might almost have said, in a post-modern age where no stories are allowed to represent over-arching truth, you can make up any 'great tale' so long as it is iconoclastic enough and there will be a queue (especially formed from the most cynical, which these days are most of us) to buy it.
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