The Holy Grail is the most controversial thing in all of history. Does it exist? What is it? Who is it? When did it first appear? Will it ever be found?
Tammy’s personal beliefs first.
Do I think there is a Holy Grail? Complicated question but the short answer is no I do not believe there is or ever was a “holy grail”. That does not mean I do not believe that the Apostles and early Christians did not honor and value objects once held by Christ. I believe that there was no such need for a “holy grail” to exist. Those individuals who were close to Christ, such as the Apostles and his family, had no need to save a cup from a shared meal. There connection to Him, was immediate, personal, and physical. Early Christians who didn’t personally know Him, were still not so far removed from those who did. There would have been shared stories, memories, and emotions. These people too would have very little need for a physical object.
I, as a Catholic, do believe that Jesus was married. He was a typical Jewish man of his age and for a man to have remained unmarried would have been a social anomaly that would have been commented on by contemporaries. Do I know to whom He was married? No. I also believe that marriage would have resulted in children. Does that mean I believe that there are genetic descendents of Jesus walking the earth today? It is possible but I, in no way, believe those possible descendents are any more holy than the rest of us. I believe in the Holy Trinity and I believe that when Jesus and his wife had children, they were children of God like all of us but they were born of the human side of God on Earth. I cannot fathom God would become man and then procreate ancestors and leave no mention of them or no special purpose if these ancestors were divine.
Grail brief history:
Perceval, the Story of the Grail by Chretien de Troyes tells the story of the Quest for the Grail for the first time. The grail is not described as holy but only as a golden serving dish. The story is written some time between 1181 and 1191, well after the founding of the Knights Templar. The story follows the adventures of two young knights, Perceval and Gawain. Considered part of Arthurian literature, Perceval, the Story of the Grail is the first known source of the concept of the Holy Grail.
Modern literature has focused on the grail as well. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is the most famous modern day work about the holy grail. The book is an absolute brilliant work of fiction but it is just that fiction. It takes the readers on a wonderful romp through Europe in search for the grail only to come up empty handed at the end. Brown explores the concept of the grail being a human descendent of the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
The story of Perceval and the quest for the grail is so interwoven in our lives that it is impossible to conceive of a world that does not contain the concept of a holy grail. There are books, movies, songs, faiths, quests, professions, and poetry dedicated to the concept of the holy grail.
Modern culture and society has lost their connection with one another and their spiritual nature. Dave and I are just as guilty. I will admit, I miss going to Mass. Dave offers to go several times a year but I know it makes him uncomfortable. I also know that his parents are uncomfortable that Dave married a Catholic girl. But truth is that is what I am, even if that relationship is less formal these days and more personal.
Modern day grail quests provide people hope that there is some tangible connection with God still left on earth. It provides hope that at the end of lives the seem meaningless, there will meaning. That need has existed for the thousand years since the first grail quest was penned, and will continue to exist until the end of time.
Human beings are spiritual creatures that have an innate need to believe in something. That need takes many forms today: God, science, consumerism, atheism, or technology. I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t believe in something to the very core of their being.
Unfortunately, America Unearthed treats Dan Brown’s fiction as if it were fact, citing passages from the book as if they were reality. Seriously, what self respecting academic, scientist, or thinking person takes a piece of fiction and treats it as if it were fact?
Dan Brown has a great quote from the book’s main protagonist Robert Langdon, “Widespread acceptance of an idea, is not proof of its validity.” If only the world would remember that and understand it’s meaning.
Of course, Scott Wolter would argue that the quote applies to history as it is taught. But Wolter’s assumption would quickly be shot down because history is taught on facts not ideas. Facts are irrelevant to the show however. The shows most common phrase is “I believe…” and then he goes on to spout another ludicrous theory without fact, history, or science to back up his belief.
The program should have been shown on Comedy Central and not the History Channel. It contained no history, no facts, no hard science. It was a comedy of errors based on one man and his axe to grind against those who have proven the claim to Scott Wolter’s “fame” to be a fake. His disdain and disgust for academia and mainstream historians and scientists comes through loud and clear with increasing intensity through out the program.
In the end, the program is a sad chapter for the History Channel, Scott Wolter, and historians every where. Unfortunately, given the pervasiveness of television in popular culture the nonsense spouted by Wolter will gain a foothold and be taken for fact.