I've been reading Dan Brown's, "The Lost Symbol". It's fluff reading, but it has been nice to read something non-pedagogical. Just so you know, this is not going to be a book review, or a critique... Anyway, in typical Brownian style, conspiracies abound throughout the book. There are mentions of different groups, but the group that is the main focus of the story is the Freemasons. As I have been reading, I have found myself wondering about secret knowledge, puzzles, theories, etc. I know that like most writers, Brown takes factual information and twists it just enough to make a story more interesting. Just try to get most people to read a treatise on freemasonry, and you'll see what I mean. However, he does make some very good points.
How often do we look at other belief systems and think they are just a bunch of quackery, or mumbo jumbo? Here is an example: Brown describes a special room where a mason can go to reflect and meditate. In this room there are bones, a skull, a candle, a plate of salt, a plate of sulfur, etc. Everything has a specific place and setting, and everything represents something else. Now, many people might find this rather strange. However, is it any stranger than practicing ritual cannibalism, or revering finger bones? I want to be clear here. I am not criticizing any belief systems. I am not poking fun at them, or trying to slander them in any way. What I am trying to do is say that when we look at any beliefs in a certain light, they might sound crazy, but only in a certain light. Change the way we look at things and some of these beliefs don't seem so strange after all. Many Christians partake of the communion. The wine represents the blood of Christ and the wafer represents the body. In a certain light, this could be seen as ritual cannibalism. Relics are revered in many places, and these relics are bones, or hair, or blood. The different objects in the masonic room of meditation represent mortality, truth, light, wisdom, etc, and when looked at in this light don't seem so strange afterall. In fact, these are all things that most of us do seek after.
Now, let me step down from my soapbox. I love puzzles, and I love mysteries... not the detective story, whodunit type of mysteries, which can be fun, but the ones that deal with the unknown, or the hidden. I also love to learn. I love to learn new things. I especially like to learn new things about old things; I just can't can't get enough. I sometimes wish that I was wealthy enough to actually spend my time learning the things that I want to learn, do the things that would help me to learn, and then share that learning with any who would be interested to learn my learning... erm... yeah... Anyway, It's a dream that, someday, may become a reality.
I know that this post may open up some cans that I wish had stayed closed. I also know that there may be some who misunderstand what I have written, and take offence where none at all is intended. I hope that I am wrong.
I guess the ultimate rush for me would be to solve some ancient mystery, or puzzle. I know most people would be more excited to do something like climb Everest, or K2, or go to the moon, etc, but for me knowledge is the ultimate frontier. You can neither have to much knowledge, nor can you have all knowledge. This is wonderful. It means that the adventure can continue forever because there will always be more to learn...