Saturday, August 28, 2010

365 Challenge, Day 42: Life, the Universe, and Everything

In Douglas Adams' science fiction masterpiece, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, supercomputer Deep Thought is tasked with discovering the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. After 7 1/2 millions years, Deep Thought finally determines the Answer to be "42." Unfortunately, The Ultimate Question itself remains a mystery.

I had a racquetball date at the Jewish Community Center this morning. Camera in hand as I walked down 16th Street, I expected today's photo to be a shot of the JCC, or perhaps the racquetball courts within. Instead, I found this church...

And in front of it, a sign that stated the following:

What Is The Connection Between
Dan Brown's
The Lost Symbol
and Church of the Holy City?
√ p, 463, 12th line from the bottom!

Having read the book prior to leaving Orlando, I certainly couldn't remember any sort of connection between the two. "The Lost Symbol" was the only book in Dan Brown's Robert Langdon trilogy to not feature the church prominently. I had assumed this would be a good thing, as I recall neither "Angels & Demons" nor "The DaVinci Code" painting Christianity in a positive light. So what, then, could be contained within the pages of this third novel that warranted attention? Since my copy of the book is currently housed in a storage facility somewhere in Maryland, courtesy of the US Department of State, I headed to my local Barnes & Noble to find out.

To provide some framing for what you are about to read, I will say that this (very minor) plot point revolves around a threat by the story's antagonist to release an edited (and thus, out of context) video to the media that demonstrates a number of rituals sacred to the Freemasons.

"With the exact model number, Nola had been able to cross-reference compatible carriers, bandwidths, and service grids, isolating the laptop's most likely access node - a small transmitter on the corner of Sixteenth and Corcoran - three blocks from the Temple."

That's it. Really. That's what all the ballyhoo is about. That was boring. I already knew that the church stood at the corner of Sixteenth and Corcoran, as would anybody that passed by. That couldn't be what the sign meant, could it? I doubted it, so I read further.

"Nola quickly relayed the information to Sato in the helicopter. On approach toward the House of the Temple, the pilot had performed a low-altitude flyover and pulsed the relay node with a blast of electromagnetic radiation, knocking it off-line only seconds before the laptop completed the transfer."

That didn't tell me anything, either. So instead I decided to look the church up. It took some digging to find just what type of congregation one would find at Church of the Holy City, but I finally discovered that it is part of the National Swedenborgian Church.

Like me, your first thought was probably, "The what now?" Sadly, Wikipedia offers more information about the church than the official website. Click here to learn more.

Emanuel Swedenborg has been compared to Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith in a number of ways, including their mutual reference to the highest heaven as "celestial," in concert with the usage of the apostle Paul (Corinthians 15:40-42).

Now, given the fact that three other structures share the corner of Sixteenth and Corcoran, I feel that the church's perceived connection to Dan Brown's book is just as flimsy as this blog's introductory paragraph is to the body of the text, but there you go.

And at least this is Day 42 of the 365 Challenge.

  • The angle in degrees for which a rainbow appears
  • The eight digits of pi beginning from 242,422 places after the decimal point are 42424242
  • In Judaism, the number of the "Forty-Two Lettered Name" ascribed to God
  • Fox Mulder lived in Apartment 42 at 2530 Hegal Place, Alexandria, Virginia in Fox's The X-Files
  • Major League Baseball player Jackie Robinson's jersey number
  • Number of gallons in a barrel of oil
  • 42nd Street is a popular movie, musical and thoroughfare in New York City
  • The number of illustrations in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

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