Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? Did they have a daughter?

Questions about Christ's love life will dominate debate over the release of the DAVINCI CODE this weekend.

The answers do matter. But what really counts is the story's pagan/feminist core, and its role in the Culture War.

The spin has begun. As freaked-out fundamentalists focus on Jesus's sexuality, and on petty documentary talking points, they'll try to obscure DAVINCI'S lethal assault on the Church's reactionary male theocracy.

What's at stake is not the fine points of documentation and detail. Rather it's the contention that male-dominated Christian/Catholic fundamentalism is a repressive dictatorship that has thrown human life and sexuality dangerously out of balance.

Fiction it may be. But with 45 million copies in print, Dan Brown's DAVINCI is a force of nature. How Ron Howard's upcoming feature film deals with its core content will have significant impact.

Opening amidst the catastrophic failure of the macho neo-con Bush putsch and its moral, spiritual and fiscal bankruptcy, it's no wonder the Church hierarchy is mobilizing Rove-style against DAVINCI'S profoundly subversive truths.

The dramatic vehicle on which DAVINCI rides is a gimmicky Paris-London-Scotland murder mystery filled with riddles and gadgets. It is saturated with Church intrigue and the usual greed. The documentation around which it's constructed is as inventive as it is irrelevant.

For the book's spiritual core---and popular appeal---rests on its invocation and adoration of feminist spirituality and pagan naturalism. With wild invention and literary flair worthy of its namesake, DAVINCI flaunts the heretical, anti-clerical homosexuality of western civilization's leading intellectual superstar. Leonardo's Mona Lisa plays as a coy, cutting smirk, exalting female power and the demand for gender balance.

In its most crucial exposition, DAVINCI cuts to the heart of today's culture war, in which the "tradition of perpetuating goddess worship is based on a belief that powerful men in the early Christian church 'conned' the world by propagating lies that devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the masculine."

The Priory of Sion is DAVINCI's heroic secret society. It worships Mary Magdalene as "the Goddess, the Holy Grail, the Rose, and the Divine Mother." It is dedicated to sexual liberation and a vital balance of the global spirit. It "believes that Constantine and his male successors successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever."

In the words of DAVINCI's protagonist, a Harvard professor, the Grail "is literally the ancient symbol for womanhood, and the HOLY Grail represents the sacred feminine and the goddess, which of course has now been lost, virtually eliminated by the Church."

These are the ultimate fighting words to a rigid, eco-hating fundamentalist movement that preaches sexual repression and violent male domination, whose prelates "claim to speak the truth about Christ and yet lie to cover up the sexual abuse of children by their own priests."

"The power of the female and her ability to produce life was once very sacred," says DAVINCI, "but it posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male church, and so the sacred feminine was demonized and called unclean. It was MAN, not God, who created the concept of 'original sin,' whereby Eve tasted of the apple and caused the downfall of the human race. Woman, once the sacred giver of life, was now the enemy."

For today's right wing, She still is. As it mobilizes to fight this story, that will be the core complaint, no matter how carefully concealed.

"This concept of woman as life-bringer was the foundation of ancient religion," adds another DAVINCI scholar.

"Childbirth was mystical and powerful. Sadly, Christian philosophy decided to embezzle the female's creative power by ignoring the biological truth and making MAN the Creator. Genesis tells us that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Woman became an offshoot of man. And a sinful one at that. Genesis was the beginning of the end for the goddess."

Darwin may have marked the beginning of the end for Genesis. But pagan naturalism has never ceased its struggle against the Church of totalitarian testosterone.

When the film comes out, the talk/gossip circuit will focus on Jesus's sex life. Best would be for Mel Brooks to counter with a sequel showing mother Mary, the sainted virgin (aren't they all?), nagging poor Jesus (oy! a carpenter!) to get hitched, already. And, of course, he will.

For "Jesus was a Jew," says DAVINCI, "and the social decorum during that time virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried. According to Jewish custom, celibacy was condemned."

If so, then what have all these Catholic priests and popes been doing---or NOT doing---for centuries, suffering in what DAVINCI calls the "unnatural state of bachelorhood"?

DAVINCI says Mary Magdalene was pregnant at the Crucifixion, and that she mothered "the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ." But "a child of Jesus would undermine the critical notion of Christ's divinity, and therefore the Christian Church, which declared itself the sole vessel through which humanity could access the divine." So the hate-nature anti-feminists have waged a never-ending Crusade to cover it all up.

Thus the Grail story "is everywhere but it is hidden," something an effective rendering of DAVINCI in a block-buster film could end. Count on the bloviators to blab endlessly about this detail and that document while avoiding like a plague DAVINCI's searing feminist critique.

The fundamentalist right has already gone to war over THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, which dared portray Jesus as being profoundly human (not to mention speaking with a Brooklyn accent).

With DAVINCI, the stakes are far higher. Jesus's sex life is one thing, and the documentation surrounding the plotline yet another.

But it is the pagan gender war that poses the ultimate threat to the hard-right theocracy of today's neo-con nightmare. Small wonder the fundamentalist fanatics are arming for battle.

If DAVINCI the movie gets beyond the petty gossip and Rovian spin, and into the heart of Magdalene's Grail and her liberationist followers, watch for the blood of the patriarchy to warmly flow.

HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available at, as is A GLIMPSE OF THE BIG LIGHT and clues to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail.