The Da Vinci Code All Over Again

Sabar investigated the seller of the artifact—a shady German fellow named Walter Fritz, whose varied exploits and proclivities make the characters in the Da Vinci Code seem downright conventional. A university dropout and part-time pornographer, Fritz managed to fabricate a Gnostic artifact that duped one of the world’s leading experts on early, extra-canonical Christianity, plus enough of her peers to satisfy the Harvard Theological Review. How did this happen? Perhaps the appeal of Gnosticism, for a certain type of scholar, made this artifact too good to check. Continue Reading »

The Devil on the Charles

Memorial Hall is the ugliest building on the campus of Harvard University, in my view. Built in the 1870s, this Victorian monstrosity is situated between the stately columns of Harvard Yard on the one hand and the Science Center with its modern design on the other. Students frequently gather in the Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub in the basement of Memorial Hall. It was here, on Monday evening, May 12, that the Harvard Extension School’s Cultural Studies Club had planned to reenact a “black mass.” A black mass is a grotesque, sacrilegious ceremony in which the most sacred rite of the Catholic Church is deliberately mocked. Satan and his pomp are invoked, often in Latin, and a consecrated Eucharistic host is desecrated, often in vulgar, revolting ways. That Harvard would host such a bigoted event was a surprise to many. Continue Reading »

A Holy Calling: To Keep Truth Alive

His real name was George Pease Williams, but to ward off insensitive school-yard taunts as a young boy he constructed a more elegant middle name for himself, and this is how he was known for the rest of his life: George Huntston Williams (1914-2000). When I arrived at Harvard University in 1972, he . . . . Continue Reading »