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A thousand years later, while on a Crusade to Palestine, a descendant of the merchant finally uncovers those secrets below the temple. They include an astonishing parchment that threatens the very foundations of the Church and Christianity. The grand master of the Templars develops a scheme to advance the interests of his order, but the plan has devastating consequences. The parchment survives, however, and for nearly a millennium remains hidden in plain sight. With the dawning of the twenty-first century and pivotal world events, two American professors discover the document while researching a book. Like those before, they are tempted to use it for their own purposes. The course they pursue leads to unforeseen consequences that affect events in the Middle East and a crucial turning point for the Vatican.
Gerald McLaughlin shows us a rich, haunting tableau that spans two thousand years. We are given a timely glimpse into the often-disastrous ways that we tend to deal with faith when confronted by fear and ambition, and how moral choices are made in the face of the continuing battle between good and evil-both in ourselves and in the world. Ultimately, the author shines a light of profound hope and faith into the darkest recesses of the human soul, our modern life, and world events.
"As he approached Ponte Sant’Angelo, Cardinal Barbo saw the dome of St. Peter’s looming ahead. He felt a sudden chill from the Tiber. He could sense a presence moving in the dark waters. As he looked down into the river, the presence was rising to the surface. At first it looked like the face of a young child. But as Barbo watched, the face grew old, and a malevolent smile formed on its lips. He smelled a fetid, almost putrid odor coming from the water and recoiled in terror. When he looked again, he saw the papal crown materialize on the figure’s head...." (from The Parchment)
Posted February 4, 2005
The Parchment is a first novel by noted legal scholar and law dean, Gerald T. McLaughlin, and was written during the long and lingering battle with breast cancer fought by his beloved late wife, largely before The DaVinci Code burst onto the scene. It was not published until December 2004, and it surpasses The DaVinci Code on virtually all literary levels. The book tells a gripping tale, one that is rooted in human nature, world history, and even geopolitics, not in riddles. Its characters are finely drawn, believable, and hold your interest, even though they span centuries and cultures ¿ no (un)willing suspension of disbelief is required. The plot works complicated analogies, as well as illuminating parallels, through diverse institutions, which include the Knights Templar, the Mafia, the Vatican, the Italian Government, the Presidency, the French aristocracy, and Arab-Israeli intrigue in the Middle East. Through it all, the author¿s deep and abiding affection and respect for the Church, which, as one character puts it, survives, is palpable and endearing. The action begins when two scholars working in the Vatican Library come upon a parchment showing first-century census records indicating that Jesus of Nazareth was married to Mary of Magdalene and that they had two children, David and Tamar. The parchment is carbon-dated and validated, after being surreptitiously removed from the library. We are then taken on a magical journey that goes back to first-century Palestine, covers the Crusades, and gives us a glimpse of machinations at the Vatican ¿ even a papal consistory. Throughout it all, the author¿s imagination is remarkable, even for (especially for!) a New Yorker trained in classics at Fordham. Also, I would never have thought that a lawyer would have been able to spin such a compelling yarn having basically nothing to do with the stuff of lawyering, (like courtrooms, investigations, juries and the like), as well as nothing to do with law school (like the law professor entrancing his adoring students and so forth), but this novel really takes us back to a distant world, as well as across the ocean to another land, and it is well worth the trip. #
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Posted April 27, 2005