Summary: In Teabing’s limousine, Langdon again contemplates the poem: “In London likes a knight a Pope interred / His labor’s fruit a Holy wrath incurred. / You seek the orb that ought be on his tomb. / It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.” Gently mocking Langdon for his lack of comprehension, Teabing interprets the poem to refer to the crypt at the Temple Church, off Fleet Street, built by the Knights Templar. The Temple Church’s crypt holds ten tombs, one of which Teabing hopes will be visibly lacking the orb the poem mentions. Langdon supposes the orb will contain the password needed to open the second cryptex. Sophie asks Langdon what he thinks they should do with the Sangreal documents should they be located. Langdon reminds her that Saunière entrusted the truth to her, not to him.
Analysis: At last, as readers widely versed in the thriller genre have no doubt been anticipating, this chapter gives us our first overt hint at a romance blooming between Langdon and Sophie: “…Langdon felt an unexpected flicker of attraction between them” (p. 368). Any romance, however, is subordinated to the ongoing solution of puzzles. Such is the case, of course, throughout the novel—a somewhat ironic dynamic, perhaps, for a book that focuses so much on the sexual union of male and female!
Many theologians, let alone people of faith, might object to Langdon’s flat assertion in this chapter that “every faith in the world is based on fabrication” (p. 369). Although Langdon is apparently alluding to a famous definition of faith offered in the Bible—“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1, KJV)—that definition does not actually support the symbologist’s conviction that faith equals the intellectual “acceptance of that which we imagine to be true” (p. 369). The biblical definition of faith, in contrast, refers to the human response evoked by the reality of that which cannot be seen—which cannot, in fact, be empirically proven (it agrees with Langdon on that much). Langdon’s definition of faith seems to be much closer to that once offered by Mark Twain: “Faith is believing what you know isn’t so.” Nor would many people of faith identify with Langdon’s casual comment, “Those who truly understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical” (p. 370). Adherents of many of the world’s religions might acknowledge that while some of the content of their faith is symbolic and metaphorical, it can not all be reduced to such status. Nevertheless, neither Langdon nor Dan Brown is interested in being theologically orthodox! Langdon wants to find the Grail—and Brown wants to write an entertaining novel. And Lagdon’s conversation about faith and religious truth with Sophie does keep alive the important caveat that symbols, when construed overly literally, can lead to close-mindedness and arrogance—the root causes of the marginalization of the feminine and the violence of the world against which the novel protests.