Using the pen name Simonides, former Kootenay-based periodical publisher R. Harry Langen first wrote a novel concerning ancient mysteries of The Bible, entitled The Living Avatara, that he believes was plagiarized by Dan Brown as the inspiration for his global bestseller The DaVinci Code, released seven years after Langen's self-published work. Langen calls it "the literary theft of the millennium." He traces the alleged theft to a period when Brown and his wife were living in Bangor, Maine, during which time Langen had a revised copy of his novel prepared for a print-on-demand version in Bangor.

Although Langen repeatedly tried to get legal representation in Canada and the U.S. to take his case, claiming his fiction has been "harvested" by Brown, he was told that ideas cannot be patented, only words--so even if Brown did borrow some of Langen's concepts and ideas, he could not be prosecuted. The Living Avatar was republished by Langen, as Lightstream, and has since been revised as The Dead Sea Revelation. Brown believes Dan Brown was most influenced by the Lightstream version of his novel.

Here follows Langen's own promotional material for the The Dead Sea Revelation.

"The mysterious disappearance of a Jesuit scholar in a cave by the Dead Sea . The secret of DaVinci's The Last Supper. The visions of a spiritually gifted Nootka chief. The revolutionary religious concept of a young geneticist. The boy who danced with birds.

"How are these strange things and unusual circumstances connected to Father Gregorios Benedictus, the intellectual leader of the stately St Michael's Retreat on Vancouver Island ? What compels him to abandon his comfortable lifestyle and defy Mother Church ? What great secret is he about to uncover which could shake the very foundations of Christianity? And what could possibly explain the appearance of three moons over Havi'iki?

"Gregorios's dramatic pilgrimage is abetted by young people of courage. Sam Lewis, his 24 year old protégé and favorite ex-student and 18 year old native seer Eddie Greywolf as they are charged to find the missing priest by the caves of the Dead Sea and secure the Testament of Yusef, father of Yeshua.

"And criminology student Sarah Negev in Israel and art restorer Celeste Cloutier in Italy are instrumental in helping their daring cause. Unbeknownst to all, a deadly plot is set in motion to prevent Gregorios from bringing to light this revelatory material.

"Inside this tightly wound storyline a stage is set for remarkable dialogues which touch upon the frontier of genetics as related to the spiritual affairs of both the individual and humankind. Concepts of 'original grace' and the 'inheritance of perfection' are introduced and their stunning ramifications examined.

"Voices of angels, mystic dancers and epic dreams all contribute to a sense of awe and wonder as Gregorios encounters the living avatar."

Having moved to Vancouver as the publisher of Mining.NOW, Langen has retained the character of seminarian Gregorios Benedictus for a second novel, a prequel, entitled Dreams from Purgatory, largely set in Vancouver's Kitsilano area and Vancouver Island from 1967 to 1970.

"One reckless act has cost 19 year old Devon Baird his freedom and threatens his very sanity. He languishes in prison convicted of drunk driving and vehicular homicide. Deeply resentful of authority and now with guilt consuming him, he contemplates his morbid end. But completely out of the blue comes a letter from a young seminarian, Gregorios Benedictus, doing his Catholic duty offering himself as Devon's pen pal. Their ensuing dialogue comprises the text of Dreams from Purgatory as Devon challenges Gregorios at every step, even to throw Gregorios into confusion about his own convictions and beliefs in Mother Church and its teachings.

"Their lives hang in the balance of this vital discourse which is transpiring during the revolutionary heydays of the late sixties when intellectuals threw everything on the table for examination. While young men's bodies are being shipped home in caskets from Vietnam, and American scientists are landing a man on the moon and students are rebelling against all things conventional, Devon and Gregorios become caught up in the swirl of their times embarking as they must on a risky adventure which may cost each of them most dearly."


The Living Avatara: A New Theology: The Adventures of a Righteous Teacher (Nelson: Eden Publications 1996) / revised and republished as The Dead Sea Revelation (Vancouver: Eden Communications 2006).

[BCBW 2009] "Fiction"