Children’s author Philip Pullman has written a “Dark Trilogy,” the first volume of which, The Golden Compass, is now a major motion picture. Nothing wrong with that, except Mr Pullman is a man on a mission. You see, he is a God-hater, and he wants children to share in his misotheism.
The aim of the books, claims the author, is the “killing of God”. In a 2003 interview he said, “My books are about killing God.” In the final book a boy and girl kill God so they can do as they please.
These books are not just being sold to a few God-haters who can indoctrinate their children. The trilogy, “His Dark Materials” have sold 15 million copies so far, and have been translated into 40 languages. And with the film just recently appearing, starring major Hollywood heavyweight Nicole Kidman, more readers will be lured into this dark world.
Pullman wrote the three books in part as an antidote to the works of Christian author C.S. Lewis, specifically his children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Indeed, he has said, “I loathe the ‘Narnia’ books. . . . I hate them with a deep and bitter passion, with their view of childhood as a golden age from which sexuality and adulthood are a falling away.” He said the seven book series was “one of the most ugly and poisonous things” he had ever read. In an interview with Pullman on December 3, he admitted that he “was arguing with Narnia” in his works.
In his trilogy the really evil character happens to be the Christian church. It is all about authoritarianism, power and suppressing freedom. The good guys are those who oppose the church and want to set up an atheistic utopia called the “Republic of Heaven”.
The film version has played down the religious elements of the book, and how well it performs at the box office will determine whether the other two books are turned into films as well.
The books themselves have been out for some time now (1996, 1997 and 2000), but the December 7 release of the film has of course generated new interest in the author and the trilogy. Many articles have now appeared on the trilogy, and much controversy has ensued.
One New Testament professor from the US offers a fairly balanced look at the trilogy. Leslie Baynes notes that although the series is a work of fantasy, “there is no doubt that Mr. Pullman, a self-described atheist, targets Christianity – and particularly a rather thinly disguised Catholic Church” in these books.
She compares this series with the Harry Potter books and finds some clear differences. “First of all, ‘His Dark Materials,’ unlike the Harry Potter series, is real literature and, as such, deserves serious attention. Mr. Pullman, a graduate of Oxford University with a degree in English, knows his stuff.”
But more importantly, “again in contrast to J.K. Rowling’s books (which were criticized by some Christians for their use of magic and witchcraft), Mr. Pullman’s series is bluntly anti-Christian. In the third book, ‘The Amber Spyglass,’ a former nun tells the two child protagonists, Lyra and Will, that ‘the Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.’ The church and its members do nothing but evil.”
Baynes continues: “The main problem with ‘His Dark Materials,’ however, is not the atheism per se but rather its mindless dogmatism. There is no such thing as an open-minded Christian in the series. Take this quote from ‘The Amber Spyglass’: ‘I met an angel. . . . She said that all the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity. She and the rebel angels, the followers of wisdom, have always tried to open minds; the Authority and his churches have always tried to keep them closed.’ To be fair, Mr. Pullman himself noted in a 2000 interview that this one-sided portrayal is ‘an artistic flaw,’ but there it is nonetheless.”
She concludes, “Mr. Pullman insists, as Dan Brown did regarding his novel ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ that he is only telling a story. Yet surely he, like his character Lyra, knows that a story is one of the most important things there is.”
In an open society, people are free to be evangelists for whatever cause they like, even Christian-bashing and atheism. But parents at least should be aware of what their kids might be getting into with both the film and the books.