Skip to comments.Book Review: His Dark Materials Triology [The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass]
Posted on 11/09/2007 6:07:30 AM PST by Alex Murphy
Evil. This one word describes Philip Pullmans His Dark Materials trilogy. All the more diabolical is the marketing of his books to children. And yet, as Catholics continue to debate Harry Potter, Britains second-most popular childrens author has snuck onto reading lists as award-winning literature.
Critics hail Pullman as a new J.R.R. Tolkien and a better writer than C.S. Lewis. He has won Englands coveted Carnegie Medal, positive reviews from many of the major newspapers, and accolades from the publishing industry. Hollywood is now turning his first book, the Golden Compass (previously titled Northern Lights), into a movie. It is due out just before Christmas.
Who is Philip Pullman?
Pullman, a supporter of the British Humanist Association, is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. He styles himself the anti-C.S. Lewis of childrens literature. He wrote His Dark Materials as a rebuttal to Lewiss Narnia chronicles. While both series feature talking animals and children discerning right from wrong in parallel worlds, in Pullmans universe God is the antagonist while the fallen angels are the protagonists.
Thus many good Christian parents - unaware of Pullmans attempt to proselytize children into atheism - allow these books into their home. Not surprisingly, the only major Christian leader to endorse Pullmans work is Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and the head of the Anglican communion.
His Dark Materials
The series protagonist is a twelve-year-old girl named Lyra, the illegitimate daughter of an adulterous relationship. The relationship ended when her father killed her mothers husband. Adultery and murder are not uncommon in the story. The father of Lyras best friend is murdered by a witch when he refuses the witchs sexual advances. While this theme pops up occasionally in folk tales, the witch is always evil. In His Dark Materials, Pullman portrays her as good.
The Golden Compass begins with Lyra and her daemon (her talking soul in animal form) hiding in the wardrobe of a renowned Oxford scholar. Readers may recognize this parallel to Lucys discovery of Narnia in C.S. Lewiss The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Only Lyra will discover her father (whom she believes to be her uncle) plotting to circumvent an authoritarian power-hungry Church.
Pullman is not subtle. The Church in his story boasts a college of cardinals, a college of bishops, priests, nuns and a Magisterium. Not even Protestants are spared the vitriol of his anti-Christian polemic; Pullmans alternate world saw the early reformers re-unite under Pope John Calvin and move the papacy to Geneva. Thus Pullman corrupts the young reader into believing that theological differences are meaningless among Christians - Christianity itself is oppressive.
Christ tells us that we must have faith like little children if we wish to enter the Kingdom of God. Conversely, those who hate the Kingdom of God often have little use for children. In the telling of Pullmans story, children are kidnapped, drugged, murdered, mutilated, abandoned, and used for occult scientific experiments in which they are severed from their soul. These actions are usually carried out with the Churchs blessing.
It should be obvious to Catholics that all this is contrary to the truth and to the practice of Church teaching. Pullmans Catholic Church is a medieval caricature with the modus operandi of Chinese communism.
Yet none of these outrages compares to the blasphemy central to the storys plot. Pullman accuses God of being a liar. He denies Our Lords omnipotence and eternal presence, stating God was an angel created out of dust - the first angel, but a creation nevertheless - who then lied to the angels that follow, telling them that He was their creator. To ensure there is no confusion, Pullman references all of the names of Our Lord found in Holy Scripture. The series ends with Lyra and her friends attacking and overthrowing Gods kingdom.
Parents are responsible for their childrens moral and intellectual formation. They are their childrens primary educators. Catholic parents should avoid the Hollywood hype surrounding The Golden Compass, lest their children be corrupted by Pullmans message.
Pullman accuses God of being a liar. He denies Our Lords omnipotence and eternal presence, stating God was an angel created out of dust - the first angel, but a creation nevertheless - who then lied to the angels that follow, telling them that He was their creator. To ensure there is no confusion, Pullman references all of the names of Our Lord found in Holy Scripture. The series ends with Lyra and her friends attacking and overthrowing Gods kingdom.
I have defended Harry Potter (the 'Dumbledore is gay' thing bothered me quite a bit, though). I'm not a book-burner by any stretch of the imagination. And I don't propose censoring Pullman's books. However, I will say bluntly that they are vile. He hates the good. He admires evil.
It is a very bad idea for children to read these books or see the movie.
That's not Pullman's idea. That's someone else's idea. And there's little doubt in my mind who that someone else is.
Creating warped counterfeits of what is good is an ancient Satanic tactic.
Just about every day for the past 3 weeks I have received an email warning about the upcoming movie. I think the word is out and I hope the movie fails miserably.
Creepy stuff. Everything I read like this convinces me more and more we are in the last days.
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Golly! He IS bad, isn't he?
Pope John Calvin and the Vatican in Geneva. Interesting sense of ecumenism there.
When I first heard of Pullman, someone described him as an "anti C.S. Lewis", and since then there has been much comment on that. In a way, it shows the continuing relevance and power of Lewis' writing - that someone would parody him like this. But I don't like it.
Well, I guess in every bad storyline there is bound to be a little bit of hope. :O)
ping for later
In case you missed the point of it not merely being anti-Christian in general but anti-Catholic in particular; the enemy in the story goes by the nomenclature of “the Magisterium”.
Tell any serious Catholic you know.
Very odd for someone who believes God is non-existant, to hate Him so much. I for one know of no one who hates Santa Claus like this....
Pullman frankly sounds vile and evil—anti-Christ if you will. No one would have such motivation against a phantom; clearly Pullman knows God exists, and so therefore hates Him all the more....
This new militant atheist crowd ironically proves God’s existence more than the “I don’t know & I don’t care” agnostics.
This His Dark Materials series is different. It is really evil. It is sufficiently well-written that it will stick around for a while. I don't say that lightly; I say that as both a fairly traditional Catholic and a HUGE Harry Potter fan (yes, I have been known to go to the first HP movie shown in the area at midnight, yes I get the book the day it comes out, etc). I saw great parallels in HP to Christianity and generally good morals: sacrificing oneself for one's friends, love and goodness and RIGHT being important, etc.
This book is precisely as the author described it. Frankly, a lot of kids nowadays won't read Lewis' Narnia series because it is "too long," has "too many hard words," or "just doesn't make sense." By kids, I'm not talking about 9 or 10 year olds (I read the series at that age). I'm talking about TEENAGERS. Kids are brought up on the literary equivalent of cotton candy (quick pleasant taste then gone) instead of meat and potatoes (thank you, NEA!) and then we wonder why this stuff takes hold as it does. For another example, see that moronic Secret book.
Go to a different movie (made by a different studio) on the opening night of this disgrace. Go to your local bookstore and buy the full Narnia set and L'Engle's Time series over Christmas. Frankly, most businesses don't give a rat's posterior about morals, and spreading lies about religion (even better if it's the Catholic Church, and hey, if you can feed kids bad information on various other Christian churches who agree with the Church on 90% of doctrine AS WELL AS the Catholic Church, so much the better!) is cool at the moment. Those same businesses DO care about their bottom line. If they see the Narnia series or the L'Engle series selling as well or better than this nonsense, they'll give more shelf space to the good stuff. Finally, encourage your kids to grow up to write GOOD children's literature. By good, I mean comparable to Lewis in its beauty and simplicity and meaning and, frankly, level of writing. Most of what is published now for children is either meaningless and sugary drivel or (to a much smaller degree) meaningful but poorly written material.
Am I cynical about such things? H*ll yes.
It is generally true that when one wishes to attack Christianity in-general it is the Church they target, not just because of its antiquity but because of its claim of catholicity. The adversary and his followers know what their enemy is, and they know that Christian unity is the most dangerous aspect of it. This was true right from the beginning; for example the adversary did not tempt them both at once, he did it individually and for a reason. Division is his strength, not ours.