Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Philip Pullman apparently missed the entire 20th century (new book attacks the Church)
Insight Scoop ^ | March 27, 2010 | Carl Olson

Posted on 03/28/2010 11:38:51 AM PDT by NYer

In at least two ways.

The background: The author of the His Dark Materials books has now written a book about Jesus. The Guardian reports:

Using the four Gospels as its source, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, which will be published on Wednesday, has the naive young Mary giving birth to twins after a visit by a mysterious stranger claiming to be an angel.
Hmmm, how clever: Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde meets the Four Evangelists. Per the usual rewritings of the life of Jesus (now taken on by approximately 5,267,201 authors, of whom 83.54% deny the existence of Jesus), Pullman relies on the four Gospels while seeking to undermine, subvert, and dismiss much or most of what is in the Gospels. Thus, Pullman's book "contains manipulated versions of familiar episodes from the Gospels, including the Wise and the Foolish Virgins. According to Pullman: 'I think my version is much closer to what Jesus would have said. The version in the Gospels is so different from what he said usually.'" This is something like the Jesus Seminar on crack—which is akin to a drunk on crack—when it comes to biblical scholarship. (It is really just a riff on the old "historical Jesus" vs. "Christ of faith" debate. Yawn.) Think of it: Pullman denies that the Gospels aren't accurate in recording Saying A of Jesus because it doesn't seem similar enough to Sayings B, Q, and Z, which also appear in the Gospels, but which are accepted as being more legitimate says so.

In other words, Pullman's book wouldn't exist except for the Gospels, but exists in order to destroy the Gospels. Nifty. Just another form of deicide, which Pullman is fixated on (he once said, "My books are about killing God".) It is, in other words, a microcosm of viral, Christian-bashing secularism in the West, which spends much of its time attacking Christianity and denouncing the Church while living comfortably off of the political, cultural, and social achievements of Christianity and the Church.

Which brings us to the first example of Pullman's lack of knowledge of the 20th century (a lack that is quite strange considering Pullman spent the first fifty-four years of his life living in that particular century):

At a climactic point in the story, Jesus condemns the idea of a church, saying it would cause the devil to "rub his hands with glee" and predicting that "from time to time, to distract the people from their miseries … the governors of this church will declare that such-and-such a nation or such-and-such a people is evil and ought to be destroyed … and they'll raise their standard over the smoking ruins of what was once a fair and prosperous land and declare that God's kingdom is so much the larger and more magnificent as a result".

"He is really speaking for me in that section," said Pullman. He added: "Of course I don't condemn speculative thinking, or organising people to help them do good, or setting up hospitals or giving hospitality to travelling strangers or educating people. But we have seen very recently how some aspects of all this can go wrong. People can abuse power.

"The greatest excuse in the world is that 'God told me to do it': hence the Crusades. Once you are appealing to an authority that can't be checked, you are doing something dangerous."

Wrong, flat wrong. The greatest excuse in the world for mass killings, despotism, and utopian hell is not, "God told to me do it," but, "I can do it because there is no God." That, in essence, was the stance and slogan of Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, and other mass murderers who together killed tens of millions in the 20th century. For example, in a speech given in October 1920 to the the Russian Young Communist League, Lenin said,
In what sense do we reject ethics, reject morality?

In the sense given to it by the bourgeoisie, who based ethics on God's commandments. On this point we, of course, say that we do not believe in God, and that we know perfectly well that the clergy, the landowners and the bourgeoisie invoked the name of God so as to further their own interests as exploiters. Or, instead of basing ethics on the commandments of morality, on the commandments of God, they based it on idealist or semi-idealist phrases, which always amounted to something very similar to God's commandments.

We reject any morality based on extra-human and extra-class concepts.
Lenin was in power from 1917-1924, and it is estimated that he was responsible for the murder of four million people. In the course of just a year or so (1932-3), Stalin's forced famine in Ukraine and other areas resulted in seven million deaths, and historian Robert Conquest estimates that during the Great Terror of 1935-38, another five million were murdered. To put that into some perspective, a fair estimate of those who died during the Crusades, over the course of two hundred years (1095-1291)—a substantial number of them soldiers and combatants—is somewhere between one and two million. So, let's give Pullman some credit for stating the truth when he says, "People can abuse power." The fact that this is as obviously true of atheists, agnostics, dog catchers, and opera singers as it is of Christians shouldn't diminish Pullman's minor accomplishment, should it?

The second point is one I suspect I'll return to once I learn more about the book or (ugh) read it myself:
"I also read Acts and the Epistles and I was intrigued to see how much more Paul was occupied by Christ than by Jesus. I found this very interesting, and wanted to tell a story emphasising the separate qualities of Jesus and Christ, so I decided to make them into two characters."
In a previous 2009 news piece, Pullman said this about Paul:
'By the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs. 'Paul was a literary and imaginative genius of the first order who has probably had more influence on the history of the world than any other human being, Jesus certainly included. I believe this is a pity.'
Wow, why hadn't someone ever thought about Paul in this way before?? Well, why? Oh, wait, they have. In fact, there was a huge passel of (mostly) German scholars who did just that, beginning in earnest in, oh, the 1840s. A number of them got really worked up about the theory that Paul had fiendishly kidnapped, reworked, or otherwise "transformed" the story of Jesus for his own twisted ends. Although Friedrich Nietzsche was not a Scripture scholar, he drank deeply from that well and summed it up rather memorably when he wrote that Paul
represents the genius for hatred, the vision of hatred, the relentless logic of hatred. What, indeed, has not this dysangelist sacrificed to hatred! Above all, the Savior: he nailed him to his own cross. The life, the example, the teaching, the death of Christ, the meaning and the law of the whole gospels—nothing was left of all this after that counterfeiter in hatred had reduced it to his uses. Surely not reality; surely not historical truth! . . . Christianity is the formula for exceeding and summing up the subterranean cults of all varieties, that of Osiris, that of the Great Mother, that of Mithras, for instance: In his discernment of this fact the genius of Paul showed itself.
As I explained in a recent article for This Rock, "Did St. Paul Invent Christianity?" (July-August, 2009), this approach to St. Paul was quite popular—in the late 1800s and into the mid-1900s. While it still gets some attention among a few academics and much more attention from conspiracy-theorizing popular writers, it isn't taken seriously by Scripture scholars (as opposed to sociologists, anthropologists, and DanBrowniologists) for a number of reasons, some of them mentioned in my article.

Pullman, in short, is following in the footsteps of his celebrated atheist brethren, who, as Dr. Edward Feser points out, "are supremely self-confident in their ability to dispatch opponents with a sarcastic quip or two. And they show no evidence whatsoever of knowing what they are talking about." While Feser, a philosopher and the author of The Last Superstition, focuses on the serious philosophical deficiencies found throughout the popular works of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Co., the same observation applies to Pullman and his understanding of history and Scripture.

Philip Pullman's neo-Gnostic faith (December 6, 2007)
"[H]ere is the man who killed off God." (December 3, 2007)
Philip Pullman's childish atheism (November 2, 2007)

TOPICS: Current Events; Moral Issues; Theology
KEYWORDS: atheism; christ; god; gospels
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-30 last
To: fidelis may be right.

21 posted on 03/28/2010 1:37:23 PM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo...Sum Pro Vita. (Modified Decartes))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: SumProVita

You do have a point...I just want to get scrappy with them...LOL

22 posted on 03/28/2010 1:38:38 PM PDT by hstacey
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: hstacey

I totally understand. ;-)))

23 posted on 03/28/2010 1:39:45 PM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo...Sum Pro Vita. (Modified Decartes))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: NYer
And for those who say ... “it’s just a novel”

Just wait - it'll be quoted as gospel on here soon enough.

24 posted on 03/28/2010 1:54:53 PM PDT by Lorica
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: pnh102
Funny how Pullman conveniently ignores the cause of the Crusades. But I guess in his worldview, the violence brought upon by religions other than Christianity is A-OK.

Certainly. I notice that the spread of Islam by the sword through the peaceful Christian nations in the 700-900 AD era is unnoticed by Pullman. The conquering of entire of north and eastern Africa - ditto. The two attempts on Vienna, so what?

Why? Going against Islam will get you beheaded in the streets. The Hindus will smile and then ignore you. It doesn't matter to the Buddhists. And so on. You get the most bang for the buck going against the Church. The most noteriety, the most publicity, and the most money.

25 posted on 03/28/2010 2:34:38 PM PDT by MarkBsnr ( I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Lorica
Just wait - it'll be quoted as gospel on here soon enough.

I check on some of our friends' churches' websites on occasion. I'll let some folks know if any of this garbage turns up.

26 posted on 03/28/2010 2:37:07 PM PDT by MarkBsnr ( I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Oh, my!

27 posted on 03/28/2010 3:10:48 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hinckley buzzard

***A lot of people believed the “Davinci code” was true, too. ***

Like my worthless brother-in-law (If you know him he probably owes you money).

28 posted on 03/28/2010 3:27:06 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Obama's vision for America...Green shoots and skittles, where pancakes grow on fritter trees.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: NYer

soetoro down with it

29 posted on 03/28/2010 7:09:33 PM PDT by onedoug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SumProVita
Noticing the increased attacks on the Catholic Church lately?

It's just the annual Holy Week attacks...nothing to get upset about. Satan's rage is greatest now.

30 posted on 03/29/2010 8:50:47 AM PDT by nina0113
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-30 last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson