Christian thinking … about Philip Pullman? by Paul Mathole, Evangelicals Now.
The difficulty here is not that Pullman presents a relativistic worldview so different to Christianity as to be almost irrelevant, but rather that he presents a worldview so close to that of the Bible, but with some vital changes, as to make it seem as though that is exactly what the Bible has been saying all along. It is no surprise that the secular world has been so keen to take the work into the mainstream. A worldview that seems empty, implausible and devoid of meaning in life is not one that the world really wants to sign up to. No, it’s a worldview that appears very close to the truth but has the subtlest of distortions — distortions that allow it to fit that truth to its own desires — that is the worldview that will most readily grasp the world’s attention and commendation.
The Golden Compass — A Briefing for Concerned Christians by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project. Philip Pullman has an agenda — an agenda about as subtle as an army tank. His agenda is nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church. His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear. He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age.
This is not a book review, but rather an overview of problematic spiritual issues in the book. There is much information on Pullman’s agnostic/atheist views elsewhere, so that is not covered here. I feel that any messages in a book can be gleaned without needing to know anything about the author. A book is a mouthpiece for an author; that is why they are written. Art, in the broadest sense of the term, can be analyzed without knowing who the authors, artists, playwrights, composers, etc., are, and themes and messages intended by the author thus discerned. This, I believe, is the fairest and most objective way to evaluate a book. Even if it is true that information about the author can add to an understanding of their work, I prefer to assess things about a book primarily from the book itself.
The Golden Compass: A Primer on Atheism Russ Wise explains The Golden Compass as a primer of Atheism, and presents suggestions of how Christians, especially parents, can respond.
It is noteworthy that Pullman openly allows his fellow travelers of fantasy to know of his deep-seated atheism. However, it is unsettling that he attempts to influence the most vulnerable among us – our children. His goal is to persuade these young minds with dark fantasy and unbiblical ideas about God and his nature. Pullman is a deceiver who presents God as the biblical deity, but then employs a bait-and-switch tactic to disillusion his reader.
“The Golden Compass” – Questions I’ve been asked, answers I’ve given by Jeffrey Overstreet, Christian author and movie reviewer.
Pullman has painted a picture of the church — represented by “The Magisterium” in his stories — that basically reflects only those ways in which the church has abused power. And he has used that selective reflection as an excuse to write off Christianity as a whole.
If Pullman’s work shakes up people’s faith, then their faith was poorly developed to begin with. He points to bad people as a way of saying that the faith is wrong, which is like pointing to a mean-spirited mathematics teacher as a way of dismissing mathematics. For examples of religious folk, he illustrates people who abuse power. That’s not God. And Christ would frown on the persecution carried out by the Magisterium. In the history of the church, followers have Christ have been persecuted and oppressed by others far more than the other way around (although many tyrants have claimed that they come in Christ’s name… grossly misrepresenting the gospel).
So when one of Pullman’s heroic characters, the ex-nun physicist Mary Malone, tells our heroes (in the third and concluding volume) that “The Christian religion is a powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all,” well… she’s not talking about Christianity at all. She’s talking about Pullman’s misrepresentation of the church.
Many reviewers have commented that the Harry Potter series seems especially harmless compared to the Pullman trilogy. Even though Pullman’s books were written first, they were eclipsed by the Harry Potter material. However, I think the reviewers miss the point that the Harry Potter books played a role in paving the way for the widespread acceptance and popularity of “His Dark Materials.” If one can accept a child hero who practices occult arts, what is the next barrier to fall?
The Sweet Deception of ‘Compass’, by Daniel R. Heimbach, Baptist Press, Dec. 6, 2007
The sort of “reality” Pullman wants children to embrace is one in which sinning is the key to moral discovery, temptation leads the way to spiritual life, biblical evil is actually good, biblical good is actually evil, the Serpent in the Garden of Eden is their most trustworthy mentor, and their ultimate enemy is the biblical God — the one the book calls “the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty.”
The Golden Compass by Tom Gilson.
BBC Radio 4: His Dark Materials — dramatisation Links to various radio and TV interviews with Philip Pullman.
Philip Pullman in his own words… Posted at Scholastics, the official UK publishers’ website.
BridgeToTheStars.net Extensive fansite.
The Golden Compass Official New Line Cinema’s The Golden Compass movie website
Philip Pullman The author’s official website.
Scholastic: His Dark Materials Official UK publisher’s website
Random House: His Dark Materials Official US publisher’s website