For those of you who don't know of Ryan's blog sight, I recently downloaded the following book review. I thought it might be of interest to many in the family.
His Dark Materials
I just heard that New Line Cinema is making a children's movie entitled, "The Golden Compass," based upon the first book (of the same name) in Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy, "His Dark Materials."
I read the books several years ago, with mixed feelings. Mostly, I suppose, I regret the fact that so great an author, undeniably one of the most talented writers of fantasy I know of, should ruin everything by his lousy philosphy.
First, to do justice to him, I will say I enjoyed the stories. They were incredibly well written with believable characters and a gripping plot. The story follows an orphan girl named Lyra, who mistakenly comes into posession of a golden device resembling a compass that tracks collections of "dust" which Pullman identifies as the "ether" of ancient alchemy and the "dark matter" of modern quantum physics. She embarks on a quest to the north, with the aid of her "compass" and her daemon (a familiar spirit which, in Pullman's world, is an external manifestation of personality traits, not to be confused with demons except by an accidental similarity of sound.) Through this journey she is resisted by a corrupted version of the Roman Catholic Magisterium, she meets armored polar bears, which I thought were among one of the better touches in the books, and eventually finds out that her uncle is using a horrible technology to open a gateway to another universe. The second book, "The Subtle Knife", I think one of the best titles ever come up with, continues the story, and it is finished in "The Amber Spyglass."
The book has its merits from an artistic point of view. I don't even have a problem with his multiple realities theory. A fairy tale is about where that theory belongs anyway. The problem that I have is his explicit, constant, underlying hatred of God, and all religion, particularly Catholicism. The angels just happened to come into being by some sort of cosmic evolution. God is simply the first angel who pretended to all the other angels that he created them and forced some of them to worship him. Satan is the good guy who saw through the hoax and insisted on democracy and equality in heaven. Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular are corrupt, power hungry, murderous beaurocracies that inflict unspeakable tortures on those who will not embrace their philosophies. Lest you think it is all just a harmless fantasy, according to the wikipedia article concerning the movies "the Catholic League has called for a boycott of the film. They believe that while the religious elements of the film will be "watered down" from the source novels, it will still encourage children to read the series, which League president William A. Donohue says "denigrates Christianity" and promotes "atheism for kids", citing author Pullman as saying that he is "trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief."
I don't know if Pullman actually said that. It would not surprise me in the least if he had.
1) these are not children's books. The subject matter is too dark and bloody and there is no clear line between good and evil.
2) They are anti-God books. The grand scope only serves to hide the agenda. In another age they would have been scorned out of existence. In this age of ignorance they are easily clever enough to be seductive. His philosphy is bad, but well concealed behind the story. Even if it was out in the open, he is clever enough to make it sound good to anyone who doesn't have a strong grasp of philosophy themselves.
3) the multiple universe theory, one of the more popular and disreputable scientific theories out there, while definitely fairy tale material, is presented in just such a way as to give it a pseudo-scientific sort of authority that it does not deserve.
4) New Line Cinema, in an attempt to avoid a backlash from religious groups, is watering down the anti-Catholic aspects of the book. I do not think this changes the essential nature of the problem at all. The philosophy is still the same, and the movie will lead people to the books.
5) Unlike other books which are essentially wrong but which may be enjoyed by adults with strong faith and philosophies for the sake of their very real good qualites, I think "His Dark Materials" is not worth being read by anyone. It is a sublime waste of talent. The only appeal the book has is aesthetic. The rest is all bad.
6) I would recomend that all Christians pray for the conversion of Philip Pullman. He is writer of the highest caliber, one who deserves a better master than the one he currently serves.