Monday, December 10, 2007

Ok, I know that this is not really what this Blog and this site is all about (or is it?) but I need to vent:

I am getting sick of all the anti-Pullman propaganda being spouted by Christians. I’m referring to the controversy around the release of the movie The Golden Compass based on Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials.

One of the first problems I have is that Christians state that their problem with Pullman is that he is an atheist who is promoting atheism1. It fascinates me that these same Christians actively promoted Michael Drosnin’s, The Bible Code despite the fact that Drosnin was also a self-confessed atheist who stated when asked if the bible could have been written by a time traveller.

I've thought about it. I don't know. I'm a reporter and can't go past the hard evidence. There is a code, therefore there is an encoder. I don't know who or what it/he/she is.2

I do not deny that Pullman is an atheist who may well have said that “My books are about killing god” but does that mean that children who watch the movie or read the books will want to do the same?

I have read all the books as well as several interviews with Pullman and I have to say that I don’t see what all the fuss is about. In some ways all I see is a kindred spirit.

Pullman’s grandfather was an Anglican clergyman who had a big influence on Pullman after his father died when he was 7 years old. Pullman spent time at church and Sunday school and believed in God as a child3.It was only later that he changed his mind.

I read Pullman’s Dark Materials as an attack on institutionalised religion and, in that, he has my full support. The Church has much to be ashamed of – we are responsible for all sorts of atrocities, not just in the past but currently. One only has to look someone like Fred Phelps to be ashamed of a certain aspect of Christianity. I wish that Fred Phelps’ god was dead – and I think that’s the god that Pullman “kills” at the end of the trilogy.

It’s important to note that the “Authority” that is killed is not actually a god at all and especially not the Creator God of Christian orthodoxy. What is destroyed is an evil organisation and a deceptive and manipulative entity. Surely Christians shouldn’t be upset about that.

Pullman writes fantasy about other worlds and other dimensions. Surely children are not gullible enough to equate those worlds with ours. Please note that when I say children I mean those over the age of 13 (the movie was PG13 in the USA – this has been watered down to a PG rating in South Africa and I’m not sure I support this). I would not allow my 6 year old daughter to watch this movie or read the books simply because I think the violence and themes are too mature for her. I don’t think any child under 10 should be exposed to these images or themes either but that has nothing to do with my “religious” convictions – it has to do with my spirituality and that of my children. And some children can handle mature themes better than others.

Here is a list of some well-balanced Christian views about Pullman and his writing’s, I would advise Christian parents to read up thoroughly before making decisions based on one view-point only: