Reading His Dark Materials Series

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Reading His Dark Materials Series

Postby TopazRaven » Thu Nov 04, 2010 10:49 pm

Ok guys, not trying to create controversy here, just have a quick book question. A few years ago I bought the book The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman which is in the His Dark Materials series. I've also seen the movie. Personally I loved the book, especially the talking polar bear. xD

However, I've heard the last book is very anti-Christian? I've heard specific things about the ending like God dies or something? Sorry if this would be considered a spoiler. That has to be the silliest thing I've ever heard though. I'm kind of stuck on wither I should buy and read the last two books now? I don't like starting an series and not finishing and I already own the first book, but I don't know now. Is this God in the book really supposed to be our God, the God of the bible? Aren't these books all just silly fiction writing? Has anyone else read the books? I've heard Pullman makes God, the church and Christians all out to look evil. Is this true? I'm so far behind on this issue I know. I haven't been a Christian for long. I remember I heard about the controversy over the movie when it first came out and thought it was an over reaction, but I understand it now. I'm really open to reading different things, but the whole killing God thing is a bit much, isn't it?
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Postby ChristianKitsune » Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:42 pm

I have not read these books personally, but I have heard that Phillip Pullman is very much anti-Christian/religion. And he wrote these books as kind of a retaliation to the Narnia series by C.S Lewis. To show a different side. (Narnia is an allegory about Christianity.

Here's an article that kind of takes all those rumors and kind of says where they come from and whether they are true or not (it is according to this)
http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

So...with this in mind, use your judgement. Is it OK to read a series where "God" or an allegorical view of Him is killed? I have no idea... I wouldn't read it personally, with that knowledge. However, I know people who HAVE read it and found out later that's what it was and they seemed to not be totally bothered by it because that's not how they interpreted it before.

But yah.. I guess keep Philippians 4:8 in mind:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


(Also this might be meant for the books section xD)
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Postby Midori » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:59 am

Moved this to Book Corner. Wish I had something to say about the book. :)
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Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:29 am

The Northern Lights is a great book. The Subtle Knife is good too but half-way decends into bashing God and his followers. The final book, The Amber Spyglass reads like an angry rant/atheist propaganda piece from a non-believer. It's petty and confrontational. Pullman has some honest things to say about blind belief and people of faith doing horrible things. The problem is that this understanding and behaviour is shown as typifying Christianity, rather than being the sad majority (and not what God would want of us). From everything I've read about Pullman, he sounds like a bitter man with a vendetta against the Christian faith. That said, he has some very interesting ideas in his books. It's just a sad case of affairs that he ruined the last half of his trilogy trying to prove how horrible God and Christians are. I don't recommended the series to children of any age but a person who's reasonably mature in their faith should have no problem reading it. Just realise that, as a Christian, you will find much to disagree with. And that's okay.

To answer your questions, yes, the God in the series is suppoused to be our biblical God but Pullman doesn't believe in him, so he portrays him as a poser; an angel who wanted a name for himself. Fiction is fiction, yes, but some fiction is still harmful. You have to work that out between you and God. Hope this helps.
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Postby rocklobster » Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:18 am

I think the best argument against Pullman comes straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. Here's his own words on what this whole monstrosity is about (I admit, I did find his writing good. That's the problem. It's really sad that he's using his god-given talents for this dark and evil purpose.) I will also offer my own counters to what he said, to give you a good point/counterpoint if you feel the need to defend yourself.
Pullman on the Republic of Heaven:
[quote="Phillip Pullman"]"Firstly, a sense that this world where we live is our home. Our home is not somewhere else. There is no elsewhere. This is a physical universe and we are physical beings made of material stuff. This is where we live. Secondly, a sense of belonging, a sense of being part of a real and important story, a sense of being connected to other people, to people who are not here any more, to those who have gone before us. And a sense of being connected to the universe itself. All those things were promised and summed up in the phrase, 'The Kingdom of Heaven'. But if the Kingdom is dead, we still need those things. We can't live without those things because it's too bleak, it's too bare and we don't need to. We can find a way of creating them for ourselves if we think in terms of a Republic of Heaven. This is not a Kingdom but a Republic, in which we are all free and equal citizens, with –]
In other words, when we die, we just decay. Nice.
Pullman on Religion:
[quote="Phillip Pullman"]"When you look at organized religion of whatever sort –]
So as far as Pullman is concerned, Christianity is evil and oppressive. He neglects to see that God gives us a choice whether to follow Him or not. He neglects to see that God is love, and cannot be evil, because evil is not of God. And, by the way, if Christianity is evil, how do we account for the good that has resulted from Christianity's influence: respect for each other (including women, who are oppressed in Islam), charity, concern for others' welfare. I'm sorry, but those are good things, Pullman, not bad. I do not think a person like say, Mother Theresa, or St. Peter is evil.

Pullman on C.S. Lewis:
[quote="Pullman"]"When you criticise Narnia, what you're doing, I've discovered, is not what you think. You think you're offering an opinion about the literary or moral qualities of a work of fiction. In fact, unless you offer unqualified and unstinting praise, you're blaspheming. His followers are unhinged. I got two kinds of responses to my Guardian piece: half of them said Hoorah, you've said exactly what I've been feeling for years but never dared say]
Here's what I say. There is a lot of character development on Susan that shows us that she is beginning to turn away from God, if you know where to look. She is often the first to doubt Aslan, for instance. Lewis is not saying that God does not want you to mature. If he didn't want you to mature, he wouldn't have created puberty. You can be mature and still follow God. As St. Paul said, "When I was a child, I thought as a child. Now that I am an adult, I put away childish things." (could someone tell me where that verse comes from?) In other words, as an adult, you follow Him as an adult would, with the experience maturity provides. Besides, all the other members of the Pevins family are also adults at the time of The Last Battle. Susan's refusal to remember Narnia shows that she has turned away from God, not that she is mature.

Here's the article I got the quotes from http://www.bridgetothestars.net/index.php?p=pullmanquotes

Note to mods: I presented Pullman's views to help with the discussion. If I have committed an error, I am sorry.
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Postby Atria35 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:09 am

Okay, I've read all three books.

While the first book, you wouldn't be able to tell that his stuff was specifically against Christianity- just against those who abuse power. In the second it goes more against those who abuse religion.

The third book does do what W4J says- it's no longer a story, it's a rant against Christianity. I mean, I read it anyway because I had to find out what was happening, but those bits really were annoying. Not because it wasn't anything that I haven't heard before, but because it lessened the impact of his books by about a billion. I had really enjoyed it until then, but those criticisms were out-of-place, forced into the work, and sometimes just seemed silly. Which was a shame.

I think that Rocky has more passionate feelings about this. I mean, there are lots of authors out there who write about Christianity and it's flaws. And that's okay- I mean, even different denominations tend to find fault with eachother. So it's perfectly understandable that a non-believer would find and even resent those flaws. It seems that really the only reason that Pullman gets the attention he does is because he aims is books at teens.

But- and I always have to laugh about this- that's because the criticisms he puts in there are so blatant- and usually not even criticisms, half the time they're just charaters saying that it's bad!- that it just seems downright stupid to adults that he could only write like that for teens, who tend to be less discerning about quality of writing!
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Postby shooraijin » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:00 am

Note to mods: I presented Pullman's views to help with the discussion. If I have committed an error, I am sorry.


No objection as long as they are portrayed accurately (I trust someone will interject if they are not).
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Postby goldenspines » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:34 am

Fiction is only as real as you make it, I think. Every view of a story is subjective depending on where you are in life.

In the case of Philip Pullman's books, it's hard to interpret them any other way now that people know about his views on life and stance on religion.

The books are, for the most part, okay if you can read them with a mostly unbiased opinion, but nowadays, because of all the harsh criticism some Christians have given the books (not uncalled for, but sometimes over-exaggerated imho), the writing is almost forced to be seen a certain way because of Pullman's beliefs.

Did Pullman intend to make an attack on religion with his books? Probably. But that hardly matters too much in the long run.

If you don't read the books from the view of Pullman trying to attack religion, the series presents an interesting story. Though, I will admit the last book takes a turn for the worse in terms of writing quality. I think he rushed a bit too much on the last book and the writing was sloppy.
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Postby CrimsonRyu17 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:39 pm

goldenspines (post: 1435424) wrote:C.S. Lewis originally wrote the Narnia series planning to disprove Christianity (but as you can see, he did not succeed, and it eventually did the opposite).


But Lewis converted back to Christianity in 1931 and began writing Narnia in 1949. I've never heard of such a statement.
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Postby goldenspines » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:10 pm

CrimsonRyu17 (post: 1435489) wrote:But Lewis converted back to Christianity in 1931 and began writing Narnia in 1949. I've never heard of such a statement.


Ah, odd. I must be mistaken then. I thought for sure I had read that somewhere. But after further review, you are correct. Sorry about that. Thanks for pointing that out for me. ^_^

*goes to edit post*
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Postby Cognitive Gear » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:26 pm

Strangely, I tried to pick up and read this series before I had heard about the overall theme of the series. I put the book down after 3 chapters, as I just wasn't really drawn in by the writing style, which I tend to be pretty picky about.

I did eventually watch the recent movie adaptation, and despite the movie offering me many unintended laughs, the world itself was actually pretty interesting.

All of this is to say that I wouldn't recommend the series, regardless of it's themes.
[font="Tahoma"][SIZE="2"]"It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things."

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Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:53 pm

I didn't like the movie at all, besides Nicole Kidman's character. It felt like the story and characters had been neutered as to not offend anyone.
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Postby Yamamaya » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:05 pm

Phillip Pullman once insulted LOTR under the premis that Tolkien was a Catholic, thus his books were stupid. He claimed he made evil and good too black and white.

Pullman fails to notice that his own books represent a battle of sorts between "good" and "evil." He also fails to realize how much Tolkien hated allegories which is exactly what Pullman's books are.

IMO, Pullman isn't worthy to even be mentioned in the same light as Tolkien. 50 years from now, Pullman will be forgotten while Tolkien will still shine.

(Not to mention Pullman's new fictional book about Jesus really really irves me).
Actually I recall reading something that Lewis disliked people who looked down on their childhood as being all foolishness hence the character Susan. CS Lewis also hated allegories :P
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Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:36 pm

No. C.S. Lewis didn't hate allegories, he just didn't write them (except the Pilgrim's Regress a modern verison of the already allegorical Pilgrim's Progress).

It's true that Pullman's series depict the battle between good and evil but he has witches etc. as the good guys and the Church and 'God' as the bad guys. Very post-modern of him.
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Postby TopazRaven » Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:04 pm

Well thank you everyone for letting me know! I think I might still in least rent the books from the library or something. My curiousty is getting the better of me.
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