Kids & Parenting
A compass with no moral center
by Jim Hutson
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An open attack on Christianity and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is hidden well in the most innocent of media, the children book genre. And one of the biggest opponents of such Christian authors as Lewis and Tolkien is the voice of 'reason' and 'impulse' of this series written to jar the world loose of Lewis' Narnia and Tolkien's Middle Earth fantasy realms.
Philip Pullman, labeled in one article "the most dangerous author in Britain", is unashamedly promoting his series as a direct attack upon God. "My books," Pullman remarks in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, "are about killing God." Pullman, banking apparently on the announcement of his series to propel his agenda of open literary warfare upon the Christian realm, expressed disappointment. "I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak," Pullman complains, "Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said." True, when set side by side, the Harry Potter series is, by far, the lesser of the two evils. And apparently, with the help of New Line Cinemas, Mr. Pullman is making up for the oversight made by "America's Bible belt" back in 2003, when he was interviewed for the Herald article.
According to Steve Meacham, the reporter of the piece entitled "The Shed where God Died", His Dark Materials (the series title that contains the book, The Golden Compass, as its first installment) is Pullman's reworking of the 17th century classic poem, Milton's Paradise Lost, disguised as a children's adventure story. Pullman is attempting to rewrite the biblical story of Heaven's battle for control.
Mr. Meacham calls Pullman's creatures "some of the most magical creatures ever devised" without realizing that all Pullman has done is put an atheistic and agnostic bent to well known 'mythical' creatures that abounded throughout literary history. Creatures like a "King of the armored bears"; "a gas-balloonist-aeronaut", a "Shaman", "dragonfly-riding spies", and two homosexual angels have been well represented in other formats and literary tales. "A rich tapestry of characters," Meacham states, "with only one common quality: in the moral maelstrom of Pullman's multiple worlds, you're never sure who is on whose side." Meacham hasn't apparent read Pullman's material, as Pullman himself stated, "My books are about killing God."
With the well documented agenda, Pullman ensures that his take on the battle for the moral fabric of our children is popular for the targeted audience with the candy of the fantasy genre. At least Meacham realizes that Pullman's series is about "the heretical notion that there was once a war in Heaven, and the wrong side won."
Pullman takes the journey through life; a transition from innocence to experience, where knowledge triumphs over the fragile structure of ignorance, and distorts it into a transition secure in nativity where ignorance is the new reality. In an age where science and religion struggle to rediscover the reality of co-support through the realization of a Creator, Pullman
scoffs at "religious intolerance" through the 'rite of passage from childhood to adult' with "the potential of science, mathematics, art or literature, and becoming consumed by questions of social justice or inequality" that he send his two main characters, Will and Lyra--his new teenage Adam and Eve. Pullman takes direct aim at the biblical accounts of the battle in
Heaven and the Fall of Man and rewrites it through the eyes of the vanquished, acting as if he has personal knowledge of the events that transpired. "Despite the armored bears and the angels, I don't think I'm writing fantasy," he says, "My books are psychologically real.
The Golden Compass, the least offensive first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy which is labeled Northern Lights in England, is an even more watered down version of the material Pullman spouts into the minds of our future generations. In a 2001 interview, Pullman expressed again his purpose in writing such a series; he wanted to "undermine the basis of Christian belief." Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, decrees Pullman's efforts as the "pernicious effort to indoctrinate children into anti-Christian belief system, which is evidenced in all facets of our society as the method through which we are destroying ourselves. We kill babies, destroy literature that is the basis of our republic, and are intolerant of the very religion that created the view of tolerance.
But, why is there so much outrage from the Christian community over such an obvious fraud of the truth? The series follows the adventures of a streetwise girl named Lyra, who travels through multiple worlds populated by witches, armor-plated bears, and sinister religious assassins to defeat the authoritarian and oppressive forces of a senile God. Through the medium of alternate history, Pullman causes the Reformation to create consolidation where the Catholic papacy is moved from Rome to Geneva under John Calvin and ends up being ran by a cabal of celibate men obsessed with sin's eradication through self-flagellation and 'preemptive penance' of a 'get-out-of-hell' free card mentality that pursue the heroine as she seeks to set right the injustice of her best friend's kidnapping, her father's exile, and ultimately her own homicidal pursuit by the villainous institution. Offering an 'extended celebration of the marvels of science: discoveries and theories from ....cosmology....dark matter...possibility of multiple universes', the series centers around the allure of unscientific invention, fantasy.
Such is not uncommon within the literary realm today as the atheists and agnostics seem to gain more and more ground in their spewing of anti-Christian rhetoric. But this is the first book aimed so openly at destroying Christian beliefs in the future generation, our children. Instead of salvation, Pullman wants to overturn such 'ideological tyranny and rejection of this world" and promote idealized afterlife that knows no creed. To this end, Pullman rewrites the historicity of the fall into a 'loss of protean innocence' that leads to 'a gain in self-awareness.' Throwing historical and biblical knowledge out the window, Pullman declares," Wee need to ensure that children are not forced to waste their time on barren rubbish."
Instead of "tribal and mythical yearnings for kings, gods, and supermen', according to Laura Miller of the New Yorker, Pullman's 'fantasy series' is founded upon "the Enlightenment." This is Pullman's solution to the theological problem plaguing our youth, the approved atheistic method of half-truth, misdirection, implied factual theories, and plain outright lies offered through the guise of an 'enlightened worldview.'
This means, in Pullman's eyes, that children should focus on castration and female circumsion. Sexual love is the mystical process of entering adulthood. "The idea," Pullman declares, "of keeping childhood alive forever and ever and regretting the passage into adulthood ---whether it's a gentle, rose-tinged regret or a passionate, full-blooded hatred....is simply wrong."
Life doesn't begin at conception, but rather further down the line, when 'you realize you were delivered to the wrong family by mistake.' Pullman declares that religion doesn't allow "responsibility and delight" to coexist. The bible is a story of an "imaginary number" that might not be tangible but can be used to calculate "all manner of things."
"Spiritual" and "spirituality", though not understood by this self-proclaimed atheist and agnostic, compels him to feel he has "say something about moral education." He points out that Macbeth taught us that killing is as horrible for the killer as for the victim, and Jane Austen's Emma teaches us about the cruelty of mocking others. "We can learn what's good and what's bad, what's generous and unselfish, what's cruel and mean, from fiction," Pullman declares, "There's no need to consult scripture.'Thou shalt not' might reach the head, but 'Once upon a time' reaches the heart."
Pullman compares 'theocracy' as an atheistic state like Iran or the Soviet Union of Stalin's fame, characterized by "a scripture whose word is inerrant", priestly authority that "tends to concentrate in the hands of elderly men", and a police force secretly operating with the "powers of an inquisition." Religious thought is, in the opinion of this anti-religious atheist, the active pursuit of power gathering by human beings through an absolute humanistic truth. Throwing up his own 'atheistic worldview' and declaring it to be a theocratic expression of thought allows this author to integrate himself in the hearts of the future with little accountability.
Although supporters declare Pullman's work in His Dark Materials the greatest children's fantasy work to date, Pullman considers his efforts to be 'realistic.' Referred to as the atheistic "C.S. Lewis" and "J.R.R. Tolkien", Pullman would rather be considered the equal of such authors as J.W. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, or Jane Austin, or even Milton, Tolstoy, Blake and Chekhov.
Pullman scoffs at Tolkien, a fellow alumnus of Oxford, as "fundamentally an infantile work." "Tolkien is not interested in the way grownup, adult human beings interact with each other," Pullman remarks in the article Far from Narnia posted in the New Yorker. "He's interested in maps and plans and languages and codes."
C.S. Lewis is the most 'non-Christian' Christian theologian, in Pullman's eyes. "Here's a simple test: What is the greatest Christian virtue? Well, its charity, isn't it? It's love. If somebody who knew nothing about Christian doctrine, and who had been told Lewis is a great Christian teacher, read all the way through those books, would he get that message? No." This despite the sacrifice of Aslan, an innocent victim killed for the actions of Edmund who had committed crimes against Narnia. This despite the loving actions throughout the Narnia series of the main characters, the Pevensie children.
And this rangy, spirited man with bristling gray hair, the very image of "an intelligent and amused stork" according to Laura Miller, has found the attention he has sought on the American side of the Atlantic through the very agency that brought such acclaim to Tolkien's creation, New Line Cinema. The plan is to create His Dark Materials into another epic series. The Golden Compass, with Nicole Kidman in a starring role, is the watered down version that has Director Chris Weitz hoping for a pass from religious movie goers from their offended sensibilities and Pullman supporter's, such as www.bridgetothestars.net, decrying the "removal of [the characters'] religious motivations [that] make the institution incredibly bland, a mere band of thugs with a domineering power for no apparent reason." David Craig, of James Bond fame and the movie's co-star, wishes for more overt religious overtones, too, because "the debate that Philip Pullman raises is incredibly healthy." The only saving grace for such supporters of Pullman is Weitz's realization of establishing a "foundation for....a film trilogy."
With the water downed version of the first book being offered by New Line Cinemas, one is left to wonder at the future of such an epic, where "the religious zealots [are] trying to prevent the spread of wisdom [and experience] who are the bad guys" and the histories of humanity have been wrongly written by the incorrect victors. Pullman uses seemingly innocence to pull his young victims into a world that declares physical unions are encouraged and only begin with a kiss......
It is this process, of taking an innocent view and enticing a reader to commit to the continuation of a series before realizing the outcome has been widely used by religious and secular authors alike, but never in such an evil and villainous way as Pullman does in His Dark Materials. "I think I'm writing realism," Pullman tells reporter Steve Meacham.
This realism is set in fantastical distortions, where the trinity is reduced to one being, a feminine divine, based upon liberal feministic theology which mixes in Marxism and a socially progressive viewpoint of traditional Gospels where Jesus is a political revolutionary and doctrinal truth leads to oppression. The traditional reliance on a Divine being is transposed by a new realization of mutual relations.
Some declare this to be a beautiful, Christian story that will cause us to discover the true God, who loves us to the point of sacrificing everything to hold on to this God through wars with the authoritan oppressors who declare a false God. These supporters declare this trilogy to "help believers to reflect on their own faith."
Can anyone say, "Emergent Church?"
Hitchens, Peter. "This is the Most Dangerous Author in Britian"
Mail on Sunday. 27 January 2002 (p63).
Meacham, Steve. "The Shed where God Died."
The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 December 2003.
Miller, Laura. "Far from Narnia"
The New Yorker. 26 December 2005
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