HNN Interviews Philip Pullman

The latest Humanist Network News podcast features an interview with The Golden Compass author Philip Pullman.

Pullman

Matt Cherry, the executive director of the Institute for Humanist Studies, is the interviewer.

Cherry: … When did you start identifying yourself as a humanist and why?

Pullman: Well, identifying oneself as anything, for a writer, for a novelist, is a perilous thing because then you find yourself acting as a spokesman for this cause or that cause. I have always tried to avoid saying “I am an agnostic”, “I am an atheist”, “I am a humanist”, “I am an anything else” because that way you are limiting the way that your books are received. And I don’t want to do that…

It’s a similar answer to the one given by Sam Harris, who does not identify as an atheist despite being one of the leading advocates of non-theism.

I wonder if it’d help or hurt their cause more if they did embrace a non-religious label, even if they don’t like being pigeonholed like that (or, as in Harris’ case, dislike the term on a philosophical level).

I think more people would be surprised to know the two men don’t identify with those labels than the other way around.

What does Pullman have to say about Christian groups urging a boycott of his film?

Pullman: … I think these people are…it’s ridiculous. It’s very absurd. They never learn. They never learn that if you want to draw attention to a film to make everybody curious to go and see it, then make a fuss about it. It always happens, every single time they try to do this. They never learn.

And the other thing they never seem to notice is that they are behaving exactly in the way I describe the religious authorities — who have got their hands on political power — as behaving. In other words, they are repressing arguments, they are repressing freedom of speech, they are trying to prevent people from understanding things; they are doing exactly what I describe in the book. It’s not surprising that they are creating a fuss. But I do wonder that they never learn that the result is always the opposite of what they claim they want.

Has Christian censorship ever actually worked in drawing attention away from a subject?

To listen to the full interview, you can subscribe to the podcast (for free) here. Or check out the transcript.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://www.bloglongisland.com Sam Sutter

    LOL Great observations, i think Pullman is exactly right. i guess the right question is whether Christianity causes a corruption of power or whether people who love power use Christianity. I think that power is the biggest and most destructive temptation for Christians.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Pullman makes excellent points. I completely agree.

    And I agree with Sam. According to my understanding of the original message of Jesus, this kind of exercise of power is antithetical to the Christian gospel.

  • Maria

    Has Christian censorship ever actually worked in drawing attention away from a subject?

    Nope! But some people never learn…..

  • Ben

    Has Christian censorship ever actually worked in drawing attention away from a subject?

    Hell yes it has, when the church had temporal power.

  • ash

    a point beautifully illustrated courtesy of ‘father ted’

  • Maria

    a point beautifully illustrated courtesy of ‘father ted’

    that was hilarious!

  • Mriana

    I agree with Pullman’s comments. Not to mention, they are so loud that those of us who don’t see ads on the TV and/or don’t watch TV much, they draw attention to the movie. Like I said, I would not have known a thing about the movie if it had not been for their inane bellowing.

    :lol: I loved the Fr. Ted vid! Perfect example.

  • Cade

    Has Christian censorship ever actually worked in drawing attention away from a subject?

    Yes, but we just don’t know about it. That’s how good they are.

  • Sarah

    What do you think about the Bible’s Jesus serving and his emphasis on serving (ie: feeding the poor and others, comforting widows, his healing those who had diseases and other health disorders, washing the disciples’ feet, and eating with the harlots and tax collectors, ect)?

    Also, what are your thoughts on the Bible’s Jesus’ teachings of his kingdom and that in his kingdom the first will be last and the last be first?

    And how do this things pertain to the idea of the church, Christianity more specifically, being say… “on a power trip”?

  • audrey

    I dont understand why anyone would believe that there wasnt any GOD???? Even if you think that there was evolution what made the earth and the surge of energy???? The world just wasnt here. The Golden Compass is helping the devil decieve children and families to read a book that is to me false. I respect everyone feelings, however, the author should tell the readers and watchers the truth… Cutting out the main plot to get people hooked to read the book that talks about children killing GOD to me is the work of the Devil…… If it is so true why cut anything out??? Why decieve children and society…… I am so desappointed with this…..

  • Sarah

    Audrey…

    I am guessing you are a Christian. Remember the fight Jesus brought… a fight of love and kindness. THIS is the kind of fight we as Christians should bring. Many may not call “love” a fight, but Jesus did a pretty good job of fighting with love to the point of death and winning the biggest victory in the history of mankind. Jesus calls his people to love. Love changes, not harshness. Be gentle and love.

    Also, if someone is an antheist, do you think they will really care or maybe even believe that they may be “helping the devil”?

  • Joann

    I am soooo happy that Christian’s Groups care. I am sooo happy that there are people speaking out about what they believe. I am mad because this man is writing and speaking so negatively about a God who created this world we live in, gave us the things we have and has been a great father to us. But just like it says in the bible, not everybody will be saved. But try to get as many people as you can, because the ones we don’t get saved, will spend eternity in a hell.

  • Sherry

    Christians needed to get the word out about the book so that other fellow Christians could save their children from the evil confussion of this movie and books. These books are doing the very thing that is claimed of Christians, controlling others thoughts and freedom. Leave us free to love God and stop trying to make us believe a pack of lies. The Catholic church may not have done all good things in the past, but Christians are not perfect either. Pullman is going to need a lot of prayer come judgement time, he will have to answer for all of those childrens souls that he turned away from God. Oh, and some one said that control is a temptation for Christians, well isn’t it for everyone, I mean look at Pullman, he seems to be doing a pretty fine job with persuasion of his beliefs!!

  • Maria

    okay, you Christians commenting on here need to get over the fact that your beliefs aren’t the only ones being heard. You don’t like this movie, no one is making you see it. And it’s really hypocritical to talk about “love” in one sentence and then damn anyone who isn’t like you to “hell” in the next……

  • Aj

    audrey,

    I dont understand why anyone would believe that there wasnt any GOD????

    Neither do I! They’re always saying God doesn’t exist, that’s exactly what they say. Look at all the evidence there is! He must exist!

    Even if you think that there was evolution what made the earth and the surge of energy???? The world just wasnt here.

    Those Evolutionists and their theory of how the earth was created in a surge of energy. They’re just crazy, God must have created the world!

    The Golden Compass is helping the devil decieve children and families to read a book that is to me false.

    Yes, Phillip Pullman has been silent and dishonest about the motivations of his book. The Devil you say? I knew he’d be in on this!

    Cutting out the main plot to get people hooked to read the book that talks about children killing GOD to me is the work of the Devil……

    Yes, why would Hollywood producers do such a thing! It must be to sell Phillip Pullman’s books, to aid Satan himself!

    Joann,

    I am mad because this man is writing and speaking so negatively about a God who created this world we live in, gave us the things we have and has been a great father to us.

    I know! Isn’t it awful? I can’t believe you read the books. I couldn’t stand it! Atheists must really hate God, it’s so sad.

    Sherry,

    Christians needed to get the word out about the book so that other fellow Christians could save their children from the evil confussion of this movie and books.

    All the better to control the little faith zombies.

    These books are doing the very thing that is claimed of Christians, controlling others thoughts and freedom.

    When someone tells me something I don’t agree with or want to listen to, this completely destroys my liberty over myself and my thoughts. Especially when they say the trigger word that was programmed into me by my parents.

    Pullman is going to need a lot of prayer come judgement time, he will have to answer for all of those childrens souls that he turned away from God.

    Good one, I bet that thought will make any atheist pause!

    Oh, and some one said that control is a temptation for Christians, well isn’t it for everyone, I mean look at Pullman, he seems to be doing a pretty fine job with persuasion of his beliefs!!

    Indeed, people who try to persuade others towards their beliefs are evil! I heard there were these places called churches, and they actually pay people called priests, preachers, bishops, and reverends to persuade people all day long!!!!!!

    All,

    I hope you all stay and post on here regularly, you’ve all been very insightful, intelligent, and wise.

  • sally

    It’s so sad that Philip Pullman thinks he’s the guy to tell kids what beliefs they should have. The last I looked that was up to parents and how they raise their children. The fact of the matter is that there are many religious beliefs in this world and trashing anyone’s beliefs are wrong. It seems to me that Mr. Pullman must have had a personal disastrous experience with a church or religious person(s) that must have really hurt him as a child. Unfortunately lots of people call themselves Christians and don’t even follow the doctrine of Christ. There are bad people everywhere. To insult a particular religion is insulting millions of people. What is to gain here? It’s like saying all Americans like apple pie, all Italians eat spaghetti, etc. What Phillip Pullman is spreading is hatred and by targeting children to his brain washing agenda is just seriously disturbing.

  • Mriana

    Sally, that is not what he is doing and I would let my sons read them, even if they were younger than what they are now. Of course I let them read just about anything they could get their hands on anyway. I can assure you though that is not what Pullman is doing.

    I also think you are judging about him having a personal disaster in church. or what have you. I also do not believe he is insulting millions of people. He’s not insulting anyone I know. Personally I think this is an over-reaction on your part.

  • Mark

    I personally think that it is a shame that Christians feel so threated by Philip Pullman’s story. The entire storyline of the Golden Compass is a story and that’s all it is. What Christians are attempting to do is censorship no matter how you look at it. What next??? Are we going to see piles of burning books again? I think that will set us back a hundred years. My message to Christians, coming from a Jew, is this. Allow diversity. In order for us to find peace in the world we must allow other voices to speak. You may not like what a humanist, or a jew, or a muslim has to say but atleast allow us to speak our minds. That means we are asking you to allow us, just as we allow you, to write books that you don’t agree with and make movies that you don’t agree with. Get over the idea that Jesus was the Messiah. If you actually take the time to look at the facts you will find that there were over 40 + individuals that were born to a virgin, became a teacher by 12, claimed to be the Messiah by 30, crucified on the cross, and resurrected after three days. Oh, did I mention that all of those so-called Messiah’s were born on December 25?

    The church has long manipulated and controlled people and told them what to think and what to believe. Get over yourselves and allow free speech before Christianity falls. It’s just a matter of time so you might as well find a common ground to speak and exist with the rest of the world.