Specials: Phillip Pullman Attacks Narnia, Again. March of the Value-less Penguins

Today’s specials:

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, the author of The Golden Compass attacks C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia as “racist” and “misogynistic.” If you think Pullman’s accusations are interesting, wait until you read the comments following the article.

UPDATE: Neb‘s comment in reply to this post was so good, I’ll include it here in the post:

Pullman amazes me yet again with his abundance of sour grapes. I’ve read the Narnia chronicles, and I’ve read the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. If the Narnia stuff is love-less and misogynistic, then Pullman’s trilogy is positively nihilistic and even more misogynistic. Love, real love, abounds throuhout the Narnia series. There are evil women AND men.
What is Pullman’s problem? He is a gifted (if neurotic) writer who’s prose is a delight to read. On the other hand, I found his trilogy to be, on the whole, depressing, especially the final chapter. Does he feel superior because he is darker and edgier? Are we supposed to see his world view as superior because he makes God out to be a third-rate hack angel on His last legs? Is the world he created a better one because the Church is founded on lies, there is no good or evil (only relative utilitarian objectives), and love only leads to misery? I’ll take Lewis or Tolkien any day.

UPDATE: At another link, we see the full Pullman quote:

“If the Disney corporation wants to market this film as a great Christian story, they’ll just have to tell lies about it. It’s not the presence of Christian doctrine I object to so much as the absence of Christian virtue. The highest virtue – we have on the authority of the New Testament itself – is love, and yet you find not a trace of that in the books.”

Yeah. A god-like lion lays down his life willingly for his friends. No Christian virtue there. Grace is shown to a rebellious and wicked boy. Sheesh. Where do you read about forgiveness in the Bible? Lies lies lies….

Isn’t it interesting that an author whose anti-Christian novels include heroic characters coming right out and saying, “Christianity is a lie,” is criticizing the Narnia chronicles because they apparently “lack Christian virtue”?

Peter T. Chattaway has posted yet another interesting update to the ongoing discussion of whether March of the Penguins is a “family values” movie.

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  • Noneofyourbusiness

    Pullman doesn’t say in his books that loves leads inexorably to misery, but he’s quite incorrect in saying there’s no love in Narnia. There is filios, agape, eros and all that. I read and enjoyed both series. I don’t know how it can be said His Dark Materials is misogynistic.
    Cornelius is not a human-looking dwarf, he is half-human half-dwarf. Jadis is said by the Beavers to be inherently bad because she’s a nonhuman that looks human, but Lewis retcons that in The Magician’s Nephew, where it turns out that Jadis’ ancestors started out good and gradually grew bad over the centuries, like the people of Atlantis or Numenor, culminating in her.
    As for anti-vegetarian and pro-smoking, it’s not as though they had the same scientific knowledge as we do today or that the environment was in as bad a shape. The fact that Eustace’s parents “wore a special kind of underclothes” is really funny.

  • jasdye

    he’s going to hell for that!

  • Peter T Chattaway

    race, in the sense of how we contemporarily define it and certainly how Pullman means for it to be deciphered, is a construct.

    It is true that race, on one level, is an intersubjective social construction. But it is also true that race, on another level, is an objective genetic fact.

    The same could be said of “family”. On one level, parents sometimes “adopt” people with whom they have no direct genetic link, or they “disown” people with whom they do have such a link. But on another level, the genetic links between close relatives are very, very real, and can imply significant things; hence, when my wife went for an ultrasound a month or two ago, we discovered that she was carrying twins when the nurse said, “Tell me about your family histories.”

    Since Pullman is a big believer in science and evolution and all the genetic ramifications of that, I would not necessarily assume that he understands the term “race” on a purely social-construct level.

    if i remember my teenaged reading well, the white witch was a human being, a descendent of adam and eve like the rest of us, right?

    No, not quite like the rest of us. As I wrote above, the White Witch is a mixed-race descendant of the Jinn and the Giants (who, themselves, were mixed-race descendants of humans and gods).

    but, my favorite accusation was the anti-vegetarianism one. lewis, you devil anti-vegetarian!

    Not just anti-vegetarian, but pro-smoking! :)

  • jasdye

    race, in the sense of how we contemporarily define it and certainly how Pullman means for it to be deciphered, is a construct. it is not a reality that there are ‘blacks’ and there are ‘whites’ and their are ‘browns’ or whatever we call ‘non-whites’ these days. it’s all insulting because it’s all fake.

    if i remember my teenaged reading well, the white witch was a human being, a descendent of adam and eve like the rest of us, right? would that be her race, the human race. so, i think pullman could be considered correct. lewis trips on the human race, much like tolkien does in the Lord of the Rings.

    but, my favorite accusation was the anti-vegetarianism one. lewis, you devil anti-vegetarian!

  • John

    OK…maybe I should go back and read the books. You say it has something to do with the giants in Genesis 6, who are confusing critters as is. All I was saying (trying to say…guess I did a bad job of it) was it is in keeping with original sin, assuming she was a descendant of Adam and Eve (which I guess she’s not). I don’t know, maybe it’s just old-fashioned beaver versus giant prejudice…you know how that can be.;)

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Well, I don’t think what the Beavers say is necessarily racist, at least not in the sense of skin color.

    Well, there is a lot more to race than mere skin colour! Race is a basically genetic thing; hence, for example, some diseases are more prevalent among some racial groups than others. Skin colour is just one of the many ways in which these genetics express themselves.

    The question here is whether the state of being evil is a genetically inherited thing. And the Beavers seem to think that it is.

    What I’m saying is, Lewis may have been referring to her ancestry as being Adam & Eve, and then this statement would be most definitely true.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean to say here.

    For one thing, the Beavers say that Jadis is descended, on one side, from Adam’s first wife Lilith (this is the wife Adam supposedly had in Genesis 1, before Eve was created in Genesis 2), and, on the other side, from the giants (perhaps the same giants who are called “heroes” in Genesis 6, and who were destroyed by the Flood). Since the giants were half-human and half-divine, they would certainly be descendants of Adam and Eve on their human side; and thus Jadis would be, too.

    The key question here is, Does being descended from these people make Jadis a bad person? The Beavers certainly seem to think so (“That’s why she’s bad all through”), but I’m not so sure, myself.

  • The Cubicle Reverend

    I have not read His Dark Materials, but from what I’ve read about the guy he seems like an extremely negative person.

  • John

    Well, I don’t think what the Beavers say is necessarily racist, at least not in the sense of skin color. What I’m saying is, Lewis may have been referring to her ancestry as being Adam & Eve, and then this statement would be most definitely true. It’s an interesting question, but that’s what pops into my head when I consider it.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    I know I keep saying I’m on the verge of posting something about LWW at my own blog, but I really do intend to post something soon …

    Anyway, I have to say that, having re-read LWW a week or two ago, I was a bit bothered by the way the Beavers assert that the White Witch is bad because of who her ancestors were. I know the Beavers are hardly infallible — they make similarly dismissive comments about dwarfs, especially dwarfs that look a lot like humans, which would seem to be contradicted by the Narnia sequels (Cornelius, anyone?) — but I do think Lewis intends us to accept this particular statement of theirs.

    And suffice to say, this statement of theirs did tinkle the “racism” alarm bells in my own mind. But maybe that’s just because I am so used to recent science-fiction shows which assume that seemingly monstrous alien species are ultimately human deep down, with their good sides and their bad sides, just like the rest of us — you just have to get to know them first.

    Or maybe it’s because Shrek (co-directed by the man who is now directing Narnia) proved that ogres and dragons are people, too. :)

  • Neb

    Pullman amazes me yet again with his abundance of sour grapes. I’ve read the Narnia chronicles, and I’ve read the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. If the Narnia stuff is love-less and misogynistic, then Pullman’s trilogy is positively nihilistic and even more misogynistic. Love, real love, abounds throuhout the Narnia series. There are evil women AND men.

    What is Pullman’s problem? He is a gifted (if neurotic) writer who’s prose is a delight to read. On the other hand, I found his trilogy to be, on the whole, depressing, especially the final chapter. Does he feel superior because he is darker and edgier? Are we supposed to see his world view as superior because he makes God out to be a third-rate hack angel on His last legs? Is the world he created a better one because the Church is founded on lies, there is no good or evil (only relative utilitarian objectives), and love only leads to misery? I’ll take Lewis or Tolkien any day.


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