Phillip Pullman Makes It Easy

No need to speculate about what Pullman’s stories are about when he keeps coming right out and saying things like this.

In Pullman’s trilogy, Lyra is the new-age Eve, and Will is the modern-day Adam. God is a wizened spent force of an “Authority”. And “The Fall” is to be celebrated as the defining moment of mankind, rather than the source of all worldly evil. Little wonder that His Dark Materials has been denounced by some religious zealots.

Pullman, though, expected more. I’ve been surprised by how little criticism I’ve got. Harry Potter’s been taking all the flak . . . the people – mainly from America’s Bible Belt – who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.

As a teenager, he fell in love with Paradise Lost. “Books I and II, when the angels have just been thrown into Hell after the war in Heaven. They plot a terrible revenge, to destroy, subvert and ruin the new world God has made.”

Pullman has no qualms with critics who label his books sacrilegious, so how does he describe himself? “If we’re talking on the scale of human life and the things we see around us, I’m an atheist. There’s no God here. There never was. But if you go out into the vastness of space, well, I’m not so sure. On that level, I’m an agnostic.

(interview in the Sydney Morning Herald)

Wouldn’t it be nice if Dan Brown was so straightforward?

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  • M. Cruz

    I read all three books and ‘The DaVinci Code’ was child’s play compared to this.

    They are excellently done. And the most God-hating things I have ever read in my life.

  • Adam Walter

    Or, he’s a man setting himself up as an authority in metaphysical matters and pridefully leading others down the wrong path. If I remember, Christ used to call these sorts of folks a “brood of vipers” and whatnot.

  • Ellen Collison

    No, a man who is lost and in need of grace and salvation, as are we all.

  • Adam Walter

    There’s no God here. There never was. But if you go out into the vastness of space, well, I’m not so sure. On that level, I’m an agnostic.

    What an idiot.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    I loved “The Golden Compass.” LOVED it. Loved the characters, the world, the detail, the weirdness. But then, reading book 2, I could feel the characterization slipping, the world becoming too bloated to remain compelling, and the agenda started taking over. And Book 3 was awful. It zigzagged between “dialogue” dominated by brash, bigoted statements about Christianity — specifically — and then long sections in which he introduced NEW characters, NEW species, NEW cultures, and seemed completely unconcerned with bringing things to a real conclusion until the last couple of chapters, when it was very clear the whole thing had been designed to commit an act of sacrilege.

  • Levi

    I hear ya Gene but I disagree with one thing. Pullman’s books are not well-written. Maybe they’re technically good and his world is pretty original. But even before I knew his whole athiest agenda – I couldn’t stand the books.

    I was very excited when I bought The Golden Compass. It looked right up my alley. Massive dissapointment. Pullman’s characters are unloveable and boring. His writing has no sense of mystery or wonder. Aside from a few exciting moments the book was a chore.

  • Gene Branaman

    Since I read the books in 2001, I’ve been trying to spread the word to folks why they’re so vile. But, as Pullman says, folks are so focused on Harry Potter (which are written by a professed Christian), His Dark Materials just doesn’t register. It’s not even a blip on their radar. When I explain the problems with HDM to people, they shake their heads & go off on Harry Potter. Perhaps the release of the film version will change that? (BTW, last I’d heard, they’d decided to dumb down the religious aspects of the film version. I don’t know if that’s still the case.)

    The insidious thing is that Pullman just comes out & specifically says that he wants to keep people (kids especially) from believing in God & the books are so well-written that they could easily persuade folks who don’t know their faith to leave it.

    So your headline is absolutely spot on, Jeffrey. But how do we get our fellow Christians to get on board?

  • Levi

    The worst thing about Pullman is that he’s not an honest athiest. He writes these books that take a hatchet to everything that is beautiful and good and sums it up with a happy ending. “God is dead. And they lived happily ever after.” It’s wrong on so many levels.

    I think that’s why I still respect Woody Allen after all these years – a person who could not have a more different world view from me. Allen is honest. He doesn’t believe in God but, unlike Pullman, recognises the implications. His movies are about the horror of a universe without God. He doesn’t celebrate the death of God, he mourns it.

    Pullman seems to be so preoccupied with cutting down Christianity and God that he doesn’t realize that he’s cutting down humanity in the process.