The Golden Compass


If you want the low down on British atheist Philip Pullman and his anti-Narnia, anti-Catholic children’s trilogy His Dark Materials which comes out in film version called The Golden Compass check out Carl Olson over at Ignatius Insight.

As usual, Olson gathers the information, offers a brilliant critique and points out exactly what’s wrong and right about Pullman and his work.

I read the first of the three books and have to admit Pullman is a very clever man. He has a brilliant imagination and writes beautifully. But beneath the beauty and imagination and stylistic virtuosity there is a dark despair that is inescapable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06624317806947588259 Rachel Gray

    When I first read The Golden Compass I knew nothing about the author or his agenda. I didn’t pick up on anti-Church bias, but I did notice that there was almost no emotional content, no strong morality and no depth of characterization. I didn’t care about the heroine– in fact, I didn’t much like her. She was a perfect little girl-power wunderkind without real personality. The book was also too gruesome in parts for children (or at least for me!) However, I did find it entertaining and creative.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04298493682961935337 Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ

    i keep pinching them off my teenagers & throwing them away..they just buy another copy! Sigh.. (they do know he’s anti-Catholic)

  • fried chicken strips in Honey Mustard

    When I was waiting for the Order of the Phoniex to come out, I read His Dark Materials. I wasn’t a practicing Catholic at the time, so the imposing church regime, the despotic hosts in heaven, the chapter Preemptive Absolution and the Frank Sinatra have it my way mantra didn’t bother me. I knew his arguments were marlarky, and they didn’t stop me from later becoming a practicing Catholic. After I finished his books, I thought it was like you said father, “imaginative”, but Pullman only represented to me a culture I already knew. I dropped his books and picked up “The Riddle Master of Hed” by Patricia McKillip and “The Frogs” by Steinbeck and found them much more entertaining. I love Steinbeck.

  • bernadette

    Phillip Pullman has an agenda, and it is to embitter the minds of children and our young people so that they think like him. His aggressive atheism is suffocating. As you say, beautifully written, but preaching a message of utter despair and darkness. I wonder if the films, once they`ve been hollywood-ized can even come close to the darkness he conveys so perfectly with his writing skills.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07842496412575851453 will

    I really liked The Golden Compass on first reading; there was a lot about it to like, although the anti-religious bias was clear to me almost from the get-go. I found it remarkably inventive.The Subtle Knife was a bit of disappointment. The anti-religious message was beginning to take over and overshadow the story-telling. Nevertheless, I was quite looking forward to The Amber Spyglass.Do you remember the scene in the Steve Martin picture Roxane when someone insults Martin’s nose? And he mocks them severely for doing it so badly? That’s kind of how I felt about The Amber Spyglass. Pullman’s message has taken over completely, the storytelling has been allowed to go hang, and, yea verily, the book sucketh. Completely apart from Pullman’s poisonous philosophy, the book’s a joke. The only folks who are going to find it wonderful are those who have already bought into the message he’s peddling.I’m serious. From the set-up in the first two books, I was expecting something clever–a worthy argument from a worthy opponent. What I found was idiocy from a man who let his hate get the better of him.Pray for Phillip Pullman; he’s eating himself alive.

  • Joe

    Just completed reading “World Without End” by Ken Follett. It is follow on to earlier “The Pillars of the Earth” It focuses on the town of Knightsbridge and the building of a Cathedral. It is in many ways anti Catholic but I found both good reads with interesting characters. Father, have you read these? Is there a town in England by this name and is there anything in reality to the story about a Cathedral there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15692229876291491107 Mark

    Rachel, you’re kidding, right? Maybe it’s Philips’s British understatement, but I picked it up straight away!I put up with it–brow twitching all the while–through the first book, but gave up halfway through the second. I was sick of the militantly anti-Godly reality it was painting.

  • Lindsay Bullard

    When I came home with “The Golden Compass”, the first thing my mom said was “Be careful with what you fill your head with.” She went on to tell me about the controversy. I read the book, and had no idea why so many people were against it. *BUT*…I did some research and found the results rather disturbing. Philip Pullman does indeed have an anti-Christian agenda. The whole idea that the church is an overbearing, dominating authority that tortures children by basically tearing them away from their souls (daemons) is an image that most nonbelievers will remember. Also, however insignificant this is, there are several mentions to “rituals” and “procedures” and “ceremony” in the first book alone. For example, when two “panserbjorne”, or bears, fight to the death, the “ritual” for the winning bear is to slice open the dead bear’s chest and eat the heart. This is gruesome, and also based on some ancient rituals done by Mayans and maybe even occultists. Does this sound like something you want to take your kids to see? I wouldn’t.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14792996796001074768 hannahpl

    I read these books six years ago for the first time and I automatically loved them. Phillip Pullman’s writing is exquisite, and he is an author that knows how to keep a reader’s full attention. I understand the symbolism in his writing as he is an atheist. I am LDS (otherwise known as mormon) and I believe in God and Jesus Christ deeply, but I also believe that people are here on this earth to learn for themselves what is right and wrong. I believe that we are given freedom of choice by God so that we can become wise and learn from our mistakes. I also believe that, no matter how ludicrus, everyone and anyone has the right to express what they believe or merely their imagination through art, and I think that writing is a wonderful piece of art, but a piece of art nonetheless. I do not agree with atheism but I very much enjoyed Pullman’s work: his characters, his worlds, his instruments and, overall, his imagination. Ultimately, I am not going to let a different opinion dictate whether or not I’m going to read a piece of literature. I also believe that these books are going to be hard to understand for children and maybe even for teens, so I’m not worried about adolescents being exposed to them. And when they are old enough to understand I hope they educate themselves by reading all sorts of different books by authors from different backgrounds. Also, letting kids make their own decisions lessens their chance of rebeling or lashing out and gives them confidence.I think something important to remember is that these are science FICTION books. It would be very different if Pullman wrote anti-religion books that he considered true. He isn’t forcing his atheism on anyone, but merely expressing his thoughts and feelings on the topic or even just giving them an imaginative story to read. Now, I am reading his books for the second time because i enjoy them and i want to more fully understand why he, or other atheists, feel the way they do.


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