Thursday, May 24

In praise of parental guidance

You may very well have read His Dark Materials and want your children to see the movie when it comes out. But, if you haven't, I plead with you to read the books yourself before you make this decision. At least get more information. They start out interestingly and end with evil is really good and pre-teen sexual intimacy is an appropriate climax. Satan is good because he wants us to be free. Hey, if that's how you roll, great. Just please make your decision for your children advisedly.

To expand on those strong words, I'll append for you below a review I wrote of this trilogy on Amazon. I originally wrote it anonymously. I've been ready to claim it publicly for some time, but can't find a way to change the appellation.

Before the appendix, what do you think? Have you read these books? Will your children be seeing the movies?

Anti-Christian, wrapped in engaging storytelling , October 25, 2002

NOTE: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS.

'His Dark Materials' turns the Christian view of the world upside-down. 'God' is actually an evil, controlling spiritual being/angel who Pullman calls 'The Authority'. Get it? Authority is bad. God is bad. The Church is bad. Eve's 'sin' was actually not a sin at all. She was 'tempted' to 'freedom' by a good spirit who appeared as a serpent. 'Freedom' is good. 'Sin' is good. I don't usually use so many 'scare quotes', but Pullman chooses a moral orientation for these books which is almost entirely contrary to classical Christianity. I hate that teens and kids are getting this totally slanted view reading these 'Young Adult' books.

I'm not suggesting that Pullman has an anti-Christian agenda. But the worldview of these books is strongly anti-Christian, at any rate. In some ways, the results might be worse, since the 'values' are so subtle.

I'll be the first to admit, the Church has done a lot of bad things. I'd agree with most of Pullman's examples. But his presentation of God/the Church/Christianity is a caricature. He presents none of the good things. I hope Pullman just doesn't know. Otherwise, his selective use of information is misrepresentation.

We need to criticize the Church when there is evil in it, or even wrong-doing. But to caricature the Church as all evil and all wrong is false. It amounts to propaganda before unformed young minds.

Pullman takes the common tack these days of coming up with supernatural providence that is bigger than us, but smaller than God. His device is that 'dark matter' (thus 'His Dark Materials') is conscious and good. It's not much different from Lucas' 'midichlorians' in 'The Phantom Menace'. GK Chesterton said 'It's not that atheists don't believe anything, it's that they'll believe anything.'

I read this story all the way through to the end, hoping it would improve, hoping against hope that some turn would take place. But it didn't. It got worse. In the end we have 12 year old sex basically functioning in a redemptive way for a whole universe (and maybe all of them, I didn't read it that closely). You've got to be kidding. And this man has children of his own. This must just be his own wish nostalgic adolescent sex-wish coming out. None of us wants our twelve year olds having sex, right?

Good story, interesting plot devices, fetching characters...and an infernal worldview. It's not wrong to criticize Christianity or to say you don't believe. But to say everything in Christianity is evil and wrong is false at best, and evil and wrong in itself at worst. The product, at any rate, in inexcusable.
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