Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Boycotting book boycott

I received an email suggesting I join a boycott of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy because of their atheistic content, but I’m not so keen.

For starters I’m not really a fan of censorship, and also I’ve already read the books.

This is ahead of the The Golden Compass movie release this Christmas, which the email quotes someone as describing as “atheism for kids”.

According to the email:

Pullman’s main objective is to bash Christianity and promote atheism. Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that “my books are about killing God”. He has even stated that he wants to “kill God in the minds of children”. It has been said of Pullman that he is “the writer the atheists would be praying for, if atheists prayed.”

“So what?” I say.

I quite enjoyed the books—I read all three and stayed very entertained until the end, but the story is ultimately pretty unsatisfying and empty.

The two heroic characters—Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter (Nicole Kidman in the film)—aren’t very nice, but they end up being the winners. I thought this was a lousy ending, because there’s no justice. Both are rotten parents to Lyra (sorry, that gives the story away a bit). Mrs Coulter does some really nasty things—especially to children—and isn’t punished for them at all.

Also, unless you’re Roman Catholic, Pullman’s characterisation of the Church, God, angels and all that stuff is pretty unconvincing. It really is fantasy, even if it’s trying to tell something about the real world. It’s not historical, for starters, but it’s all so … religious. It doesn’t say anything at all about real Christianity, about Jesus or about the God I know and love.

In fact, unless you’re already an atheist, it’s pretty unconvincing.

If Mr Pullman thinks he’ll be able to convince anyone to abandon real Christianity with this stuff, he’s living in a fantasy world. If this is best atheism can offer, and Pullman is the best guy to present it in the best possible way to kids, then atheism must be pretty crap.

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