His Dark Materials…Very Dark

Just finished reading book 3 of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass. The trilogy is incendiary for a number of reasons (some of which I plan to unpack in a series of upcoming posts), not least its frontal assault on Christianity. Pullman says, after all, that Christianity was and is a “mistake.” Now, before everybody goes wacko on that point, I would say that we in the church must approach this series with care. Pullman has taken great pains to portray the church as misguided at best and malevolent at worst, particularly in the face of dissent. It’ll be our task (now and in the months leading up to the first volume’s theatrical release in Nov. 2007) to enter into meaningful dialogue that will demonstrate how little Pullman’s vision has to do with reality and leave little hermeneutical space to the Pullmanites..

Let me add that Pullman has wisely and gleefully let Rowling’s Potter series take all the Christian heat possible–articles in Christian magazines, TV specials, etc–while HDM acted as a kind of stealth bomber, managing to get onto the NY Times Best-seller list and make its way into the hearts of thousands. Aside from two articles in more serious Christian periodicals (which I’ll link tomorrow) HDM has received little attention from Christians, even though it’s a more direct assault on Christianity.

Let me further add that Pullman writes masterfully, particularly in the first two books. In the third, he forgets himself a bit and lets his vitriol for Christianity and the church get away with him. Some rather pedantic passages (not unlike Teabing’s more preachy pontifications) result, awakening at least this reader from the continuous dream (that writing teacher John Gardner said fiction should be).

Nuff for now.


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