one thing that has pissed me off for years is having Christians tell me and other christians:
- how to vote
- what music to listen to
- what music to NOT listen to
- what products to buy
- which TV shows / movies are acceptable to watch
- what books to stay away from
over the last few years it’s gotten to the ridiculous – boycott Disney, vote for Bush, brian mclaren is satan, 24 is a tool of the devil, real-christians-would-never-listen-to ________________, Harry Potter will send your kids souls to hell, etc. etc. etc.
recently the flap has been over The Golden Compass, a book and now movie written by Phillip Pullman. Pullman has made headlines over the fact that he is an atheist, a humanist, and his heroes in the His Dark Materials trilogy literally set out to kill God.
at least a half-dozen well-meaning Christians have told me not to read this trilogy and have spouted off ill-informed rumors about the author / book / movie designed to bolster their argument and thus save one more soul from eternal damnation.
“have you read the book?” is my question. “oh, my goodness, no!” has been the consistent reply. “but i heard about it from ______________ (insert name of relative here)” or “james dobson told me not to read it! so i’m not!”
i’m at the very end of the third book and here’s my informed assessment:
- pullman is a good writer. he’s crafted a well-written set of books that hooked me early in the first book and, except for a few short spots, has kept me hooked ever since.
- pullman has written these books for children / adolescents.
- adolescents can read these books with little trouble.
- children should not read these books.
- Christians can read these books without going to Hell.
- the heroes do, in fact, set out to kill God.
- God, being dead in a work of fiction, does NOT kill him in real life.
- adolescents who have been raised in a Christian family and who understand the features of fantasy in writing (and they should – this is a benchmark in every state’s elementary school writing / reading curriculum) can read this book without losing their faith.
- pullman seems to have more of a gripe with The Church (holy, Roman, apostolic), especially The Church of history, with its manipulations, killings, suppressions, etc. than he does with God. this doesn’t change the aim of the book – it’s simply an observation.
now, why shouldn’t children read this book? it’s a bit much – the imagery, the length, the subject matter. harry potter is better suited for younger children, and even that is a bit much depending on how young we’re talking. i’d say that 11-12 year olds could read pullman’s trilogy with some difficulty and much in the way of questions and needing support in understanding the events.
do i like His Dark Materials? yep. do i fear that his killing of God will kill my faith or kill Christianity? haha – nope. as stated many times before: my God is bigger than that and the faith of His followers is not so shaky that a work of fantasy is going to tank the life-changing reality of the message of His son.
and finally: shame on you, ill-informed, fear-mongering Christians who won’t read / watch / consider something that you fear goes outside of your own worldview! you MUST engage the world around you! you MUST read non-Christian literature! you MUST watch TV shows that challenge your faith! you MUST form your OWN opinion about things and not simply follow the herd! you MUST because this is what gets Christians in trouble: parroting with no basis in fact, making you simply one more of the brainwashed millions who fulfill the stereotype of thoughtless, conformist Christian faith – something of little or no actual world-changing substance. and this, my friends, goes against what your supposed leader taught and did.