The Golden Compass: Anti-God?

Phillip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass, is an avowed atheist, who has described his series of books called His Dark Materials a series about “killing God”. He is described as hating C.S. Lewis’ Narnia allegories, and has created a counterpart in his own children’s fantasy series. Apart from that, he is a highly decorated writer, and HDM has won multiple awards.

On the other hand, Rowan Williams has talked approvingly of the series, saying that it is written against dogmatic religion, rather than religion in general. A girl in my youth group had devoured the entire trilogy at least once, and she still comes to church, sings in the choir, and so on. (In fact, I think she is more able to separate fantasy from reality than a lot of adults I read about)

I’m reading more and more alarmed people talking about the upcoming movie based on the first book of his trilogy. Its sort of like the “Harry Potter is the devil” rhetoric and interestingly, J.K. Rowling is also an agnostic, as far as I know, though she does attend church (like a lot of agnostics, I bet).

I’m wondering what people think about this whole situation, especially if you’ve already read the actual books by Pullman.

Did you find them challenging, if you are a theist, or inspiring if you are an atheist?

Do you think that Phillip Pullman is attacking your religion? Or just some kind of religion?

Do you think we should carefully regulate what children watch so that their ideas of God are never challenged?

Are there topics that even a fantasy novel isn’t allowed to touch upon?

What else do you want to say about this?

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the film. I love the genre – I mean, come on, fantasy steampunk? With armored polar bears, one of which is voiced by Sir Ian McKellan? And Nicole Kidman? And James Bond (Daniel Craig)? And…was that Saruman I saw in the preview? I mean, come on. What’s not to like?

3 thoughts on “The Golden Compass: Anti-God?

  1. I’ve read the series. They’re enjoyable and fun. Nowhere near as good as the Harry Potter books, or the Chronicles of Narnia or a few other series’ I could name, but enjoyable.I always find this kind of reactionary response to the entertainment industry to be a waste of time. Books and movies are not so insidious and powerful in the way that people imagine. There is nothing about this movie (or the books) that is going to damage anyone’s faith – even if Pullman wishes there was.The God he portrays is a pathetic dummy of a God that deserves to get killed. You root for the kids all the way through, and you cheer when God dies – because he’s no God at all. Frankly this is exactly what the anti-idolatry impulse in monotheism is all about: slaying all our false gods. So, I’d actually construe this story as having a righteous message.


  2. I received a warning email about the movie from a former parishioner. I looked up HDM on Wikipedia to get a quick (accurate or not) overview and thought, “Sounds interesting to me.” I’ll read it when I get the chance.I’m with Aric. There’s nothing wrong with slaying idols. I would also add that there’s nothing wrong with pulling down a magesterium that is focused on getting and keeping its own power.


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