Wednesday, August 11, 2004


One of the series of books explored by MTAG at the end of 2003 was Philip Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials. Even more so than Harry Potter, Pullman's darker, ostensibly anti-religious storytelling has excited controversy within church circles. A few months ago Archbishop Rowan Williams made some positive comments about the dramatic production of the books at the National Theatre in London.

The Ekklesia website reports:

What Dr Williams appears to have spotted, which Pullman's critics have not, is that the author's ire is directed less at religious values than at institutions, particularly Catholicism. The author was partly brought up by his Anglican clergyman grandfather.

The Archbishop argues that Pullman has a perverse view of religion. "I read the books and the plays as a sort of thought experiment: this is after all an alternative world, or set of worlds," he said.

"What would the church look like, what would it inevitably be, if it believed only in a God who could be rendered powerless and killed and needed unceasing protection? It would be a desperate, repressive tyranny.

"Pullman's views are clear; but he is a good enough writer to leave some spaces. This is a church without creation, or redemption, certainly without Christ."

The full story can be found here.

Others have condemned the trilogy outright. The Association of Christian Teachers reportedly described it as 'dangerous', and a reviewer in The Catholic Herald suggested it was "fit for the bonfire".

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